Finished: Do the Coco-motion

2 Sep

Is there a pattern that, at some point, you have seen everywhere, and everyone seems to love it and be making it, but you just don’t quite feel it? Has that pattern ever grown on you?


I have to admit, when Tilly’s Coco pattern first came out, and took the sewing world by storm, and my blog feed was filled with an endless stream of Cocos, I wasn’t in love. I wasn’t just sure that it was for me. I just don’t tend to go in for looser fitting styles, and my attempts to overcome this haven’t turned out well, as I found out when I tried to make a Scout tee. Much as I can think that style looks nice on other people, it just doesn’t work for me, and there’s nothing worse than making something, hoping you’ll like it when you’re done…and then not! But I did like the idea of such a simple knit dress, and, to be honest, felt a little bit left out of all the Coco love that was going around!


There were a couple of versions of Coco I saw that caught my eye and made me think ‘ooh, maybe I could make this work’ – they were versions that had been made a bit more fitted. One of them was Marcie’s sleeveless Coco. Love this dress! So I pondered a bit, and eventually decided that I could make Coco work for me! That’s the joy of sewing isn’t it – if you like a pattern, but you’re not entirely sure about some elements of the design, you can tweak it so it works for you.


Trying out Marcy’s low camera angle trick. I guess you could say this is a post inspired by all the Marcies!

Finding fabric was a little tricky. Because Coco requires a heavier, stable knit, I really didn’t want to order online, without being able to feel the fabric. My usual haunts of Goldhawk Road and Walthamstow didn’t really throw up anything, so I went to The Cloth House on Berwick Street, which was one that Tilly recommended in her post on buying knits. I got lucky here, and managed to get two suitable Coco fabrics for £8/m each. I’m not entirely sure what kind of fabric they are, as when I asked the girl in the shop, expecting an answer like ‘ponte’, or ‘interlock’, I was told ‘knit’, and then I asked what kind of knit, she said cotton. At that point I gave up, and decided they would be fine!


The design of my Coco was also inspired by Lauren’s short sleeved version. I have plans for a long sleeved version to, but the short sleeves are great for this end of summer but not quite yet autumn time of year. Like Lauren, I originally cut my sleeves longer (I really had NO idea how long the pattern piece needed to be to make capped sleeves), and then, once I’d tried it on, cut another few inches off, to get them the length I wanted them. Unfortunately, I don’t know exactly how much I cut off, so I can’t transfer that back to the pattern piece for next time I want to make a short sleeved version! I think a short sleeve cutting line/guidance would be a great addition to the pattern! Turns out Tilly has done one, I just didn’t find it, oops.


In order to get my more fitted Coco, I went down in the pattern size I cut out, but then actually took it in more once I’d constructed it. My measurements (34, 28, 37) put me as a size 3, but, looking at the finished garment measurements, I knew I didn’t want 4-4.5 inches of ease at my waist and hips. The bust only includes an inch of ease, so I decided to leave that as a 3, and graded down to a 2 at the waist and hips. Once I had sewn it up, I then took it in a bit more – I overlocked the side seams, and took off basically the width of the overlocked stitches around the bust, grading to about a cm more than that for the middle third of the side seam, and then back to the width of the stitch for the bottom third.


I love how easy this dress was to sew. I used my normal machine to sew the shoulder seams initially, and sew the sleeves on, but I then went over both of these with my overlocker to reinforce them and tidy them up a bit. For the side seams, I just went straight for the overlocker. The only slight issue I had was some of my seams not matching up – my sleeves ended up longer than the shoulder edge they were going into, and the hem ended up with the back longer on one side and the front on the other – no idea how that happened!


I *tried* to use a twin needle for the neckline and hems. Boy, did I try! But my machine was not playing ball – whenever I tried to use the twin needle, the bobbin thread didn’t zigzag across the bottom, it just pulled the top threads across instead, with the bobbin thread just running in a straight line down the middle.

twin needle

Not the best picture, but that light blue thread is one of the needle threads, being pulled across on the underside :/

I spent a good while trying to get it to work. I adjusted the tension – all the way up, all the way down, and everything in between, but it made no difference whatsoever. I feel like the bobbin tension needs to be lowered, but I have a top loading bobbin, and I’m not sure how/if you can do that. The instruction manual for my machine also doesn’t mention it. If you know how it can be done (Janome 525S), please let me know! I used twin needle stitching on my Lady Skater dress, and it worked fine then, so I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I turned to the internet, Twitter, and the Colette guide to sewing knits, but nothing I tried worked. In the end I gave up and just went with a zigzag stitch, and it looks fine, but it’s still frustrating!


