Finished: Perfectly Plaid Peony

It's finally finished!  After 3 weeks, a number of stupid mistakes and a sewing machine breakdown, I have finished the third item in my Capsule Wardrobe plan. The first two items were my denim Crescent skirt and my Nice Surprise blouse

This was the first time I've made the Peony - Here's my review:
Pattern Used
Colette Patterns' Peony dress - I made Version 1 with the 3/4 sleeves and a belt made from a different fabric. 

Does it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope?

Were the instructions easy to follow? 
Yes, it's not a difficult pattern in any case.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? 
I was attracted to the neckline in particular, plus the fact it has pockets (the dress, not the neckline - that would be weird). However, now it's made, it is the neckline that I am dissatisfied with as you can *just* see my bra straps on either side (though not in these photos). I am going to make some loops with little metal studs that I could use to hold the straps in place to the shoulders of the dress, like you sometimes see in vintage dresses, but have not yet done this. However the first time I wore the dress I was very paranoid of this issue so will definitely be trying to fix this, pronto.
I'm not sure what the cause of this is. I did make a bodice muslin which suggested that it would be a good, snug fit, but I think I could have done with taking some fabric vertically from the front and back bodice pieces. As I have wide shoulders, I would have been reluctant to do this in case it was too tight across the shoulders. As it is, the fit is comfortable there.
I'd be grateful for any feedback or suggestions on this issue!

Fabric & Notions
I used a 100% wool fabric purchased in the Mandors sale just after Christmas. It was reduced to half price at £4 per metre, but it wasn't that great to work with (quite loosely woven so it was a bit unravelly) so I would have been annoyed if I had paid full price for it. I just love the combination of colours - blues and greens with black and grey. I lined the bodice and skirt with a green lining, also from Mandors, which is nice and silky but relatively thick, so feels good quality.

For the belt I was unable to find any fabric in a colour that matched the blues or greens in the dress, so I used a bit of black crepe from the belt I made for my leopard-print Crepe dress last year. The grey metal button was from my stash, it was a Christmas gift in 2012. I used an invisible zip.

Without the belt - Looking slightly like I'm about to start Irish Dancing

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made
I added 1 inch to the bodice and 1 inch to the skirt and am very glad I did because the length is just right on me. When it was finished, I also took in the side seams from the underarms, tapering down to the top of the pockets, as the fit was a little loose. 

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?   
I probably would sew it again, but have no immediate plans. I would recommend it.
 Look! Matching!

Did you use any new skills? 
Matching plaid! This definitely added time onto the make as there are so many areas to match. In the end I am very pleased with the job I did. It's not 100% perfect but it's certainly good enough not  to give you a migraine from the visual disturbance. Also, the construction of the cummerbund was new to me.

Aaaaaand, from the back

What wardrobe gap does this fill?
A winter dress for work.


Fabric           £10 (Mandors)
Lining          £3.99 (Mandors)
Belt fabric    Stash
Thread          £1.45 (Remnant Kings)
Zip                £1.90 (Remnant Kings)
Button          Stash
Pattern          Christmas Gift
Total             £17.34 
 Worn with a 1950s metal and fur brooch from a charity shop (blogged here) and brown ASOS brogues (I copied Melizza of Pincushion Treats - I bought them after seeing hers at the Crafters' Ceilidh!)
I definitely like it and have put a lot of work into the finish of it, which I am very proud of. The neckline/bra strap thing annoys me though, and it is this which prevents me from giving it the unequivocal 'thumbs up' I expected that I would do. I think I could have made it a little smaller perhaps, but like to be comfy plus am paranoid about making things too tight as realistically, I am not going to get any smaller over time (and don't intend/want to lose any weight) only stay the same or get larger, so I would hate to struggle to fit into it. Overall I am pleased - it's a practical and comfortable dress, and I anticipate that it will be really useful to wear to work. Still a couple of kinks to iron out before I will consider this project truly finished.

I'm going to post later this week about lining the dress, so do check back if you're interested in finding out more about its innards....

