Polka dot Coco dress and she’s risking it with lace…

Ok, so she’s been a fair time in the making…but my Tilly and The Buttons Coco dress is finally completed and had her first outing yesterday, just in time for Easter…

The rain finally subsided and the sun came out, as did my daughter and the camera! My Coco took a bit longer than planned, largely, as always, due to time restraints…with my three children and their after school/evening activities and my work plus all the other stuff that gets in the way of sewing time…it’s grabbing minutes here and there! I had to re-draft some of the pattern to allow for the different top and bottom sizes! also made a few boobs which involved unpicking and starting again, and had a bit of a challenge getting my sleeves to fit…but I did it and am rather pleased with the result! I sourced a great large polka dot knit with minimal stretch from Ditto fabrics in Brighton, which I’m lucky to live not far away from! I knew nothing about knit fabric (well, I didn’t, but I do now!) and the fabric I chose was not quite what I thought it would be. It feels like it’s mainly a poly knit? soft on the inside but a tad in danger of being a bit shiny on the outside perhaps…..but then it doesn’t need ironing so that helps!

I’m totally new to knits and never sewn with them before and this pattern is aimed at people just like me so win, win!

20140421-143801.jpg

I was pleased with how I managed to lengthen the pattern with little difficulty and it worked!
Next came the tape for the shoulder seams…I didn’t have the proper elastic stay tape so used some ribbon I had instead as suggested in the pattern as an alternative.

20140421-150608.jpg

Tilly suggests attaching the funnel collar with the collar seam lined up with one of the shoulder seams on the dress. However, I decided to line up the collar seam so it was at the back of the dress, centrally…make sense?? to me, that was aesthetically more pleasing and avoided more bulk as the shoulder seam with the ribbon tape in the shoulder seams felt a little too bulky attaching the collar seam here. It worked well and when the funnel collar is folded over as you wear it, you can’t really see the seam.

20140421-151752.jpg

I have found that the collar does sort of ‘flop’ a bit when I’m wearing it…I’d possibly consider putting in interfacing in future to keep it more stiff and ‘standing’….it could be the fabric is a little too floppy or too heavy…hmmm…not sure, but I saw a Coco that Karen made and she used interfacing, although not for the same reason, but it gave me the idea that this could work to keep the collar stiffer.

I didn’t do the pockets because ideally I really wanted them in a contrast colour but couldn’t quite find what I was looking for so,rather than halt the make by having to find from another source, I left them out. Instead, I decided to experiment with some lovely chartreuse green stretch elastic I had in my stash…

20140421-152825.jpg
Does it work? well, getting it attached was the first hurdle…a stretch elastic to a stretch knit…challenge!!! but I did it! With the help and advice from some lovely sewists blogging friends (they’ll know who they are!) I attached using a zig zag for attaching elastic to fabric…I had a few practice runs and didn’t quite have the perfect match thread but it doesn’t look too bad! First I was going to trim the sleeve cuffs and then went the whole hog and decided to trim the hem of the skirt too! Not sure if the hem is too much…haven’t decided yet if I should keep or take it off, what do you think? but the overall effect is certainly different and that’s what I wanted!

20140421-153427.jpg
I think this is a lovely dress and pretty straightforward to make. I was SO pleased with my sleeves…it’s the first time I’ve made something with sleeves and probably a baptism by fire using a knit fabric for my first time! Putting them in did require a few attempts at re-pinning…I cut the same size sleeves as bodice but seemed to have too much ease on the bodice and not enough of the cap? of the sleeve to fit! despite all my notches matching! careful re-pinning using a lot of pins and gently easing and stretching the sleeve as I went, and bingo! The finished result was smooth and flat with not puckering and a perfect fit…wey hey!!!!

20140421-154012.jpg
I’m not sure if this dress is quite right for me…it’s so comfortable and warm and although I cut a size smaller for the bodice and graduated at the waist to the next size up for the skirt section, it still feels a little big around the bust…I’m not sure I was quite ready to manage altering the bust again with a knit yet, so left it. The dress looks so lovely on so many people I’ve seen post pics and I’m still trying to find the style and fit of a dress that suits me best…I think I prefer a more fitted bodice and fuller skirt for a dress, but that is my personal preference for my short waist and tubby middle! This is a lovey dress pattern and I love the whole 60’s A-line dress look, but perhaps not so much on me…

20140421-154529.jpg

20140421-154615.jpg
This was a dress and make that taught me some new skills…

* I lengthened a dress pattern for the first time by adding an extra 2 inches as apparently this dress does come up quite short
* I re-drafted the bodice to waist to skirt size to fit me
* My first ever sleeves….panic over!!!!
* Sewing a stretch lace to a stretch knit fabric
* Sewing with a knit fabric

All in all I’m chuffed to bits with my achievement…and if you’re new to sewing with knits and considering it, then give this dress a go! Tilly’s accompanying pattern booklet and instructions are brilliant and super easy to understand…as always, with great pictures for guidance. I didn’t use her blog this time for help but honestly felt the tips and instructions in the booklet were ace and I didn’t need to refer to her blog; but it’s there if you need it.

