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How to Sew the Colette Penny, Sewing Tips!

Gorgeous retro fashion dress, pattern by Colette Patterns | Vintage on Tap

Video tutorial for retro sewing, the Colette Penny dress | Vintage on Tap

The Colette Penny is a flattering, retro inspired dress.

A-line skirt, half cummerbund, and button-up, fitted bodice, the piece comes together in an easy-going sewing day. I can confidently say it’s one of those Rewarding YES Pieces, that is straightforward and simple to sew if you’re a confident beginner or intermediate seamstress.


1950s retro fashion, the Colette Penny dress in light blue linen, video tutorial blog post | Vintage on Tap

If you’re like me (5’2″ large bust, petite frame)- my fitting tips are straight forward.

I did the following changes for my Colette Penny:

  • Standard FBA (always and forever!)
  • Changed waist dart shape (curved dart for more flattering fit)
  • Swayback adjustment

Unlike my normal fittings, I did not shorten the bodice length. The bodice length was perfect- which hardly never happens for me so you can imagine my surprise!


Check out my Fitting Tutorial Playlist on YouTube to see how I fit my pieces!


Unfortunately, I did not film a fitting tutorial video for this project 😩

However, other relevant pattern drafting notes are below, if you’re fitting the Colette Penny.

Be mindful of the width of the bodice front and the bodice back.

This is important because any width changes on the bodice must be transferred over to the skirt pieces, as well as the cummerbund (view B.) For example, if your bodice front is 2in wider after your FBA, adjust your skirt front pieces to accommodate the difference.


Front view of the Colette Penny dress, a 1950s vintage inspired sewing project | Vintage on Tap

Retro inspired 1950s sewing, sewing the Colette Penny dress in blue linen | Vintage on Tap


Be mindful of the armhole facings

If your bodice front has changed due to an FBA or SBA, redraft your armhole facing (See my tutorial video here: How to Redraft a Facing)

Please note: the Penny’s yoke extends to the bodice front, meaning that the BACK armhole facing ends at a notch on the yoke. Your new FRONT armhole facing must extend to the yoke notch, past the bodice front pattern piece. Tape the yoke to the bodice front piece, and redraft your facing with the two pieces taped together.


The Colette Penny dress, sewing tutorial | Vintage on Tap


For my particular Colette Penny, I’m coming to terms with my full bust being at an odd part of my body.

My full bust is pretty close to my waistline, meaning that the normal 2in end point for darts doesn’t quite “fit” me. I’m still playing with where a dart point should end on MY body– which is looking to be closer and closer to my full bust than anticipated. I’ll keep playing with it, though!


Video sewing tutorial, sewing the Colette Patterns Penny dress | Vintage on Tap


Additional Colette Penny Points of Interest


The Cummerbund

The half cummerbund is one of my favorite parts of View B, covered at the 6:16 timestamp. After sewing a cummerbund for 1950s Vintage Vogue 8789, I’ve been in love with how flattering and cute they are, so having the retro fashion detail was nice.


Cummerbund close up for the Colette Penny dress | Vintage on Tap


Instead of using snaps, as the instructions suggested, I used hooks. Because the cummerbund overlaps on itself, the hooks ensure that the cummerbund doesn’t pull out of place and makes it more secure.


How to sew the Colette Penny dress in light blue linen | Vintage on Tap

Collar close up, the Colette Penny dress | Vintage on Tap


The Collar

Full collar, with collar stand? Absolutely! If you’ve never made a collar before, please start watching the tutorial video at timestamp 8:24.

The steps are outlined relatively well in the instruction manual, but my additional collar notes are below:

  • Sew slowly– the area has to be as precise as you can make it (within reason!), especially since it’s so visible.
  • Pay attention to your sewing machine– if your machine is struggling, you may need to change needles or use the hand crank to guide the sewing needle in. There will be points where you’re sewing through 7 layer of fabric+interfacing!
  • Trim trim trim. Clip seam allowances and trim or grade your seams. Less bulk at the neck is what you’re aiming for.


Sewing vintage, 1950s inspired Colette Patterns Penny dress | Vintage on Tap

Sewing tips for the 1950s inspired Colette Penny shirtdress, with video tutorial | Vintage on Tap

Completed Colette Penny, video tutorial | Vintage on Tap

I’m extremely pleased with how this vintage-style Colette Penny shirtdress turned out!

The linen I used was sourced at Britex Fabrics and is this really yummy sky blue with a really thick hand. While the fabric stitched like butter, it definitely has a hefty weight, which makes it a stiff wear. Do I mind it? Not at all- I can feel that it will keep its shape over time.

The cut of the skirt is really feeds into 1940s styles, which is flattering, though I would note that the pocket placement should vary from person to person. For me, the pockets sat too low, with them poking out around my hips. An inch or two higher would have maybe worked better.

Also, reducing the size of the cummerbund height-wise might be a good idea if you’re lacking a torso like I am. Otherwise, its all breasts!


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Tips for sewing the Colette Patterns Penny Shirtdress! Full tutorial with video, walking you through the process. | Vintage on Tap


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  1. You look amazing! I love the way you sewed it up and showed us through the entire process <3.

    • Thanks so much, Taylor! It was such a fun project to work on 🙌🏽

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Vintage on Tap started in 2013

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