It’s no secret that the Cleo dress is one of my favourite makes. I made this midi black version a while ago and let’s just say: the only time I wasn’t wearing it was when my pregnancy bump became way too big. I’m only just started to fit back into it (hallelujah!) but before that I was getting full on Cleo dress withdrawal. Suddenly I got hankering for a denim version. I’m not really a denim kind of girl but after I saw a few midi dungaree dresses in the shops I knew I needed one in my wardrobe.

It took me a while to find the perfect mid-to-light shade of blue for what I had in mind. In the end I opted for this beautiful denim from Croft Mill.  I ordered 1.5 m for the midi hack which I’ve posted before (click here). Here’s one of my inspiration dresses (sold out from ASOS):

You might have noticed that there’s just a few things I need to change to get a dress closer to my inspiration photos. It needed a centre front button placket, a waistband and of course ginormous hip pockets. Luckily for me the beautiful Abi @Crafty Pin-Up had already done the button placket hack (which you can find here), so all there was left to figure out was the waistband and the hip pockets.

Now bear in mind, I started making this when my little girl was a few months old. It actually took me a while to finish, partly because I got tired and was finding it difficult to fit in some sewing, but mainly because I had actually started my postpartum fitness regime and my body was once again changing shape quite a bit. So ended up hitting ‘hold’ on the make until I could deal with the fitting issues that ended up arising…but more on that later…

So how did I do  it?

I started with lengthening the pattern to a midi length and creating the centre front button placket using Abi’s tutorial. I know this is going to be a bit controversial but I cheated with the waistband. I was tired and with a baby occupying 90% of my brain space I didn’t have the energy to cut a front piece to create a nice waistband with a facing on the inside as well. I know it’s not that hard and would have just taken a few extra steps but at this point I just wanted to a dress and so I took the easy way out… The other reason why I didn’t go for a proper waistband was because with my new shape I wasn’t sure where the waistband would be most flattering-  too high and it accentuates my pear shape, too low and it wouldn’t highlight my waist, so with this method I created a faux waistband and was able to add it on after looking in the mirror and deciding on the best position.

I cut a long rectangular strip of denim about 6 cm in width. I pressed the edges up along the length ways by 1 cm and basted in place.  Then I lay this across the front pattern pieces, this is where I got to play around with where I put the waistband. After finding which height suited me best I marked this out. Once I knew where my waistband was going I could then place my pockets.

For the pocket I actually used the free hip pocket template that Tilly and the Buttons had released for the Mila dungarees. I cut out the pattern pieces and interface the pocket openings as they suggested.  I folded the pocket in half width ways right sides together as per instructions (right sides in white, wrong in grey). 

Pressing before pinning and stitching the diagonal pocket edge (pink lines) and the long edge, leaving the edge that will be part of the side seam and the tiny top of the trapezium unstitched. I trimmed the seam allowance and turned it inside out and pressed again. I then topstitched the diagonal pocket opening to match the rest of the top stitching.

And then pinned the pockets in place (the waistband would end up overlaying the top pocket edge- shown in the light grey), making sure the vertical edge of the pocket was parallel to the centre front. 

Then I topstitched the rest of the pocket in place. The side seam would close up the remaining edge of the pocket.

After that was done I put the waistband into place, covering up the top edges of the pocket and  top stitched it to the front pattern pieces, leaving it to overlap on the side seams. Once the waistband was in place I stitched up the Cleo dress as normal, following the steps for the button packet. The facing ended up hiding the side edges of the waistband. Again, I know it’s not ideal to have that much bulk to sew through and I think if you haven’t got a machine that can manage it making a proper waistband would probably be a better idea.  Thankfully my machine was able to slowly stitch it’s way through the denim.

To make life a bit easier I also stitched down part of the  button placket because 1. there’s only so many buttonholes I can do without losing my sanity and 2. who needs gaping in their lives? So from the waist down the buttonholes aren’t real. now here’s where I made a bit of a booboo- in my late night rush to get the dress done I ended up putting the buttons through only one half of the front rather than both layers which means would these larger jeans buttons the shank sticks out a bit because it doesn’t have as many layers to go through. It’s an easy enough fix if I want to replace the buttons (but who am I kidding! As if I’m going to go back to a project to fix such a minor problem?? I’ll just live with it!)

So that’s it that’s my cheats way to get a button-front-hip-pocket-dungaree dress. It’s definitely not the most tidy or sleek way to do it,  but hey, it did the trick!I should probably mention the massive fitting issues I had around my mum tum. It’s no secret that I’m struggling to fit clothes around my postpartum body (I hear you yawning at me mentioning it for the billionth time). For this particular Cleo and my current body shape it actually ended up better for me to wear the entire dress a little bit higher than my old one. The only problem is it meant I was grading from a size 2 to a 6 on the hips. Despite all that I ended up with a lot of weird gathering of fabric around my hips. In the end I  stood facing the mirror and pinned away the excess. It ended up having to come out from the back pieces along the side seam- basically I didn’t need the extra space on my back but I did need it around the front for my mum tum. Now the dress fits pretty well on the back and not too tight on the front. It was a bit annoying and unexpected to have to deal with a brand-new fit issue, but hey it was worth the extra time because there’s nothing worse than having a dress that makes you feel self conscious. 

Love,

Rumana 

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