Dahlia: A Second Chance

Dear Dahlia,

Colette Patterns Dahlia Plaid

It was nearly the end for us. I didn’t think I could live with the imperfections. But after taking advice from people who know better than me, I was encouraged to give you a second chance. You were so close to being binned that I thought I had nothing to lose and might learn something from attempting to alter you.

Colette Patterns Dahlia in Plaid

When I first set eyes on that tantalising sneak preview email from Colette Patterns I knew I couldn’t live without you. The perfect (or so I thought) fabric was awaiting a perfect pattern. I may be shallow, but I was so easily seduced by your gathers, bound neckline and sleeves. The fact that you were a beginners’ level pattern was a bonus. Similarly, the fabric drew me in with its soft and comforting feel and autumnal palette. But in my haste I didn’t consider its structure or how it might behave. Things didn’t work out well the first time around.

Surgery to remove excess at the waistline having unpicked the internal waist yoke facing

Surgery to remove excess at the waistline

You’re definitely not going to win any beauty contests on the inside after my alterations, but I can live with that. You gave up nearly three inches on your waist without complaint. And two darts on the back neckline meant that no longer would my pants be visible when someone looks over my shoulder!

Dahlia back neckline with darts

Back neckline with added darts

I’ll admit that I had to undergo a bit of a mindshift to give you a second chance. Instead of seeing you for the misshapen rag you had become, I began to imagine that I’d found you in a vintage shop, where tender tweaks would bring you to life again. I would have been immediately drawn to your colours and texture, and wouldn’t have minded re-stitching your entire insides, even by hand, just to make you fit perfectly.

Colette Patterns Dahlia in Plaid

I can’t say that I take much pride in what we have yet. I’m too much of a perfectionist. But there’s something about you that made me want it to work out. I can’t promise you’ll be the only one, but the next Dahlia I attempt will be at least one size smaller, if not two, and in better quality fabric (and definitely not in plaid).

Colette Patterns Dahlia in Plaid

With love,

Rachel x

P.S. I used to think it was a bit strange being on first name terms with your clothes, but writing letters to them…I must have lost the plot.


Colette Patterns Dahlia in Plaid


26 thoughts on “Dahlia: A Second Chance

    • Thank you! I feel more like the weight has been lifted than just pleased. But I am happy with it. The modifications only took an hour or so, but overcoming the mental obstacle of a failing project was the real achievement. I’ll have a look at instagram. thanks for the suggestion!


  1. So glad it isn’t just me! I spent *way* more time adjusting my Dahlia than I anticipated. I also almost gave up. I followed the size charts, and also graded to a large skirt only to find the entire thing was absolutely huge! Not only did I have to uninstall the zipper and regrade the entire waist and skirt, but I had to fix my gaping neckline and high shoulders. Yours looks fantastic now. Mine is, barely, wearable. 🙂


  2. hey I just found your blog from looking up fitting problems with the Dahlia – it seems I found a similar set of issues! my skirt has come up *HUGE* and the neckline is looking gapey too… your dress looks great now you’ve fixed it 🙂


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  4. A really lovely dress. Your hard work paid off! I’m in the middle of a Dahlia toile – gaping neckline? check! I’m doing the sewalong, so hoping any other issues can be rectified there!


    • The neckline seems to be a really common problem. I wish I’d waiting for the sewalong now I’ve seen the advice for taking a wedge out of the back piece. It would have made the world of difference on mine.


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  6. The pennies finally dropped! I commented on Sunnygal Studio to say that I hoped that sewsouthlondon posts a picture of her party dress as she sounds great.
    Just realised that was you! Pleased to say I was right, you are great, it was lovely to meet you and yes I’m glad to didn’t give up on your dress.


    • Hello!! Excellent detective work. lovely to have met you yesterday. I saw your photos of yesterday and was sorry to have missed out the rest of the day. There were a couple of women whose blog names I didn’t get and would like to have. x


  7. Sorry for commenting on an old post, but your Dahlia turned out really well! You did a great job with the adjustments.

    I too have a wonky finished Dahlia and it’s wearable as-is but it really could be better. The back gape is an issue, plus I gathered the hizzell out of the neckline so now there’s too much fabric at the sleeves. I might make another, but I feel like a beginner pattern should probably not require significant fitting modifications for, like, everyone? Anyway…


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