Colette, Dresses, Work in Progress
Comments 52

When One Thing Leads To Another – The Colette Wren Part 1

My big sister (older by 10 days short of a year) celebrated her birthday at the end of October.  Two years ago I made her a leather bag and last year I made her a Coco.  This year she said she would like another Coco and chose this sparkly ponte knit from Minerva:

#tillycoco 282It does change colour a little bit depending on the light but this gives a fair idea of the fabric.  It took a bit of tweaking before I was happy with this photo.

So onwards and upwards.  I completed her Coco in about 1 1/2 hours (I’ve made a few so can almost do them with my eyes shut, they seem to be our family uniform!).


It was just as well that I got a photo of her new Coco on Gertrude as these were the best of the photo shoot in the pub:

#tillycoco 281

#tillycoco 279

#tillycoco 278

Anyway, she loved it! I loved it! I wanted to keep it!  But instead I ordered another 5 metres of this gorgeous fabric just for me!  I was thinking another Morris Blazer, Christmas Coco, Sallie Jumpsuit…. would 5m be enough with all what I had in mind!!??

And then it happened.  Colette released their new dress pattern – The Wren and I bought a dress from a fancy charity shop that happened to be a wrap dress, and also happened to make me look like I’d lost 2 stones in weight!

So that was it!! New Wren pattern bought and plans formed to use shiny silver ponte knit for said wrap dress!

I’ve a posh black tie do to go to in a couple of weeks so I’m hoping this will be just the ticket!  Oops!!! Just checked the website so I can show you where we’re off and it’s next Monday, not the Monday after, best get mi skates on!!  — It’s the Yorkshire White Rose Awards which is going to be held at the new Leeds Arena and I’m really excited!

So you’re here really to read about the Wren aren’t you!  Click on the photo below for the link to the Colette website.

Here’s muslin number 1 (apologies for flesh that hasn’t seen daylight since last december but if I didn’t show these then the post would be a bit pointless wouldn’t it?)

Front view – really really short!  Do I really have such a long body!!??  Or maybe it’s the boobs? But I’m only a B cup!

#colettewren 277

Back view – length ok, could really do with a slight sway back adjustment.  And very tight!

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Slight gapeage.
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Another back view, showing the need for a sway back adjustment a bit better:

#colettewren 272

I made a few notes after the first fitting.  I’m so glad I used the proper fabric.

I measure 41/34.5/40 .  I initally traced off a size large which is for a 40-42/32-34/42-44 with finished measurements of 38 1/4  – 33 3/4 – 39 3/4

Fabric suggestions are;  Light to medium weight knit fabrics with at least 25% stretch, baby rib knit, French terry, double knit, ITY.

Although mine isn’t as stretchy I’m sure I read somewhere that version 1 with the narrow skirt would work better with a more stable knit.

Anyway, I sized up to an XL.  The finished garment measurements on this size are just over my own measurement so a little bit of ease.


Lengthened all  bodice pieces by 4cm.

Moved the armscye curve inwards to allow room to make a dart to eliminate the gapeage.  Only changed the armscye on the front and not the back piece.

#colettewren 267

I added 2 cm to the bottom width of the neckband to increase coverage at the front. I didn’t increase it at all at the top – you can see the new edge which would no longer be parallel with the grainline so I drew in a new grainline which is now parallel. (hope that makes sense!)

#colettewren 266

Now here comes the tricky bit.

I added 4 cm to the back piece but them did a 5cm sway back adjustment.  I had to look this up and found THIS tutorial on Kitchycoo’s blog to be most useful.  I needed SBAs before but never bothered.  Was quite easy, don’t really know what I was scared of!

#colettewren 271

I wasn’t really sure where to cut the hinge so I did it just below the shorten/lengthen lines.

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I ended up with an odd shaped back piece.  Let’s see what happened after I sewed it up.

Yay! It reaches my navel!  Result!

#colettewren 263

Frontal gapeage acceptable, after all I’m sure there will be plenty of low cut frocks at the do!

#colettewren 265

Side seam looks vertical. Slight gapeage on the back armscye but only when arms are up!

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Back looks so much better.  The 5cm sway back seemed a bit drastic after adding 4cm to the length but it worked!

#colettewren 261

Darts pinned, improving the overall fit of the front.
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And just one last one.  For this photo I pulled the front down. Not loads but enough to give an idea what if would look like with the skirt attached.

#colettewren 260

I’m really happy with how this 2nd muslin fits.  I just wish I’d pre-washed the fabric before I made this up.  I’m a bit scared to use it for the real thing without a prewash.

For the making of the actual dress I’m going to make a few changes:

  • I want to line the bodice so I can have neater finished on the neckline and front bands.  The pattern calls for just turning and stitching with a double needle, but i think I need a neater finish for a posh frock.
  • I’m thinking of adding sheer fitted sleeves – some sort of black nylon type of fabric.  Yet to find and running out of time!
  • Making the skirt maxi length.

