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Simple Sew Cocoon Dress

Hello, it’s Sue from susan young sewing here again. I’ve wanted to make a Simple Sew Cocoon dress for a little while as I’ve seen a lot of versions of them but I hadn’t quite got around to it because I didn’t have the ‘right’ fabric in my stash. Then I saw this gorgeous ruby red Crepe Fabric at Minerva and I knew it was just the thing to make a smart long-sleeved version of the Cocoon ready for the autumn.

It has a really lovely weight and drape, although it has the usual downside of crepe which is that it can fray quite easily so careful handling is essential to minimise this. There’s also a little bit of inherent stretch with most crepes due to the way the yarn is twisted, this one doesn’t have much stretch but it isn’t a problem with this pattern as it’s loose fitting anyway.

The beauty of a plain fabric of course is that you can just place your pattern pieces on without having to worry about one-way designs or nap (obviously don’t forget the grainline though!)

You’ll need some Vilene for the neck facings and I chose to cut 2 of the pocket pieces (you’ll need 4 in total) in lining simply because crepe is quite a ‘heavy’ fabric and I didn’t want them to drag down the dress too much from the inside. Another idea is to use a total contrast fabric for the facings and pocket bags, it’s an excellent way to use up scraps or fat quarters.

It’s a nice simple make and very quick to make. Don’t forget to stay stitch the neck edges before you start, you don’t want the V stretched before you get too far. (If this happens you can always try a good amount of steam to shrink it back. This often works but be very careful about the temperature of your iron on your particular fabric-you don’t want a melted mess instead of a slightly stretched neck!) After joining the shoulder seams I faced the neckline, trimmed down the seam allowance to about 5mm and then under stitched through all the seam allowance layers on the facing side. This is an important step because it enables the facing to turn crisply to the inside.

Another tip I’ve leant from doing alterations is that instead of hand-stitching the facing down where it meets the seams, I machine it. On the right side of the garment first make sure that the facing is sitting exactly in the correct position and pin it in a couple of places. Place the seam directly under the needle and carefully ‘stitch in the ditch’ for a couple of centimetres, pulling the seam gently apart slightly as you go. The idea is that you’re securing the facing down on the underside but the stitching from the top should be almost invisible. Repeat on the other shoulder seam and the centre front seam too.

I sewed the lining pockets onto the dress front and the crepe pockets to the back, this is so that when the pockets are hanging forwards inside the dress in wear it’s the crepe that might show, not the lining. Don’t forget to under-stitch close to the seam where the pocket bag attaches to the side seam too, as with the neck facing this helps the pockets stay firmly inside the the dress.

Lastly I joined the side seams and hemmed the sleeves and hem. When I tried it on I felt that the width of cuffs was a bit too wide and flappy so I reduced the width of them by about 5cms in total which I’m happier with.

I’m very pleased with how my Cocoon has turned out, the crepe sews up beautifully and presses like a dream. Any creases tend to bounce back out of crepe too which is useful if you’ll be sitting in your garment for any length of time. On the downside it can ‘seat’ a little bit so it’s worth considering a lining under it.

Thank you as always to Minerva for providing me with this lovely fabric, I hope you’ve found this useful and I’ll be back again soon with more sewing tips and advice.

Happy Sewing

Sue @ Susan Young Sewing

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