28 February 2014

Sewing Knit Fabric on a Regular Sewing Machine

Update: You can now take our online video workshop from home!

Want to sew with knit fabrics but don’t own an overlocker or serger? No problem! While overlockers or sergers are great for handling stretch fabrics and creating a professional-looking finish (I love mine), you don’t necessarily need one to sew with knits. If you’ve got zigzag stitch on your regular sewing machine, you can use that instead. In fact, the instructions in the Coco sewing pattern and Agnes sewing pattern assume you are using a regular machine (but if you are lucky enough to have an overlocker or serger, go ahead and use it if you prefer!).

Sewing with knit fabrics doesn’t have to be more difficult than sewing with woven material. It’s just different, because knits behave a little differently to wovens. Here are my tips for sewing knits on a regular sewing machine:

1) Change your needle
Use a ballpoint or stretch needle in your sewing machine. Personally I find ballpoint needles work well for me - they have a slightly rounded tip which passes through the looped structure of the material without laddering it. Other people swear by stretch needles, so see which works for you and the fabric you're using. If you can find ballpoint pins (I can’t!), you may want to use them too – otherwise just take care that your pins don’t leave holes in your lovely fabric.

This is totally optional, but if you want to, you could get a twin ballpoint needle for topstitching areas such as the hem, neckline or pocket. Twin needles form two rows of stitching parallel to each other a few mm apart on the right side of the fabric, and a small zigzag stitch on the wrong side. Sweet! You’ll need a second spool pin for this – your machine might already have two, or you can attach an extra one to your bobbin winder spindle.

2) Make friends with zigzag stitch
Set your sewing machine to the zigzag stitch – rather than the straight stitch – to sew horizontal seams, such as the neckline, armholes and hem. This is important firstly because the finished garment needs enough stretch so you can pull it over your body; and secondly because the horizontal grain of knit fabric can stretch out when you’re sewing it and you may find that straight stitch kinda “sets” this stretched-out-ness. Zigzag stitch isn’t so vital for vertical seams such as side seams and pockets, on which you can try using straight stitch.

Before you begin, make sure the presser foot you’re using has a wide enough slot so the needle doesn’t hit it when making the zigzags. Your sewing machine manual will tell you how to change the stitch to zigzag. Your sewing machine may have a variety of zigzag-style and stretch stitches, and feel free to try them out, but I find the standard zigzag stitch works just fine. Test your zigzag stitching on a double scrap (ie. two layers) of your fabric before you begin. The width of the zigzag will determine how much the stitch stretches – have a play around with the length and width settings to see what works on your fabric, plus what you think looks nice. I like to use 1.5 width x 2.2 length zigzag for joining seams, 2.5 x 2.5 for a neat topstitch.

Sew with the needle starting on the seam line, just as you would when using straight stitch, back tacking (reverse stitching) over either end to secure the stitching. I find that sometimes back tacking with zigzag stitch works fine, other times it looks a total mess in which case I'll back tack with straight stitch.

3) Try a different presser foot
A walking foot or dual feed foot attachment for your sewing machine are useful for helping to prevent one layer of fabric from stretching out while sewing. They grip the fabric and feed both layers of fabric through the machine at the same speed. Which one you need and how you use it will depend on your model of sewing machine (I bought a walking foot for my Janome J3-18, and when I got my Janome 6600P it came with a dual feed foot) so check your manual.

Also take a look in your manual to see if there’s a dial for changing the pressure of the presser foot. Reducing the presser foot pressure (now that’s a tongue twister!) can help stop the fabric stretching too much while it goes through the machine.

4) Take care not to stretch the fabric when sewing
Try not to stretch the fabric as it goes through the sewing machine. Keep the fabric in front of the machine laying flat – if your machine comes with an extension table, that can be helpful, or simply hold the fabric up slightly so it doesn’t hang off your sewing table.

Take your time when sewing knits, taking pauses with the needle down so you can readjust the alignment of the raw edges of the fabric.

