C1017: Get Your Frock On



October is also known in these parts as Frocktober! I’m not quite able to fully join in the mantra of Frocktober (a dress a day, ever day, during the tenth month of the year – to help raise awareness for Ovarian Cancer) but I’m going to try it on for size at the weekends. For those that don’t know me – this is actually quite a challenge… I’m not really a wearer of dresses. But October has been set aside for dress sewing and dress sewing alone, so you can expect to see another dress following hotly on the heels of this appropriately floral Peony! The dress is very… sweet? – definitely a million times more girly than what I would normally go for. But after wearing it two days straight, I’m really rather liking it. Why do things never look as good in my photos as they do in real life? 

I saw the floral fabric on Gorgeous Fabrics back in July and knew it would become Peony were it to fall into my hands, and there was a perfectly matching apricot coloured cotton as well which I used for the trim, bodice lining and an underskirt. The combination of colours reminds me of these beautifully hued peonies…

peony flowers



Back when I was searching for buttons for my Baby-its-cold-outside Coat, I came across L’ucello – the kind of kitschy, vintage mishmash of sewing related paraphernalia shop that makes you involuntarily smile as you walk around because there’s beautiful things as far as the eye can see. True to their vintage haberdashery purpose, they have an outstanding collection of lace trims (and buttons!), and I fell for the geometric floral lace trim that is now securely applied (by hand and with silk thread so you can’t see the stitches!) to the waist of this dress. At the time of writing this they don’t yet have a website, but their blog gives you a wonderful idea of what’s in store if you care to visit them (in the Nicholas Building off Swanston St, right next door to Buttonmania, another totally awesome shop you really should visit!).

Otherwise, this is my kind of dress pattern – bateau neck, little sleeves, waist definition. I do remember having to make a trawler-load of alterations to my toile the first time around though – I’m not quite as curvy as the size models they use at Colette Patterns, and those bodice darts were pointing in every which direction except where they should have been. No matter no more! :)

Because the floral cotton was quite soft and not as tightly woven as you might think it, I also included a little underskirt in the apricot fabric – it gives a little more poofiness where I gathered it, will help protect against wrinkling and acts a bit like a slip. It was also a perfect use of the exact remainder I had left! Ages and ages ago, I bought a really long piece of lace trim off Etsy – it was finally put to use to secure the hem on both of the skirts:


I did the same seam treatment as on my first version – The Green Peon(y), using orange rayon seam binding to pretty-ify the seam allowances. And it was a bazillion times quicker to make up because a) I didn’t have to wrestle with pleats and b) I’d already toiled it so I knew I could get straight down to the business end of sewing. I really must make the habit of sewing up already-toiled patterns… it’s sooooo much easier :)

More vibrantly coloured when shot indoors and with a flash…

I pushed all of the easing in the sleeve cap up to the shoulder seam line to give a little poof to the sleeve cap, and trimmed them with some of the left-over apricot cotton.

Bring on Spring and Summer!




  1. So sweet! Like a bowl of sherbet:-)Very cute dress, and so nicely made with touches like the lace hem and apricot seam finishes. Roll on summer!

  2. Fabulous Melanie! I love it, I still love that fabric, although it’s nice IRL, I think the orange binding is a really nice touch.

  3. What a beautiful dress! the fabric is gorgeous. Frocktober sounds like a great way to bring awareness to such an important cause. Can't wait to see what you create next.

  4. I love the dress, its beautiful. Often when I read your blog, I find it enjoyable to read about the shops "Down Under." L'ucello and Buttonmania sound like a blast. I wonder if we Yanks will ever start a Frocktober.

  5. Lovely, it's got an old world charm -reminds me of Victorian botanical water colours.. Collette-almost every review I read of theirs indicates sh*tloads of modifications required..If you like this sort of silhouette/ style I'd strongly suggest trying Knipmode, their drafting is very good, the fit is consistent and the patterns are designed for normally proportioned figures. Their June 2011 issue has 5 or 6 different dresses in this style and all of their components can be mixed and matched for a whole lot of variants.. The instructions are in Dutch but I find Google translate does very well with those (and you know how to sew well you're probably not going to need the instructions.. XD). I didn't renew my subscription last year because they were starting to repeat things but those mags really are an investment. I loved them for their tunic and stretch-knit fabric patterns..

  6. Very lovely. I like the many finishing touches you have added, and specially the use of the laser leveller for the hem. That is a fabulous cross disciplinary touch!-Sewingelle

  7. this is such a cute dress, and your waistband treatment is to die for! i love the peony, but colette patterns are just soooo difficult for me to fit on my top half… that always bums me out!

  8. Oh its so so pretty!! The floral fabric is really dreamy. I'm not a big dress wear-er either, but sometimes its not that strange for other people to see you all prettied up in a girly dress, its just a matter of getting your own head wrapped around seeing yourself in something new – I'm trying to tell myself that with high heels…

  9. First of all, it's so weird to hear that spring and summer is on the way for you in Australia. The leaves are just starting to turn here in the states and I just bought my winter coat. The dress is on point. Really. Your construction is always superb and with every project you prove to me more and more that you never take the quick route. Slow and steady is your thing.

  10. I love all the little details… the sleeve finish, the slip/lining and lace trim. What a beautiful – and beautifully sewn – dress!

  11. Definitely, this dress is to die for! It has everything that I can love in a dress, soft colors, lace, vintage look … all this is great! You should wear this dress many times this spring because it is WON-DER-FUL!

  12. That's really pretty – very different from many of your other makes, yes, but still lovely on you, and all the finishing details really complement the style. I've never made a Colette pattern as their patterns look to fit women with more of an hour glass shape than mine :-( but this has ended up beautifully even if you did have to make a lot of asjustments.

  13. This is beautiful! I especially love the way that you did the lining – the lace detailing is so lovely, and I really love that belt. I picked up some of that same fabric in July too – how funny! Except I waited too long to use it this year and will have to save it until next spring when it's not snowing… whoops! :-)

  14. I feel you pain, Lisa. I went through at least 3 bodice iterations on this pattern before getting it right. I'm not so sure I'd have the patience for it with another colette pattern!! But thanks :)

  15. Couldn't agree more Sallie – it's all in my own head. I've been wearing dresses on a more regular basis now though and am slowly getting used to the idea! It's not so bad, afterall ;)

  16. Thank you, Madalynne! Yeah, I can imagine it is a bit wierd! For me its a bit easier in the reverse because it's cold here so my coats and jackets still get pulled out everynow and again… I do get jealous seeing summer pictures of you folk in the middle of our winter though ;)

  17. You know, I always wonder who else buys the fabric I do and what they end up doing with it!!!! I'll look forward to seeing what you come up with, even if it has to wait until the seasons change! Thanks :)

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