Saturday, 21 June 2014

Colette Ceylon in Teal

I have been really busy lately and have about 5 WIPs on the go, and I'm aware that there may be a bout of mass blogging coming up as I complete them all. I hope this is cool with you?

I figured that before this happens I should really post the unblogged projects I finished ages ago. Particularly this one, as it has already featured in the blog and some of you have already seen it on me at NyLon2014.
So, here is the Colette Ceylon dress. I've had loads of questions about the dress and I'll try to remember them all and squeeze the answers into this post.

Firstly, I instagrammed the hell out of this project. But I found the construction really interesting, which is probably why. Rather than place right sides together and sew, the instructions are to stay stitch on the seam allowance, press the seam allowance to the wrong side, and then topstitch that piece over the top of another, creating a really detailed topstitched patchwork of a dress. It takes a little time, not just for all of the basting, ironing, removing basting stitches, not to mention ALL the little gathers, but because there are a squillion pieces to this dress!

The main question I had was the same question I had when I first saw the pattern - "Is it really hard to fit?" As we leave safe front bodice/back bodice territory and enter the world of an 9 piece bodice you would think that it would get tricky, but actually having a different piece to fit over each of your curvy bits makes it a lot easier to spot where the problems are. Bust looks wrong - just alter that piece. Waist not right - you know what to fix. 

As I am short,  I had to remove some length. I made a muslin, grading sizes 2 at the bust to a 6 at the waist and hips. I did this piece by piece, matching the size at the top of one piece with the bottom of the adjoining piece. Knowing I couldn't exactly do an SBA this seemed the best option and it worked fine. The muslin showed far too much room height wise in the top back piece, so I took out a wedge of a couple of inches, then I took an inch off the bottom of the bust pieces and an inch off the top of the waist pieces. After reading other reviews I did a sleeve to test and also found it impossibly tight. I added an inch, and even then it's a very snug fit. I have to pull it off separately to get out of the dress! So really, a few easy adjustments was all it took. The pattern is marked with a waist line which made it easy to get the length right as the waist is quite nipped in, so you know when that sits in the right place everything else can be assessed properly.

It's taken me so long to blog this dress because I've been lazy with taking photos. I'm getting tired of tripods in my living room and I live in a lovely town full of interesting backdrops so this morning I decided to drag the boyfriend down the road to take a few snaps in a more interesting location. I found a nice garage door. Unfortunately, I hate having my photo taken, so I'm pretty much talking through the whole thing, complaining at how awkward I feel. This should explain the strange faces I'm pulling.

Once again I don't know what "type" of fabric you call this. It's polyester (Sweaty, boo! No ironing, yay!), very slinky with a very slight mesh feel to the texture. I found it in the Fancy Silk Store, Birmingham and I think it was £3 a meter. I bought 3 meters, but I only used 2 which is very surprising considering the number of pieces. The buttons were a job lot on ebay, cheap as chips!

When it came to the buttons I made a little boo boo and made the holes on the wrong side. Whoops. The pattern calls for horizontal buttonholes so I dutifully followed orders but oh my days what a nightmare!! Because it allows no scope for up/down movement, if the corresponding button is sewn just a couple of mms off the whole thing bunches up and looks awful. Most of these buttons were sewn three times before I finally got them all in the right place. I'd love to say sod it, go vertical, but due to the spacing between them I don't know if it would work. Which sucks. But it looks pretty with them horizontal so what the hell!

This is the first Intermediate pattern I've tackled and I didn't find it difficult at all. So if you've eyed up this pattern but been afraid that it's difficult then have a crack at that, it's not hard, just time consuming. And I think it's worth the little extra effort :)

I'm already planning my winter wardrobe and I think there might be a couple of wool versions of this featuring- perhaps with normal seams instead of topstitching to reduce bulk. I'll probably let out the waist another 1/2 inch, and loosen the sleeves a little more as well, but I definitely plan to make this pattern again!


  1. Hello Jodie! Great to see your post about the dress you wore to NYLon. As I said then, it's officially on my `To Make Soon' list... I think the colour is perfect for you, and I am so with you on not liking photos of me wearing my makes. Now to get thinking of potential fabrics for my own version. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. I'm so glad you like it! I also love the colour, I had a real "had to have it" moment in the fabric shop when I saw it!
      If you discover any tricks to be less awkward in front of cameras please do let me know! I'd love to have better photos to share :)
      Looking forward to seeing your Ceylon!

  2. Hi there, like your version of the Ceylon. When I did my floral version threse years ago, I too was wondering how to do the adjustments (as I needed a FBA, midriff and bodice shortening and widening the sleeves - I found them to be way too tight!! Back then, there were few if very little tutorials from the Colette Patterns website, none for the Ceylon dress - but the company used to have a Forum on their blog, where you could contact other sewers - don't know it if still exists). So I left the pattern, untouched for weeks, until one day, I had an epiphany moment about the bodice: Temporarily, I pieced the front yoke and front bodice pieces and did a FBA, filled gaps with paper and then separated them and redrew the front yoke to retain the original curve. The bodice and midriff were fairly straightforward to shorten, but when it came to widening the sleeves by 1 1/2", I used the book "Fit for real people" - by Patti Palmer and Marta Alto, which was and still is a great reference book for pattern alteration., The sleeves were a bit more puffy, but it gave me the room I needed for the arms and I shaved off a little from the vertical part of the back and front armscyes of the bodices for extra room, but not at the base of the armpit and that seemed to do the trick.

    With regards to the construction process, I did it differently in some parts instead of following the instructions. I added piping between the two sets of front and back yoke pieces, now when it came to attaching the front yoke to the front bodice, that was a bit more tricky, I sandwiched it between the front yokes which I accessed through the armhole and had to sew it through that route - hope that makes sense, then attached the sleeves
    The front and back skirt pieces, were sewed together as one continuous length (as the piping needed to be added to the bottom of the midriff as well as the top) then attached that to the front and back bodice. Phew!!

    1. Hi Tanya!
      I don't have that book (yet) but I'm heard a lot of good things about it, so will probably pick up a copy at some point. I do have Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen which is good - very comprehensive! The best thing about it is it gives you the order to fix issues, so that you're not fixing things that are a knock-on effect of a different fit issue.