In Sewing

Peony Muslin

Oh boy. This dress has a ton of potential but I’m definitely going to have to work for it! The over all impression I’m getting is: the dress is too big, and the darts are all wrong.

When I pull the dress tight to accentuate the problem areas it’s obvious with the diagonal wrinkle that the bodice is too big, so it’s strange that I would get a “too tight” wrinkle right between the bust darts. According to chapter 4 in the Colette Sewing Handbook, a horizontal wrinkle means you need to add width. So in my case I need to move the bodice darts farther apart, and possibly make the bust darts shorter in length, but also make the bodice smaller.

I could easily take in the side seams by an inch, and I’ll definitely have to add length to the bodice. I never thought I had an abnormally long torso, but it’s becoming a trend with me and Colette Patterns that the waist seam falls much higher on me than where my natural waist actually is. This was the case with my Macaron dress too. I noticed immediately when I put my hands on my waist that the seam doesn’t reach my hand, and sure enough when I tighten a measuring tape around the smallest part of my middle, the seam is at least an inch too high.

Again with that wonky horizontal bust wrinkle! But the subtle diagonal wrinkles towards the waist again confirm the bodice is too big. I’ve never encountered an issue like this before, and honestly I’m really not looking forward to moving darts around. But, if I want to get better at tailoring, this is the way I’ll learn. I also need to make the darts at the back neckline MUCH deeper. Look at that gap at the neck!

I also want to scoop out the neckline a bit so it’s not so high. I do love a good boat neck, but showing a little clavicle never hurt anyone, right? I’m wondering how easy it will be to use bias tape to bind the neckline in this shape though. (I’m not a fan of facings.) I’m skipping the sleeves since I always wear cardigans and I don’t like bunchy sleeves all waded up under my sweaters.

I’m also experimenting with different skirt styles since I want to wear mine with a petticoat! I’m hooked on the skirt froof! I’ve added a lot of width to the original skirt piece to accommodate the fullness and may even add more. It sure looks cute with the petticoat! I’m not sure if I’ll go with pleats or gathers on my final dress. I used a little bit of both on this muslin.

Let’s see if I’m still smiling after all is said and done haha! I’m definitely going to make another muslin before cutting into my prized Ghastlies fabric.

So, here’s my check list for muslin number two:
1. Add 2 inches to bodice length
2. Take in and taper the side seams by a half inch on each side
3. Move bottom bodice darts farther apart
4. Make darts at back neck line deeper
5. Add more width to skirt and two inches in length
6. Cut out a bit more neckline for a deeper boat neck in front

Oh, is that all?? lol

At least this dress goes together super quickly! How is your muslin coming a long?


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  • I am sorta glad you posted this, and sorta sad. I was trying to do the Truffle pattern from the book, and it fits me like your picture. Huge gap at the neck in the back, weird large shoulder area in the front, etc. I guess some people take Colette patterns down a few sizes, and then just grade out the waist if that is the issue. So, I guess I have to do a smaller size and a FBA, along with a waist increase? Because all the pinching out excess fabric around the shoulders isn’t making sense. Frustrating! I should look ahead and see what you ended up doing.

  • Lianne at Hanbury House

    After taking almost a decade off of sewing my own clothes from scratch, I appreciate posts like this and reading the comments. I am just beginning to buy patterns again. I had not heard of Colette before this post.

    FYI, I found you via twitter. Thanks for the tips!

    • You’re very welcome, Lianne! I’m happy you found it helpful 🙂

  • how tall are you? I’m pretty tall so I guess I’ll have to add length too

    • I’m 5′ 7″. It’s only Colette patterns where I find myself having to add length the bodice.

      • Thanks for you responce, I’m 3″ taller, so adding lenght it will be 🙂

  • Amanda Russell

    I’m so glad you posted this because I had very similar and very frustrating issues with this neckline as well, which was totally sad because i really like the bateau neck look! It’s good to know it’s not just me; I always think I must have a really weird torso because of all the adjustments I have to make! LOL

  • Thank you so much for this post! I’ve had almost exactly the same problems, except my dress fits but it has those silly wrinkly lines and a gappy neckline. Annoyance. I think I’m going to move the darts over and also shorten the bodice. The worst bit about my muslin if I’m honest is I bought some actual muslin fabric to test out, and it turns out it’s a NIGHTMARE to work with!

    I may have to steal your pleated skirt idea too, I think it looks lovely!

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  • Sending good sewing vibes your way for that big list of changes!!

  • Guest

    Hi Rochelle. I’, so relived to read your woes, as these are the same as mine. I have already done 3 muslins! I’ll start again and follow your tips….much appreciated.

    • Good Luck! Let me know if there are any specific problems I can try to help you with 🙂

  • Maddie964

    you definitely have your work cut out for you! That’s for sure. But that’s what muslins are all about – it’s a starting point to a great ending!

