My Colette Truffle dress
I’ll just warn you now, if you are one of those people who prefers ‘tada!’ posts rather than ‘this is what I did’ posts, stop reading now! I’m going to show you how I went about redrafting the pattern from scratch for my Truffle dress.
So, naturally the first step was to make up the pattern as is. I traced off the pattern in my usual size 10, and made a toile of the bodice. I was totally unprepared for how terrible the fit would be: too big and too small all at once!
I could have tried making alterations to the pattern, but there’s so much going on here it would have all been guesswork. I wanted to feel as though I was in control of the pattern, so I decided to redraft it myself.
The first step was for me to trace off my bodice blocks – front and back. I made these on my pattern cutting course.
It’s a great resource to have because you can use it as a starting point for pretty much any dress or top you want to design. Here is what it looks like when it is made up:
This bodice front block has bust darts coming down from the shoulder, and waist darts. I needed to change this for the Truffle dress, so I moved the dart on the bodice front. To do this, I cut from the bottom of the dart to bust point (this should always be about an inch), and then re-opened the dart under the arm.
I filled in the little gap you can see, and taped it up. So far, so good.
Next, I needed to remove the seam allowance from the original Colette pattern. I wanted to use the original as a guide, and pattern drafting is easier without seam allowances. I marked it and cut it off.
Next I measured the length of the sides on the original Colette pattern, and the length of the centre front and centre back. I matched these measurements up to my bodice blocks and cut away the excess. I then reshaped the neckline and underarm of the front and back bodice, using the original Colette pattern as a guide.
I matched up the bust line (very useful marking to have on one’s block) and the underbust line on the front and back bodices to determine the back length. It came out at 1 1/4 inches above the waist line. I then double checked that the side seams on the front and back bodices measured the same (19cm – sorry I flit between metric and imperial all the time! – that’s just under 8″). Next I ensured that the shoulder seams of the back and front were the same width, and then I labelled the pieces with grainline, cutting instructions etc.
When it came to cutting the fabric for the toile, I made sure to remember to add the seam allowance back on (except I totally forgot the shoulder seams, d’oh!), but I purposely did not add it to the arm and neckline, because this gives a better idea of how the finished garment will sit.
I was super chuffed with this second toile. I wasn’t sure if my pattern cutting knowledge would work – I don’t have any books on pattern cutting so I was dredging this all up from what I could remember learning on my course which started in September!
I knew that the next thing I’d have to do would be to redraft the skirt pieces to match my new bodice pieces. I measured the length of the waist line, excluding the darts, of my redrafted bodice pieces, and then measured the same length along the original Colette pattern, again excluding the darts. I was extremely surprised to find that my front skirt pattern piece seemed to matching up to the Colette size 16 – an indicator that this was going to be too large on the waist, which it definitely was!
I was so, so glad that I had made a toile of the skirt because it really affected the way that the bodice hung. I could immediately see that I needed to take in at the waist, hips and under the bust!
With this in mind I set about altering my pattern for a better fit. I decided to focus on the front of the dress first. I knew the back wasn’t quite right, but I needed to get the front right and then see how that affected the fit at the back. The first thing I wanted to do was nip it in under the bust. To do this, I extended the waist darts upwards by 2 1/4 inches, and I reshaped the darts to make them wider at a point which I marked on the toile. I also tapered down from the bottom of the bust dart to 5/8″ smaller at the waist. It seriously felt more like engineering than sewing, at this point, to cater for my bosom!
I then modified the skirt front piece to match up, and cut a third toile (using up an extremely random assortment of fabrics!).
The front was much better, but the back was looking pretty awful. My hips and bum needed a lot more room, and the neckline was gaping. I asked Mr Tweedie to chop into the skirt back, from the hem up to the waistband, on either side in the middle of each back piece, and then he pinned in some extra triangles of fabric to fill in the necessary space. This meant I could keep the waist measurement the same but I’d be able to provide more room for my bum and hips, plus the skirt front would sit better as a result – i.e. be slightly more a-line than straight – as my bum was pulling it all back! He also pinned in a bit the excess fabric at the top, by my shoulders. By this point there were so many pins in the dress he had to cut me out of it from the front so I didn’t get scratched to death! All in all a very amusing exploit.
So – I adjusted the skirt back pattern pieces with the simple slash and spread method, making sure to keep the waist measuring the same as before. As for the back bodice – by the time I’d transferred the markings for a dart at the top, it seemed a bit silly to have a dart at the top and at the bottom, so I just drew a line from the bottom of one dart to the top of the other, and cut along it, meaning that I now have two back pattern pieces – a side back and a back – and I made sure the seamline would match up with the darts in the skirt back, for continuity. You can see how this looks on the finished dress:
All I had left to do was to draft the skirt drape pattern piece, which I did by removing the seam allowance from the original Colette pattern, then measuring the front waist line of my bodice front pattern piece and making sure it would match up. Hurray! I was ready to sew my fourth toile:
I was pretty pleased with this. There were still a few wrinkles around my bum indicating that I still needed a bit more room, but nothing major and certainly nothing that needed re-toiling! I modified the skirt back pattern again, adding in a bit more, and then I was ready to sew up the final garment.
It all came together really well with no major hitches, and the final trying on was a success! The bodice and waist are quite tight, but this is ok by me because it’s a party dress and comfort is not the number one priority. I’m very, very pleased with the dress, especially after having worked so hard on getting it right.
And here I am wearing it:
I’m pleased with the fit. It was a bit windy when Mr Tweedie took these photos, hence the rippling on the left in the photo above, and the blowing the skirt into my my legs in the photo below:
I think I need to get some fake tan though – look how pale my arms look in this!!!