Cocowawa Honeycomb Dress

The lovely Ana of Cocowawa Crafts kindly asked me if I'd like to join in with the Honeycomb Blog Tour wayyyy back in February (incredible planning skills Ana!) before the Honeycomb was even released into the world! I'd never sewn a Cocowawa pattern before, so thought it would be a good opportunity to try out a new-to-me indie pattern company. I also really liked Ana's idea of spreading out the Blog Tour to show the potential of the Honeycomb right through until the Autumn/Winter as it's a really versatile pattern. Here's my own summer version of the Honeycomb Dress!

Cocowawa Honeycomb Dress
I have to be up front and say that the Honeycomb is much cuter and more feminine in style than I'd usually go for. I spent a long time hunting for a suitable fabric to 'toughen' it up. I was hoping for a cool, minimal graphic print, but they're always so difficult to come across. I'm getting close to attempting to print/paint my own (very much inspired by the recent efforts of @dfabricater), but I'd honestly rather just buy it ready made! If anyone has recommendations for sourcing some graphic goodness, please let me know!

Hardware hack!
After accepting minor defeat on the fabric front, I plumped for some stash busting with this plain but nice quality drapey cotton-mix that has the look of lightweight denim. I thought the solid colour would really show off the silhouette of the dress and I exchanged the bows for a little hardware hack to make it a even more minimal. I cut the long ties at twice the original width to fit my 1" D rings, and made short tabs to attach the hardware between the side seams.

Obviously a winner -it has pockets!
I sewed up a size 3, extending the bodice by 1" using the lengthen/shorten lines as I thought it might come up a bit short on me. In hindsight this really wasn't necessary and I would make it as-is in future! I would NEVER normally make a princess seamed garment as I like to avoid tricky fitting in the bust area, but I'm really impressed with the fit! The ties at the waist give you the option to bring the waist fit really close, whilst still allowing for a generous fit in the bust (I'm an FF cup with a really narrow back for reference)!

A bit too much excess in the back!
The lower back has a lot of excess and sits too low for me - mostly my fault for adding too much length, but also not helped by my bust lifting the bodice higher than it should sit in the front. For future versions I'll try on the bodice before attaching the skirt and level out the fit there. I found the neckline just a little too high too, so I tacked the collar out into this open position. I'm quite pleased with it like this and would probably do the same next time.

I sewed my Honeycomb Dress with short sleeves, but it wasn't until I tried it on that I realised they didn't quite work in my fabric choice - it felt a little 'matronly' (for some real short-sleeved Honeycomb inspo you can't go wrong with Marie's fantastic version)! Instead, I cut them off, using the remaining sleeve edge to bind my armholes. I took a big chunk out of the side/under arms - the instructions guide you through this - to get much closer fit in the bodice for the sleeveless version, but my armholes have ended up a little clunky due to the last minute sleeve chop. I'd definitely take more care over the armhole finish next time!
Unfortunately not feeling those sleeves!
The instructions are totally flawless and beautifully designed. Ana's illustrations and steps are really detailed and easy to follow, whichever version you opt for. My personal favourite part of the make was doing my very first burrito method to sew the yoke/bodice/yoke lining together - a fun technique and one I'll definitely try again!

A little bit clunky, but a successful last minute sleeve chop
In all, I'd say that my Honeycomb doesn't quite do justice to such a nice pattern, but my first version will definitely go on to inform the fit and fabric choice of future versions. I'll be sticking with the D rings as I totally love them, but it still needs a bit more toughening up to feel more 'me'. Regardless of this though, the Honeycomb has made for a pretty cool sundress (fingers crossed the weather stays good!) as well as being work appropriate, which is a bonus!

Without really realising it, I've become a go-to trouser person, so it's been really nice to break away from that and try something different, both in making and wearing. I'm inspired by all the fab versions on Instagram to keep working towards my perfect Honeycomb, and I'm confident I'll get there, I just need to work out how to make it 100% 'right' for me - fabric and styling suggestions welcome!
Sun dress in the sun! 
Thanks Ana for encouraging me to sew up only my second dress of 2018 and giving me the opportunity to be involved in the Blog Tour. The Honeycomb is such a sweet pattern and I'd definitely recommend it for all levels of maker - plus there's a great sew along online if you need a helping hand!

Keep your eyes peeled for more versions coming in the Blog Tour - Autumn dressing is my fave, so maybe that's where my dream Honeycomb will be realised!

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Simplicity 8608 Jumpsuit

I'm really leaning towards Big 4 patterns lately. I've been practicing seeing beyond the picture on the pattern envelope, as lets be honest, the Big 4 releases don't always hit the mark on first look. But the Simplicity 8608 stood out as the picture is... surprisingly nice - and there are a whole bunch of versions on Instagram that suggest other makers feel exactly the same!

