Colette Peony Dress

Colette Peony

April 29, 2013 · 46 comments

Hello lovely readers! I fear I must start this blog post with an apology for my recent absence from the blogging world. I would love to say that I have been preoccupied with an exciting trip to an exotic faraway land but the rather more boring truth is simply that I got ill for a couple of weeks (violins cue now) and then have just been useless about dusting off my notebook and writing anything. I have, however, been doing quite a bit of sewing so have lots of new projects to share with you!

I thought I would start with my latest little spring dress, Colette Peony in an ivory cotton lace. Despite having admired this cute, super simple, 60’s inspired pattern since its arrival on the Colette website I have been pretty slow to jump on the Peony band wagon. Well wasn’t that silly- I LOVE this dress!

Colette Peony Dress

It is a subject often addressed in the sewing community that us sewers- (it upsets me greatly that that same word means something else really unsavoury but c’est la vie!) have a habit of making too much frosting and not enough cake. For those of you not following my analogy- too many special one of garments and not enough of the good old, wear it ALL the time stuff. Well I have been keeping this particular little habit in mind recently and it has obviously worked as this dress definitely falls into my cake category. Not a dollop of frosting in sight. In fact I think this is the lemon drizzle cake of dresses- no frosting but super yummy anyhow. Enough about cake- I’m sure you get the picture, I am going to be wearing this dress A LOT!

Afternoon picnics, christenings, baby showers… this is the perfect smartish spring day dress. I actually wore it last weekend to an event called Love Brunch held at the Kensington roof gardens- a beautiful club in Chelsea with an amazing roof garden that has real life pink flamingos (normally, although none were evident last weekend unfortunately, cue violins again please). It was a breezy, fresh sunny day and this dress worked perfectly because the sleeves stopped me feeling too much like I was getting all carried away that the sun had made and appearance and had consequently dressed for the tropics. As it turned out the roof was a bit of a suntrap and our friend Stef had brought a blanket (wasn’t that clever!) so we ending up basking in the afternoon sunshine. Of course the dress was fine for that too as the sleeves are only made of lace, clever huh? Not to mention very necessary in London, our climate is as changeable as my moods!

Peony-2

I actually had the lace left over from when I was making wedding dress samples for my potential wedding dress company that I never ended up starting. That is me all over unfortunately, in the words of the fabulous  Jo March ‘I make so many beginnings there never will be an end’.  This was quite some time ago so I forget where this particular stuff was from but I have often seen comparable cotton lace in the lovely Cloth House on Berwick street in London  if you are living within reach and ever happen to be in need of some. I underlined the bodice with an ivory cotton lawn from Fabrics Galore in Clapham (London) and used this same cotton to line the skirt. I underlined the bodice rather than lining it so that the darts, seams and zip would be nice and hidden. For more info on all the wonderful things about underlining have a look at this Threads magazine article.

Pattern-wise I cut a size 4 on the bodice because the pattern seemed to run pretty small on the top half- in all my other Colette creations I have been one or two sizes smaller so I would recommend maybe considering sizing up. I cut a 2 for the skirt and sloped the bodice to a 2 at the waist. I did have to make quite a few alterations to the bodice in order to get it to fit me well. The waist darts are very far into the centre and the bust dart was too high for me so I had to re-position both. I also did a 1 cm full bust adjustment and lengthened the bodice front and back 1cm on the lengthen/shorten line. The armscyes were too low on me and the sleeves were far too voluminous (my husband said they reminded him a bit of an angel costume, teehee!) so I raised the under arm point 2 cm and removed the correct amount of fullness from the sleeves so that they fitted the new armscye measurement.

Peony-5

The neckline was a bit gaping on me so I removed a 1 cm dart either side of the centre front  pivoting it into the bust dart. I also reluctantly lowered the bateau neckline slightly at the centre front – I love bateau necklines as they add such an instant vintage style but I have come to realise that they suit me lot better just a teeny bit lower. Also, comfort wise I’m kind of odd and they make me feel slightly claustrophobic. I wanted this dress to have an easy comfy fit so that I would want to throw it on in the daytime. Oh and the skirt was perfect in a size 2 which was a complete first for me- normally with Colette the size 0 is far too large on my lower half.

Obviously that was quite a few adjustments, having read other bloggers say the same I would recommend either measuring the actual pattern pieces or comparing them to a similar style pattern that fits you well before choosing your size with this one and just be prepared to pinch and re-pinch your toile a bit! I think it’s definitely worth the effort with this dress as it’s such a classic staple dress to have in your wardrobe! It is my firm belief that the 60s styles never tire! I plan to make up a short sleeve version in some lightweight seafoam green twill I have in my stash.

I decided to style my dress here with bright fun accessories. I love this bright pink Kate Spade bag- I feel that if Barbie owned just one handbag this may be the one! Hehe. My minty green shoes are Dune and my  pink lipstick is Revlon lip butter in Lollipop- could there be a better name for a lippie? I think not!