When I zigzagged the neckline, it stretched out a bit, but Sonja told me to:

I did what I was told (thank you Sonja!) and managed to save it. It’s gone a bit wavy again after wearing it, so I gave it another little steam this morning (before wearing it again!)


What I love about this fabric is that the way it behaves made it so easy to hem the skirt and the sleeves. I folded them up at one point to the length I wanted them, and then the fold just easily followed all the way round, nice and level. I actually zigzagged these hems before I cut off the excess length – I figured it would make it much easiere to keep the folded over fabric in place if there was a couple of inches of it rather than just a cm or two. I then just cut off the excess when I was done. I debated when cutting out my pattern pieces whether I should lengthen the skirt a little, as I didn’t want it *too* short, but I decided against it, and actually ended up taking off a couple of inches off the standard length. Any longer than this and it just did not do anything for me!


The pockets were also inspired by Marcie’s Coco. I was in Sheffield a while ago and had some time to kill, so I googled fabric shops and found that Direct Fabric Warehouse was only 10 minutes away. When I first walked in, I thought that it was mainly furnishing fabric, but they had a little dressmaking section tucked away. It may have been small, but it was the best organised/labelled fabric I have come across in a shop.

IMG_6360I find that, so often, the way fabric types are named on patterns (with more ‘technical’ names I guess) differs dramatically from how the shops label them, and unless you are very good at identifying fabrics by feel, it can be hard to know what you are actually getting in the shops. But DFW had everything brilliantly labelled, actually using the terms that tend to be used on patterns. So I picked up the faux suede fot the pockets in 3 different colours (£8/m I think), some more Coco suitable fabric (can’t remember if it was ponte, doubleknit or interlock, but it was actually labelled!) for a good price (that I don’t now recall) and couldn’t resist a couple of really drapey fabrics (they are poly rather viscose, although they did have that too) for £2.99, which I thought would make fantastic Gabriolas. Unfortunately they don’t seem to list many dress fabrics on their website, but if you’re ever in Sheffield, I can recommend it!


By the time I did the pockets I was in a bit of a rush to get the dress finished – I started it after lunch on Saturday, and wanted to finish it to wear to a party on Saturday night. By pocket time, it had reached the time that I had been planning on leaving, but I was so close, I didn’t want to give up then! But I could feel myself rushing, and as a result I made a mistake or two (I may have almost sewn the pockets onto the back of the dress when I didn’t realise I had it on back to front when marking the pocket placement! Luckily I realised before I started sewing) and the pockets probably aren’t quite as neat as they could have been, but they do the job just fine!


And what do I think of my finished Coco? I absolutely love it! I have worn it pretty much non-stop since I made it, it’s so comfy, such an easy make (a dress done in an afternoon is a big achievement for me!), and looks great. I don’t often wear skirts this short, but it looks really cute! I wore it yesterday with my winter boots, so it’s definitely a great winter pattern too. To top off my Coco love, I had 3 comments on it within half an hour of being at work yesterday, which is always a good way to start a Monday!

As the song says, I know you’ll get to like it if you give it a chance now. That is certainly true, and I’m very glad I gave Coco a chance!


Eh? What’s going on?!


Finished: A denim Miette skirt

13 Jul

Well, it has been a busy few weeks – climbing holidays, new jobs, epic sewing meet ups, and my blogiversary, which I missed, oops!

IMG_4015But I have been finding some time for some sewing as well – I think I have 45 finished garments to show you from the last few weeks! I’ve been on a bit of a roll!

This one is actually one of the last ones I’ve made, but it’s the only one I’ve managed to get photos of so far!



As many of you will know, this is Tilly’s Miette skirt pattern. I realised a little while ago that my two Kelly skirts are my most worn me made items, by a long way. They’re just so practical. I love wearing dresses, but skirts just have so many options. They’re also satisfying and relatively quick to sew, without fitting issues, as you only need to make it fit your waist.


