'Put a bird on it' Peony

Being stubborn and reasonably happy with my final sleeveless Peony bodice I decided I had to have a crack at it with some pretty fabric, and I had already bought this awesome lightweight cotton printed with beautiful toucans, flamingos, pelicans and parrots from my local fabric store. I'd had my eye on it for ages, but decided that without a dedicated purpose I couldn't justify a purposeless addition to my stash. Then I was out with my beloved one night and we saw a hipster in a pub wearing an awesome 60's style frock printed in flamingos. We both loved it, and after he said 'You should make something like that' I felt I had free reign, nay a DIRECT ORDER to snap up my birdie print. I thought it would make a great sleeveless Peony, and decided it would be an ideal final test run before I cut into my super special long sleeve future Peony (now future New Look 6000) fabric.

And you know, after all those hours and millions of muslins and metres of aqua poplin,  I'm just so happy with it!

I knew I'd either have to line it, or underline it because the fabric was very light. I decided to line it, only because at the time of cutting it out I didn't have anything suitable to underline with, and was impatient to get cracking. I ended up lining it in a lovely fine cream cotton that really made the fabric colours pop.  This is the first time I've made a fitted lined dress, and I used the instructions in the book Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long, which has been recommended both on the Colette Patterns blog, and by Sunny on A Fashionable Stitch. It is a great book, and even better I was able to purchase it as an eBook and save it on my iPad (which I use constantly when sewing) for the bargain price of about $14 AUD here. On Amazon, even secondhand it's about $90! SCORE! I can't tell you how useful it is - instructions on how to draft linings for all sorts of garments, attaching to zips, easy versions and more advanced versions. Its such great value for money!

I went with the 'easy' or 'quick' lining option, where one makes a full 2nd version of the dress in a lining fabric, the facings are turned under 5mm at the non-seam edge, and basted to the lining at the neckline, and then topstitched to the lining at the non-seam edge. This avoids the need to interface the facings and alter the neckline of the lining. It does add a little bit of bulk at the shoulder seams, but with two very fine fabrics it was ok. To finish the armholes I machine basted the two layers together, then used some vintage pink bias binding I had in my stash. I don't know what it is made of, it is quite coarsely woven - hopefully it won't shrink but is easily replaced if it doesn't do well.

I chose to hand sew the lining to the zip, just because I was a moron and had already stuffed around with the zip too much to risk stuffing it up with the lining. I'd been unable to find a 44 inch zip, in either pale blue or pink, and so bought a smaller one. I'd read somewhere that fitting issues around the lower back can be reduced with using the smallest possible zip (so the end of the zip doesn't create bulk over the lower back or bum) and in my impatience bought a smaller one. After installing it PERFECTLY (truly BEST invisible zip insertion EVER) I realised the dress wouldn't get over either my boobs or bum. So out it came, and off I went to another fabric shop to get my full length zip. I've had a problem a couple of times installing zips where they don't quite line up properly when stitched in which is most obvious if the zip crosses a seam line (such as the waistband seam on my recent Iris shorts, or the waist seam of this dress). For some reason the first time I put the longer zip in I was nearly 1cm out at the waist seam when the zip was done up. Obviously there was more ease on one side than the other when I was sewing the separate sides. So now what I do is install one side, and if there is a seam somewhere along the zip I mark the matching point on the zip and start my pinning at that seam rather than the top or bottom. This way the seams match when the zip is closed. So my lovely hand sewn lining:

I'm pretty happy with the fit - it still somehow gapes a bit at the back neckline, but I just don't know what else I could have done to get rid of this - maybe somehow narrow the back bodice or transfer it into the waistline dart? Meh. I'm over trying to perfect the fit of this bodice. Views without belt:

The back looks better than that when I'm moving around, especially with the belt. I'm happy enough with it that if the day of my friend's wedding is stinking hot (and in Victoria mid-March this is a distinct possibility) I would be happy to wear it to the wedding. We were having a lazy Sunday, and my love M was so impressed with my finished dress (after seeing the hideous WIPS of the bodice) that we decided it deserved a proper dressed up photoshoot and I thought it was the perfect time to try a beehive bouffant hairdo and some 60's-ish makeup. I followed this tutorial on YouTube but found my hair was a bit too oily to tease up super high - but I was pretty happy as a first time test run. I'd love to have hair as high as Patsy on Ab Fab.

And then I found my novelty cats-eye glasses, left over from my 30th birthday party and couldn't resist a pose:


  1. Ooooh - great tip for lining up the invisible zip. I always have a problem getting seams to line up, so I'll definitely try that. Your Peony looks fantastic! I've not tried that pattern, but it's beautiful.

  2. The bird fabric is absolutely gorgeous and you did it justice

  3. thanks for the comments ladies! x

  4. It's going to take me ages to read all your wonderful blogging but just thought I would say that I love the bird fabric! I have this pattern too but haven't tried it out yet. I didn't realise it was causing so many issues. Lovely to meet you! Mez

    1. Hi Mez, thanks for coming by! It's a great dress once the fit is sorted, I suspect a big part was my inexperience. After making the Laurel a few times with sleeves I'm tempted to have another crack at the peony with sleeves......


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