Achtung, Dahlia!

1 Colette Dahlia by Sew2pro1 Colette Dahlia Pattern EnvelopeI bought this pattern almost immediately upon its release and tested it with a muslin.  However, just as I was about to finish the real thing, the machine and I got turfed out of my sewing space to make space for a Christmas tree and associated clutter.

The photos on the Colette Patterns website show a Version 1 of the Dahlia in a rich green modelled by a dark-haired beauty bearing a resemblance to Nigella Lawson in her Italianate edition.  One day, if the occasion demands it, I will make a jewel-coloured Dahlia just like that and try to claim some of that La Dolce Vita glamour but it’s winter now and I want warmth – to compensate for a neckline so wide, it’s guaranteed to make the baps freeze!1 La Dolce Vita


1 Inside out Lined DahliaThis mock-wool (ok, polyester) at £8 a metre comes from A Crafty Needle in West Wickham.  The lining is black acetate.  I think lining is essential and makes the dress look more substantial than the rather droopy one on the pattern envelope.  This adds hours of sewing time and renders it more of an intermediate than a beginner project, particularly as I lined the kick-back pleat (using my tutorial).  For the black binding, I used leather (phwoar!) by cutting 4cm strips from a soft black offcut in my Wested Leather bundle.  It has a matt texture that goes perfectly with the grey and black in the fabric.  I wanted to keep as much length as I could so instead of hemming, I used home-made cotton bias tape which, though not visible from the outside, complements the neck and sleeve binding.

Pattern Matching

1 Zip side seamColette has produced a free how-to-match-plaid tutorial which you may find of use but with a more complicated plaid where there is a horizontal and vertical repeat and not necessarily a symmetry along the lines, you must proceed with caution before cutting (or else...!!).  I found it impossible to facilitate a match in the bodice and yoke seam  on the zip side, but I don’t think it shows (what do you think?  See right).  The match is almost spot on in all the more visible seams, i.e. in the skirt seams and the sleeves to bodice.

Yoke Bias

My only major dislike of this dress comes from the decision to cut the yoke on the bias, as suggested by Colette, with the yoke lining (same pattern piece as the yoke) cut on the straight grain.  In theory, on the outside, this adds interest to the layout of the plaid whereas the straight inner layer makes the waist sturdy without the thickness that may have come from interfacing.  In practice, when putting the yoke and the yoke lining together, I found they were no longer the same size!  I had to sew on an extra piece to the yoke lining  or it would have literally fallen short.  If you examine the photo, you may spot that the waist is bit bleurgh – it could be tighter.  If you’re after the interesting diagonals, I recommend applying some light interfacing before the yoke is cut.


Raglan Sleeves1 Another Dahlia

These were 2cm too wide at the neckline, the excess jutting up from the shoulders, but as this was discovered before the neckline binding was applied, the fix was very simple.  Sew 3 rows of gathering stitches onto and within the seam allowance then pull to fit.  This results in a nicely cupped shoulder line with no puckers or gathers visible.  If you’re square of shoulder, gather evenly across the shoulder piece.  If your shoulders are more rounded, concentrate the gathers onto the sleeve front.


Instinct and research told me to sew down a size so I made a 4 (this being the U.S. size).  It fits perfectly so if it helps you to know, I’m 36-28-38.  Add an inch to the last two if it’s Christmas!1 Po Faced Dahlia

 Yeah, I know, I should cheer up!


18 thoughts on “Achtung, Dahlia!

    • Thank you Anelise! 🙂 My first post in ages and two of my favourite bloggers jump in with compliments! I would love to comment on your posts but I haven’t any of the profiles that would enable me to. Can you add name/URL to the list, please (if your blogging platform allows)?

      • Thank you so much for your kind comment! I changed the settings on my blog so that anyone can leave their thoughts with a name and URL. Thank you so much for the tip–I didn’t realize that I was preventing people from commenting!

  1. Very nice post and a lovely dress. It really like the way the top part flatters the bust and emphasises the slimness of your waist. The pattern matching is great but I agree that the bias yoke is not that thrilling. This dusky purple is rather nice on you but I think a stronger, richer shade would be a good wardrobe addition – maybe velvet? Anyway I always love reading your insights. Thank you.

    • Why, thank you! I always value your thoughts and you’re always right. I knew this colour wasn’t spot on and am on the lookout for better but I’d never have figured to make this in velvet! That would be so opulent. Thank you!

  2. I also bought this pattern as soon as it was released and, as it was before I’d made my New Year’s Resolution never to buy PDF dress patterns again, I had to do the printy, cutty, sticky thing for hours. Then I was going to make it in plaid and last time I tried that things didn’t end well. Then I went off the whole idea completely. I must say that your review hasn’t changed my mind as it sounds like there was quite a bit of ‘faff’ involved – for my liking anyway. I just know that neckline is going to cause problems for me and I’m not sure if the yoke feature will suit me either.
    Having said all that, I think your dress really suits you. I like the lavender in the tartan – it has a softening effect – and the whole thing looks comfortable yet smart without being too formal.
    As far as Nigella goes – I think you could give her a run for her money in the dark and sultry looks department 🙂

    • Lynn, please don’t be put off! it’s an easy enough make and would suit you and your mademoiselles!

      There aren’t that many pattern pieces to print/glue/trace and the shoulder fix will not take long. The waistband would be easy to match on the straight grain but I suggest you use the final garment measurement rather than the sizing chart to determine which size to go for if you don’t want to make a muslin. It would look great with plaid bias binding (as in your Sorbetto) and if you’re worried about having to line it, you could always underline to above the kick pleat and save a bit of faffing.

      And wow, thanks for the (Nigella) compliment: I wasn’t fishing, honest!

  3. The waistband on every version of this dress has the same stretchy problem. I know, putting it on the bias saves trying to match stuff up from top to bottom (much like on men’s plaid shirts these days), but the seam join looks wonky. And I know yours is not. It’s just a visual trick of the plaidness. This makes me sad because otherwise you have a terribly lovely dress there. I dunno what to do there. Piping to break it up?

  4. I cannot believe this. Only last night I was toodling away cleaning out my downloads folder when I discovered I’d bought this pattern – whodathunk?! I love this on you and great colour too. Would you perhaps take a bit out of the seat next version? Why hide your curves – so Nigellaesque, but leaner!

  5. Very very nice, the pattern matching looks great from all angles, which makes such a difference. I love to see midriff definition in dresses, and the bias definitely adds something. I decided against this pattern due to the very wide neck. Me too lazy to alter things. Did you have to put bra-strap holders in the shoulders? Raglans are sooo good to sew and wear, I love them. I have a very cool 60s pattern with a raglan, which I am dying to remake now I’ve seen this. I may even have to add a nice bias yolk.

    • Thanks!

      No, bra straps just about contained inside that neckline (which would take no time at all to extend, don’t let it put you off!). Your sixties pattern sounds intriguing!

  6. Lovely dress, the colour and shape suit you well and no, the small amout of pattern mismatching is hardly noticeable.

    I didn’t know there was a fabric shop in West Wickham, is it worth visiting? Maybe I’ll cycle over next time I have a free Saturday

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