Sophie Kingo Blogs

Insight into Sophie Kingo's African-Scandinavian inspired clothing and accessories

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Knitted dress – Rowan Tammie

Back in late summer 2013 I treated myself to some Rowan Lima yarn. And it was a treat by the price it cost! I wanted to knit the Tammie “ribbed sweater” from Rowan Studio Issue 28, but knew there was no way I could knit it in the required Kid Classic as I can’t tolerate wearing lambswool or mohair – I find them far too itchy. So I chose the Lima, a soft and lightweight baby alpaca and merino wool yarn, instead. The gauge is pretty similar and I just made sure I did a gauge swatch to get the right tension.

I also knew I wanted to make some changes to the Tammie. For a start, the version on the model – being a “sweater” – was too short as a dress, even thought they styled it as one. Secondly, I didn’t like the sleeves. So I bought enough of the main colour to lengthen it by several centimetres and decided to end with the second colour as cap sleeves.

But I took too long to get the Tammie dress going, and by spring was no where near half way through the second side. So I put it away and waited for autumn to come round again. By this September I was 10 weeks pregnant and worried that I wouldn’t fit into the dress anymore, but I decided to continue to make it anyway and see how it went. It was, after all ribbed which would stretch over a growing bump. But then I picked up my crochet hook and started crocheting a baby blanket – more on that later – and the Tammie dress got sidelined again.

However, come November I was back onto the dress (which, being dark purple and a plaited yarn was quite tricky to work with on a cosy evening in Walthamstow with the nights drawing in) and finally completed it just after Christmas. Here it is. Complete with 26 week bump.

Knitted dress 2 Knitted dress

knitted dress 3

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Baby Elspeth and new fabrics

I’ve been making and selling girls’ dresses for a little while now. It doesn’t really supplement my salary from my full-time ‘proper’ job a great deal, but it’s a nice way of keeping up my dressmaking hobby without just expensively giving away dress after dress to family and friends or ending up with hundreds of dresses for me. Basically, I like to sew so I thought I might as well try to sell some of what I make.

Anyway, I’ve had a website- – up and running since last year and have seen a few orders from people I don’t know – notably from Fuerth and Hamburg in Germany and Taunton in Somerset – via my Folksy shop. The mother in Somerset recently shared this picture of her lovely daughter Elspeth sporting a Sophie Kingo special with plenty of room to grow. Doesn’t she look gorgeous?

Elspeth in Pia

Elspeth in Pia with Malene trim

It’s so nice receiving images of girls in the dresses I make. I don’t have children of my own, so I often don’t get to see my creations being worn. But luckily, a few parents have shared pictures with me, and you can see the lovely Georgie, Matilda, Hannah and Romey enjoying their dresses on my website.

I have a couple of other orders to get on with this weekend – another for Hamburg and one for a friend’s niece in London – but had run seriously low on stock. So the hubby and I took a trip to Brixton yesterday to pick up some new fabrics. There wasn’t a great selection available and sadly one of the shops I regularly used – Freeman Textiles – has closed down. It’s the sad result of the gentrification of Brixton Village from a West Indian/African hodgepodge market into an arcade of trendy eateries and boutiques. But I managed to find some printed kente and a couple of other wax prints from African Queen that will look lovely when made up into dresses – either for me or for girls…

So, anyone wanting to buy their own Sophie Kingo creation for their little girl – or even just one they know – can now take their pick from 12 lovely colourful West African print fabrics. Summer is just around the corner – I promise – so why not get your order in while you can enjoy it?!



A new dress (not a shift)

Back in July last year I made a new dress using a new pattern. I love it, so thought I’d make another.

This time it was a lot less hassle. I mean, I completed the zip first time. No fifth time lucky this time. I added contrasting fabric for the waistband, neckband and pockets to break it up a little. Et voila:

Dress Feb 2013

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A new dress

I started this dress – from a new pattern I bought ages ago – last Sunday afternoon, but cutting it out took me so long I didn’t get it anywhere near finished before it was time to cook the roast. I decided to use the Serwa fabric I bought for the very popular Sophie Kingo African print girls’ dresses as it’s somehow understated yet very African andvery stylish.

I didn’t get round to picking up the dress again until yesterday afternoon . Of course, I had the same issues as I always seem to have with dresses – the sizes just didn’t add up. Once the zip was in place on the left hand side, I realised the bodice was just too large. So, I repositioned the zip. And repositioned it again. After two repositions – and by 10.30pm – the zip gave in. I couldn’t see what the problem was, and what with it being too cosy (read dark, or vice versa) my initial pride at having put in my first ever concealed zip vanished. I (annoyed) put the dress aside, called it a few names under the sun and decided I’d instead lie on the settee and watch Save the Last Dance. Please don’t judge me.

