A snow day with mom.
December 15, 2010
Revisiting the Parfait.
December 28, 2010
Show all

The Colette Parfait, a muslin.


Hey! Remember this post? The one with the giant orange and pink striped turtleneck and a yet-to-be made dress to go over it by my recent pattern-designer-obsession? A few of you got it right – I’m making the Colette Parfait, a cute little dress with straps, buttons and what should be a flattering fitted midriff piece. Here’s my first muslin (sans-skirt – what’s the point until I get the bodice to fit?)


OK, let’s begin at the beginning. I knew that I’d have to grade this pattern up a bit as the Colette size 18 is three inches short on my waist and hip measurements, although it’s fine on the bust, actually a bit big. Here’s a line drawing of the dress, for anyone who isn’t familiar.

And here’s a photo of the pattern pieces laid out. The strap pieces are off to the right and the non-essential pieces (facings, pockets, etc.) are stashed away.

I decided to start out by fitting the midriff pieces (the skinny ones in the middle) and taking it from there. Here’s a shot of me double-checking the fit of the unaltered pattern piece. The envelope has the finished measurements printed on it and there’s only a half-inch of ease on the waist, so I was pretty set with my plan before this step, but I thought it’d be worth it to double check!

Step 1 – add 3 inches to the midriff pieces

I added three inches to the midriff by cutting the pieces and adding .75 inch of wax paper to each piece. I was careful to take the existing notches and darts under consideration and try to avoid those when adding my wax paper. I also wanted to make sure it the upper curve on the front midriff piece stayed the correct shape and curved  under the bust area like it was supposed to, so the width was added over to the side.

Step 2 – add to the bodice back piece

Next I added width to the back bodice piece – the same .75” as the midriff piece. I added to the same spot on the back bodice piece by lining the two up. The photo is a little confusing, sorry – the bodice back piece should be laying ABOVE the midriff back piece, not below it like they are laid out!

Step 3 – mini-FBA, draw lines and cut

Next I wanted to add a little width to the bottom of the front bodice piece, since I had added to the front midriff piece and the two match up. I was a little unsure about this, since the actual bust measurement is fine for me, and with the gathers on the bottom of the front bodice piece, I thought there might be enough fabric that I could fudge the extra .75”. But then I fought off the lazy and did a modified FBA. I drew a line (shown in blue below) up to the general area of the bust apex, then angled off towards the arm area. I was careful to avoid any existing markings. I cut along the blue line up to where the arrow is pointing, then snipped from the edge in to the arrow to leave a little paper hinge.

Step 4 – mini-FBA, anchor and measure

I taped along the edge on the left side, then measured .75” from that edge and drew a nice, straight line (shown in pink.)

Step 5 – mini-FBA, finish securing pattern edges

I swung the right side back and lined the bottom edge up with the line I drew in the previous step and taped everything down. See? A little extra width on the bottom, none on the top, a little in the middle. We’ll see how it goes.

{we interrupt this mini tutorial to bring a possible drafting issue to to your attention}

Here are the bodice front and midriff front all lined up. I noticed what I think is a drafting error that was confusing. Presumably the notches I’ve circled in green are there to help line up the two pieces. The problem is, the midriff front piece is not intended to be gathered, and if the notches line up, the midriff piece would have be be gathered… what’s more, if you look at the bottom of the midriff front piece, you can see a notch that would line up PERFECTLY with the bodice front piece! I think the notches were flipped at print, perhaps? In any case, I just attached the bodice and midriff pieces smoothly between the notches on the BODCIE piece, and then I gathered to make the ends meet. Worked like a charm.

Analyze the muslin – an overview

So here’s the first fitting. Looks foxy, doesn’t it? While the fit is fine in terms of ease, I do have a couple of concerns and will be doing a few more alterations before the second muslin. First is the gaping next to the strap. I don’t know how visible it is here (there’s a better photo below.) This is something I’ve noticed on a lot of the finished versions I’ve seen, and makes sense, what with the general bust roominess that seems to be a Colette thing. The other problem I’ve noticed on other versions (and mine) is that the top of the midriff seems to sit a bit high, which I think adds to the droop factor, something I’m trying to avoid (via expensive underoos, clever dressing and plain old photoshopping, if necessary). Again, it’s not super obvious in this photo (better one below), but there are some issues around where I drew the pink horizontal line below!

