I finally finished this Colette Patterns Dahlia dress. It probably took about two and a half weeks but it felt like forever. Dahlia was daunting. When it was first released, the gorgeous plaid version on the model really enticed me. But as I read that others were having issues with the fit, I started to second guess the idea. Then I saw this beauty poly blend plaid from Blackbird fabrics and my fate was sealed. I was going to make this dress.

I decided to make a muslin for this one. It's the least fun part of sewing, but in this case I knew I'd regret it if I didn't. So I made one. And then another. And then another. In total, I made 5 (FIVE!) versions of the bodice until I liked the fit, and then one version of the waistband yoke and skirt.

Muslin #1 was the straight-up pattern. Like others experienced, the neckline was way too wide and falling off my shoulders. I will spare you the details and frustration of versions 2, 3, and 4 and will just tell you the combination of adjustments that finally worked for me:

  • Cut a size 4
  • Did a narrow shoulder adjustment (1.5" hinge), as explained by Devon on the Dahlia Sewalong
  • Removed a 1/2" wedge from the center back, and then straightened the back darts (also in the Sewalong)
  • Added 1" to the bodice length (Colette bodices seem to be a bit short on me)
  • Added a dart to each shoulder (1.5" wide x 3" long) (thank you Limescented!)
  • Pulled neckline gathers to 5" rather than 6" (another Limescented suggestion)
  • Changed the skirt gathers to tiny pleats (1" each, making sure the waistband yoke was the same length as the top of the skirt before sewing)
  • Took out the bodice slightly, and took in the waist slightly
  • Took in the sleeves at the cuff by 1.5", tapering in to nothing under the arm

Without the help of the Sewalong and Limescented posts mentioned above, I think this Dahlia would have been doomed. But with the right combination of all those alterations, I finally have a perfectly fitting dress and I am IN LOVE with the final product!

I also successfully pattern matched! I used Colette's very helpful guide, and focused on matching the bodice and sleeves as well as the skirt side seams. I admit I forgot all about matching when cutting the front and back waistband yokes so they don't match on the side seams (I was so concerned with getting that "X" in the middle)...ah well, can't have it all!

In the end, this Dahlia went from near disaster to just delightful! I wear it to work all the time and it's extra satisfying because I learned so much making it. Yay!


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