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My second White Tree Fabrics Make – The Coco Dress

December 2, 2014
Tilly Coco Dress

Tilly Coco Dress

Remember I said I was desiring simple sewing projects?  Well you could not get more simple than Tilly’s Coco dress!  White Tree Fabrics kindly sent me the pattern and 2 metres of their ‘warm jersey‘ for this project.

Now, I hope you are prepared to be really jealous of where I live – the tropical, glamorous beaches of the East Riding of Yorkshire were the perfect location to shoot these photos…

My feet aren't touching the floor in this photo!

My feet aren’t touching the floor in this photo!

The pattern is great.  Simple, but great.  I was on the fence about this pattern for so long, because of its simplicity.  I felt like after having been on three pattern cutting courses, I could draft it myself… but this is probably me being overly confident and, well, wrong.  Maybe.  We will never know, because when White Tree Fabrics started stocking Tilly’s patterns I hesitated not a moment longer and ordered it!

My feet aren't touching the floor in this photo, either!!

My feet aren’t touching the floor in this photo, either!!

Boy, am I glad to own this pattern!  I traced it one evening, and I’m not kidding, the next lunchtime I made my first Coco in UNDER ONE HOUR.  And I even liked it, which was itself a surprise because I wasn’t sure if it would be flattering on me (even though it looks great on everyone else).

It is a flattering fit!

Just running towards the North Sea.  Totally tropical, don’t you know.

My White Tree Fabrics Coco is one of the plainest things I have ever made.  You know me: prints, prints, and more prints!  But it’s getting cold, and I wanted cosy, and after ordering some samples I just couldn’t resist the ‘warm jersey’.  This fabric is actually like a woolly fine knitted fabric, like they use to make cardigans etc.  It is super soft and really warm and cosy.

Neckline close up

Neckline close up

I made the most basic Coco dress – plain neckline, no cuffs, no pockets.  I added 2″ to the length which still leaves it above the knee but not too short.  I was very careful not to stretch the fabric as I sewed, because the fabric recommendations call for a stable jersey and the fabric I chose was a bit too stretchy, really.  I stabilised the shoulder seams with elastic (pictured below), and I also used the same elastic to stabilise the neckline before turning it under and topstitching it, too.

Elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams and neckline

Elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams

I used Bondaweb to stabilise the hemline before sewing it.  The stretch recovery of the fabric is great, so its stretchiness is no problem now that the dress has been sewn together.  Oh, and it washes nicely too, on a machine wool cycle.

A mid-application shot of the Bondaweb, which I ironed in to stabilise the hem before sewing it with a zig zag stitch

A mid-application shot of the Bondaweb, which I ironed in to stabilise the hem before sewing it with a zig zag stitch

I really love this dress, but it does feel weird to be blogging about such a simple sewing project!  However, the dress is already getting worn a lot because it’s so snuggly and practical.  It feels easy to wear, and stylish in an understated way.  I’m on the lookout for some sort of bonkers jersey print for a future Coco, but for now I’m very happy with this one!

Thanks to White Tree Fabrics, and my photographer and co-blogger, Aileen.

My November Minerva Make – Simplicity 1882 Ikat dress

November 25, 2014
Simplicity 1882 - Navy Ikat

Simplicity 1882 – Navy Ikat

I’m a sucker for a nice print.  When deciding what to make, most of the time I will look for a nice printed fabric, and only then will I think about what it might be suitable for.  That’s how I came across the fabric for this month’s Minerva project – I was lurking their quilting cottons to see what grabbed my attention, and this ‘Mint to Be’ collection stole my heart.  I had a hard time deciding which print to choose.  I really love this Mandala print, but I decided on the navy ikat design (which also comes in mint green and orange) because it’s something a little different in my handmade collection.  I had no idea what I was going to make with it, but I hazarded a guess at a dress and ordered 2.5m and a matching zip.

Simplicity 1882 - back view

Simplicity 1882 – back view – not matched up perfectly!

