Joining the Coco Brigade!

Hallelujah, I made a Coco!

Coco dress in blue ponte roma

For those of you living under a rock (or, those who don’t sew/blog nowadays…) the Coco is a knit dress pattern by Tilly Walnes AKA Tilly and the Buttons.

I chose a cheap ponte roma from eBay and can’t get over how comfy it is. I have to check that I’m not actually wearing my pyjamas!

I finally understand what all the fuss is about these Cocos. It really was a quick and easy sew!

It would have been quicker if I sewed both sleeves on properly. Instead I decided to sew right to wrong sides…coco dress gone wrong...

NEVER SEW WHEN TIRED!! I called it a night after that.

The next day I quickly unpicked it and sewed it on the right way round. I stitched down the sides, hemmed it – with a cute zigzag which is not quite the right shade of blue but never mind…

Coco dress sleeve

… and ta-dah! It was done! The quickest dress ever.

Coco dress in blue ponte roma 2

Can you spot the little extra I added to the shoulders?

These are what I bought a couple of weeks ago in a bundle of vintage buttons:

vintage buttons

And I had a sudden lightbulb moment when I realised they’d be ideal to add a bit of something to an otherwise quite ordinary dress.

I stitched 3 on each shoulder, and I’m pretty happy with them. They stick up quite a bit, but I think that’s OK. My youngest daughter likes playing with them!

Coco dress with vintage buttons

I’m pretty damn impressed with how flat the neckline sits, seeing as it was my first attempt at the Coco. And I’ve seen others with wavy necklines, so that feels gooood 😀 No offence intended to anyone with wavy necklines! The fabric was just so nice to sew!

Coco dress in blue ponte roma  4

I have more of this lovely ponte roma so I am definitely knocking another Coco up ASAP. I added a little length of ribbon like a tag because it’s not obvious which is the front and the back unless you hold it up to check out the scoop of the neckline.

Sew happy coco

The reason it’s not obvious which is front or back is because I didn’t add any pockets. My reason? I wanted a quick sew! Next time I will put some pockets on. 🙂

I love the long sleeves. I added another inch or so to the length of them to make them extra long. This is personal preference, and what I love about sewing. You can make it how you want it!

Coco dress in blue ponte roma   3

I’m debating whether or not it’s too big. It is big… I measured a size 3 but really, I think I could cut a size 2. Or even smaller come to think of it. But I’m not sure if it’s TOO big. I quite like the cosiness of it. So I might just leave it as it is… I would hate to make it too tight!

One thing’s for sure though – I love the pattern and Tilly’s instructions are amazing, and I love love love the colour!

So that’s another goal ticked off my 2015 sewing goals list 🙂 I should get started on that quilt I aim to make this year…

Beth x

Elmer the Elephant Outfit ~ World Book Day 2015

This year, World Book Day was so much fun. For the past couple of years my daughter has dressed up in shop-bought costumes – I think she’s been a fairy and Snow White. They weren’t the most imaginative costumes ever, but she was happy enough. This year was different.

On the 1st of January I made some sewing goals; one of them was to actually make a costume for WBD.

Now, a couple of weeks ago I asked my daughter what her favourite book is. She replied with “Cinderella.” Hmm. That could be true; we are looking forward to seeing the new film in the cinema soon. But, like Snow White and fairies, it’s not very original. She has a nice Cinderella dress in her dressing-up box. I guess I could have made her an outfit for another character from the story, but I had a different idea…

Elmer. Elmer book[Image pinched from Google Images!]

I’ve not met a child who doesn’t like Elmer. Did you know it was originally published in 1968? And there are now nearly 30 spin-offs!

Elmer is a colourful patchwork elephant. He is the joker in the herd, but he wants to blend in with the other elephants. However he comes to realise that his colours are what makes him him, and that his friends love him in spite of his difference in appearance. It’s a sweet tale; I’m not sure that my eldest ‘gets’ the underlying message, but she enjoys the colourful pictures and humour.

So, I made an Elmer costume – here she is!

Elmer Dressing Up Outfit for World Book Day

Are you thinking ‘OH MY GOODNESS HOW CUTE!!’??!

I LOVE it, and luckily so does my daughter. She was so excited to wear it. And didn’t seem self-conscious at all… I’m not sure I would pull off that trunk!

So, how did I make it? I totally made it up as I went along.

