Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Coco et moi: est-ce que nous nous sommes réconciliés?

You know the Coco dress by Tilly and the Buttons? It was all over the sewing blogosphere a while back... Well I just can't decide if we're reconciled with each other. Do I do it justice? Does it work for me?.... (if you're not up for a long, rambling pattern review, skip to the pictures at the end!)

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!

20 comments:

  1. It looks really good, despite the armscye and back issues. And if you walk around holding hands with your two kids, the sleeves will hang perfectly! I really like the neckline, and the fabric sounds magnifique! As it happens I've just started teaching my son French (of course all he really wants to learn are the swear words)...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Marisa. It's true it is mum friendly in that my arms are never resting by my sides anyway!
      Isn't that the way with all languages and kids!

      Delete
  2. From here, you look fabulous! I like the fabrics you chose and, wow, that knit sounds divine.
    I have a Ottobre issue with a very similar pattern in which is tempting me because it looks like an easy thing to wear. If I ever get it sewn up, I hope it looks this good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Katy. It does feel fantastic. the fabric is just the snuggliest stuff. It should be winter pyjamas, or a dressing gown, or baby clothes, or just yardage that you wrap around yourself! Good luck with the Ottobre. It was one of those patterns that first made me realise that an outsized dress can't just be taken in along the side seams.

      Delete
  3. Really really appreciate your honest review, dude. It does look pretty good, but yeah the sleeves and back are issues I wouldn't really care to try to fix, either. Tough. I do the same thing with adult patterns - spy around the internets and see if a lot of people have the same issues before I tackle something. It is totally wearable and looks super comfy, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, it's taken me almost three months to blog this one because I just couldn't get my head around talking out the problems without sounding snarky or clever. I don't know what I'm doing, so I buy patterns. Otherwise I'd be drafting my own armholes! I"m still unsure if I'm a weird shape, or the pattern is a bit of a dud, or it's a combination of both.
      If I can put things I've made on the 'net and someone else can think, "well she didn't do so well there" or "she really should have made adjustment X" then I'm happy. I know my perfectionism and experiments are making me a better sewer, I hope it works for others like that too. And mostly, we all play pretty nicely!
      Thanks for the comment, I wish we had touch-o-vision cause it feels great.

      Delete
  4. Thanks for sharing this honest review! The slightly twisty sleeves would bug me as well. I feel like the pieces must not be quite curved enough? They don't nip in under the arm enough? But who knows - pattern drafting is not my forte. That said, I think this looks as good or better than a lot of RTW out there! I think we sewists sometimes get very focused on issues like swayback, and tend to forget that most RTW clothing hangs on us the same way, but somehow that's not a big deal. Yes, it's great to make things that fit perfectly and look better than RTW, but when it comes to a simple knit dress, comfort and ease are key too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What I should do is lay the sleeve and armhole shapes over either the SBCC Tonic or the Metro T and see how they differ. Whether it's depth or curve or both. If you change the neckline, the sleeve/armscye, the bodice length, and do a swayback adjustment, is there any of the original pattern left to credit?
      If I found this dress in a store I probably would buy it, but mostly because of the fabric. One touch and it's pure love! Otherwise I agree, I am supper fussy!

      Delete
  5. I heart you for giving a real review, it seems like a lot of times people wont do that. One time I gave my honest opinion on a pattern and the creator left me a nasty message. And I would have bought the pattern too after your rabbit hole, what makes people think it is okay to say mean things over the internet, because it is anonymous?

    Could you maybe redraw the sleeve/armscye using the Metro tee? That one seemed to fit well on you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Brittney. That's incredible that you get hate mail for being honest about something. I would really hope that that is what pattern testing is all about. Surely when the pattern gets tested, a few people should pipe up and say how the fit really worked for them. Then, once it's released we can all gush because it's genuinely awesome. And yep, it's completely different to critique a product than to bag a person because you don't like her style. Just stay away in that case.
      I can see ways I could make it work for me, and I'm curious to try the sway back adjustment if only to add to my (small) arsenal of tricks. (congrats on that FBA, your Weekend Getaway looked like a great fit)

      Delete
  6. Your dress looks pretty good on the computer screen! I think a lot of us sewists are very picky and hard on ourselves, when the average person wouldn't even notice. That said, I do appreciate your honest review and I am not impressed with that comment about it being too big and bringing in the side seams!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Waggy! Oh I know I'm fussy. For a long time I didn't sew for myself because I knew my expectations of fit would be higher than my skill level. I'm learning and so I'm trying to be critical enough to notice what needs to change. Then I just have to work out how to change it.
      I'm happy for all the women out there wearing Coco dresses and feeling fabulous in them. To someone who made their own dress and feels good in it, I say right on!. But for me, I'm happy for people to point out to me where I'm going wrong.

      Delete
  7. I actually really like the striped version on you Shelley - think it is one of the nicest/most flattering versions that I have seen (and here's my honest 2cents - I don't like this on the vast majority of bloggers who have it!)
    Now, off to check out that fabric link.... ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Justine, I appreciate your compliment all the more so for knowing it's genuine!
      If only it wasn't a French fabric retailer. The postage is the killer.

      Delete
  8. It is a beautiful dress!! Really, the kind of dress I'd actually wear on a day-to-day basis--flattering, yet casual. But I know what you mean. It would bug me too. I have a much higher standard for making clothing than purchasing clothing. If I'm going to go through the trouble of sewing something, especially since I would be making it to fit my body, I would expect it to fit properly. It definitely looks like something from Boden!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Irene. For all my grouchiness I have been wearing it a lot and I do really like it. But for me, I don't think I'd trouble myself to revisit this pattern, it just didn't work well enough for my shape. I always tended to have a very small wardrobe of quality, long lasting things that I liked a lot. I'm trying to emulate that with my sewing.

      Delete
  9. Well, your version is awesome! It looks great on you. You persevered and came out with a great result. Trust me, I have so been there. For me, it's one part exhilaration and one part - why do I do this to myself? Alterations are still not totally intuitive to me.
    I also feel really torn when it comes to writing less than glowing reviews. Sometimes patterns are duds. When we blog we are essentially doing free advertising. And yet I always feel guilty talking about those patterns that don't work out. It's tough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Rachel. I have to say I am very grateful for my fairly square shoulders and not overly present bust. That means I've managed to avoid all the tricky alterations thus far!
      I'm torn between the part of me who'd love to be on all the pattern testing, blog hopping lists and the part of me that just couldn't not say what I really thought. I don't want to put anyone off buying a pattern, but if you know how to lengthen your favourite, well fitting T-shirt pattern then that's probably the best starting point for a dress like this.

      Delete
  10. Honesty is good - I hate the thought of beginners being put off by a bad sew from an imperfectly drafted pattern. I've sewn almost exclusively from Burda for years, their drafting can't be beat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. THanks Caroline, Maybe I should revisit Burda.... Their boys shirt and trousers pattern was one I used plenty of times for P before discovering Oliver + S and it drove me nuts with the bare bones instructions (I was a complete novice at that time)! I've never tried a women's dress, maybe I should add one to the long list of things to make...

      Delete

I get a real kick out of knowing you've visited the blog and love to read comments. Thanks.