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?

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!)

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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Eh? What’s going on?!

 

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13 Responses to “Finished: Do the Coco-motion”

  1. seamsoddlouise September 2, 2014 at 18:54 #

    I didn’t buy Coco when it first came out. I was a little put off by the fact that it was everywhere! But I have it now and its cut out ready to go. Great job on yours, so glad you got it finished in time for your party.

    • Kelly September 16, 2014 at 13:08 #

      I absolutely love mine now that I’ve got it – I have to resist the urge to wear it every day! Hope yours turns out well :)

  2. Hila September 2, 2014 at 20:16 #

    You look lovely! I get what you mean about the size, I basically ended up with 2 sizes down in order to get a less roomy feel. Once I sorted that out I loved it and have made and blogged my second which I am very happy with. Also love how you teamed it up with the tights ;-)

    • Kelly September 16, 2014 at 13:13 #

      Yeah, looser fit just doesn’t work for me! But as long as I can see past that in a pattern and work out which ones will work if taken in then I can make it work for me :) I thought the gray tights worked well, so thanks! Unfortunately I don’t have enough gray ones, need to get some more! I love your cocos, especially the crochet details on your second one!

      • Hila September 16, 2014 at 14:07 #

        Thanks!

  3. Ruth September 3, 2014 at 19:39 #

    I was exactly the same as you when Coco first came out, but I realised recently that one of my RTW dresses that I wear all the time is practically the same shape so I’ve now got the pattern and am waiting for my fabric to arrive! Love your version!

    • Kelly September 16, 2014 at 13:14 #

      Thanks Ruth! I do love it, have worn it to work multiple days in a row…really must make another one!

  4. Claire (iwanttobeaturtle) September 4, 2014 at 06:53 #

    It’s always great when you can make a pattern work for you. With a few alterations you can definitely pull off the looser style. Thanks for the link to the shop in Sheffield – I’ll pop in next time I’m there.

    • Kelly September 16, 2014 at 13:14 #

      Thanks Claire! Yes, it’s just a case of identifying which patterns can be made to work! Definitely go when you’re next there!

  5. ellebougies September 4, 2014 at 22:48 #

    It’s lovely! I’m so flattered to have inspired it. :)

    • Kelly September 16, 2014 at 13:16 #

      Thank you! And thank you for your inspiration one, I probably wouldn’t have tried it otherwise! Might have try a sleeveless one like yours as well, maybe for layering over long sleeves in the winter!

  6. Lucy September 10, 2014 at 15:08 #

    It looks lovely, really suits you! The colours are a cute combo :)
    I’m with you on the ordering knits online, the first time I tried I definitely didn’t get what I was expecting! One of the three that came was still usable but the other two are fit for nothing. I would love to stumble across a blog post out there somewhere that demystifies online fabric shopping, Lincoln is very limited in what it has and feeling confident to buy online would be much better!

    • Kelly September 16, 2014 at 13:18 #

      Yeah, it is an absolute pain! Most online shops don’t seem to list the details of their knits – 2-way vs 4-way stretch, and what % stretch, which does my head in, ad I don’t always trust that they all mean the same thing when they use the same terms! Hoping that as I sew more, I’ll get better at figuring it out and identifying what I need!

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