5) Forget finishing!
Knits don’t usually fray, so you don’t have to finish the seams – hooray! Of course if you want to, you can tidy up the raw edges using zigzag stitch (or an overlocker or serger if you have one). As with woven fabric, pressing the seams after you’ve sewn them will help make them look much neater.

And there you have it – not so difficult after all! As with so many things in life – and especially with creative endeavours – there isn’t one “right” way of doing this, so much of this is down to personal preference. So if you don’t get on with any of these tricks, don’t fret – test things out and find what works for you. If you have your own tips for sewing with knits, please do share in the comments!

Want to know more? Want to see knit fabric sewing in action? Sign up for our online workshop - Learn to Sew Jersey Tops on a Regular Sewing Machine.

26 February 2014

How to Cut Knit Fabric

Knit fabric behaves rather differently from woven material, so whether you’re making Coco or another sewing pattern, there are a few things to bear in mind when cutting it out.

Firstly, even though it’s stretchy, knit fabric can shrink just as much or even more than woven fabrics when it’s washed. So it’s important to prewash and dry it before you cut and sew together your top or dress – you don’t want to end up with a garment that ends up too small for you after the first wash! Knits tend not too crease as much as some kinds of woven fabrics, but you may still need to give it a press before cutting so it lays as flat as possible on your cutting table. Drying it hanging up or pressing it with the end hanging over the ironing board may cause it to stretch out a little so, if you can muster the patience, lay it flat or folded on a table to rest for a couple of hours before you start cutting into it.

When your fabric is ready to cut, fold it in half lengthways, right sides together. The “right side” of the fabric is the side that you want to show on the outside of your garment. On some fabrics, it may not be immediately obvious which side that is – take a close look. The right side may feature a weave that looks more vertical in structure than the wrong side, or it may have a slightly different tone when held up to the light. If you still can’t tell which is which, it’s likely people admiring your handmade dress won’t be able to tell either, so don’t worry too much about it!

When folding woven fabrics in half to cut them, we usually bring the selvedges – or woven edges – together to do so. Knits can be slightly different. Firstly, some knit fabric comes in a tubular shape – you can either leave it like this or cut it open along one of the folds. Secondly, the lengthwise raw edges of the fabric may be self-finished, or they may have little dots of glue along them, or they may simply be cut. If you can’t immediately see which are the lengthwise edges, they're the ones which run along the direction with the least amount of stretch.

Sometimes the edges of knit fabric don’t exactly align with the straight grain of the fabric. Rather than simply folding the fabric by matching up the raw edges, it’s a good idea to double check the fold is running exactly along the straight grain of the fabric so your lovely finished garment hangs on you nicely without twisting. Hold the folded fabric up at the raw edges so the fold is hanging at the bottom, then adjust the positioning of the edges until the fabric hangs smoothly without any twists or pulls. Alternatively, if your fabric has clearly visible ribbing lines or an obvious print on it, these may help you to position the fold along the straight grain.

Lay the folded fabric out flat on a table – place a cutting mat down first if you don’t want to scratch the table! If your fabric is too long for the table, fold or roll the end up so it doesn’t hang off the edge and thus stretch the fabric out of shape.

Now to lay out the pattern pieces. With fabric folded in half, we can cut two pieces at once or symmetrical pieces where the pattern is placed along the fold line. If you’re making Coco, find the pieces you need for your chosen version – depending on whether you’re adding the funnel neck, cuffs and/or pockets. You can also choose whether to cut the top version or the dress length of the bodice pieces, and three quarter or long sleeves – pick the hem line you want on the pattern pieces. The previous post showed you how to pick your pattern size – there is a key on the pattern sheets which tells you which lines correspond to your size.

