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I made a Cleo

I’ve done it. I made something for me. Little dance of joy. It has been a while. This is my Cleo and I love it, but it almost didn’t happen.

I wanted to sew something that was straightforward and easy to wear. Something I could wear on an ordinary day, which, let’s face it, is most of my days. It had to be quick to make without posing any potential hurdles like fancy fastenings and fittings. My tendancy to procrastinate steps in too easily. The Cleo seemed to fit the bill.

To start with, I had my doubts. I wasn’t sure if a pinafore, with a bib and buckles, would be the right choice for someone cruising crazily towards…  ahem … her half century. Was it too young a look? Would I look like I should be serving tea in a tea tent? Could I expect flashbacks to the 70s?


As you can see, I totally ignored the nagging voice in my head and went for it. I’m old enough to care less what others think. So if I was OK with it, not much else mattered.

It was the first time I’ve used a pattern from an independent pattern designer. I loved the thickness of the paper, which meant I could use it as a template to chalk around, instead of pinning and cutting along the fragile tissue paper edges of my usual patterns. A definite improvement. The instructions were clear with photos showing the stages.

I did add a few changes. Instead of spending time pattern matching the fabric’s swirly embroidered twirls on the front, I avoided a centre seam altogether and cut the front on the fold. Overlapping the paper by the same amount as the seam allowance, to avoid making the front too wide.

Instead of the split in the front hem, I added it to the back. I also added a lining to the dress, as the corduroy clung to my legs when I walked. With the lining, it hangs better too. I lengthened the knee length version by 4 inches, which suits me more.

For the facing, at the top of the bib, I used an off cut from a pair of pyjamas I made a while back. Wasn’t until I stepped back and looked at it that the brown cord and the plaid facing combination that I realised that it shouted Barbour waxed jacket. I guess it fits in fine for country living, not that the green chequers show.

(The split does hang straight. A moment when I could have done with someone else taking the photos rather than me.)

I’m going to have fun working out the best tops to wear under this pinafore. Don’t be fooled by the sunlight on the wall behind me in the photos. Today was cold, so it was layers and boots. I’m sure I’ll find some terrible combinations too. So long as it looks right to me.

I am so glad I made this dress. It is so comfortable. Easy to walk. Sit down. Dance in. The fabric has been in my stash for a couple of years. I think it cost me £1.99 per metre from Minerva Crafts, but has probably all gone by now. The pattern is Cleo by Tilly and the Buttons. At £12.50 it is more than I usually spend on a pattern, but I know I will use this again and may even make teen versions for my two teens. I’ve already picked out denim fabric from my stash to make another one for me.

My first make of 2018 for me. I used my old Singer sewing machine. As my youngest pointed out, it meant that I used no electricity to make this dress.

You’re right“, I said as I stepped in front of my iron to block his view, “not a lot of electricity used.

I wasn’t going to ruin a good observation.

(edited: I made another Cleo. This time for my teen. More info here, if you’re interested.)

22 Responses to I made a Cleo

  • Lisa G. says:

    Ha! Well, the iron doesn’t exactly count, does it? Ironing is a great help when you’re sewing, but if you were desperate, you could manage without. Anyway, it looks great on you – good job!

    • Craft Mother says:

      I’m not the world’s most dedicated ironer, so I’m not surprised he didn’t add it into the calculations. I was impressed that he thought about the lack of electricity use.

  • Helen B says:

    Love it, glad you ignored all the nagging doubts and went ahead with it, fabric and style suit you.

  • That looks fantastic! And I love the colour.

  • Christy says:

    I love it and it definitely suits you. This fabric is really nice, I love the very subtle detail. And most importantly – it looks very comfortable. #MMBC

    • Craft Mother says:

      Thanks Christy. The detail lifts without dominating, which suits me. It is very comfortable. Wore it yesterday and no problems. I’m making more.

  • Louisa says:

    Fabulous make Cheryl! It looks wonderful. I think it was a good choice to omit the centre seam, it’s something I may do with my dungarees depending on the fabric I choose. Will you do feature topstitching on your denim version? It looks like a very versatile pattern, I must crack on with my version now! x

    • Craft Mother says:

      Thanks Louisa. I quite fancy doing topstitching in a subtly different thread for the denim. I don’t think it would have shown up on the brown cord. Removing the seam made this dress a little bit more flattering for me. I cannot wait to see your dungarees. 🙂

  • Anne says:

    It looks great and it suits you! I love the material, I used to have a bit of a passion for cord, even the trousers that used to squeak as I walked, you don’t get that with any other material! I love how you adapt things to suit you too, very clever.

  • Claire says:

    You did great making this. Love it 🙂 The material looks lovely. #MMBC

  • Wow, I’m super impressed! Not great on sewing myself (although I did make my own wedding dress once upon a long ago…), but I feel inspired looking at these pictures #MMBC

  • Debbie says:

    Hi Cheryl, I think you made a good choice (what’s half a century these days?). It’s stylish and practical. I love the colour too. I wouldn’t know one end of a dress pattern from the other, much to my Mums disappointment (she is a whizz on the machine too). You should get an old fashioned iron to heat on your Aga to keep the family amused!


    • Craft Mother says:

      I have thought about an old iron, but I suspect there is a good reason why they lost out to the electric version. Not that that will stop me trying if I find a reasonable priced one. The Aga should be perfect for it.

  • Jo Roberts says:

    I have made two cleos and wear my chunky blue cord one all the time. I did line it which makes them so wearable. I have a skirt in that fabric which I wear often too! Happy sewing for 2108. Jo x

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