And at the end of the day of her first outing, I rounded it off in true Easter style with some great chocolate Easter cake and a cup of tea…..

20140421-155525.jpg

Thanks for stopping by. It’d be great to hear what you think of my polka dot Coco!!

Kate x

It’s official…the Tilly and the Buttons Miette wrap skirt is finished!!

Ok peeps, here it is…a momentous achievement…my Tilly and the Buttons Miette wrap skirt completed, modelled and ready for the Big Reveal!!

20140311-212832.jpg

Now, first things first…anyone who has seen my twitter posts @thepolkadotroom or instagram thepolkadotroom (you get the idea) will have seen my recent ramblings recording my progress with this skirt…and slow it has been!!! There have been various reasons for that…largely time…and the fact it is winter, I have poor light where I sew (the kitchen table and I really need to invest in a proper daylight craft/sewing lamp), and I rather naively used black fabric…eek! as the light fades so too does my ability to see what I’m sewing..black thread on black fabric is nuts!! but I’ve done it and I’m a bit pleased with the end result…that and the fact I’ve learnt a lot about my sewing whilst doing so and a little bit more about me…

First though, let’s talk about this skirt…

20140311-213841.jpg

I debated over what fabric to use, initially thinking I’d go for linen, but then changed my mind as I couldn’t find anything that was a heavy duty linen (is that a technical term?!) and not wanting to wear a slip under this skirt, I ended up choosing a simple black cotton twill (at least I’m sure that’s what it said on the label!) As I had decided to do the pockets for the skirt (I mean, they are just lovely), I thought I’d go a bit ‘in for a penny in for a pound’ and line the pockets in a contrasting fabric…kerching!!! Love them!!!

20140311-214400.jpg

20140311-214445.jpg

Pocket lining was black cotton with red stars..very cute..and thinking about it now, it would have been great to use it on the skirt ties as well. I then decided on following Tilly’s suggestion to try top stitching the pockets in a contrast colour thread…yeah baby…red, loud and proud!!

20140311-215028.jpg

Like it? Look, if you’re planning on making this skirt…go for the contrast pocket top stitching…just take your time and don’t rush it and it’ll be brill…this was the first time I’d used a decorative top stitch on my machine and I’m impressed with how effective it is…and this is on my little basic Husqvarna E20!

This pattern is suitable for beginners and I mean absolute beginners; it has no closures like zips or button holes…just the ties. This is the beauty of this skirt. The pdf printable pattern comes with a great step by step set of instructions you print off, great for sewists with some experience and for the total beginners or if you just want or love or both some pictorial guidance, you can follow beautifully illustrated step by step instructions on Tilly’s blog…it’s almost like you’re I’m a workshop with her! and if you still get stuck, just tweet or email her and she’ll help you…what a **sTaR** you are Tilly!!!

This really is a great, easy to follow pattern. I had a few hiccups,,which were nothing to do with the pattern or my not understanding the instructions but my choice of fabric…the cotton twill I chose was very very heavy duty!! and probably too much for this pattern…great for a pair of trousers (work trousers??) and I mean lumberjack’s trousers!! but quite hard work when sewing with this weight as the pattern does at certain points have several thickness of fabric to sew through…with a more sensible weight fabric such as linen or quilting fabric, it would be easier. Having said that, my dear Betty (my sewing machine’s pet name) coped well. There was a bit of unpicking and starting again, but then I have realised I am a bit of a perfectionist!!

20140311-220834.jpg

Here are some pics of the pockets….THOSE pockets…wicked! I apologise for the fact I appear to have stuffed my hands plus a few pounds of potatoes in them…why??? They do actually lie pretty flat normally but aren’t designed to lie totally flat against the skirt, in order that you can fill them up or store essentials…

20140311-221244.jpg

20140311-221404.jpg

20140311-221428.jpg

Oh yes…please excuse my hound!! My daughter was taking these photos of me outside our front door…she started laughing, which I thought was a bit rude as surely taking pics of me was not THAT funny? No, she said, you’ll see…and yes, it became apparent that my dawg decided to ‘photobomb’ (as my daughter called it), our photo shoot!! What with trying to avoid and smile at passing neighbours…I didn’t go for any retakes…so he stayed in them!! Real life…!!

20140311-221814.jpg

20140311-221903.jpg

And then he tries to make a run for it over to my neighbours….honestly..never work with children or animals!!