My favourite method of cutting any fabric to a sewing pattern – and this works particularly well for knit fabrics – is to trace the pattern onto the fabric using dressmaker’s carbon and a tracing wheel. To do this, we start by cutting roughly around the pattern pieces with paper scissors. Lay the pieces out onto your fabric – you can either freestyle this or use the suggested cutting layout diagram in the pattern instructions. Place any lines that say “place on fold” exactly along the fold of the fabric, and line up all the long grainline arrows so they are exactly parallel to the fold – read more about how to do this. If you want to make extra sure that the garment is going to hang straight, you could stick a pin in either end of each grainline arrow and check that it is running exactly along one rib of the fabric. For sewing geeks only! Hold the pattern pieces in place using pins or weights. Now trace the pattern lines onto your fabric using dressmaker’s carbon and a tracing wheel. Add in the markings too - the notches and small circles. Take the pattern pieces off the fabric before you cut it out.

If you don’t have dressmaker’s carbon and a tracing wheel, you could start by cutting exactly on the pattern lines for your size, lay the pieces out onto the fabric, draw around the lines with a chalk pencil or washable pen, then take the pattern off the fabric before cutting just within the lines. This will help you cut more accurately than if you cut through the pattern and fabric at the same time.

Whichever method you use, you can cut knit fabric with regular fabric scissors, or a rotary cutter will give you an even more accurate result. A rotary cutter, which looks a bit like a pizza cutter, is great for knits as the fabric can stay flat during cutting – rather than being lifted up by the scissor blade – so it won’t stretch out of shape. Simply roll it firmly along the lines to cut out your pieces. They are pretty sharp, so use a cutting mat, mind your fingers on the blade, and always remember to cover the blade each time you put it down.

Cut a short snip (about 5mm / ¼”) to mark each notch (the little horizontal lines) and use a chalk pencil or washable pen to add in other markings such as the side split point on the Coco top. Read more on marking fabric.

And you're done - your fabric is now ready to sew!

24 February 2014

Choosing Your Size + Adjusting the Coco Pattern

Choosing Your Size + Adjusting the Coco Pattern

Ordered your Coco sewing pattern? Great! Let’s talk about how to choose your size, what to do if your proportions span multiple sizes, and how to lengthen or shorten the pattern if that's what you want to do.
Coco is available in printed and PDF formats in sizes UK 6-34 / US 2-30 / EUR 34-62 / AUS 6-34

The Coco sewing pattern is deliberately designed to be really easy to fit – hooray! The pattern has so few pieces that for most people fitting will simply involve checking you’re happy with the positioning of the side seams and underarm seams, which are super simple to change. 

Moreover, knit fabrics are very forgiving – firstly because they will stretch over any tight areas, and secondly because they’re supposed to hang casually and comfortably rather than perfectly mould to every curve of the body. Particularly on the Coco pattern, which is an easy-fitting style. Awesome!

Finding your pattern size

The first thing to do is to measure the circumference of your bust, waist and hips:
- Bust – we’re talking the fullest part of your bust, ie. around your nipples
- Waist – the point at which you bend to the side
- Hips – the fullest part of your hips

It’s best to do this in your undies, the kind you would normally wear under the garment. Make sure you (or a helper) are holding the tape measure parallel to the floor all the way round. No cheating now – no breathing in or sticking your chest out!

Circle your measurements on the pattern size chart:

If your measurements match the proportions of one of the pattern sizes, then hey presto, that’s your size! Each size has a different style of solid/dotted/dashed line on the pattern sheets, and there’s a key which tells you which lines are your size.

If your measurements fall between the sizes, it’s always a good idea to go for the larger one, because it’s much easier to take in a garment than it is to loosen it.

What about if your measurements span two or more sizes? That’s totally normal, our bodies are all different proportions. Take a look at the section below on combining pattern sizes.

