I finished sewing my fairytale Cleo dress just in time for my thirtieth birthday, which was yesterday. Hence a finished object being presented on a day other than a Friday. Gasp! Behold my now-haggard form.
There’s so much discussion when you’re a woman turning 30, and plenty to think about. When is it time to worry about settling down and having kids? Do I want to settle down and have kids? Am I happy in the life I have created for myself over the past three decades? Am I too old to wear a mini-dress with little mushrooms on it?
I have few comments on the Cleo dress pattern. Overall, I think it’s cute though I’m still not sure whether the style actually suits me. The dress was a quick make- two evenings in total, including plenty of mistakes and unpicking. I think the most time-consuming part was sewing all the patch pockets. I found Tilly’s tips on working with corduroy very helpful.
I made the size 2, but I probably should have just gone for the 3. I let the side seams out a bit as the dress looks nicer on me with a bit more room around the hip area. I made the dress quite short, the hem was over two inches.
I can see no reason not to add in-seam pockets to this dress. I may add afterthought pockets to this mushroom dress if I feel it’s going to get a lot of wear.
Pattern: Cleo by Tilly and the Buttons
Fabric: 2m needlecord in print, plus 0.5m in plain. I had leftovers of both
I finished my upcycle project! Check these bad boys out.
After my last post, I got some time with a sewing machine, so I re-did the stitching I undid before and made up my ears.
While I was playing around with ear placement, I thought it looked much cuter to have the ears on the pocket rather than the bib of the dungarees.
I liked it so much that I went ahead and stitched the ears in place.
Sewing through so many layers of denim was a big challenge for the machine. I found I had more control winding the stitches by hand rather than using the foot pedal on the thickest parts. My stitching is not totally straight but it’s the best I can do.
The next step was to dye the denim. I didn’t do it in this order for any particular reason, it was just when I got a chance to sew, or when the dye I ordered arrived.
I was a bit worried that the dye job wouldn’t go well because the things I dyed indigo didn’t come out how I imagined. I even dreamt that the colour had leached out of the denim overnight. However, I followed the instructions more closely this time and that made a big difference.
As I had suspected might happen, the stitching didn’t take any dye so now it really pops against the black, but I think I quite like it.
I was starting to sense the finish line of this project at last. I took some time to practise different cat faces on paper to decide what I thought was cutest. I think moustache cat was the most fun, but in the end eyelash cat won out in a tight race.
The next step was to shape the curved patch pocket. I read a couple of tutorials that recommended using a cardboard template to press it in place. I did this while I ironed the cat face design to make it washable.
I then carefully pinned the pocket in place and checked it lined up before stitching. I checked the alignment in the mirror and added another line of stitching for strength.
Last week was half-term, which gave me a little extra mental space for creativity (even though I was still working, boo hiss). I was looking in a box of stuff I don’t use much for some rubber gloves and happened upon these dungarees that I bought years ago for a Halloween costume.
I’ve also been mourning not discovering this awesome pinafore before it sold out.
While desperately searching the interwebs for a site where it was still in stock, I happened upon a tutorial to make a lookalike.
I got the Mario dungarees cheap on eBay so I didn’t mind running the risk of ruining them with ham-fisted customisation attempts.
Here’s a before shot.
I decided to remove the front pocket as this would interfere with the cat face.
I also decided to dye them black. Since I was dyeing some clothes navy anyway (this is why I needed the rubber gloves), I tossed in the dungarees to give them an under-dye.
I made a hole in the front while removing a stud from the pocket, and I also noticed several other small holes in the dungarees while examining them, so I decided to do some patching before the second dyebath.
There’s a hole in one of the back pockets that will be difficult to mend invisibly, so I think I will put a patch over that bit instead.
Denim clothing seems to be sewn using some kind of polyester thread- I’ve noticed when dyeing before that the thread doesn’t get dyed. So I’ve decided to make a new front pocket for my dungarees, on which I will either embroider or draw the cat face.
I also removed some of the original stitching on the bib and I will re-stitch in black, again so the stitching doesn’t interfere with the cat face.
The next step was cutting out the new patch pocket and ears from denim scraps I had left over from my Day Dress. I interfaced the pocket and ear pieces for strength as the denim isn’t very stiff. I’ve been having issues getting the trapezium piece symmetrical. It’s a work in progress. The grainline also looks wonky. Oh dear. I mean, work in progress!
The next steps will be re-doing the stitching on the bib, stitching down the top of the new pocket and dyeing the fabric.
I’ve bought some fabric paint pens ready for drawing my cat face. I think I’m going to go in a slightly different direction to Lazy Oaf rather than doing a straight copy.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on this project here and there over the past couple of weeks and I’ve got to say I’ve really been enjoying it. Even though the patching was a little dull, I like the fact that I am trying to breathe new life into this garment, which was clearly loved by the previous owner. I felt like I was giving some respect to the woman (or, let’s be real here, child) in China who spent time piecing my clothing together.
If you want to follow my progress I’m using #cateralls on Instagram.