Green Pastille dress (The Colette Sewing Handbook)

Green Pastille dress
Green Pastille dressA pretty dress was hanging on the wall of my clean room, as if it was magically appeared out of thin air. There were no traces at all that not a few hours before, the dress was a nightmare and the room was a complete mess. Surely I have to thank the magical power of a vacuum cleaner.

The pattern is Pastille dress from The Colette Sewing Handbook, the one on the cover. I’ve loved the pattern since the first time I saw it, but kept postponing to make it because apparently I’m too small for Colette patterns. Doing a small bust adjustment like what I did for my Taffy top wouldn’t be sufficient for a sheath dress like this. A few days ago, I finally found enough bravery to grade the pattern down.

Grading down Pastille dress pattern
Grading down Pastille dress pattern

I started with grading size 0 one size down. Does that mean it is now size -2? Anyway the grading process went smoothly, despite needing some time and patience to do it. Then I did my usual adjustment, shortening the bodice by 2.5 cm and a slight swayback adjustment on bodice back and skirt back.

The fabric is this wonderful cotton/linen mix with slight wavy rows of white circles pattern, I got it from Okadaya, a fabric store in Shinjuku. It is very easy to cut and sew and also comfortable to wear.

The instructions in the book suggested finishing the upper bodice before attaching the skirt. I preferred to attach the skirt before the side seams, in case I might need to adjust it later.

I put on this dress for the first fitting and looked into the mirror. The waist sat too low despite the short bodice adjustment that I’d made. The waistline also curved downward on the sides. And what was that on my back? It looked like I had a hunchback from the puffed up fabric there. The shoulders sat strangely and almost all the darts had extra volumes on the tips. Usually with Butterick or Vogue patterns, I didn’t need more adjustments other than what I have mentioned above so I was quite disheartened by the sight.

Uh, maybe that’s why people are making muslin first before going for the real thing?? But my problem with muslin is that I always feel guilty looking at those unused and rejected fabrics. They looked so sad crumpled in the corner of scraps bin.

However, I refused to be defeated by this dress! Besides, the fabric is too pretty to have its destiny doomed to the black hole aka the unfinished projects box. I pinned all the problems until my body was surrounded by tiny needles and taking off the dress had to be done very sloooowly. Then I went to sleep filled with nightmares of fitting alterations.

Green Pastille dress Green Pastille dress
The next day I woke up fresh and began to work on the problems. In case you’re interested, here’s the list of all the alterations that I made after the fitting:

  • bodice front: shortened 1 cm on center front, tapered to 3 cm on both sides. Front darts lengthened 2.5 cm.
  • bodice back : shortened 3 cm. Back darts lengthened 6 cm. The initial back length was way too long for my body and I noticed that some people also have problemsΒ with the bodice back of this dress.
  • skirt back: darts lengthened 3 cm
  • shoulders: lowered 1 cm from hemline tapered to nothing on neckline
  • slimmed down sides 0.5 cm from armhole to hip

Luckily the fabric is strong enough to handle all those ripping and re-stitching! After all these efforts, the dress was finally looked decent enough on my body. From then on, I applied all the alterations to the lining and continued finishing the dress. All these alterations made me think that maybe I should have graded down 2 sizes. I would try it on my next Colette dress.

Green Pastille dress Green Pastille dress Green Pastille dress
The dress in the book doesn’t have lining but I added one as I love wearing dress with lining. It makes putting on the dress much easier, preventing unsightly bumps, and also protecting the fabric itself. Basically I cut the lining from the same pattern pieces as the outer fabric, and baste them together around the neckline and armholes. The facings were then sewed as usual to this unit. That way I can catch-stitch the facing edges to the lining only. The hem was finished with white seam bindings and catch-stitched.

Not the most perfect dress but I finally love it!

Green Pastille dress Green Pastille dress
Pattern is Pastille dress from Colette Sewing Handbook, graded down from size 0 and altered to fit.

In another news, I got a new glasses courtesy of Firmoo. They contacted me sometime ago to do a review of their service. The ordering process is quite simple, choose the style (I chose this one) and enter the prescription, you can also select various lenses with additional fee. It was my first time getting glasses from an online shop, so initially I was a bit wary.

The shipping was reasonably fast, I received the glasses in less than 2 weeks. They came with case and pouch, lens cloth, screwdriver and extra screws. The quality is surprisingly good despite the prices. I have been wearing them for a week now and there have been no problem with the prescription (PD:64, right eye: -2.25/-0.5 cyl, left eye: -2.5).

If you also want to try out, they have a program offering free eyewear for first-time buyers, you just pay for the shipping fee. It’s definitely a good alternative to expand your glasses collection within reasonable budget!
Green Pastille dress Firmoo glasses

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  • JF Mony

    Hey Novita, You are looking great in this green color print dress. Your writing style is just outstanding. I have learned many things from you. Thanks dear for this lovely article. And I insist you to enjoy my web page, Churidar Neck Designs

  • You look great with your new glasses! And thanks so much for the tip! I just ordered my first pair. Wish you and you family a happy and peaceful Christmas.

  • I love seeing all your new projects posted here! Especially Colette patterns.. I’m a beginner sewist and don’t know if I’m just OCD about the fitting on patterns, or if it’s true – Colette Patterns just tends to be made for more boxy women.

    I’m pretty petite by their standards, I suppose. I’ve been making a size 4 in their patterns but always have to grade down so much that for the Meringue skirt (my latest project), I decided to try a size 2. It fits pretty well.. I’m debating on whether to let it out like 1/8″ on each side, but thought that might be a little overkill. The skirt waist usually stretches out after a couple of wearings, anyway, and there’s nothing more I hate than a saggy waist.

