Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Tell-Tale Pastille Dress

This is the second project I was talking about in my last post.  The pattern is the Pastille dress from The Colette Sewing Handbook.  I thought it was finished then, but it turned out it wasn't.  It's a long story, feel free to skim and/or just look at the photos!

 
Basically it was all down to the fit of the bodice back.  This seems to be a common problem with this pattern (a lot of it was my fault though), but also I made a complete mess of the pleats.  I'm going to break this down into sections for ease of reading.
 
Fabric and Belt
 
For the skimmers!  The fabric is a gorgeous cotton lawn from ebay, the pattern is called Iona.  I bought it here, and it also comes with a blue backgroundMy belt is from White Stuff; at £22.50 it is a bit pricey, but I really loved it and thought it would go well with the fabric.
 
 

 
Bodice Back and the world's biggest Sway Back Adjustment
 
Gosh, where do I start with this!  I made a toile (as I always have to do due to fitting issues) and made a sway back adjustment of 3cm at the waist.  It looked ok, but it turned out that it wasn't.  I think the problem was the fabric I used for the toile.  It was an old duvet cover which was polycotton and had a slight stretch to it.  I used it for the toile of my Darling Ranges dress, and with hindsight, can now see why I had fitting issues with the back of it too.
 
Anyway, I made up the back in the cotton lawn, attached it to the skirt and bodice front, and pinned the zip in - there was a huge hunch in the middle of the back.  But at least I hadn't sewn the zip in!  Now, it was at this point that I should have stepped away from the dress for a few days to consider what to do; but no - I waded on in there, and it all went to hell in a handbag.

 
I decided to mimic the curve that happens at the bottom of the bodice back when you do a sway back adjustment.  I unpicked the bodice back from the skirt, and basically pinned the two together in a curve up to the centre back until it fitted.  I blithely sewed it together, hacked off the excess fabric, and finished the rest of the dress, all the while thinking, "my cardigan and belt will cover the worst of it, la-la la la la".
 
It hung on the cupboard door waiting for me to take some photos, but every time I looked at the back, it seems worse than the last time I looked at it!  It started to feel like a guilty secret, which made me think of The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.  Honestly, the phase "hot mess" does not even begin to describe it - fur-lined, ocean-going disaster is closer to the mark!  There are no photos of this by the way; if there were, the sewing police would confiscate my machine for my own good.
 
I was quite miffed about this because I loved the fabric so much, and the front is lovely.  Would you have a look at that sweetheart neckline -
 
I love those forget-me-nots!
 
 
I am belligerent enough that I refused to let it be a wadder, and as George Michael so eloquently put it, "If you're gonna do it, do it right...", so I ordered another metre of fabric and spent some quality time with my stitch ripper.  Let me tell you, unpicking all the back facings was not fun.
 
I made a new skirt back, and a new toile in cotton fabric.  This time I did a 6cm sway back adjustment at the waist, and another 6cm sway back adjustment just below the underarms.   I also lengthened the back darts by 4.5cm.  The result was a pretty good fit I think, but the fitting was all done by pinning the skirt back and toile to the dress front, which was really quite ridiculous, what with the back facings flapping about! 
  
You can see here in the print on the fabric how the sway back adjustment at the waist has affected the back waistline.
 
Zip

Back number one had a lapped zip, but guess what, that was a disaster too!  I used the Mastering Zipper Technics class on Craftsy, which is great.  The instructions are a breeze to follow, my problem was on the second side of the zip (the side with the lap).  In the video, it's a short zip attached to two pieces of fabric, there is no garment front to think about.  The lap is sewed with the zip closed, but because I was using a 22 inch zip, the front of the dress was getting in the way.  I ended up having to open the zip to sew the lap, and it was a mess!  But I was in full on "my cardigan and belt will cover the worst of it" mode at that point.
 
By the time I got to the zip on back number two, I just wanted it finished, so I used an invisible zip.  Now, even if I say so myself, I think I'm getting pretty handy with an invisible zip.  This one went in perfectly first time.  I know I've posted this before, but this tutorial from By Hand London is the best how-to on invisible zips that I've come across.



Facings
 
The armhole facings on this pattern are similar to the ones on the Colette Crepe Dress pattern.  When I made my Crepe dress I used a hand-sewn pick stitch to understitch the facing because I thought it would be tricky to understitch them on the machine due to the shape.  I used a tutorial video from Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing - scroll down to the bottom of the page.  On this dress I understitched on the machine, and it was really easy.  I just put the machine on the slowest speed, and it worked first time. 


 
Pleats
 
Here's my top tip on the pleats, do what it says in the instructions.  I thought I'd be really smart and sew the pleats up before sewing the back seam; my reasoning was that it would be easier, turns out I was wrong.  The pleats didn't match up at the back seam, and it looked like a dogs breakfast.  There was no cardigan that was long enough to cover that! 
 
 
 
 
Mods
 
  • Full Bust Adjustment of 2cm
  • Waist dart lowered by 1.5 inches
  • Neckline raised by 1.5cm
  • Back neck lowered by 4cm
  • Aforementioned mega sway back adjustment - 6cm at the waist, and 6cm just below the underarms
  • I like my skirts to be just below the knee, so I lengthened the skirt by 1.5 inches.

