Winter Flowers – Purple and Grey Cosmopolitan Dress

Hello, everyone!

I hope this finds each and everyone of you enjoying a happy end of the year, whichever way you like it best!

Here is my last sewing project before Christmas – a Cosmo Dress!

Hot Patterns’ Cosmopolitan Dress and I have a complicated history. I have always loved the pattern and this was my first purchase from Hot Patterns. The first time I made it, however, some of you may remember that I was losing my Grandma and I majorly messed it up. I never touched this dress again. The pattern stayed in my pattern drawer for a long time; I glanced at it occasionally, until I was finally ready to dig it up again. This time around, it worked. Cheer with me, friends – I have finally conquered the Cosmo!

That being said, the sewing wasn’t exactly a walkover. I cut a size 6 for the back and a size 8 for the front, but I should have made a size 6 all around. The back was a perfect fit. I didn’t use a zipper as I was sewing with a knit, so I took out 1.5 cm from the center and cut it on the fold of my fabric instead of cutting two pieces.

(strange posture, but anyway)
The front, on the other hand, was just huge on me, with way too much fabric both horizontally and vertically from the waist up. I wasn’t expecting the front to be so big – I usually cut front pieces a size or two bigger than the back, because my back is unusually narrow. Muslin, you say? Finding a pretty knit here is already quite a feat (I got this one online and was really lucky with it), so no – I don’t have spare knit fabric for muslins.
The side seams are the last seams you sew, so when I realized the fitting problems, the waist and armhole seams were already serged and there was no way I was unpicking these. I undid the side seams and:
– took in the front bodice at the sides
– made the front darts 1.5 cm deeper.
That really helped, but there was still too much fabric in the bust area lengthwise; again, the sleeves were already set in and serged, so unpicking the shoulder sleeves was not an option. In the end I also made darts below each shoulder seam to pinch in the extra fabric. The print of the fabric is so busy that it is barely noticeable unless you knew it and had your face right against my shoulder 😉 – it just looks like an unusual detail IMO anyway, not something that was fiddled with.
I remembered reviews on PR and blogs warning that the neckline was low, so I redrafted the slope of the neckline so it was raised by an inch or so at the center front.
I also changed the finishing for the neckline. This is were I had majorly messed up 3 years ago (though really, what was I thinking back then – facings in a knit fabric?); this time I did one of my favourite neckline finishes for knits: contrasting binding that is sewn stretched out, so as to stay close to the body when worn. I used a black knit fabric for this, that has a bit more body and resiliency than the main fabric.


My last alteration was the sleeves. I wanted neither the scarf-style sleeves – not practical for work – nor the huge sleeves gathered at the cuff – way too big for my small frame. I Frankensteined the sleeves from my trusty and much-worn New Look 6429.

One final thing regarding construction: I sewed the side seams and sleeves all in one go, as most of us do when we sew with knits and sleeves do not need easing.

This dress will be wearable in the spring as well, but right now, I am making it work as a winter dress with thermal underwear (and an extra black top underneath if it’s really cold), boots and opaque tights (or woolen tights if it’s really cold); and it is a great match under my beloved purple coat. My usual accent accessories (oversized cowl, gorgeous cabled fingerless gloves that were a gift from dear Tany a couple of years back, and I’m currently making a matching béret) are grey, so this purple and grey print was just ideal.

(I’ll talk more about the cowl some other time, along with some other winter accessories that I’ve been crocheting for me or as Christmas gifts.)


I have to own up to Trena‘s inspiration here. I am a great fan of her outfits; the last two paragraphs of this post in particular have inspired me to go out in dresses or skirts almost every single day for the past 6 weeks. A past 6 weeks that have been whoppingly cold around these parts, even here in Southern France. Thanks to Trena’s advice I haven’t been cold at all – and have been feeling cute at the same time as warm! 🙂

For a long time, too, I kept drooling over Trena’s colourful tights. Up till recently, funky tights weren’t something readily available (or at least affordable) in France; happily, this is changing. This will probably sound silly but I was really tickled to find purple tights that were a nice match for the dress. Going back to Trena’s post to link it for you, I just realized Trena’s tights that day were also purple! I swear this is coincidental. Though you know, with Trena and I being exactly the same size and all – I probably already mentioned that I have regular dreams of raiding her closet for all her adorable dresses. 😉

Excellente fin d’année à toutes et à tous !! Have a wonderful end of the year, everyone.

32 thoughts on “Winter Flowers – Purple and Grey Cosmopolitan Dress

  1. cidell says:

    It was Trena who got me wearing glasses again and looking for more fun tights! The HP Cosmo is one of my favorite dresses and the print is beautiful. I also don't muslin knits. I have a hard enough time finding knits I want to sew with nevermind ones that I don't.

    Happy Christmas!


  2. laparesseuse says:

    I love the dress! It suits you so well, and you've accessorized it beautifully. And I admire your bravery in criss-crossing France in this weather. After nearly being stranded in London a week ago, my daughter and I (and Magellan, our new kitty) kept close to the fire in Paris over the holidays. Sending best wishes for 2011! Karen


  3. nowaks nähkästchen says:

    The result was really worth it, so lovely!
    (Also the weather…. we are still ankle deep in melting snow… and I have to go out today to buy grey wool in my LYS.)

    I sometimes by sale knits from Elingeria. (Restekiste – Sparpaket Jersey-Stoffe) They are 15 EUR for 3m and the quality is always great. Either I like the color and material so they will become a wearable shirt, or the quality is good for underwear so I will make that or I do not like color and pattern… then it's cheap enough to make a muslin and either wear it as night dress or just throw it away after the corrections were made.
    At least I never was decieved so far.


  4. Tracy says:

    Hi, Isabelle! The dress is a triumph–love the fabric and wrap-style is always so flattering. Love those boots too. ;o) Hope you all are still enjoying the holiday break! We're just emerging from some very festive days just now. Later in the week is my birthday, then we ring in New Year already–it's a great time just now! Happy Days, my friend ((HUGS))


  5. Audrey says:

    Your dress is very pretty and the fit is perfect. It looks lovely and warm worn with the tights, coat and soft cowl scarf. I admire women like you and Trena that can dress warmly and still look so chic. I tend to pile on layers of shapeless sweaters.


  6. Margaret says:

    Lovely job on the dress Isabelle and the entire ensemble looks fabulous.

    Glad you got to spend Christmas with both your families. There isn't a better way to celebrate this wonderful season than with our loved ones.

    Wishing you and yours a great 2011.


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