So I decided I needed more skirts in my life, and when I went to Goldhawk Road for the NYLon meet up (which was amazing, I had such a good day and it was so nice to finally meet people I have got to know online), denim for skirts was one of the things on my shopping list. I managed to get 3 different denims in Classic textiles, and this is the first of them. I think this one was £4/m.


As you’d expect from one of Tilly’s patterns, this skirt is beautifully easy to put together, with only 5 pattern pieces that need cutting out. As a testament to that, this skirt was made mainly at 2am, after a bottle of wine, and suffered very little as a result!


Crazy jumpy photo!

It’s been a long time since I’ve done middle of the night sewing, but I find it very enjoyable. I had plans to spend that Saturday evening sewing – Marcus was having a friend over for drinks, so I thought I’d leave the boys to it and get some serious sewing time in. But I’d spent most of the day gardening, uncovering all the strawberry plants in our front garden that we knew were there but couldn’t see for all the weeds, and, not being used to gardening, I could barely stand by 6pm! It was that sort of sheer exhaustion where I was aching so much all over that I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I resigned myself to some PDF pattern cutting and sticking, and some medicinal wine. But most of a bottle of (home brewed!) wine later, I was feeling much more alive, and ploughed on with the actual sewing. Incidentally, the tedious parts of sewing such as pattern sticking and fabric cutting are much more enjoyable while pleasantly tipsy ;)


For once, I decided to just cut the pattern out, rather than trace it. Normally I do trace PDF patterns, mainly because I don’t want to have to re-print and cut and stick again if I need to make adjustments, or need a different size. But given how straightforward the fitting was going to be for this skirt, I decided to go wild and just cut them out!


I cut a size 3 based on my waist measurement. It could possibly do with being a *tiny* bit smaller – I usually have it done up as tight as it will go. However, the ability to let it out a bit is much appreciated when I’ve had a big meal!


I chose to use a contrasting fabric for the pocket facings and the reverse side of the waistband and ties – partly because I though that two layers of denim might be a bit thick at some places, like on the ties, but also because I fancied showing off some pretty fabric :) I think the waist ties could possibly do with being a little thicker, or perhaps being interfaced like the waistband – just at the point where they are tied up, they tend to lose their shape a bit.

The construction was very simple, although I did make two small mistakes. The first was that, when joining the pocket front to the pocket facing, you are instructed to sew along two edges. I did, but sewed along the wrong two edges (ok, that may have been the wine). Unfortunately I didn’t realise this until I’d already trimmed the seem allowance. This meant that my pocket piece wasn’t quite the size it was meant to be relative to the skirt front, but it all turned out ok – I just had to be careful when sewing my side seams to make sure that the pocket got caught in the seams.


The other mistake I made was due to missing a step in the instructions. I had attached my waistband to the skirt, attached the facing, trimmed the seam allowance, and pressed the bottom edge of the facing up, ready to stitch in the ditch along the waistband. After that, all I had to do was hem the skirt…and finish the edges of the sides of the skirt. But I couldn’t see in the instructions where that was done. So I looked back through the instructions, and found it much earlier (in a much more sensible place), but somehow I had missed it. I’m not entirely sure how (although Jo did the same thing recently) – I think it was probably because I was flicking between the printed, bullet list instructions, and the online, full colour step by step ones, and in switching between the two, I must have somehow skipped over it.


Not too much of a crisis, but I did have to unpick the waistband facing from the waistband where the ties meet the skirt, so that I could turn the side seams over and have the ends enclosed in the waistband seam.


As you’d expect from Tilly, this is a really nice easy pattern to make, and the detailed photo instructions online take you through every step. I love this skirt and have worn it so much since I made it. It works best with tops tucked into it, due to the tie waist, but it does look great with jumpers tucked in. I will definitely be making more of these, and I might have to follow Lauren’s lead and make a tie-less Miette at some point, just to allow a bit more variety with what I can wear it with.

Next up on my to-make list is a Flora dress to wear to a wedding in a couple of weeks…need to get moving on that one!

Exploring Goldhawk Road

16 May
Image source: Google maps

Image source: Google maps

Hola! I hope you are all having a good Friday. I am currently sitting in the sunshine in our garden, enjoying my last bonus day off before starting a new job on Monday. Eek! The new job is a pretty big change from what I was doing before, but it’s an exciting change. I said a very emotional goodbye to my wonderful (former) colleagues at my old job last Friday, who gave me this lovely sewing box and accessories as a leaving present. They know me so well. Or, I just talk about sewing a lot. And a cuddly sloth :) because, well, who doesn’t need a cuddly sloth?! I have a bit of an obsession with them recently, and they agreed with me that Marcus was being unreasonable in saying I couldn’t have a real one ;)



I am now enjoying a week off just to chill out a bit at home before I start the new one. I will now be working half a mile from my house – I’m swapping my hour’s drive to work for a 10 minute walk, and I can’t wait to get that time back! I’m going to spend at least some of that extra time sewing – yay, more sewing time!

I have spent most of this week doing admin-y chores at home that I had been putting off, and needed to be done, but I did manage to get a bit of sewing in as well. On Wednesday evening my lovely friend Kate came over to do some sewing. I showed her how to use my overlocker and she knocked up a gorgeous infinity dress. So speedy! I managed to trace and cut out the pattern for a Renfrew. I made the top up yesterday (my first garment that I’ve ever finished in one day!), and I’ll do a blog post on that shortly. For now I am going to talk about one of our favourite topics – fabric shopping!


The fabric for my Renfrew came from a shopping trip to Goldhawk Road in March with Claire, Daniela, Jenny, and my friends Clare and Laura. Having been to one of London’s fabric meccas, Walthamstow market, I’d been meaning for ages to take a trip to Goldhawk Road. I did manage a very fleeting visit a few months ago, when I had to go to London for a work training course, and went down a bit earlier so that I could call into Goldhawk Road on my way, but I literally had 40 minutes there, and only managed to visit two shops. That didn’t stop me from buying a fair amount of fabric (mainly gorgeous lawns from Classic textiles), but I wanted the chance to have a proper explore.


For this trip I went armed with my colour wallet from my House of Colour colour analysis, and a list of exactly what I was looking for. Admittedly it was a pretty long list, but I wanted to make sure that I only bought fabric with projects in mind, to try to exert some control on my ever-growing fabric stash.


We started in A to Z fabrics at one end of the road, where I got some gorgeous stretch cotton sateens, which were one of the things high on my list of things to buy. I’ve got the By Hand London Charlotte skirt pattern waiting to be made, but didn’t have any suitable stretch woven fabrics to make it out of, I also want to make some Anna/Charlotte and Elisalex/Charlotte mash-ups, and I want to try making the Stella blouse in a stretch woven – I think it would allow a tighter fit, especially round the sleeves, while still being able to move! And so the first purchase of the day was made!

Goldhawk Road fabric shops

Image source: google maps

I got a 5m length of this gorgeous turquoise stretch cotton for £30, and got 3m of the pink for £6/m as it was the end of the bolt.



From A to Z, we worked our way along that side of the road, visiting every shop along the way! Of course, I cannot now remember exactly which shop I got each piece of fabric in, but I did get a few pieces in another shop along this side – but I really can’t remember which one!

Whichever one it was (it was the same one Claire got the lace for this lovely Laurel), I got 2m each of these beautifully drapey poly viscoses, for £2/m.


I’m going to use at least one of these to try making a draped top, following Tania’s tutorial. The mustard yellow one is not within my palette of allowed colours, but I am going to use that to make something for my sister. I’m thinking that the pink might make a great lining for a Flora dress I’m planning to make, so I might need to pick up some more of that. In the same shop, I also got some lovely silky grey fabric (again, to make something drapey), and 1 m of this printed grey silk. That was my most expensive fabric of the day, at £10/m, but I loved it so much I couldn’t resist. With just a metre of this, it’s destined to become a gorgeous top.



It was also in this shop that I bought fabric for a Zinnia skirt (which has been made, but needs some tweaking to the pleats, which won’t behave themselves), and that I also used to make the tie for my Grandad. It’s a Chinese brocade, which was £5/m. I wanted 2.5, but the owner refused to sell me less than the 4m that were left on the bolt. We compromised on me paying for 3.5m, and I’ve still got a little left after the skirt and tie.


Once we’d visited every shop on that side of the road, we stopped for a bite to eat before continuing onto the other side.


