Colette, Dresses, Tutorials
Comments 40

My Colette Wren – The Nitty Gritty

I had a vision!

Image from Colette (click on photo)


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Here’s how it happened!

After taking my measurements I opted to trace off size large.  I didn’t notice the chart for the finished measurements.  If I had I would probably have saved myself some time.  The pattern has negative ease and my fabric (being a ponte knit) wasn’t quite as stretchy as suggested.

01-3rd post

The left photo shows my first muslin in a large.  I recut it in a XL and lengthened the pattern pieces by 4cm (on the shorten/lengthen lines).

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A lesson to all – Trace your pieces!  I’d have been snookered if I’d have cut into my PDF pattern and would have had to print and stick it all together again!

02-3rd post1

The lower back bodice picture above is the first muslin.  As you can see its tight and also there is excess fabric in the lower back.  I lengthened the bottom by 4cm and then did a 5cm sway back adjustment – following this tutorial.

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I ended up with a very odd shaped piece but it worked. Amazing!!

03-3rd post2

I had some gaping issues and The Material Lady suggested closing the dart on the pattern pieces.  This worked really well, thankyou Kim!  The 2 pics above are of the darts pinched out in the 1st muslin.

I also decided to raise the armhole a little at the front – you can see the original cutting line.

04-3rd post3

I also pinched out a section in the back and closed a dart i created in the back too.

05-3rd post4

I had made 3 adjustments to the armscye which caused the sleeve head to be way too big.

I needed to get rid of 2 cm for the front dart, 2cm for the back dart and 3/4 inch for the smaller front arm curve.

I marked each where it was needed to be pinched out and pivoted it with the centre point of the bottom of the sleeve.  You can see the lines I drew that I then closed and joined together.

I’ve no idea if this is the correct way but it worked!!

06-3rd post5

At the end of all the pattern tweaking, you should have something like the above – odd shaped pieces and an empty bottle of wine!

07-3rd post6

I made a facing for the back neck at I didn’t want any visible stitching.

The next few pictures i hope aren’t too confusing.  I wanted to lengthen the skirt to be floor length but still keep the 6 gored shape and slightl A line.  I wasn’t too concerned if it would be too tight to walk in as I was adding a thigh length split.

First of all I worked out my skirt pieces needed to be 46 inches.  This included the hem and also a bit extra ‘just in case’.  Apologies for both cm and inches – I’m an immetric girl!  I was brought up in the middle of the change over!

08-3rd post7

I lined the edge of the paper up with the centre seam and traced off all the pattern but only to the double lines which indicate where to shorten/lengthen.

09-3rd post8

Measure 46 inches down from the top of your tracing.  Line this mark up with the bottom of the skirt and trace off your size to the double lines.

10-3rd post9

You can see on the left that’s there a big gap, a bit like someone being chopped in half in a magic show!  Photo left shows a line blended between the top and the bottom.

11-3rd post10

I did this for all the pieces, except some of the pieces I needed to line the top and bottom halves of the pattern pieces with the grain line – keeping it parallel and also the double lines.  This bit is likely to make no sense at all, but if you’re doing it do the easy centre front and back pieces first and I’m sure this will then make sense.  If not, get in touch!!

Other things I did to make my frock posh:

Hand stitched the hem and the slit.

Hand stitched the front cross over bands.

Catch stitched the seams allowance on the sleeves to the bodice so they wouldn’t peak out.

That’s it folks!  I think!  The hand stitching took so long.  3 episodes of The Aprrentice and 2 Strictly Come Dancings. It was worth though and i just love it.  And so does my sister.  She’s just tried it on and is borrowing it to wear to a Black Tie do tomorrow!  I can’t remember the last time either of us went to one, and now we’ll have both been to one in the same week.

Isn’t she the lucky one – it fits her too, even after all those adjustments!

You just need to do your hair and make up sis’ and you’re ready to go!

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Just thought I’d mention before i go.  This is for guidance as to what I did, and to remind me in the future.

The only sewing lesson I’ve ever had was this year, learning how to sew with silk. I’ve learn what I know about pattern fitting from trial and error and reading your blogs.