I wore this to work today and I love it. I'm glad I stuck with it, but I'm very glad to have it finished!

Lynne

28 comments:

  1. The shape of this does wonders for your figure! I had some sway back adjustments to do with I sewed the Pastille too, more so than I normally have to do. You stuck with it way longer than I did!

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    1. Thank you! There was no way that I was letting this dress beat me!

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  2. You look great, the shape is really flattering. I haven't tried this pattern yet but have it on my list. While it was a marathon for you, it looks like it was worth the hassle. The print is gorgeous.

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    1. Thank you! Good luck with yours. Another tip I would give for this pattern is to be prepared to make more that one toile for the back.

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    2. You can read on my blog the hassle I had with this pattern, just search "Pastille". Unfortunately, I gave up, I was so soured on the dress at that point. What I realize now is that I should have substituted a back pattern piece from a dress pattern that fit and just transferred the sleeves over. So hopefully, I can help someone else by writing this here. Don't even bother with trying to fix the back piece for this pattern, it's too much work. Good luck, Claire!

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    3. I've just been looking at your Pastille on your blog, and the back of mine looked exactly like the back of yours. It's so frustrating that this pattern is so poorly sized at the back. Substituting a back pattern piece from another pattern is a brilliant idea, and one I wish I'd thought of!

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  3. That is some commitment to getting it right! I don't know if I would have had the patience. In fact I've got at least two things sitting in my wardrobe that I know I won't wear because I'm not entirely happy with and I really need to just get on with it and give them an overhaul! The dress is absolutely beautiful, totally worth all the effort

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    1. Thank you! I really can be belligerent when I put my mind to it! I say go for it with the alterations, it's a very satisfying feeling when they're done.

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  4. I love it! The dress is so beautiful and well done for seeing it through to the end. The fabric is stunning and if I were sewing at the moment I would have snapped up the blue version, but as my finger hovered over the buy button I remembered I have loads of dress fabric that isn't being used either and stopped with a little pout of sadness.

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    1. Thank you! You've a lot more willpower than me, I would have hit "buy" without a second thought!

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  5. This is beautiful, and all the hard work you put into sorting out the problems certainly paid off! It looks great on you and the fabric is divine! I think I may get some of the blue background version for my Anna dress :)

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    1. Thank you! This would look fab as an Anna dress. Are you following the sewalong? I'm waiting for the FBA post tomorrow, but I need to finish tracing my pattern first!

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  6. Darn Emma, I was thinking the same thing myself :-) Ordered the Anna pattern earlier in the week for the sewalong! I love this fabric Lynne and the dress looks great on you! I had a similar 'bull in a china shop' moment last weekend with a skirt fitting - I really should pay more attention...

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad I'm not the only one, that makes me feel a bit better!

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  7. The dress looks amazing on you! And well done on keeping going. I made the dress a couple of weeks ago and also had massive fitting issues, so I can completely understand your frustration. Mine isen't done yet - I still have to sew the skirt lining on. And I love the liberty print! I have/had it in pink and made a skirt from it :)

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    1. Thank you! Good luck with the skirt lining.

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  8. This looks so fabulous on you! Well worth persevering. I have a half finished Pastille in my UFO box that I can hardly bear to look at. It is in plaid and I started it before I understood things like pattern matching or fitting, so I know it is going to be a right old mess. I may just grit my teeth and dig it out though after seeing yours.

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    1. Thank you! I think the thing that's really annoying about this pattern is that it's in a book that is sort of aimed at newish sewists. I can see how folks with not to much sewing experience would just give the whole sewing thing up as a bad job if they made this. Good luck with yours!

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  9. Oh it was definitely worth persisting with, it looks amazing. Love, love, love the fabric!

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    1. Thank you! It was the lovely fabric that kept me going.

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  10. I'm so glad you didn't give up on this one, because it's just gorgeous on you! Beautiful fabric, and a beautiful fit - well done you! Love your shoes too, by the way :)

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    1. Thank you! I love my shoes too because I have stupidly small feet, and those shoes actually fit.

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  11. I'm glad that your determination paid off because this dress truly is stunning. I have had that Colette book since it came out but have just known that fitting the dresses will be a massive faff for me so I have never used any of the patterns - this is both making me rethink that decision and incredibly wary of it at the same time!

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    1. Thank you! The dresses in the book are lovely, but if I were to make another one, I would use another pattern that fits as a template.

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  12. Just want to echo everyone's comments. Good job seeing it through. It's beautiful!

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  13. Your dress turned out beautifully. I just purchased the Colette book and was thinking about making the Pastille -- I'm glad I thought to search around online, as I don't think it would be a good idea to make this for my very first dress!

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  14. Thank you! I wish I'd had the sense to do a search on this pattern before I made it. Since I posted this, I added another pleat to the bottom of the skirt because I thought the length looked a bit weird on me. Good luck with your first dress!

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Thank you for reading my blog! I love reading your comments, so please feel free to leave a comment if you have the time :) Lynne.