20140311-222025.jpg
And then I have to coax him back in…

20140311-222126.jpg

The one thing I had the most tricky time with was the hem…not sure why…but it reminded me of parking…you get it wrong the first time and it’ll probably take you three attempts to get it right!! My hem was similar…unpicked in part, some of the hem, around 4 times…the thread snapped, the bobbin ran out (note to self…always check the bobbin love)….but got there in the end…the skirt pieces are curved at the bottom and for some reason, turning the hem up despite it being straight when pinned, seemed to end up gathering up as I started sewing!!! I just used a longer straight stitch width and pinned carefully, and went slowly and it was fine!

20140311-222612.jpg

I do not have an overlocker….and I so desire one…but I have to settle for the good old overlocking stitch on my machine, which I think gave a pretty good finish…

20140311-222745.jpg

So there we have it…my lovely Miette wrap skirt!! I’m so pleased with the result.
What have I learnt along the way? That I am quite a diligent sewer…I prefer to take my time and get it right, even if it means unpicking and starting something again! I love the feeling of being methodical…it suits me. It ‘zones’ me out…calms me and helps me focus….I do a pretty stressful and emotional day job that quite honestly can drain me…sewing just grounds me. People from all walks of life love to sew. It surely must be for some of the same reasons I have mentioned. Yes, it can be frustrating when things go a bit wrong…but even if you end up with something that you’re not sure you’ll wear (hopefully rare!) the fact is, that for me, the process of making can be rewarding enough..there’s progress there, there really is.

Also, when it comes to photographing the finished item, I have started to relax with seeing myself in my finished garment and feeling more comfortable actually being photographed. I’m not a perfect 10, far from it, you can see that…but I am really not keen on having my photo taken, let alone a full body shot! What I love about sewing, is seeing people of all different shapes and sizes taking photos of themselves in the clothes they’ve made and looking so proud…it’s started to make me feel more comfortable with myself and body image and stop looking at my flaws…it probably sounds quite cheesy..but there you are..through blogging and looking at other people’s blogs and photos, I’ve started to feel a whole new confidence because of them..so thank you all you wonderful sewing bloggers!

20140311-225113.jpg

Oh, and not forgetting my number one fan…Mutley

20140311-225220.jpg

Have you found blogging has helped with your self image and confidence?
Until next time…

p.s. having just looked through the pre post blog preview I’ve noticed the photos are a bit small…should have done them larger…oh well…you can click on them and that should make them a little bigger…too fiddly to go back and change now..but I’ll remember for next time!! I think.,,
Kate x

20140311-230749.jpg

The not so accidental crochet cowl!

I originally had a ball of Rowan’s thick ‘n’ thin yarn from my lovely children for Christmas. I decided to crochet myself a cowl..so bought an extra ball or two and began. Trouble was, the yarn wasn’t really suitable for the pattern and I needed a lot more yarn! So I unravelled, chose another pattern and made this….

20140304-190954.jpg

20140304-191102.jpg
It’s a beautiful yarn…exactly that…thick and then thin..it almost self patterns as you crochet. Lovely and chunky, I crocheted this up on the largest hook I had, a size 9. This created a lovely open pattern with a soft drape. Very snug!

20140304-192802.jpg
I found this pattern on Ravelry which, if you haven’t looked at before, you must! It’s a fab forum and library of knitting and crochet patterns..many of which are free or at a very minimal fee to purchase them. You can store your patterns in your own library…so much going on there to detail here so take a look!

The pattern I chose, ‘The Accidental Cowl’ is also available direct from Elizabeth’s blog Crochet in Color and it’s incredibly simple to follow and suitable for a beginner.

I made a few changes…I chained a few extra on the foundation round because I wanted the cowl a little longer. I also did not crochet in the round but joined the finished piece once I’d completed enough rows that gave me the width I wanted…I just kept doing rows, ending each row with a chain 3 and turn and followed Elizabeth’s instructions for the rows. It was very simple.

The yarn is so pretty and I adore the emerald green colour. I think this Rowan yarn is perfect for a beginner as it did not split at all as you work it, which is a plus in my book and works up really quickly! Bingo!

I used just under four 50 gram balls for this cowl.

20140304-194707.jpg

20140304-200404.jpg
I even blocked it to finish it properly! That was simple too, though it did take about 3 days to dry as it’s so thick! I’ve had loads of compliments about it and I will make another one or certainly some for presents for next Christmas! I may try the Sirdar Big Softee next time as its much cheaper and similar to work with and comes in an array of beautiful colours.

Hope you like it too! Have any if you knitted with the Rowan thick ‘n’ thin yarn before? what did you make?

p.s. sorry about the ropey photography and subject…not easy taking selfies from far enough away!!