The pattern, Simplicity Amazing Fit 1882, was sent to me by Simplicity a while back, and was perfect in terms of fabric requirements – I used the full 2.5m and had none left over.  I like it when that happens because there’s no waste, and no holding on to scraps ‘just in case’.  I bought co-ordinating ivory fabric from Boyes for the collar, pocket flaps and piping.

Simplicity 1882 - Collar

Simplicity 1882 – Collar

I’m a big fan of the Amazing Fit patterns – the ones I have made so far have turned out well – so I was pretty confident to go ahead and make this dress without making a toile first.  I measured myself carefully and looked at the ‘finished garment measurements’ to help determine what size to cut.  In any case, the pattern instructions are designed to help you ‘fit as you sew’, and include larger seam allowances to adjust accordingly.  The pattern guides you through basting the dress together with the seams on the outside, so that you can try it on and very easily make any adjustments.

Simplicity 1882 - Sitting

Simplicity 1882 – Sitting

My adjustments were as follows:

  • Decreased shoulder seam allowance to 3/8″ to provide an extra quarter inch of length in the bodice
  • Extended collar by 3/4″ to accommodate shoulder seam adjustment
  • Decreased seam allowance between the upper bodice and the midriff (probably by about 1/8″) to give a bit more length in the upper bodice
  • Shortened the skirt by 6″!!!
  • Took in 1/2″ each side on the princess seam of the front bodice at the armscye and tapering to nothing at the bust
  • Made my own bias binding to make my own piping cord, ensuring a perfect colour match with the collar and pocket flaps
Simplicity 1882 - Front view

Simplicity 1882 – Front view

The dress was quite tricky to make.  There were a lot of pattern pieces and I found myself wondering why I always seem to choose complicated things to sew.  I think I’m ready for a break now – I just want to sew simple things for a while!

Simplicity 1882 - insides

Simplicity 1882 – insides

Anyway, I love the dress!  The collar makes it feel quite smart.  There is an option for a bow which, although I cut it out, I didn’t sew in the end as I thought it would look a bit too fussy.  I like the length of it, too.  Above-the-knee seems to work with both flat shoes and heels.  Hurray for new dresses!

Simplicity 1882 - back view

Simplicity 1882 – back view

About to go out for lunch... ;-)

About to go out for lunch… ;-)

Butterick B4956 – The present for two year old girls

November 18, 2014

This year, two of my closests friend’s daughters turned two, and it gave me chance to use this cute pattern again that I made for Girl Tweedie when she was two.

First up I made this one for the daughter of a friend who I’ve known since we were seven years old :-)

Lighthouse dress

Lighthouse dress

I made it out of fabric leftover from a Colette Peony I made last year, and added a navy ribbon waistband trim.

Elephants dress

Elephants dress

The second one was made for the daughter of a friend I met at work 11 years ago now, and who has been a wonderful friend ever since.  I made it out of fabric leftover from my Simplicity 1652 dress.  I left this one unadorned.

Inside one of the dresses

Inside one of the dresses

These little dresses are the perfect present for me to give, I think.  Each dress takes a couple of hours to make, and the recipient gets something handmade and unique, and I get to put my fabric remnants to good use!  Everyone’s a winner!

Another bridesmaid dress!

November 11, 2014
New Look 6205 - Bridesmaid dress

New Look 6205 – Bridesmaid dress

Ok, so that wedding I wore the red lace dress and black bolero jacket to?  My daughter was the bridesmaid at this wedding!  So for the second time since August I found myself sewing yet another special dress for her to wear!

New Look 6205 Bridesmaid dress - back view

New Look 6205 Bridesmaid dress – back view

The bride chose the fabric, a beautiful teal and white border print by Moda from their Autumn Woods range.  Border prints open up lots of fun possibilities for print placement, but after playing around with the pattern pieces I decided to keep it simple and only have the border print at the skirt hem.  Although it could have looked pretty repeated at the waistband, or even at the neckline or armholes, I thought that the print would have maximum impact if just used at the hem.