So, this morning I decided I needed to get the dress finished. It had gone on long enough and I worried if I didn’t get it done it would end the way of another dress that really annoyed me once and languish in our ‘blue room’. I unpicked the zip (again) and repositioned (again). Then – with the July sunshine streaming through the window – I realised the teeth had somehow been damaged and the zip was a goner. Luckily I had a spare in my sewing box, so I started again – for the fifth time. This time it was positioned correctly (or rather, even if it wasn’t I just told myself it was fine. I couldn’t deal with unpicking and resewing it for a sixth time); I just needed to increase the seam on the other side of the bodice and I’d almost be there.

After than kerfuffle it was time for the armhole finishing. I had contemplated adding little cap sleeves – which would have been another first for me – but I thought with the print and the gathering it would be a bit too much. So I decided to follow the instructions for the armhole facing – using bias cut strips of fabric. However, the instructions were shoddy, and once I’d done it the way I thought it could work I realised it didn’t really and the facing just wouldn’t sit right. So it was time to unpick another part of the dress and try again. This time I went off-piste and did it my way (I was done with this dress), which meant I then had to do some snipping, extra sewing and more snipping to make it work. But in the end we got there.

And with a quick machine-sewn hem for a change I finished it. Just before dinner tonight. Complete with two new firsts in the sewing history books for me – pockets and concealed zip. I LOVE it. I hope you do too.

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A kente girl’s dress

This morning I made a new dress – an order from my neighbour for her lovely little 16-month-old daughter.

Kara and her daughter came round on Wednesday to discuss options. Kara was interested in the colours and feel of the fabric and which colours complemented her little girl’s skintone, while her daughter was more interested in the zebra mask lurking in the ‘blue room’ – our storage-cum-music-cum-fabric room.

Kara opted for the printed kente – a gorgeous bright print – which I think deserves an explanation and history lesson.

A history of kente

Kente cloth is a Ghanaian royal and sacred woven cloth (or nwentoma), traditionally worn by the Asante people of Ghana in times of extreme importance. Kente is still highly regarded across Ghana today and is often worn for special occasions such as traditional Ghanaian weddings.

Asante kente can be identified by its dazzling, multi-coloured geometric shapes and bold designs and each design has an individual meaning. The cloths are identified primarily by the patterns found in the warp threads and different colours hold different meanings (see here).

The dress

This kente design (sadly not woven kente which is very expensive, but instead printed) uses gold, ping, green and blue, conveying:

  • wealth, royalty, high status, glory and spiritual purity (gold);
  • femininity (pink);
  • vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal (green); and
  • peacefulness, harmony and love (blue)

And here it is:

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New Fabrics

When I posted the blog on my new skirt, my workmates Nina and Catherine decided they each fancy one. So, on Saturday, Jeffrey and I took a trip to Brixton to meet up with Nina to pick out some fabric so that she can join me and make her second item of clothing.

Of course, I couldn’t leave Nina to buy some fabric on her own; I had to buy some for a skirt or dress for me, and to offer for the African print girls’ dresses.

Here they are. You can also see them on the available fabrics page should you wish to buy a girl’s dress in one of these beauties:

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And this Saturday I plan on using some of them. But before then, I will be making a dress in printed kente for my neighbour’s gorgeous little 16 month old daughter. And I’m taking orders, so if you would like a dress for a little girl near you, please check out details in the ‘shop and drop me a line.


New dress

A quick one tonight as PBM and I have been in the lovely East Yorkshire this weekend and have been back home little over an hour. But I realised I haven’t yet shared my lovely new dress with you.

Last Saturday PBM and I took a trip to African Queen and Freeman Textiles to buy some cloth for dresses. I made the geometric green and purple print ntoma into a simple shift. I used the same Butterick pattern as my purple shift but lowered the neckline and the hem so that it’s nicer for summer. I might just add that this is the first time I’ve altered a pattern and was very proud of myself for working out a new piece of facing and snipping away at the neckline once the dress was pretty much complete. It’s scary stuff let me tell you!

Oh, and in the background you can see the curtains my wonderful Mummy made me. We managed to live nigh on 12 months with just cream vertical blinds. And with living just off the main road the bedroom was pretty light at night. The fabric is Lori from Laura Ashley. We bought it back in October when “Laura Ashley were saling” (as my Aunty Jean would say, much to my Mum’s horror) and my Mum brought the completed curtains down in December. Lovely jubbly. Though I do have to leave a crack in the curtains else I struggle to wake up at weekends.