Apologies if I confuse you or there’s a better way of doing it.   But if it helps you….YAY!  Then ‘jobs a good un’ (as they’d say in Yorkshire!)

If you’d like to see the post of it at the Yorkshire Awards, and my midriff covered click HERE!

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I sew and play golf. I blog about my sewing as I don't think you'd want to read about my golf. It's bad enough watching it on telly! Contact me via email -


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

  2. Karen says

    Respect. I bow to your knowledge. Arnt you sometimes amazed at how far you have come in such a short time. Really well done. Hope your sister has a great time too K xXx

    • Thanks Karen, i think I’m just getting better at winging it, and lucky too that it turns out ok. The Internet and other bloggers definitely help πŸ˜ƒ

  3. Brilliant! You’ve learnt loads and you’ve found it all through blogging? Fantastic! I’m about a foot shorter and a foot wider than my sister so we can’t share clothes unfortunately:(

    • Mainly blogs, and craftsy classes too. I mainly only watch the classes and hardly ever make what they are doing. So I can do all sorts in my head but hardly ever put things into practice! πŸ˜ƒ

  4. Thanks for sharing all this info! I’m so impressed with your stick-to-it-ness and the great results. And oh what a happy sis she must be. I’m almost identical to sewchet regarding my sister stats – boohoo, because she has a really great wardrobe. πŸ˜‰

  5. Great explanation…but, I couldn’t get the link to the sway-back to work either. I want to try working on that also. I hope your sister has fun at her event. You both are so social over there.

    • Oops, link fixed! It’s a good job we’re both not going to the same event – we’d be falling out over who’s wearing the frock! πŸ˜ƒ

  6. Wow all that maths hurts my head. You did an amazing job! I would pin this post should I ever wish to do so many alterations in one go but my stupid phone is having problems pinning. Someone in my course is doing this dress, she’s just cut out her muslin. She’s hoping not to do any alterations. Eek!!

    • I think maybe I only had so many because my fabric wasn’t stretchy enough. The dress is fairly straight forward to make which makes up for the alterations πŸ˜ƒ

    • I think I’d have got bored and just stuck to golf if it hadn’t been for blogging – the friendship and sharing of knowledge is just fab! πŸ™‚

  7. There comes a point where the number of alterations equate to a totally new draft. I reckon this is more Thimberlina than Collette! Have you drafted from first principals? A whole new level of fit, comfort, style variations. And hassle ;/)

    • Never done any drafting, just the odd but if tweaking in the past. I think it still looks like the Wren though, just a bit dressier than the pattern was intended. I’m tempted to draft a skirt block, once I shrink the tummy a bit more! 😳

  8. It’s fabulous. Thanks for sharing. I noticed the cms and ins and love your term ‘immetric’. Me too! I’m a bit older than you and a bit more firmly bedded into inches except my sewing classes are metric. I reckon it doesn’t matter. You’ve carefully marked all the measurements – I need to be more careful about that!

  9. Oh my goodness, that sounds like a lot of work! Very impressed with all the adjustments, so pleased they worked after all that effort. Fab job!

  10. corrineappleby says

    Your dress looks fantastic after all those alterations! I hope you get to go to another posh do so you get to wear it again. Congratulations on a very good job!

    • Lol… Can’t beat a good old Yorkshire saying!
      There’s a lot to be said for making muslins, I’ve only recently started to enjoy that aspect of sewing, I’m attempting to change my sewing output and concentrate on quality rather than quantityπŸ˜€

      • I’ve made muslins for a few of my woven dresses, and it’s the only way for me (and the ‘girls’), but I hadn’t thought to do one for a stretch dress. I’m definitely going to do a muslin for the bodice of this Wren. Also, I can’t for the life of me find where you mentioned having a look at LLadybird’s Wren (could a non-sewist make sense of that sentence??). So I did and her waistline looks too high, and she’s teeny in real life!

        • I think it was on IG, and yes, us sewists speak another language! God help anyone trying to make out a Yorkshire Sewist! Even harder to understand!! πŸ˜€

  11. Just re-reading this for the n-th time!!! The armhole bit takes a bit of getting my head around. I have a finished Wren that fits, but i might need to revisit the armhole. Thank you so much for such a detailed series of posts.

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