How do you approach your makes? Where do you get your inspiration?
I love being on Instagram and seeing wonderful garments by some amazing makers. I love following the various pattern releases and ogling fabric online. More recently I’ve gone back to pinterest in my search for garments I want to make. I’ve enjoyed pinning ideas and then going to my fabric and pattern stash and dreaming up hacks.
I’ve had this piece of fabric in my stash for a couple of years now. I bought it with the intention of making a pair of Tilly and the Buttons Jessa trousers. The rust colour and the thick polyester were giving me 70s vibes which would be perfect for the Jessas. But I kept stalling because I wondered if I would find a pair of polyester trousers a bit uncomfortable, and, if I’m honest, a bit sweaty.
I’m glad I stalled because that gave me a chance back in September when there was a sewing vintage challenge on Instagram, to stumble across this:
These amazing ladies are the famous Mary Quant models, 50 years on, celebrating Quant’s 90th birthday. I love their mini dresses, the buttons and the patch pockets especially. I liked the idea of a collar but preferred a peter pan collar. So now I knew what to do with the fabric, all I needed was a pattern I could hack.
I decided on the Coco dress by Tilly and the Buttons, a tried, tested and true pattern for me. My fabric had a little bit of stretch but not as much as the Coco pattern was designed for so I knew I would need to insert a zip so I could get in and out if it easily. I was intending to make a faux placket for speed.
I measured the button placket to come to just under my bust and made it from two rectangles stitched together and then turned right side out. I love these big black buttons I got from Dalston Mill. The Peter Pan collar was a bit of a fudge. I measued the neckline and shaped the pattern piece using such technical equipment as a plate, because I couldn’t find my curved ruler! If you have a peter pan collar from another pattern, that would make life easier. The collar is in 2 pieces which I made slightly too long so they over lap at the back, and at the moment I’m calling it a design feature! I’ll probably go back to it at some point and correct it.
When I make a Tilly pattern, I usually cut a size 4 bodice and grade to a 5 at the hips (12-14). But because my fabric wasn’t stretchy enough, I thought I should scale up so I cut a size 6- no I don’t toile, I like living on the edge!
I cut the back as 2 pieces because I was adding a zip. I do not have an invisible zip foot for my new machine so I inserted the zip with a normal zipper foot. My machine has several needle positions which was very useful here so that I could get really close to the teeth and sew a nearly perfect invisible zip. After I sewed it, I realised I could have used my old machine, which has an invisible zipper foot- oh well!
When I tried the dress on, there was too much bunching at the back for my liking so I added darts on either side of the zip. I should have cut a size 5 bodice and graded out to a 6 at the hips. The other adjustment I make on Tilly patterns is to add about an inch and a half to the skirt length.
I really love the way this dress has turned out. The Coco dress is just my style of dress. I love the simple lines, the flattering waist, the 3/4 length sleeves and it’s the right length for looking great with tights and boots. I added large hip patch pockets, borrowed from another pattern, which add to the overall fabulousness of this dress, in my humble opinion!
Following on from my previous two posts, this dress was a frugal make, no new fabric or pattern was bought. It boosted my making skills as I drafted pattern pieces and added darts and learned a bit more about adjusting to fit. It has also given me great joy! I love this vintage look! And the colour is amazing and screams Autumn.
If you’re a Tilly lover and you don’t want to go through all the hacking drama, you could achieve this look with the Francoise dress 😊