Autumn Sewing – Cleo Pinafore

I saw a lot of Cleo dresses at the beginning of this Autumn. After seeing so many people sewing the dungaree and pinafore in corduroy/needlecord, I was convinced I needed one, or a dozen. I got the pattern from  Tilly’s shop and needlecord fabric in deep brown colour from Raystitch for my anniversary present in early October, just perfect timing.

The pattern is, like many of hers, very easy to follow and the instruction couldn’t be any clearer. I made two pinafore mini version in size 4, and they came out perfect. They didn’t take long to finish, pretty much smooth sailing kind of project, notwithstanding the massive cleaning I had to do (machine and my sewing studio) thanks to the fluff from the needlecord. Yikes! But, look how pretty the button is! ❤IMG_3188

As much as I love the needlecord look, I am not a fan of wearing it over my tights. It really does ride up. I wonder if lining would help? Also I totally made a booboo with the front chest pocket. I apparently missed the top pocket corner marking on my pattern and so I put my top corner pocket on the spot that was supposed to be for the lower corner of the pocket. As you can see my pocket hangs very low, and it’s not so appealing. I did think about unpicking the stitches, but I noticed that with corduroys the stitches would leave quite visible mark on the fabric. Plus my thread matched the fabric too much I could hardly see where to unpick, ha! For now, I’ll just keep it that way.

For the second version I chose to work with Robert Kaufman medium weight denim I purchased from John Lewis Liverpool. As the denim is very plain, I thought it needed some sort of colour pops, so I decided to start playing with the pockets and my leftover fabric stash. I was originally toying with the idea of lining the pockets and leave about an inch of the lining to show on the right side of the pocket on the top, but I then realised that would make my pockets very thick and bulky. So I just added a bit of fabric on the top of the pockets, I think it works. Quite a simple process but enough to give the dress a bit more interest. I also used Hongkong finish as I’m not really a big fan of zigzag finish on fabrics that fray easily.




One of the things I love about my denim version is how neat my stitching is – if I may say so myself. I did take my time with it and I thought a lot about how I was going to tackle the topstitching and edgestitching. I didn’t dare to use contrasting thread yet though.

What I learned:

When I was practicing edgestitching the straps, it dawned on me that I could  move my needle left or right and use it to help me making my stitches straight, without getting new sewing gadget or fancy foot. So on my machine, with the foot that came with the machine that allows me to stitch zigzag, using regular straight stitch (I used the one that comes with automatic backstitch), I changed the stitch width to 7.0 which basically means it does nothing to your stitching as it was just a straight stitch but you’re moving the needle to the farthest right, closer to the edge of the fabric. I then stitched with 1/4″ seam allowance, easy. This gives me neat stitching at 1/2cm or 1/8″ from the edge. You can also align the edge of the fabric with the right side edge of the machine’s foot (just a tad over the 1/4″ mark on the seam allowance guide), the result is obviously the stitching would be just slightly farther from the edge, very slightly.


Another thing I learned is how to get to the pivot point just right when stitching corners. What I did was basically reducing the stitch length when I got nearer to the corner so the needle would hit the right spot for pivoting, and thus giving you neater result. Of course it worked marvelously with me as I was using matching fabric and thread, so the stitch length difference wasn’t that visible. I guess if you’re using contrasting thread it might be wise to not reduce the stitch length too much, maybe by 0.2mm to 0.4mm?

I know those techniques are probably quite obvious for others, I am not in any way saying that those are the correct and only way, or that I am an expert, but I found them very helpful in my process and I hope it would help other new sewists.

That’s all from me today. Thank you for reading.





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