Saturday, 15 March 2014

My First Coco

After my success with Kitschy Coo's Skater Dress pattern this week, I have been itching to get started on my Coco pattern, from Tilly and the Buttons. It finally arrived in the post yesterday morning.

I was so ridiculously excited! All I wanted to do was drop everything and get cutting, but family life got in the way and frustratingly, all I managed was a read-through of the pattern booklet once the girls were in bed.

This morning, we were planning a trip to the cinema, for the kids screening (£1 per ticket if you are registered with cineworld - a total bargain!) of Moshi Monsters. Well, you can imagine how excited I was to see the movie(!), but even so, what I really wanted to do was get sewing. So, my lovely, long-suffering husband volunteered to take the girls on his own, so that I could have a whole, uninterrupted, 3 hours sewing time! Would this be enough to get my Coco done?

I was feeling confident and hopeful after Janet's success and high praise of the pattern, so I set myself the challenge of wearing my Coco when the rest of the family returned.

I was a bit slow to start, as I ummed and ahhed about whether to cut the pattern pieces out, or trace them first, to keep the pattern in tact for future use. I eventually decided (partly because I couldn't find enough paper!!) that since I was making the largest size, it wouldn't harm to cut it out now. I can always trim it down, size by size, if I ever manage to get back down to my 'normal' size!

I am so lucky to have an island unit in my kitchen, that makes cutting patterns out really easy, as I've got room to lay them out flat. Since it's granite, I can iron the fabric out right there too, so it's all ready to cut.

I decided I should lengthen the pattern a bit. I'm 5'10, so most clothing comes up a bit short. No problem, lovely Tilly has excellent instructions on her blog on how to do everything, so I added a couple of inches to the length quite easily.

After watching the Great British Sewing Bee, and seeing how much attention Patrick and May pay to the fabric pattern matching up, I took care to make sure I had a straight line of spots right down the centre of both pieces. I also tried as much as I could to match the pattern at the sides, but I'm not sure I did a great job of this.

Rather than cutting notches, as Tilly suggests, I used an air-erasable pen to transfer the marks. I also marked the front and back pieces, just to be doubly sure I didn't make any mistakes!

Then, pattern all cut out, I headed off to my little sewing station. I am so excited about this little corner! Honestly, the things that get me excited these days. My 20-year old self would be shaking her head in shame! Anyway, this spot only came into being last night, when, fed up of moving my sewing from room to room, I asked Joe to fetch this little table out of the rafters of our garage. It's just the right size to sit in the bay window of our study/dining room, so that I can leave projects 'in progress' rather than have to keep putting them away so that the girls don't get to them. As a bonus, I am now looking out on our street, and beyond to the lake. Or I will be, when Joe's at work, so his car isn't spoiling my view!

Like the Skater Dress, the Coco pattern is written for using a normal sewing machine (rather than a serger/overlocker), although you could use one of those if you have one. The only adjustment I made, to sew with knits, was to change my needle to a stretch/ballpoint needle. I then used the narrow zigzag stitch on all stretchy seams (the horizontal ones) and a straight stitch for the vertical seams. Tilly tells you which is which anyway.

Once I got sewing, the dress came together really quickly and easily. In fact, I was just about wearing it as Joe and the girls arrived home, after 3 hours. Albeit, it was waiting for the addition of cuffs at the sleeves, and a bottom hem. If I hadn't been dilly dallying at the beginning, cutting and lengthening the pattern etc, I reckon I'd have got it all done within the 3 hours.

So here it is, at the 3 hour point. I have since added cuffs in the smaller spot fabric that I used for the girls' dresses, and hemmed the bottom. I considered adding pockets, also in the smaller spot, but they didn't quite look right. I think I'll save that for the next one, which will be coming very soon.

So, the verdict? I absolutely love this dress! I would be loving it if I'd bought it, but it's such a nice feeling to know that I made it myself. It cost me about £10 in materials (fabric, thread and a tiny bit of ribbon) plus the pattern, which I will use again countless times, I am sure, and I had 3-4 hours of peaceful stitching time while I did it. So quite a bargain I think! If you're a sewer, you should give it a go. You won't be disappointed.