Analyze the muslin – a problem in the empire

More empire waist pictures – you can see a bit better from the side the issue I’m having. I’d like the midriff piece to fit smoothly against my torso, with the bodice and gathers covering the bust. The seam is running a bit high for my taste on this version. I made the pink mark to show where I’d like the seam dropped.

Analyze the muslin – huge underarms

And back to the gaping in the underarm area. Here I’ve pinched out the excess, to show a bit better what I don’t like. After I pinned, I made marks on either side of the fold (where the pin is) so I could see the issue once I took everything off and got it laying flat on the table.

Granny called, she wants her bra back

Here’s muslin #1, laid flat on the table. Tomorrow I’ll pick back up with the alterations, using the marks I just made! This looks a bit like a granny-brassiere, doesn’t it? An over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder? Note to self… do not make a white Parfait…


  1. Sue says:

    Excellent post!

  2. Tasia says:

    Patty, you crack me up! Granny called and wants her bra back? Over-the-shoulder boulder holder? Hilarious! You've got great advice so far. I originally thought raising the midriff seam would help with the droop-factor, but you'll know better having seen it in-person. I agree with Tanit-isis, the Parfait is the best dress for wearing over a tee-shirt or turtleneck. Look forward to seeing your progress!

  3. tanitisis says:

    Sherry, as always, has great advice :)

    I like the parfait better for wearing a shirt underneath than Chantilly, for what it's worth ;). Looking at the photos on the site, it seems like that hump in the middle of the midriff really gets exaggerated in the larger sizes? And yeah, it is quite wide, and tall… I wonder if you could solve a lot of your problems by narrowing it and widening the narrow part? (or if this would just cause even more problems ;) )

    Hey… I bet if you were willing to be profligate with your fabric you could cut the midriff on Ceylon as one with the skirt, though you'd have to add a CB seam. Although you look fine in many drop-waist shirt/skirt combos, so I really don't think the seam there would be totally awful. (But I feel similarly about having seams right at my waist, so I shouldn't talk)

  4. Sherry says:

    You always make me giggle!
    I like my empires to be snug at the midriff too, and that seam really does need to hit in the right place! I thought like tanitisis that maybe a bit higher under the boob at the pink line, but it must be the photo because you disagree – you'd know being there! I think I like your idea of narrowing the 'hump in the middle'.
    Just a thought – take care the underarm hasn't stretched if it is bias where you have pinned your tuck, and you might be able to swing some of it into the strap gathers if you think the underbust gathers are getting too much!
    It's going to look cute!

  5. [patty the snug bug] says:

    T- I think the problem is actually the shape of the midriff piece – the hump in the middle, while cute in theory, assumes more widely-spaced bosoms than I possess – at least, if I want the midriff piece snug against my torso! What I really hate, though is the way the seam cuts across my mid-boobage region and sort of creates a mono-thing!

    Right now I'm planning on rotating into the gathers – since they're already so nicely there, all extra- fabriced up! I'm not sure how that will look – too poofy? Muslin #2, here we come! Of course, the fitting is all funky, what with doing it over a turtleneck! I think once I get the empire line where I want it, I will definitely have to angle the side seams of the midriff band to accommodate my unique snowman shape a bit!

    I probably should have just made chantilly, which has a similar midriff band, but is set lower to avoid the boobage cut off… that dress just seems so MADE for lightweight fabrics and I'm making this version as a shop-sample, so wanted to do something season appropriate (i.e. – turtleneck and corduroy!)

    I love the ceylon dress – especially casey's green version – but the cut off of the bottom of the midriff piece (where the skirt flares out) would be the worst possible location for a horizontal line for me! Boo!

  6. tanitisis says:

    I would have actually been inclined to raise the empire line rather than lower it; interested to see what you do with it :). Also curious if you need to reshape the midriff panel to accomodate your unique rib-to-waist ratio (I've been thinking about Ceylon and midriff panels a lot…)

    Will you just do a dart to fix the underarm droop? Or rotate the fullness down into the gathering?

    Fun times! … almost makes me want to sew dresses… ;)

  7. Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood says:

    oh that underarm gaping is my arch nemesis! PULEEZE show me how you fix that snuggy buggy!

  8. Andrea says:

    Your muslin is already looking better than most of the Parfaits that I've seen. Parfait is my least favorite Colette pattern for a fuller bust because of the funky Empire waist and droopiness. I can't wait to see how yours turns out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge