Going loco for Coco

Hello from Seattle! After weeks of packing, storing, tipping and charity shopping, Chris and I have finally left the UK for the US. I arrived on Sunday afternoon (Chris has been here a week longer), and I’m a little jet lagged, but otherwise happy to be here. I haven’t done a great deal yet, but I have managed to set up a bank account, made a trip to the supermarket and tried out the local buses. I’m still without a sewing machine but in the meantime I’ve got an embroidery project on the go to scratch my creative itch. More on that another time…

Anyway, what with moving continents and everything, I’ve got a little bit of a backlog of finished garments to share. Before we had our visas approved I had quite a productive January, and one of the results of that was a new Coco dress.

Coco dress front

So Boden. I should be pushing a pram around Clapham or something…

I’d had this red and white stripy interlock jersey in my stash for too long, mainly because I’m a bit scared of knits (worried that they’ll stretch blah blah blah). As you may remember I’m not at my happiest when sewing knits, but I wanted to give it another go, this time with the Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress. Holding the pattern pieces up to my shoulders showed me that the dress version would be a bit too short for my liking so I had to add a couple of inches to make it sit on the knee. I also graded it out so it would fit my hips nicely. Turns out I needn’t have bothered – I ended up taking it in a fair bit from hip to hem as it just seemed that there was too much fabric in the skirt.

Taking it in did the trick fit-wise, but it did knock my stripe-matching off a bit. I’d done everything to make those stripes match up – cut the pieces on a single layer, pinned them to within an inch of their life, etc – but now they’re ever-so-slightly off. No matter though; it’s not enough for anyone to notice.

Coco dress side

Prob not the best pic for looking at the stripe matching, but they are just off down the side seams.

Despite my fears, I’m happy to report that this dress came together really easily. I used a zigzag stitch for the seams, but finished the neckline and hems with a twin needle as I think it looks more professional than using zigzag throughout as recommended.

Coco dress neckline

The dress is great, if a little Boden catalogue. It’s done me proud at work and I’ve had some lovely comments from people. The fabric is super-soft and snuggly, and the fit is loose enough to feel comfortable, even after a big dinner. It’s a quick make too – a morning’s work – so there may well be more on the horizon. Once I get a machine.

Coco dress back

Hmmm… Potential swayback issues?

 

Crazy in the Coco-nut

At the risk of turning into something of a fangirl, I’m going to talk about another Tilly and the Buttons pattern today. Sometimes it feels like I’m sewing through her entire back catalogue, but I don’t care. She makes gorgeous patterns that I want to wear and I’m not ashamed to say that I love them. LOVE THEM.

Part of my Me Made May pledge was to finish my Moneta dress that has been sitting, cut out, but not sewn for about a year now. Well, I still haven’t done anything with it, but I will soon! I lost my confidence a bit with knits – my first Moneta was a traumatic experience (once again, down to fabric choice) and my experiments with scraps of fabric left me convinced that I couldn’t work out the correct tension and that any further effort on the dress would lead to tears. So after a year’s procrastination, I told myself I had to suck it up and get on with things. But maybe not on the Moneta just yet… The Coco top seemed like a good introduction to knits – quick, simple, wearable, and accompanied Tilly’s top notch instructions to hold my hand.

No photos of my ugly mug today. My photographer is still abroad, so Elsie the dress form will have to do.

No photos of my ugly mug today. My photographer is still abroad, so Elsie the dress form will have to do.

This time, I paid attention to the type of fabric required by the pattern. I used some stripy interlock stuff, dreaming of a Breton top perfect for zipping round town like some sort of Northern Jean Seberg or something. I’m not sure I quite achieve the look, and the stripes are too close together for ultimate Breton-ness but this stuff is really soft to the touch and a delight to sew with. I cut a size four, grading out to a six at the hips and went on my way.

For my first go at the Coco I thought I would follow the instructions to the letter and sew the entire thing on my sewing machine, rather than the overlocker. I’ll have a bit of a play with my scraps to see how things turn out overlocking everything, but this time I wanted to see how things turned out on a standard machine.

I stabilised the shoulders with some clear elastic and came to the conclusion that I still hate it. It doesn’t behave nicely, and I ended up mangling one corner of the shoulder seams in my machine’s feed dogs as a result. It was OK though; the mangling was within the seam allowance so wouldn’t be visible and I managed to unpick it and start again. Next time though, I think I’ll try ribbon or stay tape or just something a bit nicer to work with. I used Wundaweb to stick down the neckline before turning and topstitching. I fared a bit better with this stuff. It worked a treat! The Moneta has a turned and topstitched neckline, but recommends stabilising with clear elastic. I might just swap in some Wundaweb instead…

The rest of the top came together really quickly and easily. To be fair, I was making the simplest version, with no fancy neckline or cuffs, but even taking things really, really slowly, I still managed to make it in about 3.5 hours, and that includes trying it on, stabbing myself with some pins and a few swears!

I’m really happy with it as a first attempt. I can say, without hesitation, that everything people say about knit garments is true – they DO feel like you’re wearing pyjamas! And I love my PJs, so that’s a true compliment in my book. That said though, there are a few things I’d do differently next time.

 

  • Be a bit more careful with cutting out. I pinned the pattern to the fabric, and with hindsight, that was perhaps a mistake. It looks like the pins have distorted the fabric and pulled it slightly off grain. You can see it most obviously on the neckline and hems where the stripes don’t quite match up with the folds. It’s not enough to put me off wearing it, but it is a lesson learned. Perhaps I should have made my first in a solid colour, but then again I probably wouldn’t have spotted anything amiss.
  • Use a twin needle to finish the neckline and hems. The zigzag stitch is fine, but I think the twin needle would produce a more professional looking finish.
  • Maaaayyybbbeee take about an inch off the length. This is saying something for me as I’m quite long in the body, but the top is a little longer than I’d usually have. This is no biggie – just something to remember for the next one.

So all in all, I might just have been cured of my knitophobia. I am off to take my new top off my dress form and revel in its comfort while enjoying the rest of the Antiques Roadshow.

Neckline - I reckon a twin needle would produce a more professional look, though you could make a feature out of the zigzag with different coloured thread.

Neckline – I reckon a twin needle would produce a more professional look, though you could make a feature out of the zigzag with different coloured thread.

 

Close up on the side split and a stripe matching fail :-)

Close up on the side split and a stripe matching fail 🙂