My First Coco Dress

I've had my eye on the Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress for a while now. I've actually owned the pattern and the fabric for a shameful eight whole months! Why on earth has it taken me so long to actually make it?

I'd love to be that person who has a wardrobe full of clothes that are all handmade by me. If I'm honest, for a while I've struggled to find patterns I actually like. The more commercial patterns tend to not be my style at all. A few years ago, I decided that I was going to have a bash at an a-line skirt that I'd seen on the Sewing Bee. Long story short, it looked awful. I didn't even finish it completely as it looked that bad.

The patterns from Tilly and the Buttons gave me hope, these were clothes that I would buy in a shop. But then came the next issue, was I able to actually make them? I purchased the Coco pattern after being assured by Tilly herself at The Handmade Fair that I would be able to do it, no I wouldn't need an overlocker, and that her instructions would be easy to follow. She was right on all three accounts.

I wanted to start off fairly easy with my Coco, no tricky pattern matching, so picked a lovely thick navy jersey from The Fabric Godmother (also purchased at The Handmade Fair). It has a subtle diamond pattern that gives enough interest without being obvious enough to actively pattern match.

The pattern itself is really straightforward, a front, a back, and two sleeves. There are a number of different variations, top or dress, long sleeves or three quarter length, and optional extras such as cuffs, patch pockets, and a funnel neck. I kept it fairly simple, a dress, with three quarter sleeves, and cuffs.

I anticipate that this may be a pattern I use a lot, so saved the lovely paper pattern and traced it onto some Swedish Tracing Paper. This does add some extra time, but means I can use the pattern for years to come. One thing I love about the Tilly Patterns is that they are printed on thick white paper, and not the annoying tissue that tears really easily! I then used my rotary cutter to cut out my fabric, which was really easy. As I still haven't got round to buying proper pattern weights, tins of chickpeas did the job nicely.

On to the construction. This was easy enough, apart from a few silly errors on my part. My lovely 'easy' fabric, is actually pretty similar on both sides, and twice I accidentally sewed the wrong side to a right side. My biggest fear was the sleeves and neckline. The neckline is insanely easy, no tricky facings. The sleeves were a bit more tricky, but time spent lining up the notches meant that they went in first time.

Once the sleeves were in, the final construction was really simple. Excluding time spent unpicking, I could easily make this in a morning. Tilly's instructions are so easy to understand, and the pictures are really useful.

My top tips:

  • Read all of the instruction booklet before you begin. Tilly provides some really invaluable tips of her own.
  • When stay stitching the collar at the beginning, take your time to ensure that the seam allowance is the same all the way around, this made hemming the collar so much easier.
  • Be as light handed as possible with your fabric, resist the urge to stretch!
  • Take the time to do it right, prewash your fabric and use the right needles!

Making this has definitely given me the sewing bug! I'm now on the hunt for some more jersey for my next one.

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