I wanted some kind of dress, but I just dove in and started sewing together squares to make a big piece of patchwork fabric. I just guessed about the size – I kept going until I had a feeling that I had made enough!! I thought I could make a tabard sort of thing – a piece for the back, a piece for the front, and two tabs at the sides holding it together, but…. I should have bought a Lotto ticket that day because I made just the right amount of pieces to make a rectangular shape that could be turned into a tube and wrapped around my daughter. I did just that and thought – aha! Pillowcase dress!

So I sewed the sides together and cut curves out of the edges to make armholes. I totally winged it; I didn’t use a pattern, but luckily I cut them about the right size!

Elmer the Elephant dress in construction

That’s the only in-progress photo I have – I was far too busy to stop to take any more!

I sewed some bias binding round the armholes, and made casings at the front and back for a strip of ribbon to run through. I hemmed it, and it was finished!

Elmer Dressing Up Outfit for World Book Day

The construction of the actual dress was really straightforward – it was the piecing of all those squares that took forever. I did have a little helper who was passing the squares to me to sew. I also had a little monster who kept walking aimlessly through the carefully laid out pieces on the floor…

I was very aware that I was making it for one day’s wear so didn’t stress about matching the squares exactly – which was just as well, really. Also I didn’t finish any of the seams, so I’m glad it came home from school clean as it’ll probably fall apart in the wash!

The night before dress-up day I realised that the elephant dress was missing a vital part – a tail! So I grabbed  a strip of fabric (a red piece just the right kind of size was at the top of the bag!) and folded, sewed and knotted to make a cute little tail. I unpicked a hole at the back of the dress and stuffed neatly sewed it in.

Elmer the Elephant tail

That’s better!

Elmer Dressing Up Outfit for World Book Day

Next up: ears. This was a job for my glue gun. I literally glued squares of felt on to both sides of pieces of card that I had cut into big ear shapes. I also glued tabs in loops on to the card, wrapping them around a hairband. I finished by handsewing some little stitches on the tabs to tighten their grip on the hairband.

Elmer Dressing Up Outfit for World Book Day

The ears are big and floppy – a bit heavy, perhaps; my daughter didn’t wear them all day, but I couldn’t make a funky elephant costume with small ears!

Elmer ears

And finally – the trunk. Made out of a kitchen roll tube, of course! At this point, I’d had enough of cutting fabric squares out. So I got the kids’ felt tips and did some colouring in! I cut a curve at the top for nose space; it tilts down a little instead of sticking straight out like Pinocchio’s nose!

Elmer Costume - Trunk

My colouring is quite shameful but in my defence the pens were running out!

I punched a couple of holes, tied some elastic on and that was that…

Elmer Dressing Up Outfit for World Book Day

The costume was complete!

The icing on the cake was the fact that my girls got a free Elmer book with the £1 voucher.

If you didn’t know about Elmer before – you do now! 🙂

Beth x

Jeans to Girl’s Dungarees Refashion

I’m sooo excited about this make. I have to say that I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now.

I made my 5 1/2 year old some dungarees; she’s been pestering me for some ever since I made her little sister some last year.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

If you have been reading my blog for a while you might remember that I made my last dungarees with the help of Made by Toya’s fantastic free pattern. Well the pattern is for a 2 year old, and I wanted one for a 5 year old. So, I had to use my noodle this time round. I didn’t even bother looking for another ready-made pattern, which in hindsight was rather odd.

My motivation to get them made this month was my recent joining of The Monthly Stitch. If you’re not aware of this, it’s basically a collective of sewists who can join in with monthly challenges related to sewing. And you can dip in and out as you wish so I joined in December and will partake in any challenges that I fancy! Hopefully it will keep me sewing and push me further into experienced-seamstress-land.

January’s challenge was ‘Denim Never Dies.’ I imagine the name was borne from the fact that denim never goes out of fashion, but I took another approach to the ‘never dies’ part of the name in that I used recycled denim.

I started with this:

jeans to upcycle

And had a lot of fun chopping them up into this:

chopped up jeans

[In case you’re curious, here’s the tutorial that I used for cutting them up so that I got as much fabric as possible out of them. I was only left with a few scraps.]

So next I thought about how to go about creating dungarees to fit my daughter. Luckily my daughter has a dungaree-dress that fits so I basically copied the bodice, adding on a seam allowance. I drew quite a generous seam allowance so that I could make it smaller if I needed too! I took a risk here because I went straight ahead and cut out the denim. I guess because it was free I didn’t panic about wasting it. Or maybe I have a lot of faith in myself?!

making dungarees

I took out Made by Toya’s dungarees pattern and measured the clothes up against it. As you can see below, my daughter’s jeans are not much bigger than the pattern for a 2-year-old(!) so that helped a lot.