Combining two or more pattern sizes

What to do if your measurements span two or more sizes? Coco is a multisized pattern, so it’s easy to combine different bust, waist and hip measurements to match your proportions by redrawing the side seams. Let’s say your bust is size 2, your waist is size 3 and your hips are size 4. On the front bodice pattern piece, draw a diagonal line from the top of the size 2 side seam to the size 3 waist – which is marked by the little horizontal notch – and another line from the size 3 waist to the size 4 line at the hem. Use a curved ruler or gentle hand to draw in the curve at the waist. Repeat the process on the back bodice (or you could trace one onto the other) and add in the waist notch if it has moved.

Lengthening and shortening the pattern

The finished garment measurements chart above also tells you the length of the finished top or dress, measured from the nape of your neck. If you want to shorten Coco by a couple of cm or so, you can just trim off the bottom of the garment before you hem it. But if you want to lengthen or shorten it by more than this, it’s best to adjust the pattern before you cut out the fabric.

Roughly cut around the front and back bodice pattern pieces with paper scissors – or, if you want to keep them intact, trace them off onto a new sheet of paper. Find the set of lines running horizontally across the front bodice piece that says “lengthen or shorten here” and cut along one of these lines.

To lengthen the pattern, cut a new piece of paper and draw two horizontal lines on it parallel to each other, the distance between them being the amount you want to lengthen the pattern by (for example, if you want to make it two inches longer, draw two horizontal lines, one of them two inches above the other), and draw a vertical line exactly perpendicular to these lines close to one edge. Tape or glue the cut lines of the pattern pieces onto the horizontal lines you’ve drawn, lining up the ‘place on fold’ lines of the pattern with the vertical line you’ve drawn. Use a ruler to redraw the side seam of your pattern size – from waist to hem – to neaten it out. Repeat on the back bodice piece.

To shorten the pattern, measure up from the “lengthen/shorten here” lines by the amount you want to shorten it by and draw a horizontal line parallel to this point (for example, if you want to make it two inches shorter, draw a horizontal line two inches above the “lengthen/shorten here” lines). Overlap the bottom piece of the pattern on top of the top piece, aligning the cut line with the new line you’ve drawn in, and glue or tape it in place. Use a ruler to redraw the side seam of your pattern size – from waist to hem – to neaten it out. Repeat on the back bodice piece.

Fitting Coco

As I say, Coco isn’t a tricky pattern to fit, so you don’t need to make a toile or spend lots of time fitting it. What I would recommend is pinning along the seam line (15mm / 5/8in) from the raw edge on the side seams, shoulder and hem just before you stitch them, so you can try it on and check you’re happy with the fit. But you don't need to think about that just yet...

In the next post we’ll talk about cutting out your fabric, followed by an introduction to sewing knit fabric on a regular sewing machine. And then next week we'll sew Coco!

21 February 2014

Where to Buy Knit Fabric

Where do you buy knit fabric? Some of you have asked for suggestions for where to find knit fabric to make your Coco sewing pattern. So I've put together a list of fabric shops that I know of that sell knits. Inevitably the majority of the list is based in the UK, as that's what I know best, plus a few in the US. And this is where you come in! If you know somewhere that stocks nice knit fabrics where you are, please add to the list by leaving a comment so we can turn this into a really useful international resource.

I bought the fabric for my Cocos from Tissu Fabrics / The Cloth House / Simply Fabrics
Before launching into the list, let me just remind you what kind of fabric you'll be looking for to make Coco - medium weight knit fabric with very little stretch. So what exactly is that? Knit fabric is formed in a different way to woven fabric, with a looping thread structure that results in its flexible, stretchy nature. And not all knits are created equal - there's the kind of thin jersey used to make t-shirts, super-stretchy rayon knits that you sometimes get in wrap dresses, tricot knit that your swimsuit may be made of, rib knits used in sweatshirt cuff bands... But the kind we want is firmer, slightly heavier than regular t-shirt fabric, and not very stretchy. Firstly because this type of material will be waaaay easier to handle, particularly if you're new to sewing knits - really easy in fact! - and secondly because the design of the garment calls for a fabric that will help hold its shape. Look out for fabrics with names like double knit, interlock knit, ponte di roma (AKA ponte knit) – or have a feel of the fabric in the shop to check it’s not too fine or stretchy. If you’re shopping online, the listing may include a percentage of stretch or Lycra or spandex included (Lycra is a brand name for spandex) – if it does, I’d go for something with definitely less than 5%, maybe about 3%, the lower the better.

