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The Colette Ceylon Dress. Or “Why do I always make three of everything?”

November 22, 2011

As you can probably tell from the title, I have three Colette Ceylon dresses. What can I say: I love it. It’s comfy, it’s flattering and the instructions are so clear my 4 month old great niece could make one.

So, here’s version 1: My Enid dress

This started off life as a muslin. I bought the fabric for £1.99 a metre in the ever wonderful Abakhan in Liverpool a couple of years back. Have I mentioned how much I love Abakhan? Because I do. Having lived in Liverpool – before I started sewing in earnest – I just didn’t appreciate it at the time. How things have changed.

Miraculously, this dress fits me great with no alterations whatsoever! The pleats over the bust are flattering to all shapes and sizes and so will accommodate almost everyone.

It’s made from a very light cotton lawn so it works well on its own in the summer of layered up over slips and tights in winter. Because it was a muslin initially it’s not fabulously made – I lengthened it by a few inches (I’m not a fan of my knees) but forgot to lengthen the facing; there are a few holes where I accidentally clipped the main fabric with my pinking shears (but it’s a muslin: I didn’t care about a few nicks here and there) and there are a few threads poking out here and there. Amazingly, and surprisingly, I did cover the buttons, but I only for practice I seem to remember.

Well, I didn’t wear this dress in public for a very long time, mostly because I thought it made me look grannyish. I chanced my arm with it one day and found out that people seemed to like it! After that, it has become a staple of my wardrobe.

Better with a glass of red wine - here's to the Ceylon dress!

If you’re wondering, I call it my Enid dress as it is probably something Enid would’ve worn in her granny phase in “Ghost World“.

Version 2: The Lovepark Dress

My favourite version, despite the awful picture.

This is my favourite version. I am quite sentimental, and a big ol’ romantic at heart, and this dress holds some lovely memories of walking hand-in-hand through the park with a lovely boy (hence, Lovepark) and some other soppy associations. I’ll stop now. Basically, every time I wear this version it makes me happy!

The fabric came from Spotlight on the same visit to Australia that resulted in my Tattoo Print dress. When I bought it, I loved it. Then I brought it home and wondered what on earth I would have to wear that matched it. It was a long time, then, before I used it. Luckily, I have some lovely little shoes from my brother’s wedding a few years ago (which are, sadly, dying) and they bring out the purple in the fabric really well. Navy also works well, and cream (though I don’t have any cream shoes as yet).

This version is a lot more summery than the first and so I do feel a little daft wearing it in the depths of winter. I still do, though, because I’m a sentimental eejit.

Version 3: The Plain Black Shirt Dress

Everyone needs a good, sensible black dress in their wardrobe, right? Well, this is mine. Like I said before, this dress is so comfortable that when I thought about making a black shirtdress there was really no other option.

Initially I was going to make it completely plain, but thought better of it and added a lace trim under the bust seam. You can’t really see it in the above picture but here’s a little more of the detail.


The small detail on this version really makes it, I think, and stops it from being quite so boring.

There isn’t really much to say about this version that you can’t see from the pictures! I used a Polycotton from Boyes in Melton Mowbray (we resisted buying any pork pies on our recent visit) priced at the grand sum of £2.50 a metre. Is it any wonder I bought 10m? I mean, really, isn’t black cotton always useful? The assistant who had to measure then cut 10m for me would probably beg to differ…

And those are my three (so far!) Ceylon dresses! I know I haven’t done much variation in pattern between the pieces but I think the fabric adds enough variety to make them look fairly different from each other and the lovely collar detail adds so much interest. As with all other Colette patterns the instructions are straightforward, the techniques are easy to understand and the sizing is great for bust ladies like myself hence why I have three, I suppose. The only thing I would say, is that I lengthened each of these dresses by two inches (forgetting for all but the Lovepark dress to also lengthen the front facing). That is, by no means, a complaint.

I also have to confess that I completely ignored the placement of the buttons on the pattern and went by sight whilst deciding where to put them. This allowed me to adjust for the size of the buttons on each version. Covering the buttons is also a good idea although I really like the plain buttons on the black version. There are 21 buttons on the black version (and I have learned my lesson from the past and sewn a spare onto the facing near the hem, just in case I lose one in future…) so it’s also good for practicing your buttonholes!

All-in-all I would highly recommend his pattern to anyone – beginner, intermediate or experienced. It has a number of techniques that will be familiar to the more experienced sewer whilst explaining in clear, pleasant and detailed ways how to work through them for the beginner. Definitely try it. Definitely.

  1. November 22, 2011 1:26 am

    I personally instituted a “Rule of 2” ie use every pattern twice but 3 obviously works for you, go for it!!!

  2. November 22, 2011 12:06 pm

    Gees- they are all so lovely and different, I can’t decide which one to sneak into your house and steal first. So please, just leave all 3 in plain sight and I’ll just make it a clean sweep.

  3. JuliaDBennett permalink
    November 22, 2011 8:20 pm

    Thanks both! I love how the fabric makes each one so different.

    Just realised I forgot to say that I’ve added pockets to the black one too. Everything’s better with pockets!

  4. November 25, 2011 7:57 pm

    A love the Enid dress and I’m also loving the mittens on Flikr !!! Thanks for the comment x

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