I’m celebrating Tilly‘s Coco Party today with a stripy Breton-inspired Coco top paired with my midi and maxi Miette skirts.
Coco top in organic interlock jersey and maxi Miette skirt in linen by Tilly and the Buttons
Coco top and Maxi Miette skirt by Tilly and the Buttons
Until yesterday evening, I hadn’t done any sewing this week, so Coco was the perfect quick basic pattern to get me back into the swing of things. I sewed the whole thing up apart from the neck and the hems on my overlocker in about an hour.
Coco and John Smedley cardigan
Coco and John Smedley cardigan and scarf
I really like that the blue and red top can be teamed up with both my blue and magenta skirts and each skirt brings out a different colour in the top! So versatile!
Well done Tilly, you’ve produced another great pattern to add to my wardrobe staples.
So it’s the fourth and last week of Project Sewn and what a competition it’s been! The finalists outfits this week are out of this world! I absolutely love the wearability and effortless chic-ness of Alida’s outfit – I want all of it including her fabulous hair! The creative tour-de-force that is Oona just blew me away again – her dress and coat left me speechless! Uber cool! And finally only a statuesque Brazilian beauty such as Rachel could pull off that amazing sculpted dress with all its fasinating design details! How inspiring it’s all been and what a pity it’s about to end!
As in the previous weeks, the general sewing public are invited to get involved by posting a pic of their ‘signature style’, an outfit that reflects their personal style and sewing ability.
This challenge got me thinking about my own personal style and how I express this with my sewing. My sewing skills are still somewhat rudimentary and with two small children to take care of and a dog, I don’t have endless time for sewing. So I definitely prefer sewing simple designs that are comfortable and practical to wear for my active lifestyle, aren’t too taxing and time consuming to make and which I can choose to enhance either with fancy fabrics or with embellishments. My latest make is a prime example of this.
This is the Viviane dress pattern from French independent pattern company, Republique du Chiffon. It’s a simple style that is easy to sew up. It pulls on over the head so there’s no need to worry about zips or buttonholes, it just has a simple loop and button at the back of the neck. You can choose to make either a top or a dress from this pattern, which you buy as a PDF download and print out.
I think this dress has many endearing features such as the elbow length sleeves and the dropped waist but it was the quilted yoke that attracted me to this pattern. I love the scalloped quilting lines and wanted to emphasise them in my dress.
I’m blaming my daughters for the sequins! It’s carnival time here in Germany and I’ve been working on costumes for my girls which involved lots of hand sewing of sequins and well, I got a bit carried away!
I don’t know yet if I’m happy with the result but I don’t really mind because I had a lot of fun trying this out and I enjoy experimenting – nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
Plus that yoke isn’t just decorative, it’s functional too! Oh yes, it’s this dress’s secret weapon, it’s a Trojan horse, if you will. You see this baby is working double duty because it’s stuffed with this:
Wool! – pure and unadulterated complete with bits of straw, fresh from the German organic sheep farm it came from. And boy does this make a difference to the warmth of this dress! It’s toasty! I may have to work a bit of this insulation into all my winter garments!
The dress is fully lined with a viscose lining fabric. I actually treated the top of the dress and the lining as one to sew up because it all got too complicated with the yoke attachment and the sleeves.
If you’re unfamiliar with Republique du Chiffon, then go and check them out, they’ve got some great French chic patterns and have just released a free dress pattern to kick off the launch of their 2014 pattern collection.
For oodles more French inspiration, also stop by the Republique du Chiffon fan blog, where you can see the wonderful creations that have been made by fans of the Republique du Chiffon patterns.
Pattern used – Viviane dress by Republique du Chiffon PDF download. Made in Size 36
Fabricused – Wool suiting, linen for the yoke, organic wool batting for the quilting, viscose lining and sequins – all from stash!
Pattern Difficulty Rating – Easy
Don’t forget to exercise your democratic right and cast your vote for your favourite outfit over at Project Sewn!
Have you added any secret details to any of your hand sewn garments? How would you describe your personal style? What’s the most experimental thing you’ve made? I’d love to hear about it, so please leave a comment below.