Righto, so where can you buy knit fabrics like these?

Please bear in mind that I haven’t bought fabric from all the online shops personally, so it’s a really good idea to order a swatch before buying so you can check the fabric isn't too thin or stretchy (plus it's just generally useful to see a sample before buying to check colour, quality etc). And this list is by no means comprehensive, so please do chip in below with your own suggestions! Oh and BTW, I'm not being paid to recommend these shops, in fact they have no idea I'm doing it. (Of course if they want to send me some fabric in return, I won't complain...)

Sources [clockwise from top left]: Dragonfly Fabrics / Stone Fabrics / The Village Haberdashery /
My Fabrics / Ray StitchStone Fabrics
UK knit fabric suppliers:

Tissu Fabrics - This is where I bought the fabric for my funnel neck Coco, and I must say it's lovely. I'll definitely be going back there for more. They've got interlock in loads of colours, as well as prints.

Plush Addict has a fab range of interlock knit in lots of lovely colours.

Minerva stocks a wide range of colours of ponte, as well as this rather lovely houndstooth knit.

The Village Haberdashery have some lovely striped interlock, these super cute Woodland Knits from Monaluna, plus keep you're eye out because they're soon to get in these gorgeous Flight knits from The Grove.

Dragonfly Fabrics has a lurrrvely stock of stripey knits. As I said, do remember to request a swatch first as I haven't tried them out myself.

If you're a Liberty lover, they have a small range of interlock knits, such as this one from Sewbox.

Ray Stitch also have some Liberty interlocks, as well as these stunning Elk Grove chevrons - gah! I'd love some of this!

Fabric Godmother has some interesting looking knits, including this lovely red Roma (which I'm assuming is the same as ponte di roma).

Backstitch have got some ponte roma in, including glittery stuff, mmm...

Stone Fabrics have some interesting stuff, including this ladybird spot fabric which I've used to make the simple Coco top above (I got mine from Goldhawk Road), red and black houndstooth, polka dot ponte and galaxy print ponte - yes, galaxy print ponte - amongst others.

Calico Laine has some double knits. I'd love to make a Coco dress in that white one.

There are some interlocks and ponte knits at MyFabrics.co.uk. Fancy something gold and glittery? How about this!

If you're based in London, I've found some great knit fabric at The Cloth House (particularly good for stripes), Simply Fabrics and Unique Fabrics on Goldhawk Road.

And some US ones:

Fabric Mart have loads of ponte, interlock and double knits.

Britex has a wide selection of various types of knits.

Fabric Worm stock the lovely Elk Grove interlock knits from Birch Fabrics.

I stumbled across Girl Charlee and their beautiful selection.


I hope that's enough to be getting on with, and please do share your own recommendations for where to buy great knit fabric.

Once you've bought your fabric, prewash and dry it at least once before you cut it, as they can shrink - much better to get shrinkage out of the way now before you make your clothes to fit!

While you're sourcing fabric, don't forget to gather the other supplies you need to make Coco:

  • matching thread
  • stretch or ballpoint needle for your sewing machine
  • ribbon (30cm x 6-8mm wide) or stay tape

And a few extra bits that aren't essential but are really nice to have:
  • rotary cutter and cutting mat are really useful
  • twin stretch or ballpoint needle for your sewing machine if you fancy trying that out
  • hemming tape can be good too

I'll explain more about these supplies and how to use them as we make our Cocos. Next week I'll cover choosing your size and adjusting your pattern, cutting knit fabrics, and an introduction to sewing knit fabrics on a regular sewing machine. In the meantime, let's go shopping!