I should imagine there’ll be a few more changes before I finish properly. Until then……..Cheerio πŸ˜‰

PS Sorry for the blog post overload!  I’m just making the most of the beginning of the week when I’ve 3 days off and H is back to school!


  1. Karen says

    Please carry on with the overload. You are quite inspirational. As a maxi it’s going to look amazing K xXx

  2. I’m impressed with all your adjustments and pattern fiddling. It was worth it though wasn’t it? The fit is miles better and it is going to look very classy in that fabric.

    • Yup, definitely worth it. Because the sewing part is quite straight forward and it’s a fairly easy sew I didn’t mind putting the effort it. Now just trying to work out the fastest way to dry the 4 1/2 metres of fabric that just come out of the washing machine! 😁

    • Will do! I’m getting excited about making it up properly now I’m happy with the fit. I’ll be having wrap cardi’s and tops as well as dresses! πŸ˜€

  3. Fiona M says

    Looking good! The fitting notes are really helpful, thanks for posting them. It’s going to be a gorgeous dress, love the ideas of sheer sleeves and maxi length, and look forward to seeing a pic of the finished item.

    • Glad they’re helpful, especially as it’s a bit scary posting tummy photos online. I always like to read about what goes on behind the scenes too, not just pics in the finished garment with hair and make up done πŸ˜€

  4. corrineappleby says

    I love nitty gritty sewing posts like this because I feel like I learn something. Your second bodice looks great – well done for working out what you needed to do to achieve it because I couldn’t! Love that sparkly fabric. You will look sensational in your finished dress!

    • I think in my next nitty gritty posts I’ll have a six pack with all this running, haha, I wish! I only knew what to do as I spend more time reading blogs than actually sewing πŸ˜ƒ

  5. No blog overload! ~ Love these details, so helpful! Checked out that Wren yesterday & am thinking . . . πŸ˜‡ Why not bung the wet (should only feel damp if it’s been spun enough) fabric into the dryer on delicates? That’s what I did with that green I got for a Morris now it’s turned cooler. Loooove the maxi length for more formal things, and couldn’t you add chiffon-ey sleeves whenever you locate proper fabric?
    But that fabric photo – it shines silvery in some light & gold in diff light??? Would love to see a teensy scrap! (Good for you for starting to adjust piccies a bit!)
    Sorry for the lengthy comment! xx

    • Like lengthy, it’s good to read what you think. I thought about some type of chiffoney fabric but i think it needs to have some stretch for it to work. My tumblers real old and only has one setting, but the fabrics been on the big radiator all evening so nearly dry.
      Have I missed something? I don’t remember seeing a Morris on your blog πŸ˜€

      • It’s been too hot here to contemplate. Once in a while we’ll get a low temp day or two, then it bounces back up. 🌞 Very unable to plan anything…
        Thank you for being so kind about my carrying on! πŸ˜‰

  6. Gorgeous! Pretty fabric, and how clever to figure out that SBA – I’ve seen that referred to before, but never knew quite to do one (or do I need one? who knows? how do you tell?). The fit is quite perfect for you now. Waiting for the finished dress with all the accessories in place.
    Please keep “overloading” us with your pictures and information! πŸ™‚

    • If you have excess fabric pooling near your lower back/waist area you need a sway back adj. Keep a look out for it – you’ll see loads of people in rtw garments that need one. When I look at a lot of clothes I’ve made already they need one, but this is the first time I’ve been bothered. It was easier than I thought πŸ˜€

      • See how you are? I’m just musing away and you actually addressed those questions! I will look for those fit issues on my next make and remember your kind advice. πŸ™‚

        • It’s amazing how tweaking the pattern here and there can make huge differences. That link is really good for explaining different adjustments πŸ˜€

  7. Sounds like hard work but the end result will be stunning, I’m sure! Can’t wait to see the final dress. Nee 🐝 X

    • Thanks Nee, wasn’t too bad as the bodice was sewn together in no time. Thought of you when I ordered the fabric, I’ve never ordered so much before in one go, never mind all the same 😳 x

  8. Ohhh, lovely! Fab post on all those adjustments and totally worth it for the results. Love this pattern, will def. return back to this when I eventually get round to purchasing it (really trying to work through the ones I do have before allowing myself anymore though for the moment). Agree with the above comments that this would look so elegant in a longer length.

    • Thanks Teresa, I’ve found it helpful reading similar posts so in the interest of helping others I bared my midriff. My original plan for this do I’m going to was to make another holly jumpsuit in a satin evening fabric. But then when one thing leads to another….! πŸ˜€

  9. I toiled my version and then left it in a pile on my desk… I aso will need to lengthen the bodice dramatically, and possibly go up a size. I love the jersey you’ve chosen, that’ll look fabulous as a maxi posh frock!