It’s the Minikrea Anorak – 30500 pattern that I’ve made before. I used my existing pre-cut child size age four pattern and made the dress version again.
I really like the Minikrea children’s patterns because they’re multi-sized – this one is age four to ten, and the pattern envelopes always include lots of ideas for variations of the pattern including optional extra pattern pieces.
I made the dress up in organic cotton sweatshirt fabric from Lebenskleidung as before but this fabric is their mid-weight sweaterknit so I decided to line the dress with organic cotton rib knit jersey also from Lebenskleidung. The pattern is lined so it was straightforward to follow the instructions to do this. The upside is, the dress is now reversible.
I used my overlocker machine to sew most of the seams and then topstitched with my regular sewing machine and a jersey needle around the hem and hood opening.
My only problem now is that I have to sew another one for my youngest daughter, but this size is still a bit too big on her!
We styled this dress with these lovely tights gifted to us by Collegien and which we are very grateful for! They are really great quality, made from long-fibre Egyptian cotton and they are a really nice thickness – warm and robust but not too thick and bulky and they come in the widest selection of yummy colours you could imagine!
Which finally brings us to The Giveaway!
The Giveaway Lowdown
The lovely folks over at Collegien are offering a lucky reader the chance to choose any one item from the Collegien online shop. (I don’t envy you trying to choose only one item though – everything is so tempting in that shop!)
This pattern hack of the Miette skirt pattern by Tilly and the Buttons, was the result of an online search of Miette pattern reviews and a suggestion by the lovely Oonaballoona on her blog to make the Miette into a maxi. I thought this was a great idea and immediately stole it was inspired to make one myself.
It’s really easy to make this pattern into a maxi. All you have to do is lengthen the bottom of the front and back pattern pieces to your desired final skirt length, being careful to follow the angle of the outer lines of the original pattern and remembering to include a hem allowance. Then construct the skirt as usual and voila, you have a maxi!
I used a really lightweight and fine linen bought from Anita Pavani online shop (http://www.naturstoff.de) in the Italian designer fabrics section, to make mine. It’s really nice to wear and has washed well. I did French seams to join the main skirt pieces.
(BTW – Anita Pavani provide washing care instructions for the fabrics they sell and they recommend not spinning linen in the washing machine when you wash it, you should hang it and allow it to drip dry instead.)
I partially lined my maxi-skirt with more of the organic cotton batiste that I bought at http://www.lebenskleidung.com, that has served me so well as a lining for all of my summer makes this year. The batiste is really lightweight so it hardly added to the weight of the skirt at all but just gave me enough coverage and confidence to step out in bright sunlight, safe in the knowledge that my undies weren’t on show! I didn’t line the overlap piece at the back because it wasn’t necessary.
I made another Wiksten tank top in a Liberty Art Fabrics cotton print to go with this skirt, which I wore on this day-trip to Venice, Italy during our summer holiday this year. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it in Venice because by the time we’d reached the city from where we were staying, I’d already put my jumper on over the top of it, so here it is on my dress-form Beatrice.
BTW – If you’re planning to visit Venice, I would suggest getting to the Rialto bridge in time to catch the sun setting over the Grand Canal – the view is spectacular!
It gets a bit jammed with tourists though! You wouldn’t believe how many people I had to elbow in the face to get a bit of clearance for this photo!
Of course I’m exaggerating – it wasn’t that many!!
Anyway back to the Miette maxi skirt. It was comfortable and practical to wear for a day’s sightseeing around the quaint little streets of Venice.
Hanging with my kids in Venice
The skirt performed well under pressure, even under the harshest of test conditions, such as when I was hurling my toddler over the bridge into the canal for misbehaving! The back flap of the wrap didn’t budge all day, successfully avoiding any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions!
No wardrobe malfunctions of the back wrapover flap.
Again, only joking of course – MY kids don’t misbehave!!
All in all, Tilly and the Buttons has created a very versatile skirt pattern and I love it!
As I write this, Tilly’s busy finishing off her first book for sewing beginners which is due out next spring. I can only imagine how good that’ll be! I wish her lots of luck with it and I’m sure it’ll be a huge success!