20 February 2014

Designing Your Coco

Wow! What an amazing reception to the Coco sewing pattern! Thank you soooo much for all your sweet comments, tweets and, of course, orders! I've been so excited about sharing this pattern so it means a lot to me that so many of you love it too. Special thanks to the gorgeous Alana who has been helping out with getting your goodies in the post - I'm so grateful for her help!

Let's talk about one of my favourite parts of dressmaking - coming up with design ideas for your Coco. It's such a versatile pattern, there are so many different ways of making your Coco unique - and, of course, gorgeous.

If you're going for a classic Breton, may I recommend the blog La Marinière? It is jam-packed full of inspiration for stripey loveliness. Warning: it is highly addictive. Once you start scrolling, you may not be able to stop...

Coco by Tilly
Lots of you have fallen in love with the sixties funnel neck version of Coco (me too!!). It looks super chic in a solid colour. I'm definitely making one in red, or how about pastel pink, mustard yellow, or neutral beige? Lurrrvely. I've also had my eye on this gorgeous stripey number from Boden so may well make one just like it. Could be cute in polka dots too?

JaegerToast / ASOS
You could pick more than one fabric. As well as more traditional colour blocking, I love the idea of mixing up stripes with spots, stripes with stripes, solids with spots... Try adding a contrast print or colour or direction of print to the sleeves, pockets or hem.

via La Mariniere / Petit Bateau
How about adding an embellishment to your Coco? I like the idea of sewing something onto the shoulders - nautical buttons, bows, or sequin patches. Or how about customising the back with an exposed zip or large ribbon tie?

Boden / Zooey Deschanel for InStyle / Boden
Or maybe you'd prefer to keep it simple like these stylish ladies. I would wear these dresses every day!

I hope this has given you a few ideas for designing your Coco. There's plenty more inspiration in the Pinterest gallery, which I'm adding to all the time. In tomorrow's post we'll talk fabrics - what kind of fabric to choose and some suggestions of where to buy it - so you can get shopping over the weekend.

How are you going to design your Coco? Ooh I can't wait to hear your ideas!

18 February 2014

Hello Coco!

Say bonjour to Coco, my new sewing pattern – and my first sewing pattern that’s available PRINTED as well as digital! Woop! Coco is available to order NOW in my shiny new shop. Let me tell you more about it…

Coco is an everyday top and dress with multiple variations, designed to be made in medium weight, low stretch knit fabrics (interlock knit, double knit, ponte di roma…). If you’re new to sewing with knit fabrics, then the Coco pattern is the PERFECT introduction. It can be sewn on a regular sewing machine – no overlocker or serger required. I’ll walk you through the whole process, with lots of tips and tricks for making sewing with knits simple.  The garment is easy to fit and there are no zips, buttons or other fiddly bits involved - just throw it over your head! The simplest version of the pattern only has three pieces, so the whole project is super duper speedy. Sound good? Good! Let’s talk about the design of the garment in a bit more detail...

I’d been dreaming about creating a sewing pattern for the perfect Breton top for ages. Wearable and stylish at the same time, Breton or "marinière" tops are my favourite things to wear in the world. Coco is a classic Breton design – easy-fitting (not too tight, not too loose), with turn-and-stitch boat neckline, and choice of three quarter or long sleeves. I added gentle shaping at the waist to make it more feminine and flattering side splits that skim over the hips. Stripes are totally optional of course – it also looks great in solids, polka dots, florals, graphic prints, quirky prints… But Coco isn’t only a top…

… there’s also the dress version! This mid-knee length tunic dress is so comfortable and easy to wear – snuggly over woolly tights in the winter, easy to throw on in spring, and great for strolling the Riviera this summer. Can I tell you something? This is my favourite dress EVER!!! It’s just so… gah! I love it!

