Columbia Dress – a labour of love

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This is the Columbia Dress by Atelier 8 Avril. It’s a French Pattern company and the instructions, not surprisingly, are in French.

It’s essentially a shirt dress with cargo/military styling, so i thought I’d just feel my way through.

But with 48 pieces I did have to turn to google translate to work out what some of them were!

And without instructions I made the rookie error of forgetting to interface my button band and cuffs, so my original press studs just flew off, leaving small tears in the fabric ;(, resulting in me unpicking all my hand sewing of the button band facing and insert small squares of interfacing where all the buttons were located!

I used some beautiful quality mid weight stretch denim from my stash; it’ll be deadstock from Fabworks, Dewsbury or Waltons Fabrics in Goldthorpe. It was less than required. I had to cut pieces out on the cross grain and I did not have enough for the belt or even the belt loops! I had hoped to lengthen the dress, but I didn’t even have enough for that.

I think my choice of fabric did not help the outcome of this dress. I think the pattern is more suited to fabric with less body, more drape. Like a chambray or linen.

In my more structured fabric the dress turned out particularly shapeless and over sized although it fitted across the bust. However, I still thought I could rescue it, especially as I’d spent hours on it.

I had chosen a size according to my measurements. I couldn’t find any reviews online that had a view on the sizing. I ended up making the following adjustments to try to turn it into something wearable.

I took the shoulders in by 1cm and then another 10mm all around the armscye.

I sewed down the rear back pleat as this was an unnecessary bulky detail in this stretch denim. I actually love how this pleat looks now.

I added 2 enormous darts from the base of the shoulder blade to the lower back to add shaping to the back. I did this at the end when I was fiddling with it, loosing my patience, trying anything to improve the shape but not make it too tailored. Hence the insides look pretty amateur. After 3 weeks on all the details I didn’t have it in me to take off the faced waist band, cut smaller and resew. I’ll save that for another day. Yeah, funny!!!

Tip to remember for the future – second time around I ended up using press studs for jersey on this fairly light weight denim. They have worked much better that the usual ones for non stretch.

So this is the result. It won’t take a belt, I’ve tried it but my fabric is too structured for that but I’m finally rather pleased it.

It’s probably not entirely what the designer had in mind, and it’s not perfect but I’ve really enjoyed wearing it and its the perfect eating dress!

My husband says I look like a plumber, but what does he know?

Love, Lucie xx


  1. In spite of all the struggles it turned out beautiful. I love it! You look amazing in it and you should enjoy wearing it. You earned it! I would not even worry about the inside as no one is going to see it other than you (unless you plan on wearing it inside out)!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you’ve done a really good job considering the difficulties you faced.
    I’m not a fan of breast pockets, although you’ve done them very well, and I actually think your version looks better than the pattern company photos as the extra length on yours plus lack of belt make it look less ‘cluttered’ with features.
    I hope that doesn’t sound too critical because I do think you should be proud of the dress and enjoy wearing it
    What do husbands know? I’d be very impressed if a plumber turned up looking so smart 🤣
    De plus, tu as amélioré ta langue française en même temps.😉
    (I have to keep practising)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🤣had to look that up!!
      Thank you, you always leave great comments. At least I’m in less of a rush to finish these days. My patience is a lot better and I’m more prepared to keep adjusting until I’m happy/happier


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