Colette Peony Bag

Colette Peony Pattern

Colette Peony Sewing Pattern

Have you made a Peony yet? Did you have any fitting issues?

Thanks for reading!

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Mrs K April 30, 2013 at 12:39 am

Such a cute dress and you wear it well! Beautiful job! I think you should apply as a contestant for the next Great British Sewing Bee!

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Krista April 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I second this! Would love to watch you on the next Great British Sewing Bee! Beautiful cake, Ami! Nice and light and fluffy! :)

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Ami May 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Aw thanks ladies! Not sure I could keep my cool like the apparently un-flappable Ann tho! Hehe
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DeniseAngela April 30, 2013 at 4:11 am

A beautiful dress & thanks for sharing your details! I have not yet tried a Colette pattern but do love the 60ish style of it!
DeniseAngela
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Ami May 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Ah thank you!
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Haylee April 30, 2013 at 5:53 am

Cuteeee!!! Oh my gosh this is adorable. Seriously I’m obsessed, good to know about the sizing issues though. I wasn’t planning on making a Peony but now I just think I might. ha I seriously am so in love with this!
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Ami May 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Thanks Haylee! A Peony would look great on you- I think you should definitely make one!
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Louise Bibbings April 30, 2013 at 8:00 am

It looks gorgeous as always Ami :-) I confess I’m a bit put off by the Colette patterns given the volume of alterations others have to make – but hey we’re all different!
I love that you have this dress as a ‘staple’ *such* a contrast to my life – hehe. Maybe one day I’ll be back at work and needing such a wardrobe ;-)

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Ami May 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hehe- I spend quiet a lot of time in scruffs- I think we all do in reality don’t we! :) Lace dresses and dog walking don’t go well together!
Some of the Colette patterns fit straight from the envelope, def worth testing them out!
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Tara April 30, 2013 at 10:10 am

Ooooh! Yet another wonderful creation! The elbow length lace sleeves are a genius addition for maximising springtime wear. Love your comment about not looking like you’ve gone all-out and dressed for the tropics – I always fret about that and won’t bust out any of my sun dresses til June, no matter how hot it gets! I’ve been meaning to check out those flamingoes for years. Will have to call and check when they’re in residence before my visit!

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Ami May 6, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Ah thanks! Hehe- yep I think it’s obviously a ‘call ahead to avoid disappointment’ deal with those flamingos! Very pretty roof terrace to tho and yummy cocktails! :)
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Tara April 30, 2013 at 10:12 am

Oooh love the lace sleeves, very seasonally appropriate! Totally agree with you about not wanting to look like you’ve overdone it and dressed for the tropics! I never busy out my sundresses til June no matter how hot it gets!

Sad about te flamingos – I’ve been meaning to go an check them out for years, will have I call and check they’re in residence first!
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Angela April 30, 2013 at 10:24 am

I am a recent convert to your site and am in awe of your talent. I love sewing but am somehow never quite neat enough. I think I probably dont have enough patience! I agree with mrs K, you should definitely apply for sewing Bee. Did you watch it ? I was completely hooked. Half the people on there had clearly not had any formal training which is a shame that it is not considered worthy of being a school subject any more. Anyway, you are fabulous and very pretty. Happy sewing.

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Ami May 6, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Ah thanks so much Angela! I really enjoyed watching the Sewing Bee too- it’s so nice that sewing is becoming so popular again isn’t it! I agree- it is SUCH a shame that it’s not a school subject- I took A-level Textiles and we learnt batik but not proper sewing skills! Surely the latter is of more use in future life! Hehe!
Happy sewing to you too :)
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caroline April 30, 2013 at 10:47 am

What a fantastic dress! And can I say how much I love your style? You always look perfectly and uniquely turned out. Thanks for sharing your creations.

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Ami May 6, 2013 at 10:10 pm

Thanks so much Caroline! Have just been reading and really enjoying your blog! :)
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Clipped Curves April 30, 2013 at 10:59 am

As always, a beautifully matched fabric and dressmaking pattern. Looks wonderful.
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Ami May 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Aw thanks so much! :)
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Fiona April 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

Beautiful as always Ami! So pleased to have you back blogging! I really enjoy reading about your fitting adjustments, you make it sound so straightforward it gives me a bit of confidence!
I have eyed up the Peony before but have read a lot of comments about it being difficult to fit which has put me off. Seeing yours maybe it’s worth it though!
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Ami May 6, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Ah thanks so much Fiona! It’s definitely a tricky one fit-wise but I think it’d be so lovely on you! Oooo and think of all the stunning fabrics that you could get from Berwick Street to make it up in! :)
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Gail April 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm

What a beautiful dress! And of course you wear it beautifully – love your styling, as always!

