I thought and thought about this pattern purchase. You see I really wanted a striped boatneck dress, and I'd found some awesome fabric at Mamzelle Fourmi.....
It's called Maille Merveilleuse, which you can imagine means marvellous knit fabric! I bought this colour and two other fabrics. When they arrived I was surprised that they had a slightly brushed feel (I'd expected a harder face like a ponte knit) and I started thinking they were too soft and lush to be grown up clothing. I should be blanketing babies in this stuff. It is soooooo good.
Unusually I wondered if I really needed to buy another pattern.... Couldn't I just lengthen a pattern I already had into an A-line dress? I started searching the web for reviews of the Coco dress. A lot of slim, leggy bloggers were raving about it. A brave few commented on needing a sway back adjustment or darts of some sort. Mostly everyone seemed in raptures.
Then I found some reviews on a sewing pattern review site where there was some genuine criticism of the sleeve/armscye shape. From there I accidently stumbled into the rabbit hole of hatred that is Get Off My Internets (no link provided cause it's awful). There was so much nasty invective directed at this poor woman, I presume because she'd been on television and they hadn't....
It was enough for me to buy the pattern right there and then. Yep, I had my doubts about whether I needed it, but I just wanted to put one over the haters by giving her some of my hard earned. So, Tilly had my cash, I had her pattern and I had some lovely fabric. Everyone should be happy right?
I stuck the PDF together (a nice enough PDF to tile) and traced off the size 6 as that was exactly where my measurements had put me. It seemed a big size so I did that most precise of fitting techniques where you surf the net for pictures of women who've made that size and ask yourself if you're bigger or smaller than she is. I only found one woman who seemed about my size, and had sewn a size 6, and she wished she'd sized down. Also, those pattern pieces were considerably bigger than the SBCC Tonic tops that I'd just made.
Tilly says "don't worry if it's a bit big, you can bring in the side seams". Now, I'm no fitting expert but that shits me. The shoulders will still be hanging down your arms, the neckhole will still be enormous, and those stripes that you've carefully cut probably won't line up anymore.
I decided to trace off the size 5 in the top length and make a practice run... (the sleeve length below is what you can get from a 1 metre cut and nothing to do with the pattern)
Ok, so it's not the nicest fabric (feels good but looks pretty awful), but I could see what the pattern had me worried about. The waist is a bit high for me and the A line starts too early and is too wide. I'd need to lengthen there. The neckline wasn't boat-y enough and would need to be raised at the front, and yep the sleeves did look a bit weird. I even wondered if I'd accidently put them in back to front. (for the record, nope)
It only took a few more squishy feels of the stripey knit and I just had to forge ahead and get my dress made.
I ended up lengthening the pattern by 7cm (about 3") through the waist. I thought I'd want all that length at the hem, as I'm not much of an above-the-knees kind of girl, but I probably lopped about 3cm (1.25") off the bottom before hemming it.
This is just the single most comfortable piece of clothing I've ever made for myself and I've been slouching about in it all winter. But you can see above, that if you're not striking a Tilly-esque pose then the sleeve does get a weird twisting effect at the armhole.
Weird sleeve with a normal arm position above
And now, fixed by sticking my arms out. Cute pose, but not all that great a solution.
I think (but I really don't know about these things) that I need to reduce the depth of the armscye, but I've no idea how to do that, or to alter the shape of the curve to make it fit better.
I raised the centre front neckline by 1 inch as I wanted it to just touch my collarbones, which is roughly where all my various stripey French tops hit.
And then what to do about this?....
I could do some of those diamond shaped darts that I have sewn in other dresses, but there's no way the stripes would look good. I think a sway back adjustment is probably what's needed (never done that before). I'm certainly not alone in having had this problem as my search of Coco's on blogs found plenty of people had a little pool of fabric. Some hadn't noticed, some wished they knew how to fix it and some had added darts.
I'm sounding pretty grouchy, aren't I? But there's a lot of positive things to say about this pattern. I have to say it's beautifully presented. The instructions are very well written and the tips for stabilising the shoulders, sewing the neckline and working with knits are top notch. It should be an awesome pattern for a beginner sewer, or someone new to sewing knit fabric if only they get lucky with the right fit to start with.
So, I should just smile, strike another pose with my arms out and get over myself, right?!
This week is Selfish Sewing Week and I have a long sleeved top cut out of some more of this lovely maille merveilleuse which I hope to make before the end of the week. Meanwhile I'm at least catching up by doing some selfish blogging.
Oh, and for those of you who do have newborn babies and have read this far (love you), you'll be pleased to hear I have leftovers of this very snuggly fabric and I even bought the Oliver + S Lullaby Layette pattern especially to use up the remnants!