As last time I visited, I did very well in Classic Textiles. I got a selection of lining fabrics, which is one of the big things I was in need of. I think theses were £3.50/m, and they’re a much nicer fabric that the cheaper poly lining. I’m not sure exactly what the fabric is, but they’re lovely and silky.


I also got some cotton silk, which I am going to use to line bodices, and Claire, Daniela and I each got 1.5m of this pretty bird print cotton silk. It’s going to be interesting to see what we each come up with to make from it. I’m thinking a blouse of some sort, as it’s quite sheer, so would work well for a looser blouse worn with a vest top underneath, but I haven’t decided on a pattern yet. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!



Classic textiles was also where I got the cotton lawn for my Sew Dolly Clackett Anna dress. At £7/m, this was again one of my more expensive fabrics of the day, but I used less than 2m to make it, so still only £14 (plus a couple of pounds for the zip)  for the dress – not bad!


And just as the shop assistant was cutting my last piece of fabric for me, I saw this fabric on a bolt just outside the door. This just screamed Sew Dolly Clackett to me. Probably helped by the fact that it was standing next to the swimmers fabric that Roisin has made some famous. This was a polycotton, and only £1.50/m, so I got 3m of it. I’m planning on making Simplicity 2444 with it, but probably with a gather skirt instead of the pleats. I can really see this as a dress with a fitted bodice and full skirt, great for dancing in – much like the lady on the fabric – the one in the middle there, dancing on her own, all in white, with a belt on! As you may have guessed, I did not get this made in time for the Sew Dolly Clackett competition, but I am definitely still planning on making it up, I think it will make a wonderful dress.


In A one fabrics I got this owl print, to make Simplicity 2451, which was the winner of my Miss Bossy Patterns March challenge. Unfortunately, with a couple of sewalong deadlines, I didn’t manage to find time to get this made in March, but it will be made soon! I’m going to use the purple to pipe the seams.


I can’t remember which shops they came from, but I got a couple of jerseys for making Renfrews – the pink one at the top of the page, which is the one I made yesterday, and this purple and grey flower print one. They were each £3.50/m.


And last but not least, I got this cotton, for making up Tilly’s Mathilde blouse. I wanted something with a bit of drape for this blouse, so it doesn’t look too boxy, and this cotton isn’t too stiff. It’s also quite sheer, as you can see, which I think will help with the pattern.



I have probably bored you with all my fabric now, sorry! Although I bought a fair amount of fabric, pretty much all of it was bought with a pattern that I already have in mind, which was my aim. Three of them have already been made up, and hopefully the new job will allow me a bit more time to get some more of them sewn up in the next few weeks.

And it’s off to Goldhawk Road again tomorrow for Rachel’s NYLon meet up – I’m sure I’ll see some of you there! Again, I have a very specific list of things to buy, but it’s much shorter this time! One thing I would love to find is some suitable fabric for a Robson coat. After seeing Fiona’s (two!) and Claire’s lovely versions, I am desperate to get this sewn up. I am lacking a decent spring coat – I have thick winter coats, waterproof coats, or short jackets – and Robson will be perfect. I have the pattern, but have yet to find the right fabric.

I think Goldhawk Road is my new favourite fabric shopping location – the choice of shops is brilliant (I think there are about 15 on a short stretch of road), and the prices are great, but so is the quality. While Walthamstow market was super cheap, the quality just didn’t seem to be quite as good. However, I did go there early on in my sewing days, so it could just be that I didn’t really know what I was looking for. Ah, I’ll just have to go back! What I think Walthamstow wins on though, hands down, is notions. I got loads of nice trims when I went there, and zips! Ah, the zips! I got invisible zips there 4 for a £1 for shorter (skirt) zips, 3 for £1 for longer dress zips. Unfortunately I didn’t get enough though, and have had to resort since to buying them elsewhere for £2 each. I must go back at some point and seriously stock up on zips!

I’d better migrate inside now, before my laptop overheats (it’s started whirring quite loudly!), or I get sunburnt (oops, seemingly it’s too late for my stomach!), and get on with the more boring jobs I have to do today, such as sorting out car insurance. Ugh. But I’m looking forward to seeing lots of you tomorrow!

chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Blogger| Freehand cutter


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