More YoSaMi news – don’t forget to stay tuned for the giveaway soon, it really is worth waiting for! You could win your very own pair of these delightful Collegien slipper socks!
Also, I’ve finally finished my red silk Anna dress by By Hand London after what feels like f-o-r-e-v-e-r! I’ll be posting it as soon as I’ve had a chance to photograph it!!
After seeing several striking versions of this wrap skirt on sewing blogs including the wonderfully colourful version by www.lladybird.com, I succumbed to ordering the Megan Nielsen Cascade skirt pattern.
Megan Nielsen is an independent fashion designer who has branched out into selling garment sewing patterns for home sewists. This is the first of her patterns that I’ve tried and so far I’m really impressed.
The Cascade Skirt is described by the designer as a ‘full wrap skirt with a graduated hem and attractive cascades along the hemline.’ It’s aimed at novice sewers and is perfect for every day but also dramatic enough for special occasion wear.
The pattern itself is well packaged in a bulging envelope with a velcro closure, which includes an instruction booklet and a multi-sized pattern made from sturdy paper. The instruction booklet is really comprehensive and covers everything you need to make the skirt from the recommended fabrics and tips for their pre-sewing preparation to cutting layouts and sewing directions including how to make a lining if using a very sheer fabric. There are also suggestions for how you could customise the skirt by altering its length and adding layers.
At the end there’s space to sketch out your own ideas and record all the details of your make in a pattern log, such as the fabric used, size, modifications etc. This is really useful and a thoughtful addition for people with sieve-like memories like me!
I decided to make the version with the front tie and found this cotton/silk blend batiste in the Italian designer section of Anita Pavani Stoffe online shop www.naturstoff.de. The pattern suggests lightweight fabrics with lots of drape so I thought this colourful batiste was perfect for this pattern, with the added bonus that it is machine-washable – a definite must for me especially as I’m around little kiddies all day!
The fabric was a dream to sew but in full sunlight it’s quite sheer – as you can see in the above photo but I decided against a lining because I wanted to retain the fabric’s floaty nature and with the cotton content you can’t really see completely through it so I’m not being too indecent!
The main body of the skirt was super quick to make – it only has four pattern pieces and is really straightforward, with only two seams to sew. I did French seams as recommended in the pattern.
My one sticking point with this skirt was the narrow hem which I really struggled with at first. The sewing instructions explain how to make one but I have a narrow hem foot so it should have been simple for me – right?!
I’ve had two babies and many sleepless nights since I last used my narrow hem foot and I find that lots of things pre-babies have just been erased from my memory! It’s as though I had a mental re-boot when I gave birth so that I could become a mindless nappy changing, bottom wiping and feeding machine. Has anyone else experienced this? Anyway unfortunately the knowledge of how to use my narrow hem foot appears to have been one of the things that ended up in the trash bin of my brain!
I turned to my trusted friend Google and found ‘BrianSews Hemming Foot Tutorial’ on YouTube which was the perfect remedy. What set this online tutorial apart from the others that I came across was that it was long enough to get the full gist of what I needed to do and also showed how to do a narrow hem using the specialist foot on a curved edge which is what makes hemming this skirt tricky.
After watching this, I realised that I’d had too high expectations of my little gadget and had expected the foot to do the hem all by itself and I didn’t appreciate how much continuous manual manipulation of the fabric was required from me to correctly feed the fabric into the foot. As I pushed the fabric through the foot it kept popping out again and refused to roll over. Once I’d figured out why this was happening, hemming became a lot easier.
The key to a successful rolled hem seems to be taking care to keep the width of the fabric being fed into the gap in the narrow hem foot roughly the same width as the gap. When it’s narrower the fabric tends to pop out of the foot and enough fabric doesn’t feed in for it to be able to roll over itself as it should. Once I’d practiced a bit, it worked a treat – well almost, the finished hem isn’t perfect but it’ll do for a first attempt.
Overall I’m happy with the final result and it was a light and breezy skirt to wear when it was baking hot here this summer. I would like to make another version with a level hem but that’ll have to wait its turn in the sewing queue.
To wrap this wrap review up, I’ll leave you with this photo of me and my dog – don’t you think that it looks like we’re about to be abducted by an alien spaceship!