Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Pastille yes but pastel no.


Yes you're reading it right another blog post within days of the last.  Having taken you on an epic journey over my last two posts that would rival the screenplay to Gone With The Wind normal and regular blogging will resume I promise.

So without further a do let me introduce the luck of the Irish dress.

She's green for go!  

This is only full length photo I have her at the moment because I finished her just before heading out the door to work at a St Patrick's day party.  I think my Cheshire cat grin conveys how pleased I am with how she turned out.

Point in purpose a very sweet Pastille but too pretty for this Miss

When I first saw the Pastille I liked the shape but I thought it was very girly, which is lovely but with my features isn't a look I can pull off.  That said I love a challenge and one of the joys of sewing I find is being able to give the finger to convention.  So I decided to add some glitzy piping detail and then to make it really celebrational I thought it needed a bow.  I do think I look a little like a piece of confectionery but that works for me ;-)

I really went for it on the fit of this dress as I was lucky enough to have the help of the Sew Colette sew along gals for advice.  As I blogged previously making an effort to fit my makes is one of my main aims this year.

It's the first time I've made a muslin for a dress as I'm a sew and be damned kinda of a gal usually but I wanted to go  through the whole process and I'm so glad I did.

Initially I cut a 12 in the bodice widening to a 14 on the waist and and 6 on the hip.  As I've said previously I've the proportions of an exclamation mark ;-)

On first inspection the fit wasn't too shabby but you can see some strain round the girls and what you can't see was that the back was billowing, which gave me a look of the Hunchback of Notredame.  This is a strong look but obviously wasn't the one I was going for so I set about doing my first set of alterations.  After asking for advice from the fellow sew-a-longers the consensus was I probably needed an FBA and definitely needed to remove length from the bodice because the billowing was horizontal on the back.

Quasimodo was as nervous about pattern alterations as I was.

Great piece of advice I took was to use interfacing to trace the pattern for strength and this pattern pieced needed it.  It was chopped and shredded like an iceberg lettuce.

I took a look round the blogosphere for advice on FBAs and happened upon Miss P's blog, which suggested first looking at whether the pattern's bust dart is in the right place for you before launching headlong into FBA territory.  Following, her excellent guidance I discovered the bust dart was indeed 2.5cm higher than my bust point.  Using her very comprehensive tutorial I made the changes and the fit was ace.  

Bodice muslin No 4 - this is my fits like a glove face :)

Following further research on FBAs I had a Eureka moment.  In real terms my bra size is a 32HH but as I have learnt over the last year patterns are made for a B cup, which is why many of us often have to do major alterations.  That said my cup size in terms of the difference between my high bust and full bust in relation to patterns is a B.  Who'd of thunk it!  Sew L.A. has all the details about this and has proved very interesting reading.  I urge you to check it out before you you start slicing up paper and still not getting the fit you so deserve.

Anywho back to the chopping board oh I mean pattern cutting table.  Next order of business was to deal with the hunchback, which I now realise was a feature of another Colette Pattern I made the Ceylon.  I assumed at the time it was my ham fisted sewing and/or pattern cutting but now on closer inspection I can see that where I am so high waisted my top half is quite a bit shorter than the standard bodice.

To deal with it I took my front to waist measurement and my nape of the neck to waist measurement.   This revealed I needed to take 2cm off the front bodice piece and 5cm off the back.  I was sceptical but it worked a treat.  Finally I made the waist darts shorter so they hit the bust at the right point but they appear to be still quite pointy so I think they would need more fiddling next time out.  Any advice gratefully received.

Final back muslin change with 5cm of length removed and also a long shoulder dart added to remove the flapping at the top of the back. 

Phew!  Are you all altered out because I blinking knew I was by the end of it and I still had to make the real thing.  Big high fives to all you regular muslin makers you people are the real grafters.  I will reiterate thought the effort was worth it.  Especially as I think all the alterations I made will be universal to any Colette Patterns I make in the future unless of course I finally make the 6 foot height mark I have always dreamt of.

Finally she was on her way - at this point I was concerned my colour and trim choice would leave me looking like a Chesterfield sofa :s

I ordered the fabric online and because I'd left it last minute I thought wouldn't bother ordering a swatch and so when the fabric turned up it wasn't as emerald as I hoped but by this time I wasn't about to faff any further and just wanted to make the damn thing.  This led to the decision to modify with glitzy piping and a bow.  

It was my first go at piping and I would say there is room for improvement as I didn't sew close enough to the seam to define the sweetheart neckline but hey you can't have it all ways and life is one long learning curve.  It's funny for all my reservations she's turned out to be one of the favourite things I've made.  

The final bonus of this make was that there was enough piping to tie up my weave.  So there you have it haberdashery to hair accessory boom!

Things I learnt:
  • Sewing a long with others is really good and very helpful.
  • Sweet can be turned into sassy.
  • Muslins are worth the effort in the long run.
  • I have a very short body.
  • FBAs aren't always necessary.
  • I don't have a hunchback.
  • Anything can be a hair accessory.
  • Finally, never use a rotary cutter to score roast pork to make crackling - it's messy and it doesn't work - not technically sewing related but an important lesson nonetheless.

Thanks ever so for reading and I'd love to stay and chat but production is on an all time high at Miss D headquarters.  Next up I have the Truffle to trifle with, my Mad Men Joanie dress to muster, a Prince appreciation outfit to perfect for Purple Rain night at the Duke of York and tomorrow the lovely little bride to be in my life and I are off to buy bridesmaid dress fabric woohoo.

Ooh before I go I must holler up for the fantastically amazingly fabulous event that is Brighton Craftaganza, which is taking place this Saturday (24th March) organised by the inordinately talented lady behind So Zo.  It would be lovely to see you and I can guarantee you will bag yourself some gorgeous things.

Right I really am going now.

Until next time - "Remember that accessories are what separate us from the animals." - Gok Wan

Love Miss D,



  1. Love it! It's beautiful, Miss D. The colour is gorgeous and I love what you've done with the bow. Yeah, muslins are a pain in the bottom but worth it in the long run. And thanks for the tip about not scoring pork with a rotary cutter - I'll bear it in mind! xx

    1. Ah thanks ducky :) and I'm glad you duly noted the fiasco that occurs when you using sewing tools as kitchen implements.


  2. Wow it looks great! I am so interested in all your alteration lessons too, I soak them up, avid learner that I still an, and love the way you tell the story! Def looks like success = muslin....

    1. Many thanks Scruffy :) I'm a bit of yarn spinner it comes from the women in my clan they're not afraid of a good waffle (the cake or long chat variety)! Fitting to me is a lot like cooking and addition of a few bits and pieces you go from having a nice meal to an amazeballs one. That said I think it's a big old learning curve and from where I am I can't even see base camp. Looking forward to following everyone's exploits.


  3. Honeypie, you OWNED this project!!!!! The luck of the Irish dress is a triumph, at no mistake!! Well done for tackling all those alterations, the final version looks amazing for it. The gold piping is genius and looks like you've done an incredible job!

    Re: the pointy bust. The end of your dart should never finish actually AT your bust point. It should always stop 2cms shy. If your still getting pointing, then that's a sewing, rather than pattern cutting issue, and one I'd be happy to show you how to avoid.

    CANNOT WAIT to see what you whip up next! You are unstoppable. Oh, and big thanks for the 'ganza shout out!


  4. these dress looks amazing on you !

  5. You really made this one yours. And congrats on mastering the FBA!