Hot! The “British Summer” dress

Fabric: cotton

Pattern: Licorice dress from the Colette Sewing Handbook

Year: contemporary

Notions: 22” invisible dress zip, 3 buttons

Time to complete: about 6 hours I think, maybe 8 but not more

First worn? Not yet, just for photos

Wear again? Probably not, maybe with a cardi

Total price: about £25

This is a very easy and lazy version of a Colette Licorice. No sleeves, no collar, no belt, just the dress and lining. Not even any facings, I just made two dresses, one out of the fabric and one out of lining and sewed them together using the same method as for the Truffle.

I made some adjustments to the pattern (and got loads of help from my sewing teacher Kate at the Design Studio, as usual), I did an FBA, graded between sizes as usual and shortened the front top part of the dart as well. So I am happy with the fit.

The zip went in really well – I have done a few of these invisible zips now and they are so satisfying. Just as I was getting on really well with the dress I noticed a small round burn spot near the neck. That’s why there are three buttons, it’s not a design feature but a burn coverer upper that has turned out rather well. Disaster averted.

For the photos I am in my garden and it is raining, just spitting a little. It is not holiday like at all. The British Summer is a non-event so far this year! I am trying to get in the mood with my sun hat. Later this year we are going to Slovenia for a week and I was planning to take this dress to wear as I sip wine and watch the sunset over the mountains. On the hanger the dress looks quite cute. On me, not so much. The fabric that looked so sweet is actually a trap because it is mostly white. I didn’t even wear white on my wedding day because it does not suit me at all (I wore gold). I look like an overstuffed uncooked sausage. A mostly white dress – what was I thinking? I may try to rescue it with a cardigan to break up the colour. Some you win…. lesson learnt (maybe!). I still like the pattern though, that’s a keeper.



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 think it’s really cute! Add a bright belt (or my preference, a wide wrapped sash) and a cardi and it will balance the white. And have fun in Slovenia. I’m so envious – that’s on my list of places I really want to visit.

  2. I agree-the dress is nice. I don’t think you look like a sausage at all. You look very pretty and I really like the print. Nice save with the buttons-

  3. Hi Charlotte,
    I love,love this dress,It is beautiful and what a fantastic idea to add the buttons. They are really cute on the dress [and who would ever know,they are covering up a boo-boo!ha]
    You DO NOT look like a sausage!![If I were in UK ,I would get you for saying things like that,teehee!!!] You look really pretty.. and I love that hat on you. super cute..
    Happy sewing.. SO proud to see your posted dress.

  4. Maybe you should dye it? It looks super cute on you & you might like it better if you darken the base color. Worth a try?

  5. Yes, dear Charlotte, please find a way to keep this dress! 6 hours of work and 25 quid! + the fabric is really cute. I learned my lesson on white the hard way for Diamond Jubilee (and never posted it for my boob’s sake.) But this is complete! It’s ready to roll! It fits! How about a terrific orange sash to break it up? How can we collectively stop being so hard on ourselves? Peace.

    • Thanks Joann, I know, 25 quid seems ridiculous, but with fabric, lining, zip and buttons it all added up – I haven’t even put in anything for the pattern as I have already made 4 other things from the Colette Book I am calling the pattern free. It did look better with a cardi, promise!

  6. Hi Charlotte, the fabric is quite cool looking and the fit is exquisite. Since whit isn’t your fancy why not dye the whole dress? I, unfortunately got red oil on my white wrap pants and this weekend I’m going to try dyeing for the first time.

    • Thanks Krista, it’s worth a try I suppose…. bad luck on the red oil, hope that works. I died a pair of light green jeans (I know! Again, what was I thinking?) last year and now they are Navy I wear them all the time. It is definitely worth thinking about

  7. I like the fabric and it’s not completely white, it has pattern and the three button details draw your eye up to the top to see your pretty smile. I bet that after you’ve gotten a little sun, you will feel different about the dress. It fits you so nicely.

  8. I have to agree with the other ladies…. You look really nice in the dress, it fits you beautifully and althoughI am a great fan of sausages, you don’t look anything like one at all. The buttons too look fab…. And if you were to slip an orange pashmina or cardi on the top it would perfect the look you’ve done the hard work to make look so good. I hope weather picks up for the summer/rest of the jubilympics for you all!

  9. Sigh! We are so hard on ourselves. Now, I hope you take all these comments to heart and wear your Licorice dress proudly and often! It’s adorable (and my favorite dress from Colette — I have three and plan on three more)! Make the tie belt in orange or turquoise and I promise you’ll feel much better!

    • Thanks for your support Coleen, you have three already! wow! Did you make any adjustments to the pattern? I forgot to say that I added about 5 inches to the length but I think that’s obvious. It is a nice pattern – perhaps next time I’ll add the collar, I do like the style of it.

  10. Hi Charlotte – I recognise that fabric! Love the dress and the buttons really are that added bit extra. What about a knitted shrug? Hope you get lots of wear out of this after all (I’ll feel guilty if you don’t…) Hope you have a great holiday too!

  11. Very cute fabric choice. Love your positive attitude about learning from something you’re not crazy about. Whenever I have aha! moments like that (about fabric color, pattern styles, etc. that aren’t right for me), I declare what I made a wearable muslin and vow to make another soon so as not to loose my enthusiasm for the pattern’s possibilities.