RTW jeans

First, I made the bodice. I had to cut the pieces in two halves rather than a whole because of the small amount of fabric I had. But I think the seam running down the centre isn’t too noticeable.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

The first thing I did was to decorate the bodice pocket. You may have seen the sneak peek I showed on my Sunday Sevens post last week! I embroidered a Hello Kitty face using a simple chain stitch. And it’s not perfect – her face should be more squashed than circular – but I’m pretty darn proud of it!

Hello Kitty Embroidery

So that went on the front pocket of the bodice. That pocket was one of the most irritating parts of the whole project because I attempted the topstitching along the top edge three times to get it accurate! And then found that the denim had stretched so the pocket is not as square as it should be… I hope it’s not too noticeable.

I’m happy with the back bodice, which all lined up pretty damn perfectly even if I do say so myself. You can’t really see but the centre seam is spot on running into the ‘v’!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I used a hot pink thread instead of a blue that would have been more forgiving for wonky stitching for two reasons: 1) There was a bonus ‘pink’ challenge on The Monthly Stitch so I thought I would incorporate some pink (hence also the pink linings), and 2) it makes it that bit more unique!

I had a moment of sheer genius-ness when I thought I could use the belt loops on the jeans to create the loops for the straps to go through (I wanted to copy the dress’s straps that I was using for reference/measuring).

Girls dungarees

I love how that part turned out. The straps slip through the loops, fold over and fasten with a purple heart button. The buttons don’t match, but hey-ho, I was using what I already have.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I then sewed up the bodice as per Toya’s dungaree pattern. All went swimmingly, I am very proud to report!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

Finally I got started on the trousers section. I totally made this up as I went along because I made them differently to how you usually make basic trousers. I had to cut up another pair of jeans (incidentally although they’re too short for me they’re one of my favourite pairs; this was the ultimate sacrifice!)

Jeans to refashion into dungarees

Yes, I did only start the trousers once the bodice was finished; a risky move because I wasn’t sure if I could even find some matching denim… but I was getting excited!! Luckily the denim is a pretty good match.

I literally chopped off the legs and kept them as they were – I just cut curves into the crotch to make that, and unpicked some of the seam on each side to fit the pockets in. The jeans were bootcut so rather flared on a five-year-old, so I narrowed one of the seams on each leg; but I kept the thick seam and the hems!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I flipped the legs around so that the part that’s more faded and worn from my knees is at the back – and it doesn’t look bad at all.

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

My daughter loves the front pockets as they are apparently bigger than normal ones! I cut them (and also the lining for the bodice front pocket) in a Hello Kitty fabric I had lying around. I love that I could make an item of clothing so uniquely tailored to my daughter’s taste! I don’t know what happened to the length of the pocket, by the way, but it was all OK in the end!

Little girls Hello Kitty dungarees

The lining for the front pockets, back pockets and bodice is a pink spotty “fabric” that was a duvet cover. So this really is an upcycled garment!

Because I made the trousers a funny way (keeping that seam and hems) it did take me quite some time to get them sewn up… the main annoyance was the back pockets. They’re still not straight now, which bugs me – it really shows up in the photo below – but to be honest I’d had enough of the stretchy denim!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

As you can see, I also did some embroidery on these pockets – Hello Kitty’s bow and initials. I am aware that the K is a bit wonky; I should have taken more time over it to be honest. I was impressed with my youngest daughter who said ‘Hello Kitty’ when I was halfway through the bow! Bless her, she has excellent observation skills. She’s only 2; she clearly has an older sister with Hello Kitty everything!

All that was left to do once I’d got the trousers stitched right(ish) was to attach it to the bodice. I have to say I’m pretty impressed with my seam matching considering the denim is stretchy!

I slipstitched the bodice lining in place to cover the messy seam – this is probably my favourite part of the whole garment!!

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

I literally finished these at 10:30 last night – with today, the last day of January and the Denim Never Dies Challenge deadline, left to take photos and put up this post!

Sorry that was loooong but there was a lot to say!! Well done for getting to the end – and thanks! 🙂

Upcycle jeans to girl's dungarees! @AfterDarkSewing

Bring on the next challenge, I say – which is ‘solid colours’ if you’re curious…

Beth x