How’s your day going? I’ve just got back from an extremely civilised afternoon tea in York with a lovely bunch of sewists to celebrate A Little Lawn Party. The journey home was somewhat eventful (thank you to the wonderfully clear signs at York train station that had two of us getting on a train to Darlington instead of Leeds to go home!!) but the afternoon tea was rather blissful, so thank you so much for including me everyone!
The tea was to celebrate A Little Lawn party, a challenge which involved making something spring like to mark the change in seasons. When I saw this and there was mention of afternoon tea, I knew that the 3.5m of Liberty tana lawn I picked up as a remnant from Liberty’s in February (who knew Liberty’s did remnants?!) would be perfect. It was just a case of finding the right pattern.
After some dithering, I landed on the Colette Penny dress. This is a shirt dress which was released last summer, slightly after the Sew Over It Penny dress. Which is also a vintage inspired shirt dress. I wouldn’t normally have justified buying both, but I am a Seamwork subscriber and like a lot of others I know, have a large amount of unused credits which can be used either for Seamwork or Colette patterns. So in effect it was free? Sort of?
I chose to go for view B, which is the sleeveless version with a kind of cummerbund (there’s a word for this, right?) across the front waist. I dithered with making short sleeves but decided that sleeveless is actually more comfortable under cardies so went with that.
Size wise I had some grading to do. The pattern sizes don’t match my measurements too well, so I had to grade between a size 6 on the shoulders and bust to a 10 on the waist and hips. I did that simply by drawing a smooth line between the 6 and the 10 from below the bust dart to the waist on the front bodice and then ensuring that matched up on the back bodice piece. I used the size 6 bust dart and size 10 waist dart.
If you buy this as a pdf, I’d definitely say get it printed! I printed off the view B only file and it was STILL over 60 pages long! But I was feeling time pressured to didn’t want to wait for it to come through the post, so spent a very long evening with my guillotine and pritt stick!
There were a few new techniques to me on this dress, and a couple of things I would do differently next time.
I think they way they have you finish the side seams doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. It has you finish the skirt side seams before you fasten the skirt and unfinished bodice together and then finish the bodice side seams. This makes no sense when you’re using an overlocker; another time I would wait until it was all fastened together and finish it in one fell swoop.
The armholes are meant to be finished with facings. Despite not being the biggest fan in the world of facings, I wrestled with them for AGES but I could NOT get them to lie flat. Of course, working with Liberty fabric, I wanted it to be as good as possible, so I kept unpicking and trying again until, on about the 5th attempt, I threw them in the bin and used bias binding. Should totally have done that in the first place; it went in easily, looks great and there’s no question of it flipping to the outside.
The cummerbund (?) bit was new but the instructions were clear and I think it went pretty well. I did manage to have a mental block on where the snaps were supposed to be sewn (why? so obvious if you step back and look at the envelope picture for all of 10 seconds) but got there in the end; I think I just misread one paragraph and thought it was telling me to sew on more female snaps than male snaps. Totally user error!
The yoke is finished using the burrito method; I’ve done this a few times recently so tackled it confidently and I’m really happy with the results. I did use a plain lawn rather than the Liberty for the inner bodice, but I’m happy with that and actually like the internal contrast.
It also means that, despite having the amount of fabric the envelope calls for, I still have the best part of a metre left. Which is nice.
I’m kind of in two minds about the finished length; is it stylishly midi or is it just a tad frumpy? It definitely doesn’t feel like you could wear it with flats, which is a bit of a downer, but then I did make it for a special event so maybe heels are appropriate anyway? I’m going to wear as is a few times and see whether I get used to this new length for me.
I did read another blog post that said this dress sewed up quite quickly which made me feel a little bit down on myself; I thought this was a more involved project with a certain amount of handsewing. But it’s not about the speed and I really did enjoy making this one.
My only slight reservation is how much I will wear it; but then, a girl’s got to have some things that exist purely because they’re pretty, right?
So, welcome, summer; I have a perfect party frock and I’m ready for you!
(Photos today courtesy of my mini photographers, Beth & Katie!)
Pattern: Colette “Penny” shirt dress, view B
My measurements: bust 36″: waist 31″: hip 41″
Size cut: graded between 6 and 10
Adjustments made: hollow chest adjustment (lowered front bodice shoulder by 1cm, did the same to the CF point and then smoothed the line between them)
Fabric: Liberty Tana Lawn in Cosmic Heart C
Future adjustments: Nope
Make again: Potentially: if I find I’m wearing a shirt dress, I like the look of view A too so would be tempted to give that a go