Marides - one of my long-standing clients - wanted a dress for the holidays and I suggested Colette's Peony dress since I thought is would suit her shape. Marides liked it so I sent off for the pattern. And then I read reviews of the pattern and saw how much trouble people have had in fitting the bodice and I got a bit nervous.
Marides is petite (she can't be more than 5'1") and, like me, a bit rectangular. Her measurements lined up with the Size 12 for most of the dress with a bit more needed in the waist. Before making the muslin, I took 2" off the skirt length and a full 1.75" off the bodice at the "lengthen/shorten here" line. I traced the waist halfway between the size 12 and 14 and tapered it to the size 12 at the hip. I decided on those amounts by comparing Marides' shoulder-to-bust and waist-to-hem measurements to the pattern measurements.
The muslin fit okay (I should have taken a picture but I forgot) but definitely needed more adjustment. I took 3/4" off the shoulder, extended the back darts up another 2 inches, and took about 1/2" off the bodice center front just above the waist dart (tapered to 0 at the side seam). When it came to making the changes to the flat pattern piece, I was at a bit of a loss as to how I should deal with the 1/2" at center bust to 0 at the side seam issue. I search around online but couldn't find anything that felt right (I can't say exactly why they didn't feel right, but I'm learning to trust those instincts). Then I remembered that I'd learned some flat pattern adjustment techniques from Lorraine Henry at the Original Sewing Expo Show I attended last March. I found the full bust adjustment, reversed it for Marides' issue, and then crossed my fingers and cut the fashion fabric for her real dress.
And it worked!
I had some lovely quality fabric to use for the dress:
It's a stretch cotton sateen (and they have one yard left!!) I found at the Etsy shop Fabrics and Trimmings and I'll certainly be ogling the apparel fabric in their shop again. (In fact, I just ogled and I'd love to have some of this for a peplum top and some of this for another pencil skirt! Someone please stop me . . .) It held up fine in the washer and dryer and sewed up like a dream.
I made piping for the neckline and this was super easy to do once I found 1/8" cotton piping (Hancock's wasn't going to help me out with that). Thanks again, Etsy (this time seller CrystalsLaceAndMore)! I've had a dress is my head for over a year now that involves polka dot piping, so I'm glad to know that will be easy.
The only major problem I had finishing the dress was with the buttonhole on the belt. Machine stitched button holes are the weakest link in my sewing skills. I don't know if it's me, my machine, a lack of practice, or a lack of a buttonhole foot (I don't have one and can't find one for a 1970s Pfaff 1222se online).
I practiced the button hole first on a scrap piece of fabric and it looked fine so I went ahead and threw one down on the belt. And it was a disaster. I was disgusted and embarrassed with the results so at this point I just had to go to bed. Carol tried it on her machine the next day with only slightly better results (I used the dark brown thread, she used the lighter green):
I do now feel a bit more confident with my bound buttonholes after making so many of them on my Gertie top, so I decided it was the only fix. I took off the ruined side of the belt, cut out a new piece, and sewed up this buttonhole:
Overall I liked the Peony pattern, but maybe it was easier for me because Marides didn't want it as fitted as some folks do. I loved the fabric and I've got just enough left to make a pencil skirt or maybe a sleeveless top (hooray!). And I loved that Marides was happy. I've got some figuring to do in the New Year to see if I can really make this work my next career, but I do love the part of this that is about helping others feel good.
This is Marides in the dress (in my kitchen with Belly's artwork behind her head) before I hemmed it: