Colette Penny in Summery Linen

A blue shirt dress, Colette Penny, on a hanger. It is almost finished, but the buttons and buttonholes are still missing.

I have purchased all materials, patterns, workshops, etc. myself. All opinions are my own.

There’s a linen dress in my wardrobe that I bought at Vero Moda over 10 years ago and it’s still going strong. I love wearing it to this day and I even dyed it at one point because I realized that the original olive green color just doesn’t suit me. These days, the dress is getting threadbare and so I wanted to sew a similar shirt dress in linen. For the sewing pattern, I landed on Penny by Colette.

I also took this dress with me on a recent vacation to Moscow, where I felt well-dressed yet comfortable wearing it. By the way, in Moscow I visited an exhibition on fashion history and a ballet performance at the Bolshoi Theater in a self-drafted gown!

As expected, the linen fabric was quite uncomplicated to sew up. I did follow the following tip to reduce future wrinkling:

A trick, which will really cut down on wrinkling, is to press the fabric with a dry hot iron, followed by prewashing in a hot machine wash and hot dryer. This will soften the fibers, making it drape better and less likely to wrinkle excessively. Linen does still wrinkle a bit but perhaps that is part of its charm.

Sandra Betzina, Working with Linen

Modifications & Adjustments

Eine Frau ist von hinten zu sehen. Sie steht vor einer weißen Wand und trägt ein blaues Hemdblusenkleid.

I combined both versions of the pattern. I took the sleeved bodice from version 1 and the half circle skirt and waistband from version 2. The patch pockets didn’t make it onto my dress at all.

I modified the shape of the in-seam pockets in the skirt to reach all the way up to the waistband for added stability.

After sewing a test garment out of muslin, I was quite happy with the fit. I just ended up grading from a size 8 at the bust to a 6 in the waist. Nothing else needed to be changed.

Sewing on Buttons by Machine

This was the first project where I sewed on the buttons with my sewing machine. With a few of little tricks, it works quite well:

  1. Use transparent sticky tape to secure the button in the desired location.
  2. Lower the feed dogs on the sewing machine.
  3. Remove the presser foot. Just lower the metal shank onto the button to hold it in place.
  4. Use a zig zag stitch. The length doesn’t matter because the feed dogs have been disabled. The width is determined by the distance between the holes in the button. Use the hand wheel to lower the needle and then adjust the stitch width. Then sew the first stitch with the hand wheel and, if necessary, adjust the width before lowering the needle into the second hole.
Ein weißer Knopf ist mit Klebeband auf blauem Stoff befestigt. Er wurde mit einer Nähmaschinen angenäht und zwei Fäden stehen noch ab.

Conclusion for my Colette Penny

Dear Penny was a pretty involved project. There were many pieces of fabric to cut out and sewing the collar, button placket and gathered sleeves (which have even more buttons) took a long time. However, it was all worth it. I love wearing this dress and it makes me feel put-together. The fabric has a lovely drape and is comfortable even in the heat.

I paid a lot of attention to the finishing on the inside as well. For example, I used French seams (also on the pocket bags), hand stitching and contrasting facings.

Project Details

Main fabric: Authentic Öko-Leinen Classic in kornblumenblau from
Lining fabric: Tana cotton lawn remnant from Liberty of London
Sewing pattern: Penny by Colette

By Bettina

After years of knitting, embroidering and general crafting, I started sewing in April 2018. I mostly sew clothes for myself, but every now and then I'll make something for my husband or sew bags.

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