The bride and bridesmaid

The bride and bridesmaid

I used New Look 6205 again for this dress, but this time I made the short sleeved version.  I didn’t bother with the skirt pattern because I didn’t want pleats in the dress – I just made a gathered skirt instead which worked better for the border print.

The bride, her brother and the bridesmaid - I love the way the skirt flares out in this photo

The bride, her brother and the bridesmaid – I love the way the skirt flares out in this photo

There’s not much else to say about this pattern that I haven’t said before, so I will just leave you with some more photos of the day.

The bride, her brother and the bridesmaid shortly before the ceremony

The bride, her brother and the bridesmaid shortly before the ceremony

About to walk down the aisle...

About to walk down the aisle…

Proud mummy :-)

Proud mummy :-)

Built by Wendy Bolero Jacket

November 4, 2014

Remember the red lace dress I made to wear to a friend’s wedding?  Well, given that the wedding was taking place in October, I realised I was going to need some sort of shrug or jacket type thing to keep the chill off.  I don’t often buy RTW clothing any more, but my first port of call was to look online and perhaps buy something.

Being a SAHM mum is great, but it does mean a distinct lack of funds for any luxuries other than gin (which is pretty much a necessity), so when I saw how much these sorts of garments were selling for I was quite outraged.  The cheapest option I could find was a jersey shrug cardigan for £15, and the prices just went up and up!  I couldn’t afford it, never mind justify it, so my thoughts turned to making my own.  How hard could it be?!

I searched for a free pattern online but didn’t find what I wanted, and then I remembered Scruffy Badger’s bolero jacket, using the Built by Wendy Coats and Jackets book.  I had a discount voucher and free postage coupon for The Works, so I ordered the book and got it delivered for £3.79.  Bargain!

I didn’t think I had anything suitable in my stash, so I went to Boyes to see what they had to offer.  I was hoping for some nice plush plain black fur, but the only fur they had was £20 per metre and was grey, so I found myself drawn towards the spangly dance fabrics.  I bought a metre of black sequin dot fabric and a metre of plain black jersey for the lining, all under £10, and came home to set about preparing the pattern.

Oh. God.  I made it , and it was hideous.  I can’t bring myself to show you a photo, it’s so awful.

I was rather disappointed, I must say, having bought the book and the fabric and not having anything to show for it.  I resigned myself to having to buy something RTW after all.  I left it a few days before looking again online, and when I did, I got really annoyed again by the stupid prices.  I remembered some black linen I had leftover from my Burda Ruby Shorts, and wondered if it would be enough to try again with the bolero.  It was enough, and I managed to cobble together enough scraps of black cotton for the lining.  I redrafted the neckline of the pattern to give a bit more coverage and a slightly different shape, and got to work.  If this didn’t work, I would definitely have to stump up for RTW.  Eek!

Built by Wendy Bolero Jacket

Built by Wendy Bolero Jacket

Thankfully, it worked!  It might be quite a boring make but it was just perfect with my outfit.

Wedding outfit

Wedding outfit

I made the sleeves short so that I could wear these awesome gloves!

Bolero jacket

Bolero jacket

I’m so glad I gave it another go.  I now have the bolero jacket and the pattern that I could reuse to make other versions in the future! Sewing win!

My October Minerva Make – Sewaholic Robson Coat

October 28, 2014


Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat

Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat

This is the Sewaholic Robson Trench coat, which I have wanted to make ever since the pattern was released.  The pattern was kindly given to me by Simona in a pattern swap, and the fabric and notions were supplied by Minerva Crafts.  I chose a navy polka dot cotton canvas for the coat, and contrasting red buttons, red binding and red topstitching.  The canvas was a great choice for this coat – easy to work with but reassuringly weighty.  The fabric is only 45″ wide, so I ordered a whopping 6m, and used approximately 5.5m of it.

