Hot! The “remembering Mrs Thomas” dress

The Facts

Fabric: Some kind of crepe
Pattern: Truffle from Colette Sewing Handbook by Colette Patterns
Year: Contemporary
Notions: lining, invisible dress zip
Time to complete: about 16 hours including 4 hours messing with the pattern, making a muslin and inserting the zip four times due to mental perfectionist tendencies and also screwing it up twice due to sewing stupidity and despite clear instructions
First worn: on Saturday evening to a restaurant meal to celebrate the 40th birthday of my gorgeous friend Louise
Wear again? Yes please! It will get another outing in May to a Christening

Total price: About £3 a metre for the fabric as I recall, £3.40 for the invisible zip, £1.25 for 0.5m of acetate lining and the pattern is one of five in a book that cost about £13. It’s the second pattern I have used from the book. I am calling the whole thing less than £20.

When I was a girl in the seventies (I know! I look much younger) I went to ballet classes every Saturday morning with the very strict (and well respected) Mrs Thomas from the age of 3. She was a stickler and taught generations of girls in my home town (Penarth, near Cardiff in Wales) to dance. We were expected to take the grading examinations and to dress appropriately for these. And so my mother took me to the approved dress maker to have this dress made, I remember having a fitting at her house. The photo is in my Aunty Peg’s back garden. I spent a lot of time with Aunty Peg and Uncle Bill, they used to pick me up from ballet on Saturday and we spent the rest of the day in the garden followed by tea and cake in front of the wrestling (go Big Daddy! Boo Giant Haystacks!).  Happy days.

This dress style with the flounce put me in mind of my dance dress. I used the Colette Truffle which is also in my moodboard for my Colette Spring Summer Palette Challenge. This dress took my much longer to complete than it should have but I am actually pleased I took my time, it was well worth it. I made what my sewing teacher calls a toile (i.e. a muslin) and adjusted the fit of the pattern.


We made some changes to the pattern: lengthened the skirt by about 4 inches, changed the flounce so that it fell right to the hem of the skirt, took some bulk away at the hips. We also changed the bodice, I seem to have a small back and shoulders compared to my bust and belly. If I make a normal size it gapes around the shoulders and at the top of the bust while straining to do up. So we took a smaller shoulder size, did an FBA and graded it out to a larger waist. Phew! No wonder RTW is always like a sack on me. Thank you to my sewing guru Kate at the Design Studio!


I also lined the whole thing (rather than just the bodice as it called for in the pattern), the bodice is self-lined. I like lining stuff, I find that facings get on my nerves. This is completely irrational, I know. Anyone else feel like this?


The effort that went into this dress feels as though something has clicked. It fits well and feels right. I am proud of the inside, how neat it is. I will put photos of the inside on my blog later. I have even taken a picture of the hemming job I did. Is that weird?

Have fun with your sewing this week x







Charlotte Tilley

Charlotte Tilley sewed a dress in 1988 on her mother's machine. Then nothing for over 20 years. She came out of hibernation to sew along with sewweekly for the last year. She has learnt alot, but has a long long way to go.....


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  1. I absolutely feel the same way about facings! Why spend all that time with flimsy little things that may end up hanging out at the most inappropriate place/time? Lovely dress, wonderful memories : )

  2. Yeahh, its lovely Charlotte !

  3. The dress with its fittings and alterations turned out beautifully, and your tribute to Mrs. Thomas is fitting, too, given your so-good memories.

  4. Hi CHarlotte, the dress looks lovely and I also prefer to line garments. I like when a dress looks as beautiful on the inside as it does on the outside!

  5. Thanks everyone for your sweet comments – I’m so glad it’s not just me that has a weird thing against facings! xxx

  6. It’s a gorgeous dress Charlotte. (I remember Mick McManus and Kendo Nagasaki too, being round at my friend’s for Double Gloucester cheese on toast!) Not Mick and Kendo round at my friend’s by the way … didn’t mean for it to read that way!

  7. Charlotte, I am SO proud of you.. This dress is amazing.. I love the way you made the flouce longer. SO becoming on you. I love the fabric and color.Fantastic!!!
    And what an adorable little girl you were.. [Just like sweet Minnie Me].
    Can’t wait to see, what you make next .Happy sewing.

  8. I have that pattern and wondered just how it would look. It looks amazing and sounds like despite the time it took to carefully make it perfect, you are very pleased. I also love a lined bodice, so I’ve got to work this one into my que now that you have inspired me.

    • It is a great pattern Barbara, very simple (and quick too once I got over my zip problems, I have made another one for an upcoming challenge and it took about 6 hours so far, just the hand sewing to go. Hope you have fun x

  9. Charlotte, I’m so impressed! This dress looks great on you. The fitting changes, the zipper– I feel your pain there– you really nailed it.

  10. Haha I remember cake at Grandma’s and sitting down to watch the wrestling (though me being me, I wanted Giant Haystacks to one day upset the ‘script’ and win). That Colette is amazing. The amount of work that’s gone into it and the beautiful flounce of that ruffle on the front….wow. I’m always in awe of people who go for it and make things with slippery fabrics in the week. Well done!

  11. Ha ha ha, it never occured to me that Haystacks should win, I was such a conformist! The cake was very important (we always had chocolate eclairs). Thanks for your lovely comments, sadly it took me more than a week to make this dress…. I am being slower this year not quicker, oops) x PS I LOVED your Vegas outfit