I 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!
This 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.
Colette 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.
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.
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.
Yeah, I know, I should cheer up!