Well, it's been a while since I've written one of these! To be honest, I've barely had time to thread a needle since the shop move as the response has been truly overwhelming so as much I would like to snarl at you from preventing me from sewing, I suppose I should thank you for keeping me so busy!
One new thing that has kept me in the sewing room for the past few weeks though is the fact that The Husband went out and bought me a telly for in there! The cynics amongst you may think this is so he can watch football or play his Xbox in peace downstairs, but I have chosen to believe that this is just an act from a loving husband! On second thoughts, you're right; it's so he can watch football and play his Xbox in peace! Anyway, this new addition to my sewing room means I no longer have to decide between sewing or watching Corrie, which is a very good thing indeed.
When TATB released this pattern, I was determined to give it a whirl so I could tell you what I think to it as I was hoping this would make a nice follow-on to the Cleo Dungaree Dress for all the millions and millions (not really) beginners that have come through our doors, whether it be those that have done our Beginners Dressmaking workshop or those who have taken the sewing plunge solo. The verdict? I was right!
I made sure to follow the instructions to a tee. Sometimes I have been known to *ahem* deviate somewhat, but as the point of this exercise was to see how well a beginner would move on to it, it was only fair that I put my complete and utter trust in Tilly! As always, everything was explained brilliantly. A few of the steps you will recognise from making a Cleo, such as making the straps and a patch pocket for the bib, but the rest of the pattern introduces you to new techniques, such as working with a waistband, buttonholes and hip pockets.
I chose to make mine using a Robert Kaufman 14 wale corduroy, which is at the heavier end of a mediumweight fabric. I love working with corduroy as it doesn't move when you're pinning pieces together, however it can get quite thick when you're sandwiching the straps between the skirt and the waistband so I made sure to use a jeans needle to give my sewing machine a bit more "umph"! You don't have to use corduroy if that isn't your bag. Any type of mediumweight canvas, denim or cotton drill will do the job nicely. Anything with a bit of structure to it really. I like how the pattern isn't fabric hungry either - you only need 1.2m of 150cm wide fabric for the skirt or 1.5m for the dress. A nice little stash buster!
The cutting out of this pattern is more arduous than cutting out a Cleo as there are lots more pieces to it, so your hands can get a bit tired if you're using a thick fabric. If you struggle with scissors, maybe try a rotary cutter to give your hands a bit of a rest.
I think it's time I addressed the elephant in the room...yes, it requires buttonholes. Quite a lot of them in fact. (I can actually hear the gasps of horror from here!!!) Look, don't sweat it. You're gonna have to do them eventually unless you want to make t-shirts all your life, so it's time to woman up and just bloomin' do them!!! If you have an automatic buttonhole function on your machine, you're laughing. Just make sure your fabric is kept flat at all times and you don't accidentally knock the buttonhole lever to throw the one-step function out of kilter and you can't go wrong. If you haven't got this function on your machine and you're doing the traditional four-step buttonhole, then just make sure you mark the capital "I" shape on your fabric really well to keep them straight and equal. Tilly has some fantastic tutorials on both one-step and four-step buttonholes here if you need a bit of hand-holding:
Lengthwise, this isn't the longest skirt in the world. If you're a bit modest or tall or both, make sure you lengthen the skirt pattern pieces before cutting out the fabric. For the first time quite possibly ever, I turned up the hem by an inch as suggested in the pattern and that was the correct length for me! I'm 5'8" and this took it to about 3-4 inches above my knee.
I know what you're thinking; you've already made 20,000 Cleos...do you actually need this pattern and ANOTHER dungaree dress?! Well, in fact yes, yes you do. I wore mine for the first time to work the day after I made it and my colleague actually commented how nice it was and that I should make more. The fit is lovely; because there is more to it with the waistband, the Bobbi has more of a shape to it than the Cleo and I think the buttoned down front makes it look a bit more professional. Don't forget, you can also just make it as a skirt if you want and given the different fabrics you can use, the possibilities are endless!