I have finally made something really wearable! Hurrah! Allow me to present the 'Coco', a 1960s' style top, from Tilly and the Buttons.
The pattern has a dress or top version, with optional funnel neck and cuffs. It sold me with its '60s style, and simple shape. The sizing is quite modern, more for pear shapes, so I had to learn how to merge some sizes together to get a good fit for my body shape. It worked out okay. As with all multi-size patterns, it's a bit hard sometimes to work out which line, notch, or other marking corresponds to which size. It takes me absolutely ages to trace the pattern, cut out the paper pieces, then pin them to my fabric and cut those out too. I bought the fabric in July, and then months went by... The actual sewing bit was in spurts over about a week. I couldn't do more than a short burst at a time, to preserve my sanity (as will be explained when you read my bit about the cuffs...).
The fabric I chose was perfect for the top. It's beautifully soft, a lovely coral colour, and works well with the pattern. It's a 'Ponte Roma' medium weight knit from Clothspot. It's heavier than jersey, like the tops from upmarket repro brands Vivien of Holloway and House of Foxy.
The nice bits
The fabric was really good to sew with. It's not as stretchy as most jersey fabric, so I didn't have to worry so much about it getting stretched out of shape as I sewed. Because it's a knit fabric, you also just leave the seams raw, no finishing required. Amazing. As for the pattern, the instruction booklet is much more detailed than you'd find with a lot of sewing patterns, and there's further help on the Tilly and the Buttons blog if you get stuck. I wouldn't say it's fool proof though.
The tricky bits
There were a few moments throughout the instruction booklet that had me stumped. For the life of me I couldn't make heads nor tails out of the instructions for the cuffs. I wasted so much time making mistakes (hence this blog post going up two days later than planned...). I had to unpick everything over and over until I wept. I still don't know what some of the instructions meant, even with the extra step-by-step guide on the Tilly and the Buttons blog. I'm utterly baffled by the phrase "Snip a small notch at each end of the fold". Why the notches weren't marked on the pattern in the first place is really odd, why would you leave that as guesswork?! There were also some little tricks that I have learnt from making other things that were not explained at all, like clipping your corners on hems to stop bits poking out the back. So, yes, it's a good pattern overall with reasonably clear instructions, but you still need to have some existing knowledge before attempting it.
Instructions I ignored
I didn't use stretch or ballpoint needles, just regular heavy ones. I tried the ballpoint needles and they gave me skipped stitches, so back I went to my regular needles. I also used the free arm of my machine to sew the cuffs, when all the instructions said not to because you'd over-stretch them. It was fine.
If anyone's under the illusion that making your own clothes is really cheap, I'd like to share my costs. The fabric was £8.50 a metre and I used 1.8 metres. The pattern was £12.50, thread was £1.60 (still some left on the reel). So, we're talking around £30 to make. BUT of course if I use that pattern again, and again, then the cost will go down. And yes, I do intend to make this top again! I might do a dress version.
I'm allowing myself to feel quite pleased with this one!
Linking up with #iwillwearwhatilike