And that’s not all! There’s also the option of adding a sixties style wide funnel roll neck and turned up cuffs – this is a style I’ve become a little obsessed with of late. Very Audrey, non? You can also add the funnel neck or cuffs to the dress. In fact, Coco is a seriously versatile pattern. I’m only showing three versions here, but basically you can make a wardrobe full of Cocos which all look different. The pattern also comes with two different size patch pockets which you can add or omit depending on your preference.

So that’s the garment design. Please can I tell you about the pattern format? I’ve thought long and hard about how to make my sewing patterns simple and enjoyable to use to everyone, including people who have never even seen a sewing pattern before, and you guys gave me some great ideas a little while back when I was at the research stage.

Remember the first time (and maybe even the last time) you looked at a sewing pattern, how perplexing it was to get your head around how the pieces would come together to create a piece of clothing? I’ve labelled the seam lines and markings on the pattern pieces to make it easy to picture how it all fits together. You are welcome.

The printed pattern comes on durable paper that you can use again and again without having to trace it off first. You can fold it back up again neatly when you’re done, without it scrunching up into a stupid ball like tissue patterns do (urgh), and slide it back into the gusset envelope. Gusset. (Good word.) This envelope is so roomy you could even keep fabric swatches in here.

The pattern is accompanied by a full colour guide with photos showing you every step. It’s seriously beautiful – like a mini book in itself! The guide includes a jargon buster, an introduction to sewing knits, and the steps are explained clearly, without assuming any prior knowledge. If you need any further help, there are more detailed instructions online, with loads of tips and tricks for sewing knit fabrics.

The printed pattern comes in a gorgeous package, with a fresh and modern design which I hope will appeal to a whole new wave of potential DIY dressmakers. The paper is FSC certified and printed using vegetable-based ink. Unusually, every element of the pattern was printed in the UK.

The pattern is also available in digital format as a PDF download to print at home (or at the office – ssshhh!). This is a great option if you are on a budget, if you want to avoid international shipping costs, or if want to make it NOW! The pattern is tiled so you can print it off on A4 or US Letter paper and tape the pages together to form a full size pattern.

Due to popular demand, I'm pleased to announce that the pattern comes in eight sizes – that’s two extra sizes larger than my previous patterns! The full size chart is available to view in the shop, in both metric and imperial measurements, along with other details such as what fabric and supplies you need.

Coco is now available to buy in my online shop!

I’d LOVE to see what you make, so please leave a link to a photo either on the blog or tweet me using the hashtag #SewingCoco. I’ll pin these images to the Coco gallery on Pinterest and will feature some of them in future blog posts, so if you leave/send me a link I’ll take that as consent for me to share your pictures.

Well, I’m sitting here now, patterns and mailing supplies at the ready, waiting for your order so I can start playing shops. Roll up, roll up, get your Coco sewing pattern here!

14 February 2014

Amber Jane Butchart's Fashion Miscellany

I feel incredibly proud of my friend Amber upon the publication of her first book, Amber Jane Butchart's Fashion Miscellany. Remember this guest post on dressmaking patterns in the 1930s? That was Amber. Now she has this absolute beauty to her name, a book which is such a pleasure to read.

It's jam-packed full of interesting nuggets and anecdotes about the history of fashion. For example, a brief history of polka dots - just a few paragraphs of reading and I feel like an expert. Did you know that dotted fabric design has such a short history because of the previous association of spots with disease? And that the style became popular in the mid-nineteenth century with the Polka dance craze? Other fascinating sections include how to tie a bow tie, a handy guide to pronouncing the names of famous fashion designers, a brief history of the high heel shoe, and an insight into Victorian mourning craze.

I inhaled the contents of this book within one sitting, but it's also the kind of book you can dip in and out of easily. I hesitate to call it a "loo book", as it's too good for that! In any case, I can see myself buying various copies of this lovely book as gifts, it's so delightful.

Have you read any good fashion-related books recently?

[Soundtrack: 'Love to Love You Baby' by Donna Summer - just cos it's Valentine's Day... ohhh...]