How To: #CottageCore Set
So here's a total experiment that ended up working! Lots of gathers, big sleeves, and easy to selfdraft if you're a beginner. I used a thrifted duvet cover to make this set, and I'd say on the scale of 0 to picnic basket on the farm it's a strong 9. Bonus: breastfeeding friendly if that's a thing for you.
Fabric (I used 100% cotton) 4 m of full width (150 cm) for top + skirt, 1 m of half-width (110 cm) for top only | Scissors | Pins | Elastic (I used 3 cm wide for top hem & skirt waist, and 1.5 cm wide for top sleeves) | Thread & Sewing machine | Didn't make it into the photo, but bias tape maker
I. Here are the measurements of my cut top pieces, you need two of each - at the top you have the 2 sleeve pieces, and at the bottom the front and back top pieces. As this is a gathered style with elasticated details, the same dimensions would work a size or two up from me - I'm EU36/US4, so up to EU38/US6 or EU40/US8.
II. Next you'll want to assemble the top by pinning the raglan sleeve seams together, right sides facing (the edges that measure 33 cm above.) Ignore the fact that in this step I had cut the back piece in half - I wasn't sure how big I was going to go with the neckline, so I thought I needed a keyhole detail there. I ended up making the neckline big enough to be pulled on, so no need for the keyhole (due to the gathers of the top, it didn't even end up being a very interesting stylistic detail, since it gets hidden in the gathers). In other words, you can just leave your back piece as is, no cutting in half. Once you've pinned the pieces together, sew the 4 seams and press.
III. Then fold at the center of the sleeves, right sides facing, and pin & sew the side seams.
IV. Now you're ready to gather the neckline of the top. I usually do 2 gathering stitches (longest stitch on your machine with maximum tension). Pull on the bobbin threads until you have the gathering you want - I gathered enough for the length of the neckline to be about 60 cm.
Again something you won't need to do when you don't cut your back piece in half.. binding the keyhole.
V. The photo of this bit turned out a bit blurry, but I first made enough matching bias tape to cover the neckline length using one of these babies, and then pinned my bias tape onto the neckline. I've covered that process in more detail here.
When topstitching bias binding with a machine, I actually prefer to first pin the bias tape on the reverse side of the fabric, so that when I turn it over onto the right side to envelop the neckline, I have more control over getting the topstitch perfect (instead of having to sew on the reverse, not seeing exactly where your bobbin stitches will land). That ended up being irrelevant though, because I decided I didn't want a visible stitch, and hand-sewed the bias tape in its place on the right side. This is what it looked like when done - I also had to add a little loop & button to be able to close up my useless keyhole detail.
VI. Onto the top hem: I first pressed a narrow 0.5 cm fold onto the reverse, then another wider fold, about 1 cm more than the width of my elastic.
Then sewed two rows of stitches to create the casing for the elastic, leaving a gap to insert it from. Took a piece of elastic that comfortably wrapped around my waist, passed it through with a safety pin, sewed ends together, and closed up the gap in the stitch.
And so I had this.
With the sleeves, I repeated the same process, just with a less wide elastic.
VII. For the skirt, I didn't do much documenting since it was a super simple tiered rectangle number. I did 3 tiers, lengths are below, widths as follows: first tier 140 cm (cut from two 70 cm pieces), second 250 cm, third 450 cm (two latter cut from multiple pieces sewn together).
To begin, I sewed the first tier - two 70 cm wide pieces - together at the sides, and then elasticated the waist the same way I did with the top hem.
From there it was just mindless gathering and attaching the 2 other tiers. Here are more visuals of that process in case you need.
I prefer to show finished pieces in action in the wild, but the baby life has me stuck inside quite a bit these days.. So a white wall is all I can give🤷♀️
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