Sewaholic Robson Coat - back view

Sewaholic Robson Coat – back view

It took me about three weeks to make the coat, which is a long time by my standards.  There are a lot of pattern pieces – I think I had to cut out 29 pieces of fabric!  Just cutting the pattern and then the fabric and interfacing took me about five hours and I used two entire boxes of pins!

Welt pockets!

Welt pockets!

I made some changes to the pattern:

  • A lot of people in the sewing blogging community have made this coat, and on the majority of them I observed that the front storm flaps stuck out a lot, so I altered the pattern piece to take out some of that excess fabric, otherwise the flaps would have really annoyed me.
  • I underlined the sleeves (the lining fabric was from Leicester market and not supplied by Minerva).  I wanted the coat to slip on easily over whatever I wear.
  • I cut the interfacing so that it didn’t extend into the seam allowances around the collar.  I knew from having made shirts before that attaching the collar was going to get tricky, especially with such a thick fabric, so I wanted to reduce bulk wherever possible.
  • I bound my raw edges by sewing one side first and then the other, rather than folding it and sewing both sides in one go.  It took longer, but was easier to control and the results are better.  Incidentally, I ordered 15m of bias binding, and it was enough!  The pattern envelope calls for 12 yards, but I noticed a few bloggers saying they ran out, so I wanted to be sure I’d have enough.
  • I added a fourth button hole on the right front to match the left front because I’m a Libran and everything has to balance!
Flasher alert!

Flasher alert!

The construction of the coat, although time consuming, was not actually any more difficult than making a shirt.  Sewaholic patterns have always been amongst my favourites because Tasia’s instructions are so clear, and this pattern did not disappoint.  Part of what took so long in the making of this coat was the constant changing of threads: I had red topstitching thread, normal red thread for attaching the bias binding, and navy thread for actually putting the coat together.  I also had different machine settings for my topstitching (higher tension, longer stitch length), so I had to remember to change the settings, too.

Another back view - open

Another back view – open

I am really pleased with the finished garment.  The length is perfect for me.  It feels quite roomy, but it doesn’t look it on the photos so I think that’s a good thing.  The only thing I’m not sure about is the length of the sleeves – I’m not sure if they’re a bit too long.  If I decide they are, they certainly wouldn’t take long to alter, anyway.

Coat unbuttoned

Coat unbuttoned

This coat wouldn’t be much use in the rain, but for dry days it’s brilliant.  It’s the kind of coat that if I saw someone else wearing it, I’d be all :”Ooh!  I love that coat!  Where is it from?”.  I’m really proud of it.

Pattern ~ Scissors ~ Cloth Ruby Slip

October 26, 2014

A while back I made a slip for my friend using the free ‘Ruby Slip’ pattern from Pattern ~ Scissors ~ Cloth.  It could not have been a more satisfying sewing experience: it was quick to put together and it fitted her like a dream.  I got the fabric from Boyes and really loved working with it…in fact, I would like to go back and get more for myself!

Pattern Scissors Cloth Ruby Slip in black lace

Pattern Scissors Cloth Ruby Slip in black lace

The slip was such a success, I wanted one for myself.  I needed one of those instant gratification projects after slaving away on my lace dress for three weeks!  I had just enough scalloped edge of lace left over, which I used for the bodice, and I bought some red silky stuff for the skirt.  I made a full bust adjustment to the pattern and got to work.



What a great pattern!  The only tricky thing is turning the rouleau loops, but it isn’t that bad once you get going.  Although I don’t particularly need slips like this, they are fun to make, so I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for nice silky fabrics and lace with scalloped edges!

Pattern Scissors Cloth Ruby Slip in red lace and red satin

Pattern Scissors Cloth Ruby Slip in red lace and red satin

And here are the back views of both slips:

Back view of black lace slip

Back view of black lace slip

Back view of red lace slip

Back view of red lace slip

If you haven’t tried this pattern, I fully recommend it!


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