….. can one person make sewing one simple garment? Quite a few apparently!
I decided my next project on the sewing plan would be a Cleo dress. I know everyone else has already made this pattern but I don’t like to rush into things!
I was given this pattern for my birthday by one of Mr J-M’s lovely daughters so that side-stepped my current new pattern embargo. I’m a big fan of aprons and a dungaree dress is therefore right up my street.
My original plan in the fabric/pattern stocktake was to pair it with the grey denim shown above from Ditto but I was slightly concerned the fabric was a bit too heavyweight. I wanted to check how much sewing through several layers the pattern would be required so I picked a lighter weight, looser weave blue denim for my first attempt. I bought this denim from The Fabric Godmother on her recent open day.
I was unsure about sizing for this dress as I didn’t want it to be too baggy. I made a quick toile in Size 2 but realised it would be a bit of a wiggle to get this over my btm. My very sensible friend @vintage_charity then pointed out that it would go over my head so I stuck with the Size 2.
This fabric frayed, A LOT! I finished all the cut edges before I did anything else. I used a small piece of some fabric kindly gifted to me by Sheila from Sewchet for the facing. So far so good.
This really is a simple and straightforward pattern and the instructions are excellent. I wasn’t sure about the top-stitching – I thought about red but in the end went for grey to be on the safe side. I didn’t have any top-stitching thread and had read somewhere about using the triple stitch to achieve a similar effect. I may never do this again because it is a nightmare to unpick (see below)! I did vary slightly from the pattern with the top-stitching on the front and back centre seams because I preferred it to be symmetrical on each side of the seam.
I decided to go for the pocket on the bib and two hip pockets on the back. I sewed the front pocket on perfectly. For some reason I sewed the first of the back pockets the wrong distance from the edge. Mistake One. This is where I discovered that unpicking triple stitch is a pain and during the process I made a hole in the fabric. Mistake Two. Thankfully this is hidden by the pocket and I did a repair on the inside to stop it fraying.
I chickened out a bit when sewing the side seams together and went for a smaller seam allowance to allow for wriggle room and the dress does go on over my rear.
This is where things started to go REALLY badly. I should NOT have decided to attach the straps and facing at 10.00 pm when I was way too tired to do anything sensible. I pinned the straps on, pinned the facing on and sewed it. I then trimmed the seam. At this point I discovered that I’d put the facing on the wrong side of the dress. Mistake Four. I unpicked it and sewed it back on the right way following the original stitch line. Here comes Mistake Five ….. I’d put the b****y straps on the wrong side of the back piece! How did I manage that?? At this point I went to bed. NB : one thing that did go well was that the straps turned through beautifully without any difficulty!
6.00 am the next morning and I unpicked the back of the facing, re-attached the straps and finally all was well. Apart from a bit more unpicking of some of the final top-stitching. I’m not counting that as another mistake. Five is more than enough. The inside of the dress is a tiny bit of a mess in places but most of it is hidden under the facing.
I thought the metal fixings would be difficult to install but the buttons went in really easily just by pushing them together. It is quite difficult to unclip the buckles once they are fastened but I think they will loosen up with use.
The only alteration I made (apart from the reduced seam allowances on the side seams) was to add an inch to the length of the mini version as it is quite short – and I’m only 5′!
I wasn’t planning to wear this dress for work but I changed my mind at the last minute. It’s really comfortable and went very well with my steel toe cap boots on site! I’m planning to get my sister to take some photos at the weekend. Here’s the result of the 30 second photo shoot with Mr Jane Makes when I got home from work – rather gloomy (him and the lighting)!
I’ve got two more sets of the buckles on their way to me from Tilly. I think the grey denim will be find as apart from top stitching the pockets there is no heavy duty sewing required. I’m tempted by a striped version too.