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Fall Dresses: Kelly's Plaid Penny

We continue our fall dress tour with the latest from Colette. Kelly made the elegant Penny Dress out of Alison Glass' new Chroma line and results are plaid-tacular.

Penny Dress by Colette

Pattern: Penny Dress by Colette Patterns
Materials:  5 yards Chroma Plaid in shadow by Alison Glass (extra yard for matching plaids), (7) 5/8” buttons, (1) 3/8” button,(3) size 5 snaps, matching thread
Modifications: Shortened skirt by 2”
Size Made: 6

Kelly's Penny Dress by Colette

The first Colette pattern I ever worked with was Laurel and to this day it is still it one of my favorite dresses. It was also one of the first indie pattern designers I ever used and I really loved how the instructions contained extra tips on construction techniques, pattern flats of the inside of the garment and a sewing glossary. Since then I have made a Zinnia skirt and am currently modifying my Rue pattern to make a pleated skirt. Whenever I want to make something that will stand out and be the perfect blend of modern and vintage, I go for my Colette patterns.

Alison Glass Chroma Plaid Penny Dress

It has been some time since I’ve made a dress with (1) matching plaid (2) a collar and collar stand (3) a button placket and buttonholes, so I took my time reading through the instructions in order to understand the dress making process. The Penny pattern is mostly uncomplicated and I was pleased with how quickly the construction came together. I did have problems understanding how the sleeve cuff was finished after seaming to the sleeve and questioned if I did it correctly. I consulted with friends and they helped coach me along until we had a solution. In the end, all seams are clean, the cuff pattern faces the right way and it fits my arm; so even if I did not completely understand the directions, I still consider it a success!

Kelly spinning in her Colette Penny

Fancy Tiger recently received Chroma Handcrafted by Alison Glass and I was drawn to this particular fabric line because of its beautiful plaids and fun dots in a bright range of rainbow colors. The plaids caught my eye me and soon I was choosing between a few colors and questioning whether or not I wanted to get into the whole mess of matching plaids. Once I pulled Shadow, which is a cool grey striped with a pale pink and lavender plaid, the answer was “YES” and I got to planning. This wasn’t the first time I ever worked with matching lines or patterns but it was the most complicated plaid/dress project I’ve ever taken on. I welcomed the challenge and knew that if I could pull it off, the dress would be really special. I dusted off my old college textbook “Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Women’s Wear” by Roberto Cabrera and Patricia Flaherty Meyers and followed their instructions on how to match plaids for dress fronts, sleeves, and skirts.

Colette Penny Dress in Alison Glass Chroma Plaid

This project helped me work on my matching skills and techniques when laying out a pattern. While this plaid is not directional, it is irregular and I bought extra fabric to help make sure all lines were straight and matched up at the seams. I began with the bodice fronts and choose a layout that would give me the plaid stripe going down the button placket. In order to get the horizontal lines to match on the sleeves, I placed the notch on the top of the sleeve pattern and the front notch on the armhole at the identical point on the plaid design. When cutting out the back, I centered the plaid pattern evenly across the piece while also making sure the side seam lines matched up. Since the bodice placket had the plaid running down the center, I cut out the skirt fronts so that the line would continue all the way down to the hem. I matched up the back yoke piece last and used my bodice fronts and back that were already cut out to find the right place to match the yoke to the sleeve, back and front shoulder seams. The matching of the collar, under collar and collar stand together is one of my favorite parts of the dress. Once I had the bodice fronts and yoke cut out, I was able to lay out those smaller patterns pieces, match the notches and I’m thrilled with how well that part of the dress came out.

Kelly McGoun in her Penny Dress by Colette

The sleeve cuff was not entirely clear and I feel like I did not do it correctly. In the end, it looks like it should, but I’m definitely interested in trying it again to see if it was my late night sewing that caused the confusion. I also had a challenge with the fit of my bodice. It’s just about right, but the bust darts created some puckering and when I make the dress again, I’ll experiment with double darts to ease the fullness of the waist dart. Next time, a full muslin dress will help guide me along and make the process much easier. I only made the bodice out of muslin for the waist/bust fit. In the end, I did not do a proper fitting and my shortcut of just fitting the bodice was not helpful. The most fun part was matching the plaid. Yes, it took longer to lay it out. Yes, I made mistakes and had to recut, but the feeling of getting the plaid right kept me smiling throughout the project.

Check back tomorrow as we continue our fall dress tour with Caitlin's two Caftans! Follow along on instagram and share your own makes with #fancyfalldresses!

Fancy fall dress tour

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Comments on this post (2)

  • Mar 26, 2018

    I am also confused by the sleeve and cuff! How did you do it in the end? I attached the whole thing to the wrong side first off. Which wasn’t right so I went back and unpicked and pressed on edge under and sewed one side down first. Then do you clip the actual sleeve piece to tuck it in to the cuff?

    — Jo

  • Sep 19, 2017

    Love your dress! I am currently making this dress, also in a plaid.

    — Monica Mathias

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