K x


  1. I made Peony recently as well and I am also having the wide neckline issue. I was wondering if I have narrow shoulders, but if you check out the Colette forums I think most peoples necklines are about in the same place. I think I'm going to do the same fix as you (little loops to hold the strap) and maybe make the neckline a little narrower for my next one!

    Yours looks super cute and comfy!

  2. Very, very nice indeed Kerry, I'm glad you're proud of the finish, it does look really professional. I haven't actually worn mine out yet but would also like to find a way of conquering the bra strap issue. I have those little loops in my wedding dress and they are fantastic, so I may just copy that idea.
    Would be very interested to see how you lined it too. Great job. x

  3. Pretty! That is a fantastic plaid - and so cheap! Jealous!

    For your bra strap issues, definitely make little snap tabs to hold them in place. My bra straps *kind of* show in my Peony's (except for the sleeveless one, for some reason?), but I honestly couldn't be arsed to care lol.

  4. Very cute!! I love the wool and you did a fantastic job matching the plaid! I agree the loops would be a good solution though, it is too bad everyone is having that issue.

    1. Thanks - it is nice to know it's not just me with the issue too!

  5. What a afab dress! I love your plaid fabric, the colours are so perfect! Shame about the bra strap issue, but I'm sure your snap idea will fix that!

  6. I love that dress, the colour, the sleeves, the fit, it's just perfect. x

  7. Lovely! That plaid was a great find - so adorable!

  8. Wow, great job :) I hope you can find a colour for the sash that matches the dress, then you'll have two options for wearing it- coloured and black!

    And it's so cute with the shoes!

  9. This is such a great dress - you are right to be pleased. I would wear the heck out of it, were it in my wardrobe.

  10. its a great addition to any wardrobe.. Beautifully made

  11. Love this! You did an amazing job of matching the plaids :)

  12. Oh it looks wonderful, well done.x x x

  13. The plaid is so lovely, and bravo on working on your plaid matching! It turned out beautifully.

  14. This looks great! I love yours! I never posted my finished Peony because I noticed in photos from the wedding I wore it to that the darts in the back were waaaayy too pointy (I sewed the thing in an all-nighter before the wedding!!) and it's just too disheartening. I started a second one before Christmas, but couldn't get the fit just right and can't work up the nerve to finish it. Sigh...

  15. I love this dress! I'm scared to try and match up plaids, though I love plaid so.

    From here the neckline looks great, but I agree those little bra strap keeper snaps will proably make you feel more comfortable. I have that problem a lot because I have narrow shoulders. It's a pain to constantly fidget with straps!

  16. Your dress looks great and the plaid matching is excellent! Def add the bra strap carriers, I added them to a dress and it loos great and is stress-free!

  17. It's a triumph! Matching plaid is so tedious and it looks like you've done such a great job. It's a really lovely looking dress and I bet pretty practical as a winter dress

  18. Oh, so lovely! The colors and the silhouette are very flattering on you. Everyone needs a warm dress for winter time, and this one should serve you for many seasons. Your plaid matching looks marvelous from here (North Carolina). I was so pleased some time ago to read that designers were foregoing any attempt to match plaids or pattern or finishing seams -- or, indeed, even putting seam allowances on the wrong side of the garment! -- until I saw the results of that theory of fashion design. Thankfully the late 1990s-early 2000s are behind us, and reason has triumphed, and it matters how you finish your garments.

  19. It looks so good in plaid, I'm rather tempted now myself to make a version of this dress. I'm really into three quarter length sleeves at the moment. The bra strap thing does give me concern though, can't go braless so will have to be careful of that bit of the pattern or make covers for my bra straps so they match the dress, or is that going too far?? ;)

  20. Well done!! That is some amazingly beautiful fabric, such a good find! I love seeing the Colette patterns made up in warmer fabrics or dark colourways, because the promo pictures are mostly the opposite. I also love the way you've styled it in the photos, so cute!

  21. Wowee!! What a great dress! I love the colours and it looks terrific with the black crepe belt. The plaid matching is SO GREAT! Well done, Kerry! :D

  22. LOVE IT! Great colour in the fabric and the plaid suits the design so well!

  23. Your Peony is GORGEOUS. You did an awesome job at matching that plaid. Your shoes are quite sweet too :)


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