    • Thanks, can’t wait to get on with it, but having to go out and try and play golf in the fog this morning so will have to wait! 😦

    • I think I’m lucky that the adjustments I’ve had to make were fairly straight forward. Fingers crossed it will all work out! πŸ™‚

  10. Anne Wright says

    You are so good with your adjustments, the dress is going to look fab, can’t wait to see the final thing. You have so much patience and knowledge – who knew there was such a thing as a back sway adjustment?! I definitely think you should be a sewing agony aunt – you’d make a fortune solving everyone’s sewing problems!!!

    • Some of the sewing terms are like another language! I sewed years ago and am self taught, but in the last 2 years since i properly got back into it I’ve learnt so much off other sewing bloggers. Don’t know how I managed before just following patterns and not having the internet to trawl through. I probably got more done though! πŸ™‚

  11. Looking good so far. If you don’t want to sew the dart into the armhole you could close it on the pattern piece (another funny shape now) to remove it. This dress is going to look great.

    • Bit late replying as I’ve been busy taking your advice. I closed the dart and also one in the back armscye too and it’s worked perfectly!! Thank you so much! Can’t wait to show you πŸ˜€

  12. So glad to read about your Wren modifications! I too loved the pattern, and bought it immediately, but felt something was off upon closer inspection — there is too much negative ease in the lower part. I understand negative ease in the bust, but the pattern consistently maintains negative ease through the waist and hips for each size (the gored skirt version). Surely, in a clingy fabric, the waist should just skim the body, and the hips have some positive ease? I’m definitely going to scale up the bottom of the pattern when I do mine! A couple of other reviewers have also noted that they would make the bottom larger, and on the Colette blog itself the dress looks too clingy through the bottom half on the non professional model pictures.

    • Thanks for stopping by and your comments. I’ve finally sewn it all together today. The top is just right, slightly fitted with a tiny bit of ease. The skirt drapes and skims lovely, and the extra weight of the maxi length really helps too. I think unless someone has an amazing figure and wearing spandex that the negative ease in the skirt would be a bit risky! πŸ˜€

  13. Great post – thank you for taking one for the team and baring all! I’ve bought the pattern but yet to find fabric. What struck me from the Colette photos was that Sarai’s blue wool version looks very short in the bodice, in fact a bit too short for her torso ( It made me wonder whether it was meant to be like that. Can’t wait to see the finished version, Your 2nd bodice is a great fit.

    • Every time I think of your comment I laugh (or smile depending where I am!!) proper funny – taking one for the team , lol!
      I’ve had another look at Sarai’s version and you’re right. It needs some extra length, and spandex. The fabric I’ve used is just perfect, it doesn’t cling and has an amazing drape. I’d definitely recommend going up a size and using a medium weight fabric instead of something to light and stretchy. πŸ˜€
      Can’t weight to see what you choose πŸ˜€

  14. Can’t wait to see your completed Wren! I’d already put it on my Christmas list, and seeing your WIP I’m glad I had! Love the fabric from Minerva – no wonder your sister looks thrilled on the photos! I have the Coco pattern but not traced it off yet! 😬

    • I’m thinking of doing a blog post -Coco for Christmas! I thought maybe using the coco as a starting place for a sort of Christmas jumper, maybe adding some appliquΓ©? Fancy joining in? Need to get tracing!! PS the wrens almost finished. Just needs hemming and a few bits of hand stitching. I love it. A definite must for the Christmas list πŸ˜€

  15. Really enjoyed reading your post. I love the Wren pattern but I buy Burda magazine every month so definitely don’t need to buy any more. Hope you have a great result sewing it up.

    • Thank you! I have a few burda magazines, and love them. I trace them off and hardly ever sew them. Think I must be a bit crazy! πŸ˜€

  16. This is a great fabric for the Wren, I was dreaming it in something glittery! I admire your patience with all the fiddling, it’s bound to be a great piece in your wardrobe. xx

    • Thanks! Every girl should have a sparkly posh frock, though when I tried it on for hubby and H today hubby loved it but H said he thought it looked like I was off to a Halloween party??!! Not sure what to make of that comment! 😯

      • Haha! Boys, it’s black it must be Halloween! It’s a gorgeous fabric for a gorgeous dress! I imagine it with dancing shoes and a fur shawl covering the shoulders!

  17. I tend to have to lengthen fronts by a lot – 5″ not unusual. Backs either by not nearly as much or not at all – I don’t usually have to shorten them though was shocked on one occasion I remember when I had to (I’m 5’11”). I’m not sure how much is to do with style (or age!), but I don’t like the very short waists on a lot of the patterns I see.

  18. Pingback: The Colette Wren at The Yorkshire White Rose Awards | T H I M B E R L I N A

  19. Pingback: Wren | Sew South London

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