Member Roisin wrote a great review of the Colette Ceylon and Roiboos dresses a while ago. They looked so beautiful and she recommended them so highly that I jumped at the chance to borrow the pattern for the Ceylon. Since Roisin and I are about as different in shape as it is possible to be, I thought it would be interesting to do a quick alternative review of it.
The reason I wanted to try the Ceylon in particular (observant readers may realise that all the Colette dress patterns are named after teas, and Roisin tells me that the line itself is named after the founder’s cat, who is in turn named after the French novelist – all of which make me want to buy the entire line immediately) is because it looks so very elegant and tailored. It is made in three sections – top, midriff and skirt – which actually makes it much easier than most to accommodate figures which are not the same size all over (aka normal women). Each section is topstitched to the one above which is what makes it look so professional, but I was really pleased to discover that this is actually extremely easy to do. You simply fold the seam allowance along the top of one section over and press it, and then stitch it to the bottom of the piece above.
Despite our height differential of 8 inches and the fact that I am modelled on a beanpole I had almost exactly the same measurements as Roisin. However I had recently sewn a dress (from another company) which had come up rather small, so I deliberately cut it out larger. This was a mistake – trust the pattern sizes! I ended up having to take it all apart and resew it into a dress rather than a patterned bag. I used a brown checked material, but I made the shoulder section in a contrasting brown cotton, and made self-covered buttons in the same brown – all suggestions made in the pattern.
I was worried that I wouldn’t like the dress after having to take it all apart and sew it back together, but in fact it fitted so well in the end that I love it. As Roisin said in her review, the instructions are always clear and the diagrams are helpfully labelled so you know what piece you are using when. Despite the complexity of the finished look, it is actually really straightforward. My dress came out fairly generously sized even after taking it in, but I don’t like wearing very tight clothing. If you like a snug fit you might even want to go a little smaller than your usual size. I also have quite broad shoulders so the top fitted me quite well (although it does gape slightly when I move about). If you are a little narrower you might need to jiggle with the fit here a little – Roisin also noted that the smaller-busted lady might want to adjust here.
In short, I love this dress and I love this pattern, and I would definitely recommend it as long as members of this club promise not to all wear it at the same time! I have already asked Roisin if I can borrow the Rooibos pattern, but I will certainly be spending some of my own pennies to support this independent company too. If anyone is interested in sewing up one of Colette’s more difficult patterns with a bit of support, Gertie has just completed a sewalong of the Lady Grey coat pattern – go and take a look at her excellent instructions on lining and fitting! She is also about to start another Colette sewalong which is much more of a beginner’s pattern. Tempted? I’ll say.