Many of you will have seen the new release by Colette patterns, the Dahlia dress. It’s described as the perfect year-round dress, and features a yoke waist (while I hate the term “universally flattering”, because nothing is ever universally flattering – I’m sure you can tell me some examples! – I actually love these features), and gathers at the neckline and under the bust. Version 1 has 3/4 raglan sleeves, with a lightly gathered skirt, whereas Version 2 is finished with bias binding (which also form straps), and a gored skirt.
Please note, I purchased this pattern with my own money (using the “sneak peek” code). All opinions expressed are my own. You can see my blog post with more photos [here](http://www.tworandomwordsblog.com/2014/10/a-strawberry-dahlia). I named it a strawberry but as pointed out by some of my readers it is SO OBVIOUSLY actually a watermelon. With white seeds. A strawmelon?
Well, I love it – this could be the quickest I’ve ever bought the pattern (about 30 seconds after opening the email). And as you can see, I sewed it up pretty quickly too – I used the narrow excuse of “I need some buttons!” to drive the 30 minutes to work to print it out (and I grabbed a mask at the same time because I was cleaning my iron), then cut, taped and traced it out while watching old seasons of Project Runway (season 5 contained the phrase “I don’t call it plus sized. I call it plus sexy”).
I know that waist yokes are flattering on me, and I love little bust gathers. The design is similar to Vogue 8469, but Dahlia has raglan sleeves and the sleeveless version.
It goes up to a size 26!!!! This is the same size range as their knit range but in the numeric sizes rather than up to 3XL. So, bigger ladies rejoice!
For reference, my measurements are: High Bust 38″, Bust 40″, Waist 32″, Hips 47″. I cut a size 12 in the bodice and graded out to a size 18 in the hips. I did not need to do that and the hips ended up way too big – I’ve already gone back and altered my pattern to be smaller. According to the finished measurements I shouldn’t be able to fit the size 12 hips and the 18 would only give me 5″ of ease, but for me at least there’s definitely too much.
I’m still not sure exactly where the bust gathers are supposed to sit. I would have thought they should go directly under the bust, but they don’t seem to. On me, having followed the size 12 with no changes, they sit 1-2″ under my bust, which is similar to how it looks on the model. If I pull up the bodice, the bottom yoke seam is higher than my true waist, and the neckline is much higher than looks good. For reference I am tall (178cm) and have a very low set bust (I always have to lower darts) so I’m surprised the bodice is so long. This may be a symptom of having a smaller bust than the patterns are drafted for – bigger busts will take up more length.
You’ll notice in my photos that there is a reasonable amount of bagginess in the bust – again I think this is a length issue, as well as a result of my narrow shoulders – as someone said on my blog, the excess of fabric is “collapsing in on itself”, causing the bagging. Without the sleeves to hold up the bodice and create tension, it can only go down!
Since taking the photos I took two 1cm tucks out of the neckline and it has helped the fit significantly – to fix this for the next time I’m not sure if I should just increase the amount I gather, remove some length, or do a “narrow shoulder adjustment”.
I also think the back is much too high (for me at least) – from the photo below I’d guess it needs to be lowered about 4-6″ so look right on me (to just above where the darts end). In fact I think it’s something most people would want to consider, as I imagine it would look best lower on almost anyone.
For reference, I’ve laid out the two versions on top of each other – there does seem to be some slight difference between the two other than just a seam allowance (which you don’t need for version 2’s neckline). On the left is the back bodice, with version 1 on top (as it’s smaller). To the right is the front bodice with version 2 (the smaller) on top. So where the height is good for the sleeved version, it may be too high (front and back) for the sleeveless version.
The instructions are good – good order of sewing. The only change I made was to sew the waist yoke pieces onto each bodice piece before doing the side seams, and I did a lapped zip instead of an invisible zip (which I didn’t have). I stitched the bias binding on with my bias binding foot. The bias binding is stitched on at the end, I’m guessing so you can try on the dress and work out the correct length for the straps, once the zip is in and the weight of the skirt is attached.
The instructions are good for both beginners and more advanced stitchers – the pictures are good enough to follow along with if you know what you’re doing, but they have included more information for beginners (like, why to stay stitch, and why use two gathering threads rather than just one). There’s also a glossary at the end and links throughout the instructions for more information.
- I, for one, love the design! It’s super cute and I can see many of these fitting well in my wardrobe
- I don’t think it uses nearly as much fabric as suggested on the yardage (I didn’t need 3 yards!); Colette Patterns tends to over-estimate yardage. Keep in mind that the front and back bodice are cut on the fold though, so you may want to cut this out on flat fabric
- Good, thorough instructions
- Great size range, up to size 26 (54″ bust!)
- There is also a free downloadable booklet on how to make the sleeved version with stripes/plaids
- I’m pleased that it works well both for spring/summer AND autumn/winter, making Northern and Southern hemisphere stitchers just as happy! Especially me, because I always fall for what the Northern hemisphere is sewing and end up with the wrong clothes.
- Can look good in a wide variety of fabrics (both drapey, like linen/rayon/lightweight cottons, and more structured fabrics like midweight cottons, wools, etc)
- Fitting may be difficult – I personally haven’t sewn much with raglan sleeves so that may take a bit to get my head around
- You may find, like me, that the bodice is rather long
- Be careful you don’t stretch out the neckline when sewing on your bias binding (I accidentally did, even with staystitching)
- Be prepared to reduce ease in the skirt
- Smaller busted ladies may have to do a small-bust adjustment. Which means bigger busted ladies may not need a FBA!
So, what do you think? Have you bought the pattern yet, or do you plan to?