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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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!

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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!!!!

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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…

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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…..

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

Kate x

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Fun, Fabs and a pretty Gathered Bag

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Mini Fabs in the garden were the order of the day today….boy has it been hot! Even the dog was drinking out of the paddling pool….sensible boy!

Fun time spent at my sister-in-laws at their biannual Village Fayre…there was a dog show, falconry displays, competition tent….best ginger cake, best rhubarb, best single rose……

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‘Tequila Sunrise’ single rose 1st prize went to my lovely sister-in-law….well done lovely lady!

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Marvellous. The WI tent, band, and even the ‘Green Barrows’ the most hilarious but talented group of men in red overalls, and Biggles goggles and headwear, charging around with green wheelbarrows in formation! Set on the village green…a brilliant afternoon.

It was my sister-in-laws birthday so I decided to make her a present, I much prefer that personal touch. She’s a cloth bag kind of girl so I chose this lovely bag to make from my local great independent fabric, wool and haberdashery shop The Owl & Sewing Cat that stocks great patterns for all sorts of home accessories and bags, clothing, children’s and baby accessories….do take a look. They also stock wool and gorgeous fabrics and supplies as well as running sewing workshops. Anyway, back to my bag. I purchased the pattern from The Owl & Sewing Cat and this is The Gathered Bag and it’s rated as an intermediate level. I chose a lovely Elephant print hot pink fabric for outside of bag and a sage stripe lining, finished with grey ribbon trim and hand made bow.

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Gathered bag lining

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Ribbon trim and hand made bow

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The finished bag!

Really pleased with this. It took me longer than I thought….largely because I started it at a Sewing evening in Lewes. A friend invited me to this monthly event of like minded sewing lovelies….each bringing along a sewing project they were working on, a pinnie, a child’s dress, hankies, cushion, and my friend was making this gorgeous Cath Kidston ‘Stitch’ pattern quilted bag….I’ve yet to see her finished item but it was looking fab! Anyway, a lovely evening, however, I’ve realised it’s easy to get distracted in a big group…so I missed cutting out a pattern piece for starters and I cut it incorrectly and spoiled the fabric….had to later seam two pieces together to get the ‘fold’ I needed back for the missing piece! Yikes! Still, I saved it, but after a discussion with my friend we both agreed that sewing is often a solitary past time, filled with concentration and thought and maybe we need to learn to talk less and focus more if we do the group thing again!!! I had to catch up the next evening as a result of my distractions!! Although we plan to start our own ‘Drop Everything & Sew!’ (think that’s what we’ll call it) evening in our home town!

Do any of you take part in group sewing nights or days?
What have you been up to this hot weekend? Any crafty projects in the making?