Never the quickest off the mark, I'd had the Colette Patterns Ceylon dress pattern in my collection for about a year before I got round to giving it a go. To be fair, I had been waiting for the right fabric to appear, which it did in the form of a pair of spotty navy cotton sateen curtains I found in a charity in Maldon (holler, Miss P!) Autumn just gone. Maybe you aren't aware of how I feel about cotton sateen? Strongly. Anyways, I'm getting off track.
I ordered the Ceylon pattern along with the Macaron when 'Santa' (AKA, my mate Anna) perceptively bought me a Colette Patterns voucher a couple of Christmases ago. I'd fallen pretty hard for the Ceylon design when it first came out and not long after some nice versions seemed to be appearing out there in sewing-blogland (Sølvi's being my favourite to date). So when the spotty navy sateen came into my life providing sufficient fabric for this fairly fabric-hungry project for a mere £4, I felt it was time to finally crack open the Ceylon. I think I began prepping the pattern last December, and it's taken me until April to finish. This was not a quick project.
Why did it take so long? Because this dress is so damn involved and problematic and I lost momentum. It has approximately 3 squillion pieces, with heaps of gathering and top stitching, all of which meant it was always going to be pretty time consuming. But I think most of my motivation wained when I found some flaws in this pattern which needed some time to tackle. I found that the front yokes married up poorly with the front panel below at the sides seam area. Also, in my opinion, there are a couple of problems with the way the sleeve pattern piece was drafted, like it was not possible to hem properly because no allowance for the sleeve seam angle had been made, and the gathering of the sleevehead would not have been even if you matched up the shoulder point notches. One of the back sections puffed out quite a bit, which needed unpicking and repositioning (in a similar vein to my Macaron, as it goes). I also think the skirt shaping at the side seams was somewhat bizarre, so I took that in to prevent it sticking out oddly. These last two issues were definately emphasised, but certainly not caused, by my fabric, which is fairly thick.
The final issue I had with the fit of this dress is probably not the fault of the pattern, however. The wide waist panel in this design means that the skirt flares out from quite a low point. I have a naturally high waist which means that the bottom of that waist panel hits me firmly on my hips and close to my widest point. I tried to counter this to some extent in the very beginning by cutting out one size for the top and graduating out to the next size up at the waist, but this only helped so far. I would, of course, have found this out had I made a toile/muslin of this dress before cutting my final version. But with all those panel pieces, you'd have to be something of a sadist of possess the patience of a buddist monk to make a dry-run of this style! So the waist doesn't doesn't fit fantastically, which I think is a shame considering the rest of the garments looks pretty good. Hopefully, with so much going on with this style, there is too much detail to draw the eye to notice the ill-fitting waist area.
So, what IS good about this dress? Well, the fabric is lovely. Such a lovely quality and slightly weightiness of the fabric feels really nice and special to wear. The red satin piping I added to the yoke area, although a bit of a nightmare to apply (sharp angles + piping + lots of layers of fabric at certain points = extensive headache) really emphasises, what is, to me the best feature of this style. The red buttons (self-covered using scraps of the lining of my winter coat) were time consuming to make, but complement the piping well and make the dress pop.
I wore this dress for the first time to the Handmade Brighton shop's birthday party and it received lots of compliments, possibly more than any other garment on its debut, so maybe it's actually fine, and it's just that the rawness of the troubles is still too fresh for me to have a balanced view. I am planning on a second outting in it this weekend coming, so I'm hoping me and my Ceylon will be able to put our troubles behind us and become close friends afterall.