    I do have a question about your swayback adjustments… I’ve noticed you do a swayback for each of your patterns, and it wasn’t until making this last pattern that I realized I needed to do swayback, as well. I took in 1/2″ of swayback on the skirt back, and I’m not sure if it’s just my mulin fabric but it seems to me that there is puckering right around the darts of the back skirt piece. Not sure if I need to manipulate the darts somehow, but I have a pretty flat butt, which makes me think I need to make the darts smaller…

    What do you think? Have you ever run into this issue? Where it looks like the back of the skirt is made for a larger bottom, but just sags right around the darts?

    I thought I’d reach out to you, since you’ve had some experience with the whole swayback adjustment!

    Thanks so much! I really love your blog.. keep it up! πŸ˜€

    • Hi Amanda! I think you might be right about Colette patterns, it seems that I always have to do lots of alterations whereas I don’t have to to make for patterns from others.
      Nowadays I always check the finished measurements instead of the sizes. Some patterns have more or less ease than others so I just pick the size with the most comfortable ease that I’m used to wear.
      Swayback adjustment can make the back darts shorter and change the direction of the darts. Maybe you need to lengthen them a bit and adjust the direction of the darts. You might want to check if both sides of the darts are still the same length.
      Hope that helps! And thank you for dropping by πŸ™‚

  • I agree that Colette patterns are very big and very big in the bust as well! I have to make them one or two sizes smaller than suggested and there are always lots of weird fitting issues. I think they are very overrated and boxy patterns. But the envelopes and style are pretty! BTW, I was in Tokyo in March and went to Odakyu. What a fun shop I loved TOMATO.

  • Alice

    I enjoy seeing your efforts and following your story. 2 suggestions – first use the lining for your muslin and second, maybe not for all garments, cut the lining out of the garment pattern instead of lining pieces. Then just finish the facing edges and attach them to the lining and then attach the faced lining to the garment. The lining provides a little more stability, and it is easier to work with. Some of this is a judgement call how to proceed.

    I am amazed by your grading skills. I’m working on drafts and drapes, but haven’t gotten into grading yet.

    • Use the lining for muslin! That is so brilliant! I would do this from now on.
      Thank you so much for the wonderful tip!

  • The dress and fabric are great on you. I also have loads of issues with Colette fit. I made 4 muslins on my Crepe…and I am onto number 2 on Peony. Normally I have to move darts and change the armhole

  • Iheartfabric

    Mug = much… Silly auto correct on iPad haha.

  • Iheartfabric

    I just bought the collette handbook so I really loved your post very thorough and even though you had these complications the dress looks amazing on you. Good luck with the next ones hopefully be a bit easier. I can’t wait to go back to Japan to stock up on fabric I went crazy at nippori when I was there. Your dress does look fantastic with lining I usually put lining in too so mug nicer!! I’m going to check out that glasses store I have bought 4 pairs this year through metsuki in the uk. So mug cheaper than in Australia and perfect fit! Online shopping is the best haha. Thanks for a fabulous post!!

  • Crystal

    Beautiful dress, I’m glad you took the time to make all those alterations.

  • Lizzy

    This looks wonderful & I love the fabric. I really want to make this dress but have been scared off by fitting issues… but it’s oh so tempting!

    • I’d say go for it! I learned a lot about my body shape and what kind of alterations I I would need from making this dress. Of course making a muslin first wouldn’t hurt…. πŸ˜›

  • Jo

    Wow, so cute! I would love to make this dress someday too. For now, all I’ve made is the Taffy blouse.
    I love the colour, print and fit! So pretty- awesome job πŸ™‚

  • Gosh, this looks cute on you! I’m so glad you were able to sort out the fitting issues! I’ve been nervous to make this because of the issues that people have had with the back, but I’m tempted to try it out since yours is so cute!

    • Can’t wait to see your version! πŸ™‚

  • This is so cute! I sympathise with you re being too small for patterns too, and excellent work on grading it down!

  • Novita, you look lovely and green suits you so mush matching your skin and your hair! I felt defeated after 3 muslins of the Pastille dress, so maybe I’ll try it again next year πŸ˜‰

    • Wow I really admire that you’ve gone so far as making three muslins! I feel I was just lucky that these alterations worked after all πŸ™‚

  • I love it !

  • You would never say it gave you so much trouble, it looks effortlessly perfect! The fabric is gorgeous.

  • This looks so pretty! Well worth all the trouble fitting. And thanks for the glasses link, I will have a look.

  • Nancy

    That dress looks lovely on you and I love the green colour and print! I’ve been eyeing up that sewing book but all the alterations you had to do I’m not sure I’m capable yet to do that or have the time to figure it all out. I’m always so impressed with your sewing skills and pattern and fabric choices, you have one amazing wardrobe!

    • The style of the dress is so wonderful that I suggest you give it a try! I think it would depend on the body type, some people make the dress without too much alterations and it fits wonderfully πŸ™‚

  • Love this!! Beautiful fabric.

  • That is a beautiful print on the fabric, so fresh and lush and suits your complexion perfectly πŸ™‚

  • This looks fantastic! It sounds like a rather lengthy fitting session but well worth it in the end! I’m super impressed by your pattern grading- that is an epic skill!

    • Lengthy it was! I was tempted to toss the dress away several times but fortunately I love the fabric too much πŸ˜€