I love dressing up for this time of year! With various Christmas celebrations fast approaching, I was musing on the idea of making a fancy “party dress” to wear this season. I have had my eye on the Fabric Godmother Peony dress pattern since it was released earlier this summer, as it has pretty similar style-lines to the iconic Vampire’s Wife Falconetti dress. I thought that it would be fun to try and recreate it in a luxe, festive fabric 🎄 As luck would have it, I stumbled on this satin jacquard from one of my favourite fabric shops in the most perfect shade of red… and it was on sale!

Let’s talk fabric first, as I am just besotted with the colour. It is an Italian deadstock designer satin jacquard from The New Craft House, with a dimpled texture, the classic satin sheen, and a soft, structured drape. It is a medium-weight fabric, which did make some portions of the gathering a bit strenuous — I ended up snapping several of my gathering threads, but managed to persevere through. I do like how my ruffles have a lot more DRAMA compared to the sample garments in lighter weight fabrics look on the instructions! It also pressed beautifully and was very easy to sew with. Although I tend not to buy polyester fabrics too often, I do make an exception for a beautiful jacquards. As this fabric is on a narrow 110cm bolt, I was worried that the 4 metres of fabric I needed would be a bit pricey — but it went on sale for only £9 a metre, and an additional 20% off for Black Friday coincided, which meant this garment was actually a pretty good bargain in the end.

The Peony dress is a very elegant occasion dress pattern, with a high neckline, ¾ length flounced sleeves, and sits either at the knee or skims the ankle with a dramatic ruffled hem. This dress isn’t too tightly fitted, but there are twelve (yes, twelve!) darts to help you refine your fit. The Peony dress works for a variety of woven fabrics with either a bit of drape (like viscose, crepe, silk and cotton lawn) for a more floaty dress, or more stable fabrics with a bit of body (like lightweight denim, cord or cotton poplin) for a more structured version. In terms of measurements, I was between a size 10 and a size 12, so I opted to make a size 10 with a FBA to give myself more space at the bust. Although I am overall pretty happy with the fit, I do think next time I will size up to give myself a bit more breathing room. It isn’t something I am massively concerned by (my measurements usually fluctuate a bit at this time of year), but I think I do need to make a few further tweaks. Along with the FBA, I did move the bodice waist darts in, but forgot to mirror this adjustment on the front skirt darts too — so now they don’t meet nicely at the waistline (whoops!). I think my favourite element is the dramatic shoulder puffs, which was a new technique for me and one I enjoyed doing. As my fabric was a bit heavier, my shoulder puffs do bring in a lot of height without making my shoulders look broader, but I think I would use silk organza next time to reduce bulk at the seam.

Pretty happy with the fit at the back

The instructions were really easy to follow and I did feel this dress came together quickly, despite the endless gathering. My advice would be to use three strands to gather the various sections instead of just two; it does add time, but I always feel my gathers look neater when I use three. This dress would be suitable for an advanced beginner, as the only tricky areas would be the insertion of the invisible zip and neatly gathering the ruffles at the hem and sleeve. I certainly want to make another (and another, and another…!) Peony dress, but I definitely have to make a few tweaks to improve the fit for me. I do have a few light-weight viscose jacquards in my stash, which I am mentally ear-marking for my next Peony. Plus, my parents’ cat Oliver (also known as The Puddle of Floof™️) totally approves of my Christmas Peony 😸

Fabric Godmother Peony Dress
Size 6 – 30
Bust: 31 ½” – 55”
Waist: 23 ½” – 47 ¼”
Hips: 33” – 56 ¾″

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