  • But this is such cute fabric for just a muslin! It’s worthy of a final garment! Sounds like you have a good fitting plan. Good luck 🙂

    • I know, I’m kinda bummed it’s not wearable 🙁 Oh well. I’ll salvage the fabric for something else 🙂

  • I had to make tons of changes to mine, too (although I made it almost a year ago when the pattern first came out so they’re not super fresh in my mind). The bust darts were way wacky on me, and I had a MASSIVE amount of gape at the back neckline, too. I was dumb and increased the darts more than they can reasonably be increased, so they’re pointy and gross in the back. Maybe someday I’ll redo them. I also had to lower the neckline– I felt like I was getting choked!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one!! Yeah I’m pretty bummed this dress isn’t so cute on me. …yet 😉

  • sallieforrer

    Oof!! So glad you made a muslin before cutting into your adorable Ghastlies print! It’s such a shame this couldn’t be a wearable muslin too! But it seems word on the street has it that this pattern has funky bust darts, so I don’t think your changes seem unusual. Good luck! Can’t wait to see your progress!

    • Tell me about it! I probably would have cried if I wasted my Ghastlies for nothing! It’s becoming a trend with me and Colette though that muslins MUST be made! We’ll see how this turns out…

  • Sew Little Time

    i always have to add quite a bit of bodice length to colette – i think they tend to have quite high waists. but i’m tall so i add length to most things (it’s why i sew!). interesting that you felt the neck was high. that was bothering me slightly with my wearbale muslin so i may shave a bit off it too. love it with the poofy skirt tho!

    • Yeah, we’ll see if I can pull this one off! I’m sorry to hear so many others are having issues with the fit, but at least I’m not the only one!

  • punkmik

    this is such a nice fabric. shame it didnt turn out too wearable. but lucky you made a muslin. Love that you explained exactly how you will tackle the fitting issues! i look forward to seeing your progress!

    • I’ll be sure to share my muslin #2 as soon as it’s finished!

  • Wow, i definitely admire your determination! I’m going to cut a muslin tomorrow and if I have that much work to do, I might pass for now, because I have my hands full with a sew-along about to start! (by the way… want to join in?)

    • Yesssssss I would love to! I’ve got a crap load of stuff on my plate while trying to re-open my online shop and prepare for the craft fair but I definitely would love to sew with you!!

  • You know, this is the main reason why I’ve never been interested in buying a Colette pattern – almost every single blog post I read describes a very big list of alterations for the garment to be wearable.

    I’ve only ever come across this *once* using vintage patterns and that was a Simplicity blouse from the 50’s – From my experience, this era and pattern company runs very big so now I tend to avoid Simplicity patterns altogether.

    When comparing to modern repro pattern companies, the Sewaholic dress I tested (the Cambie) fit perfectly without a single alteration…I guess certain brands cater to a certain body type….and it seems to me that Colette has a fairly narrow range of body style they fit.

    • I hear amazing things about the Cambie and REALLY want to give it a try for myself to see if those things are true. I have to admit it will be awesome to not have to adjust things like this! Oh well, it will be a learning experience I suppose.

  • Sarah

    This is awesome, Rochelle! You have listed everything you need to change to make a Peony that suits you – love it!! What a fabulous job. I love how you’ve shown just what needs to be tailored in such clear way. The fabric you’ve used for your muslin is so pretty!!!

    I have Ghastlies fabric, too! I am such a copy cat! I bought the Ghastlies family portrait fabric in the pink colourway. Methinks a Macaron hack is just the thing for my fabric 🙂

    • Thanks! Hopefully I can work out the issues and end up with an awesome dress! I can’t wait to see what you do with your Ghastlies! 🙂

  • Dude, I’m so impressed by your mad skills! I know nothing about sewing so I’ll just say rock on and good luck 🙂

  • Miss Crayola Creepy

    Don’t be surprised if you get a text from me tonight begging for your help haha. I’m working on my fixes today too 🙂

    • I’m not sure how much help I’ll be lol But we can definitely work through the issues together!! xo

  • you may want to pinch out the excess at neck and transfer that to one of the darts. You would need to do that anyway to cut into the neck because even if it wasn’t gaping, it would start to if you cut it lower.

    • Good thinking! If I move the bust darts up would that pretty much be the same thing as pinching the excess out? Would it help? I’m open to any suggestions you’d be willing to share 🙂

  • Neeno – Sew Me Love

    Rochelle, you are tiny <3
    Thanks for the detailed posts on adjustments, they are really helpful. I have only been sewing for about 14 months so I am still amateur when it comes to getting the correct fit. My bodices are almost always too big as I have small bust and back and I'm still trying to figure out if I have a way back 🙂
    My problem area for fitting is always on fitted or wiggle skirts so if you ever make a muslin for a fitted or wiggle style skirt, I'd love to see a detailed post on how you tackle those fitting issues.
    I agree with you on leaving out the sleeves, I too wear cardigans all the time and sleeve bunching is the worst 😀

    • If you think I’m tiny you should see my brothers! Both sides of my family are kinda shaped like sock monkeys haha! Tall and gangly.

      I will share more tips with how I go about making these Peony changes since I’m kinda working through them for the first time, myself! I’m afraid of wiggle shapes for that exact reason, though I’d love to try Gertie’s new wiggle dress pattern for Butterick. So when I’m brave enough to tackle that one, I’ll be sure to share photos and other details 🙂

  • Lauren

    I had to move the darts on my Peony too. I think they were spaced too close together. Remember that the horizontal darts need to go up if you shift the vertical darts over! Also, if it helps… I just hacked my darts out of the pattern and then taped them down where they belonged. No critical redrawing/redrafting… stupid easy 🙂 I just love taking the lazy way out haha

    • Great advice! Thank you! Yeah, I’m all for the lazy way out whenever possible 😉