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Completed Project: The Colette Rooibos dress

January 15, 2014

Howdy.  I want to show you my first make of 2014 today – my Colette Rooibos dress.  I first made a Rooibos dress in 2011, and although I wore it quite a lot, the fit was not right at all across my bust.  I ended up giving it away to a friend, and ever since I’ve been meaning to have another go at making the dress.  Now that I have more sewing experience in general, and more pattern cutting experience, and most importantly, the spare cash to buy the fabric I have been wanting for ages, there was no excuse not to get on with it!

First of all, I traced off a size bigger than last time and made a toile.  As I predicted, it was tight across the bust, and the midriff came too high up.  I cut it open down the centre to see how much extra I would need to add in, and decided to start with 2 inches (or, 1″ per side).  Adding in the extra actually meant that the centre of the bodice lengthened as well, so that sorted out the problem with the midriff quite nicely!

First toile - too risqué to model myself!

First toile – too risqué to model myself!

I followed the instructions given on the Coletterie website about making a full bust adjustment to the Rooibos dress, but it was problematic because my adjustment was much larger than the one demonstrated in the tutorial, and also the position of my ‘apex’ seemed quite different from where the pattern thinks it should have been.  My darts ended up at crazy angles, so I had to reposition them, which wasn’t too difficult of course, just unexpected!

The original pattern piece - butchered!

The original pattern piece – butchered!  You can see how the new darts are at very strange angles…

My new pattern piece

My new pattern piece, which I adapted again after the second toile

I made a second toile, and for some reason I was convinced that it wouldn’t work.  Why do I not have more faith in myself?!  When I tried it on, I was pleasantly surprised – it looked much better.  The only further adjustment I wanted to make was to make the side darts shorter.

Second toile - better

Second toile – better

My proper version of this dress is made with green gabardine from Boyes.  I’ve been eyeing up this fabric for AAAAGES.  It isn’t majorly expensive at £7.85 per metre, but my usual rule is to try not to spend more than £5 per metre unless it’s a present or I’m using money earned from selling things I’ve made.  But every now and then I’ll break the £5 rule for a special type of fabric.  Annoyingly, I bought 2.5m of fabric, 1m of cotton lining fabric, 5m of bias binding, 5m of piping cord and a concealed zip, which came to around £30, but I have about a metre of the gabardine leftover!  I will have to find a use for it.

The Rooibos dress

The Rooibos dress

The gabardine is really lovely quality.  Excuse the pictures – the colour looks different in every single photo! It’s 100% cotton, it is a heavy and quite thick fabric but if feels really soft, and it doesn’t crease too badly.  It’s ideal for winter and it feels quite hardwearing.  I’m already thinking about using it again for future projects, definitely in mustard yellow and maybe red, and perhaps navy blue (and orange and pink and purple and black hahahaha).

The Rooibos dress - back/side/backside

The Rooibos dress – back/side/backside.  It looks like there is smoke coming out of my back in this photo, haha!  It is water vapour from the central heating system!

The bias binding for the piping is a floral design, it reminds me of a Liberty print.  The flowers are mainly pink and purple and the background is cream.  My lining or ‘contrast’ fabric is a simple 100% cream coloured cotton.

The inside - back facing

The inside – back facing

I got carried away with the piping.  I piped the armholes, the neckline, the midriff bottom, the pockets and the hem.  I especially like the piping at the hem because it helps the dress keep its A-line silhouette.



I really enjoyed making this dress.  It felt really good to take my time over it, get the fit right, and do all the little details to make it nice.  I’ve worn it three times so far and it has felt pretty but practical, and stylishly comfortable.  It’s definitely shot right into my top ten of wardrobe staples!

Delilah, wearing my new dress

Delilah, wearing my new dress

There were a few things wrong with the pattern instructions, I thought.  I don’t know if these are actually errors as I have an old copy of the pattern, bought in 2011, but for instance you are instructed to interface the contrast facings?!  I thought that was pretty unnecessary, with them being rather large.  But on the other hand I did think it was necessary to interface the midriff band (and so I did).  Also there were no prompts to finish the raw edges of the facings, which I thought was strange because Colette Patterns usually spell out every last instruction for you (hence why they are so good for beginners).  There were a few other things that were missed out or just plain wrong (typically I can’t remember what they were now!) …but hopefully in later prints of the pattern these errata have been addressed.

The dress on Delilah, back view

The dress on Delilah, back view

I do absolutely love, in a complete geek fashion, the instructions for attaching the facings to the main dress though.  That whole rolling up thing, turning it back on itself and pulling it all through the shoulder?  That is pattern MAGIC.  I actually made my husband come to watch so he could witness the wonder of the sewing magic!  (He was suitably impressed).  It reminded me of making the Colette Negroni shirts, where you do a similar rolling up trick to attach the inner yoke facing.  I love those neat little sewing tricks!

  1. Nelly Jane permalink
    January 15, 2014 4:41 pm

    Lovely dress and beautifully made. My husband would say you had vapour coming off your back because you’re ‘hot stuff’!!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:17 pm

      Haha! I like that!!!