Simplicity 8608 view D in contrast fabrics
As an all-in-one lover, it was always going to be View D for me; a wide-legged, faux wrap jumpsuit with short flounce sleeves, but I'm actually pretty fond of all the views. In the absence of the neckline frill (which I was worried might be a little too fussy for me), I opted for the ultimate, all-out contrast fabric pairing. Working out the contrast cutting and making sure each piece was cut with the right right side/wrong side totally hurt my brain. Cutting out in 2 different fabrics also took twice as long, but I think the end product was well worth the extra planning and effort. Other than making it more difficult for myself though, the pattern prep is generally very straightforward!

Planning the polka contrast!
And checking I got it right!
Despite my measurements aligning more closely with a size 14, I cut a 12 as the pattern has a lot of ease. What I didn't perhaps take into account was that some of the bodice ease was built in to allow for taking it on and off (the pattern isn't meant to require any fastenings), but to be blunt, it is completely unrealistic to make this pattern without a zip - Simplicity what were you thinking?!

I was forewarned by a kind Instagrammer that a zip might be necessary, and after sharing my finished jumpsuit, other people have said exactly the same - only a contortionist could make their way in and out of this garment without one! Luckily, in using the contrast fabrics, I'd already split the back piece rather than cutting on the fold, so when I ambitiously attempted to make it as directed - it wouldn't even go down past my shoulders - it was just a case of unpicking the centre back seam. 

Carrying the contrast through to the back!
I could have gotten away with a zip on just the upper half of the bodice, but instead inserted a concealed zip that runs the full length of the back (22") to avoid any additional stress on the elasticated waist when taking it on and off. Other than that quite big hiccup, the instructions were really easy to follow - is it just me or are Big 4 instructions getting better?! - and the whole construction only took a day. 

Party in the back!
The bodice faux-wraps across the front, and you sew a channel in the waist seam allowance to thread a skinny bit of elastic through for a closer fit. I guess the tie belt could be optional, but I prefer mine worn with it as it pulls together all of the contrasting pieces. The neckline sits a little wide for me, so I would probably adjust the shoulders if I make this pattern again - securing the pieces together at the bust did help a little, but I broke the stitches on the first wear! The overall fit is perfect for me, but it's worth noting that there isn't a great deal of depth in the body - I'm 5ft 6", but taller ladies may want to consider lengthening it. 

The circle sleeves are more feminine than I'd normally go, but I really like the movement and hang of them. The black crepe is slightly heavier and has more bounce than the polka fabric and annoyingly, the hem curls to the right side, but this jumpsuit was made for moving/dancing so hopefully no one will notice! Another 'oops' moment with the sleeves was being too lazy to change my overlocker threads from cream. The inside seams of the sleeves become visible with movement so I had to emergency colour the overlocker stitching in with black sharpie!

I honestly think this is one of the best things I've made in ages - maybe ever? - but then I say that about nearly all of my latest makes. It definitely brings back fond memories and fills the gap left by this old favourite polka jumpsuit which no longer fits! I'm particularly proud of how well the contrast fabrics turned out, and I feel very much encouraged to experiment further with this in future makes (a potential for  #sewingleftovers)!

At Jodrell Bank to see my favourite guy play at Bluedot festival
It might not look like practical festival attire, but it had it's first turn in the field at Bluedot the other weekend and was greeted with some lovely compliments. I know I'm not the most practical dresser, but in my defence, the jumpsuit is much easier to get on and off with the zip and more importantly, it has pockets! I also wore it with heels to a recent work event, so I can definitely seeing it getting wear on all occasions!

I really love how this pattern turned out and I can definitely see myself making a lengthened version of View A if I can find the right fabric - a solid colour or a minimal graphic print maybe? I'd definitely recommend the Simplicity 8608 to makers of pretty much all abilities as it's such a great and versatile pattern, but PLEASE remember to include a zip!

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Purple Power Pair ft. Simplicity 8609

Here's an outfit for the days when I'm feeling bold, or the days when I'm not quite there yet, but bold is what I'm aiming for! The colour scheming wasn't intentional, but these two garments are such a perfect match that they couldn't not be blogged as a pair. The new Simplicity Patterns 8609 top meets a pair of vintage pattern 'palazzos' to make (in my opinion) one hell of a strong look!

A purple pair!
I'm writing this on a day where I don't feel so bold at all, but even just looking at these pictures is making me feel colourful/fun/happy - the power of clothes eh? The current UK heatwave is pushing me towards styles I might not normally try, namely View B of the Simplicity 8609... a crop top (because who needs the extra bother of top tucking in in this heat)! I bought this pattern solely for the top (and possibly the long sleeved version) and in all honesty hate the other designs included.

Simplicity 8609
I used a good quality purple jersey from my stash that I'd bought to make a t-shirt, but the fabric requirements for this pattern are so little that I think I might have enough left for some #sewingleftovers. I made a size 12 and used only 0.5m (the pattern suggests a still measly 0.7m). My bust measurement aligned more closely with the size 14, but I downsized as I wanted a close fit without the infamous Big 4 ease.

Simplicity 8609 and vintage pattern trouser co-ords
I'm glad I opted for the smaller size, as the arm holes really gaped and took some adjusting. This involved some frustrating unpicking as I'd attached the arm bands and done all the topstitching before I realised it wasn't just a little gape I could live with. I managed to get it to wearable by taking a wider side seam at the under arm, easing it out to the regular side seam at the waist. In future though, I'll probably redraw the curve of the arm holes to avoid this!

