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My Colette Truffle dress

May 2, 2012

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!!!


  1. leezee permalink
    May 2, 2012 1:16 pm

    wow. Very impressive engineering! You are an inspiration!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 3, 2012 12:19 pm

      Goodness, thank you! Very kind of you to say so!

  2. May 2, 2012 1:38 pm

    Oh wow, all your hard work certainly paid off! What a lovely looking and fitting dress…it’s spot on! And thanks for sharing how you got there, it’s really useful to know!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 3, 2012 12:20 pm

      I’m glad you found it interesting, I wasn’t sure whether to blog about all the details or not! I’m glad I did though now 🙂

  3. May 2, 2012 2:29 pm

    The dress is really amazing! 😀 So classy! Love the cut of the top especially 🙂

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 3, 2012 12:21 pm

      Thank you very for much for your comment! I’m looking forward to wearing it again soon.

  4. Georgia permalink
    May 2, 2012 3:57 pm

    Looooove the colour and the shape of the dress! I personally think your arms look lovely, but then your arms would make my arms look tanned anyway….

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 3, 2012 12:23 pm

      Heheh. Or do you mean *your* arms would make *my* arms look tanned?! Either way, hurray for arms!

  5. May 2, 2012 5:57 pm

    This was super helpful! Thanks for such an in-depth post!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 3, 2012 12:24 pm

      Glad it was helpful! Are you planning on making a Truffle dress for yourself?

      • May 8, 2012 10:57 pm

        Well, I have the book and started on the FBA, but then I bought the Peony and I’ve been distracted every since! It’s on the que though…just need to find the time!

      • tabathatweedie permalink*
        May 9, 2012 8:56 pm

        Good luck with it when you get round to it!

  6. May 3, 2012 12:26 am

    Gorgeous! I think I’m going to have to make up bodice block. I’ve got too many fit issues to keep fumbling around with alterations. Your dress is marvelous!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 3, 2012 12:29 pm

      Looking forward to seeing how you get on with yours!

  7. May 3, 2012 3:05 pm

    You have worked really hard on this one, but it paid off, the result is stunning! thanks for sharing the lengthy process, I always find it very interesting to see how people do what they do, that’s how I learn!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 3, 2012 3:23 pm

      Thanks Sophie!

  8. May 5, 2012 6:43 am

    I agree you have worked so hard on perfecting this and it was worth all of your effort.I would never be so patient and I am afraid it shows by the many badly fitting and strange garments that I sew…so you are an inspiration to me! Gorgeous colour too by the way!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 8, 2012 9:00 pm

      Thanks. Patience is not always one of my virtues but I’m glad I persevered this time!

  9. May 6, 2012 12:27 pm

    This is really beautiful. If you don’t mind one more tweak for next time, I think your bust point may be too high? It seems to be about 1″ above where your actual bust point is. That’s easy to fix. Also, the side seam seems to be pulling to the front (in the last photo, see how it curves to the front?) That’s easy to fix too, you need just a bit more at the waist in front only, which should eliminate the horizontal wrinkling at the waist in back. (it’s pointing at the area that needs adjusting, in other words. Like a little “clue” your clothes are giving you, haha!)

    A really lovely dress. LOVE the color too. Oh, and pale is the new tan. 😉

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 8, 2012 8:59 pm

      Hello, thank you for your comment and tips! I think you might be right about the side seam/front/back situation. If I were to make another I would re-toile it anyway but I was under time constraints and happy with the fit on this occasion. I’m pretty pleased with the way this fits on the bust though, the darts finish about 1″ from bust point which is as it should be.

      • May 8, 2012 9:27 pm

        The 1″ away from the bust point rule refers to the length of the dart. (i.e. if it’s too close, you get that pointy bullet bra effect). I was referring to how high the dart points or ends (which appears to be at least an inch or more above the center of your bust point, or it appears that way in all of your toile and finished dress photos). It does not detract from the dress and how beautiful it is. No worries, the beauty of sewing for yourself is that you can fit your garments however you wish. 🙂

      • tabathatweedie permalink*
        May 9, 2012 8:56 pm

        Hello again! The end of the bust darts are more or less level with my bust point, certainly not an inch or more above. When I moved the dart on my tailor made bodice block, which has my bust point and line marked on, I made sure to keep it level 🙂

  10. May 22, 2012 12:54 am

    Love the pink! I really do love the drape/ruffly thing 🙂 And I agree with yomsamos, the bust darts seem to be a bit high, they are going “nipply”, but no biggy. SO happy for you to get such a swell fit. And thanks for the detailed post!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 22, 2012 1:40 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  11. January 27, 2013 4:53 am

    This is gorg! I’m working on this pattern now, thanks for all the helpful tips 🙂

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 28, 2013 12:44 pm

      Hope yours turns out nicely! 🙂


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