  2. January 15, 2014 5:07 pm

    The fit looks perfect! Well worth the perseverance! I like the piping at the hem, I think that’s the first time I’ve seen it done and it works really well!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:20 pm

      Thank you! I like the hem piping too, I think I’d do it again!

  3. January 15, 2014 5:20 pm

    This dress is lovely, I particularly like the piping!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:21 pm

      Thank you. The piping is a nice bit of detail for an otherwise plain dress.

  4. January 15, 2014 5:31 pm

    That fits you like a dream! I love it, it looks fantastic!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:22 pm

      Thank you Kirsty. I’m quite pleased with the fit.

  5. Nancy Degnan permalink
    January 15, 2014 6:03 pm

    Look how even that piping is! And it shows off the detail of the dress perfectly. Really beautiful work, and it looks great on you.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:23 pm

      Thank you very much.

  6. January 15, 2014 6:11 pm

    That’s so pretty! Glad to hear you managed to make it work for you!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:25 pm

      I’m glad I finally got round to remaking it!

  7. January 15, 2014 6:25 pm

    Very nice! I really like the piping details. And if you’ve got a meter left, that should be plenty for a skirt?

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:26 pm

      Yes, that’s what I was thinking. Maybe I could try out the pencil skirt pattern from Gertie’s book!

  8. January 15, 2014 7:15 pm

    This dress is gorgeous! I got all excited and though you were making a pretty heart dress to start with, hehe!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:28 pm

      Ah, yes! This fabric just never seems to run out, I’ve used it for toiles, bedding, lining…! I love it but it isn’t very practical!

  9. January 15, 2014 7:21 pm

    Gorgeous!! I love that colour, it looks fantastic on you. The piping is so pretty, such a nice detail. I think that was money well spent on that fabric, I hope you can make a skirt or something out of the rest.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:31 pm

      Thank you. Yes, I think I will make a skirt with the leftovers!

  10. January 15, 2014 7:29 pm

    Utterly lovely! The floral piping is such a sweet detail and the fit is absolutely beautiful on you. What a worthwhile toile-making experience! Love it.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:32 pm

      Thanks so much Mary!

  11. January 15, 2014 9:10 pm

    Oh, I love this! The green gabardine is gorgeous, and so is the flowery piping. I got this pattern for Christmas 2012 but haven’t made it yet. Yours is giving me all kinds of inspiration!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:33 pm

      It’s a nicely designed dress, like many Colette patterns. Definitely worth a try!

  12. January 15, 2014 10:02 pm

    That is one lovely dress! The colour is great and such a good match with the piping. I love how the fabric looks, might have to go on a little cotton gabardine search… 🙂

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:33 pm

      I’m really pleased with the gabardine; I would recommend it!

  13. January 15, 2014 10:50 pm

    The piping at the hem is such a cool idea!! Great looking dress, you look fantastic in it! 🙂

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 15, 2014 10:50 pm

      Thanks loads!

  14. January 16, 2014 11:58 am

    Great fit, and lovely details! I wanted this pattern for ages and then went off the idea, but you’re making me reconsider again! It’s got such nice lines, and your piping shows them all off really well

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 16, 2014 12:32 pm

      Thanks Jo. It is a nice pattern, give it a try!

  15. January 16, 2014 9:18 pm

    Lovely dress…. So nice to take time making something for yourself. I am in the middle of trying to take time to sew myself a coat…. But my eldest has grown (again) and I am stopping the coat to make trousers 😦 ….. Mind you I have just realized I made his school trousers in march 2013 so hardly surprising he has outgrown them!

    Anyway all that waffle was to say it was worth it your dress looks amazing!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 17, 2014 4:07 pm

      Thank you! Best of luck with both the trousers and your coat!

  16. January 16, 2014 10:13 pm

    That is my favorite shade of green to wear… Looks pretty on you. And that piping! Nice job on that… the details definitely help make the dress!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 17, 2014 4:08 pm

      Thank you! I love the green too.

  17. January 17, 2014 10:16 pm

    Ooooh, it’s gorgeous!! The piping is so delicate, both the way you sewed it and the patterned fabric you chose! Never too carried away with it when it looks so light like that. And, also how superbly it matches the dress fabric. Really great job!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 18, 2014 8:55 am

      Thanks. I am pleased with the combination!

  18. January 18, 2014 8:39 am

    Your dress is amazing and it fits you very well. You really inspire me to try harder to fit and not just to make one but two muslins to check the fit. I also really love the combination of your green dress fabric and flowery piping. That is another inspiration point for me as I tend to use patterned fabrics for the shell and never buy plain one. You might have mentioned it before, but where did you got your little “handmade” label? I am thinking about getting one for myself as well 🙂

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 18, 2014 8:57 am

      Thank you. The labels are from Woven Labels UK, you order online 🙂

      • January 21, 2014 10:49 pm

        Thanks! I will check them out 🙂

  19. January 18, 2014 9:25 pm

    The floral piping is genius! I love this dress! I want one.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 19, 2014 10:40 pm

      Thank you! I won’t mind if you make one the same!

  20. February 12, 2014 11:55 am

    It fits you beautifully!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      February 12, 2014 12:05 pm


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