Purple on purple (and even purple nails)!

I really like the finished top and it pairs well with a lot of my current wardrobe favourites. This is probably the most naked my stomach's been in public since I wore a Spice Girls crop top in 1996, and I actually feel pretty great about it! Paired with high waisted bottoms like these and my M7661 culottes, it shows just the right amount of midriff without feeling too revealing - and this pairing in particular does have a bit of a 'Girl Power' vibe to it, don't you think?

Now onto what might just be my dream trousers! This pair are an updated version of the vintage Me Magazine Palazzo Pants Pattern from 1993. I'd just perfected the fit of them after a number of attempts before I got ill and lost weight, rendering the hard work I'd put into them pretty pointless! Whilst I've been able to adjust and take in some clothes now my weight's pretty stable, I'm slowly revisiting some of my favourite patterns to make updated versions. I downsized from a 14 to a 12 with these, but what I didn't anticipate was the effect this would have on the rise/crotch depth (should have known better after my long-crotch-Lander discoveries)! I salvaged them by sewing the crotch seams at 0.5cm to offer a bit more ease.

The original pattern from June 1993
Other than that small blip, the fit turned out close but comfortable, and I'm thrilled with them! The fabric is a bit lighter than I'd normally go for with trousers (maybe it's viscose?), but it has a really nice drape that works well with the pleats and wide legs. It was a Hebden Bridge Rag Market special for only a few pounds, and I already know I'll just have to make a #sewingleftovers Reeta Shirt with what's left - can't get enough of the faux jumpsuit look at the minute!

Back view
Detail - super shiny silver button from Duttons for Buttons in York
Maybe my sewing choices are subconsciously leaning towards creating a more cohesive wardrobe, or maybe this was a fluke match. Either way I totally love both garments worn together and as separates, and I'm encouraged to consider more conscious 'outfit' sewing in future. Jess (of Jess Sews Clothes) seems to have been doing quite a bit of this lately and producing some amazing results!

I'm curious to know, do other sewers approach making separates with an outfit in mind?

For now, catch me flashing my midriff and giving the peace sign around town - girl power!

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M7661 Culottes

After the success of my first attempt with the McCall's M7661 (View A - the tie front, contrast side panel trousers, which I blogged about here) it was only right that I should test out View C, a pair of wide legged, high-waisted culottes. I love culottes. They're pretty much my go-to bottoms for work and play all summer, and as predicted, this version might just have bumped the Butterick B6178 off the top spot for my favourite culotte pattern!

M7661 in View C
I used fabric dug up from deep within my stash - clearly a forgotten gem as I'm sure I would've used it sooner had I remembered it. I bought a good chunk of it for just a couple of pounds from a Hebden Bridge Rag Market last year. It's a lightish weight cotton mix that makes for a lovely, airy wide-legged  trouser.

The fit through the waist and hip of View C is very similar to that of the trousers I made originally. This version is simplified slightly by skipping the contrast side panel, so I didn't have many excuses not to pattern match, particularly with the check of the fabric being quite large scale/bold too. The outcome is mostly good, and I'm not asking you to check out my bum, but check out that pattern match...!
Check that pattern match!
Pattern match perfection (on this side at least)!
Like my last version, I made a size 12 and the fit is on the comfortable side of spot on. I really haven't got much more to say about the construction or pattern that I didn't say last time other than how impressed I am with both versions! The silhouette is really easy to wear - the culottes are probably a bit more casual then the trousers. Below you can see them with the tie belts open - these are sewn into the side seams so can be fastened as loosely or tight as you like around the front.
Tie belts
I'm feeling a real increase in confidence and interest in 'Big 4' patterns at the moment and my results with the M7661 have been a real influencing factor in this (please someone else make a pair so it's not just me singing the pattern's praises)! I've just bought a couple of Simplicity patterns (the S8608 for the jumpsuit and the S8609 for the tops) so I'm hoping I'll have similar success with those!

Does anyone else have any favourite 'Big 4' patterns of the moment?

Stay in touch!

Stitcher's Brew Podcast - Episode 18!

I had the absolute pleasure of popping down to London to be on Stitcher's Brew Podcast, chatting personal style and sewing the trends with the lovely Dominique Major! We recorded it way back in April and I'm pleased to be able to say that our episode (number 18) it's out now!

It was great fun talking to Gabby and Megan about our sewing stories, style influences and when you should wear socks and when not! If you fancy putting a voice to a face, then do give it a listen! I didn't quite realise quite how strong my Yorkshire accent was until I listened back to the episode... here's hoping everyone can understand me haha.

A bit of behind the scenes, with tea and cake of course!
If you've not given Stitcher's Brew a try yet then I'd totally recommend delving into the archives for some great chats with lots of inspiring makers. (Our episode is the follow up to Heather Lou's of Closet Case Patterns... no pressure/no big deal)!

Me and Dominique!
Catch all the episodes at 
And all the info about episode 18 is here

Thanks Gabby and Megan for inviting me to take part :)

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