This post was so timely for me. I bought the Peony pattern when it was first released and made a toile, but had too many fit issues I wasn’t experienced enough to deal with yet. Lately I’ve been thinking of going back to it, so I really appreciate your notes on the pattern.

Glad you know you’re feeling better!
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Ami May 6, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Ah yay! Glad to have posted this at an opportune time! It’s definitely a bit of a pain getting it to fit- especially for such a simple dress but on the flip side would be perfect in so many fabric options that once you have it fitting right I think the possibilities are endless! I can see it looking amazing on you in a bold print! :)
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Karen Helm April 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Very pretty and versatile. I love how you have styled it with handbag and shoes – and Lollipop lips! I agree, those 60s’ styles are classics.

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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Thanks Karen! :)
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Andrea April 30, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Oh dear, what a fabulous version of the Peony. I’ve been inspired by lace dresses lately but this one takes the prize by far. I must confess I have not made the Peony dress because all the fitting issues I’ve read about on various blogs make me feel it would be too much of a hassle to undertake. Your efforts with the fitting clearly paid off – this dress is just stunning.
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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Ah thanks so much Andrea! A lace dress would be gorgeous on you- people seem to be getting on really well with the Laurel pattern!?
Love your Miette cardigan by the way and soooo with you on the whole blog photo hurdle you mentioned in that post- I wish things didn’t look so miserable on my dress form, I would blog far more often! :)
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Ginger May 1, 2013 at 12:41 am

This is too adorable! I love it! You look so sweet! I made a Peony ages ago, but I didn’t quite perfect the fit (to be completely honest, I stayed up all night sewing it before my sister’s wedding, so the whole thing came together very frantically!). You’ve made me want to revisit the pattern! Beautiful job!
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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Hehe- we’ve all been there! I HATE those late night sewing panics…I haven’t had one in quite a while thankfully! They never result in our best work- I think you should DEFINITELTY revisit it! :)
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Nicole May 1, 2013 at 3:41 am

Just gorgeous! I have always admired the Peony pattern but for some reason never made it, you have inspired me to give it a try :-)

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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Thanks so much Nicole! Glad to have inspired you! :)
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Erin May 1, 2013 at 5:22 am

Wow!! This dress is goreous and looks amazing!! The perfect dress for your event you would have looked super cute. Can’t wait to see what else you have been making!! Hope your feeling better too. xx
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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Aw thanks Erin! Can’t go wrong with lace- I love your lace laurel! Oh and yep much better thanks! :)
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Lynne May 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm

Your Peony is beautiful, I absolutely love the lacy sleeves. I have made one Peony, but it was a bit of a disaster! I over-fitted the bust, but mainly the fabric was pants. But I fully intend to make another at some stage, and yours will be added to my list of inspiring Peonys.

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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Aw thanks Lynne! :)
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Angel May 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm

What a cute little dress. It’s like a spring breeze in the blogosphere!
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Helen May 3, 2013 at 10:53 pm

This is beautiful and looks so elegant. I’ve been coveting the Peony for a while, as I absolutely love the shape, but am slightly put of off by the number of adjustments most people seem to need to make. Fitting is not my strong point!

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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Aw thanks so much Helen! It’s such a shame that it’s a tricky one fitting wise. :(
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Zoe May 4, 2013 at 11:28 pm

That dress is so gorgeous and it looks perfectly made as well! If I find any nice lace I will be sorely tempted to make this pattern, even though i already have a lot of lace dresses.. oh well!
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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:49 pm

Thanks Zoe!:)
You can never have too many lace dresses! Hehe!
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Ann Sinclair May 5, 2013 at 7:51 am

What a perfect little dress and absolutely lovely on you. Beautifully made as always. I agree that you would have been an amazing contestant on the Sewing Bee. Hopefully next time around? Wishing you many lovely Spring and Summer days to wear your your Peony dress.

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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Aw thanks Ann! I’m not so sure I would have been able to handle the pressure! So fun to watch tho! :)
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Noelle May 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm

So lovely! You make sewing look SO EASY!!! Haha.
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amelialowden May 6, 2013 at 10:51 pm

Aw thanks Noelle! :)
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Kacie May 11, 2013 at 11:32 pm

This dress is soooo lovely! I am such a sucker for lace dresses, and this one is done to perfection.

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Wendy June 1, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I just found your Peony on Flickr because I keep doubting about making this pattern but all the posts I have read about it call for so much alterations, that I’m just not sure about even getting started…
I really love your versions, and it looks absolutely fabulous on you. And last year during summer I went on a short holiday to London and ended up in the Cloth House, and I just loved it there. I spent my entire fabric-budget for the rest of the year there…

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katie August 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm

I’ve been reading your blog and love this dress! I haven’t ever made a dress before but want to start and love the Colette patterns so think I may this a try. I can’t get to a fabric shop so will have to order some online. Any fabric suggestion for a very new beginner that are easy to work with and will make a nice dress?
xx

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