Sophie Kingo Blogs

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

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New clothes for me

The last time I blogged about anything I made for myself, was way back in April 2013 when I shared this new dress.

Since then I have done a few bits of sewing – mostly girls’ dresses, tote bags, infinity scarves and zip pouches (which, consequently I haven’t shared on here – d’oh). But this year I found a renewed desire to get making for myself.

So here are three things I’ve made for myself:

A little African print jacket

I love this fabric, so decided to make a simple little item using just three sections and some navy cotton facing. I rustled this up in under 2 hours.

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Another shift dress

Perhaps no surprises here. Yes, it’s another shift dress.









A maxi

What’s that? Another purple and turquoise dress? Who’d have thought it?

This time it’s a maxi which I made specifically for two occasions: 1) the April Mouse-X premier which the hubby and I helped crowdfund, and 2) my lovely friend Emma’s wedding to Stephane in Grasse on the Côte d’Azur in May. I made this using my wonderful 30th birthday present from my husband – a Supafit dress form (best dress making accessory ever!)


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13 dresses and 4 skirts

Homemade dress and cardigan

My latest shift dress and home knitted cardigan

For Christmas 2008 my husband (then boyfriend) gave me two lengths of Liberty fabric and told me I was going to make myself a couple of dresses. Since then, I’ve made 13 dresses and four skirts, for myself alone:

  • 2 wrap dresses
  • 6 shift dresses
  • 1 maxi dress
  • 3 empire line dresses
  • 1 waisted dress with pockets
  • 2 high waisted skirts
  • 2 a-line skirts

My skills have definitely improved since my first wrap dress. And the latest shift dress (left) is my best yet.

Here’s each dress and skirt in order, starting with my first ever (with one skirt missing along the way).

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A new shift dress

A couple of weeks ago I bought an overlocker – just the cheapest Janome that John Lewis stocked – and went on an Overlocking for beginners workshop at The Make Lounge. I had been wanting an overlocker for some time, but horror stories kept putting me off. I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Yes, they’re scary with their four threads, but the overlocker has transformed my sewing life.

Ok, I’ve only used it once so far, but along with my first sewing machine sewn blind hem, it means I won’t be looking back.  This new dress is definitely my best yet.

I can’t wait to start using the overlocker on my African print girls’ dresses.

Homemade dress

Homemade dress

Blind hemming for the first time

Blind hemming for the first time

Overlocked edges along the zip

Overlocked edges along the zip

My new sewing setup

My new sewing setup

Two new fabrics

Two new fabrics


Two new dresses… for me

I’ve been pretty busy of late. Since the latest batch of girls’ dresses, I’ve found little time to complete the outstanding orders due to a trip to the Lakes, a couple of birthdays, a few headaches, and a wedding thrown in for good measure.

But I have found time to make five things since 8th April when I last posted. The first – a pair of knitted baby booties and a baby beanie for my friend Vikki who is expecting a little boy in August (Vikki bought her gorgeous little girl, Charlotte, a Sophie Kingo African print girl’s dress and I thought it only right the bump get something too), a tank top for my nephew Oistin’s first birthday, and two new dresses for me.

Sadly, I completely forgot to take a photo of the three knitted items, so this post is about the two dresses I’ve made for me since.

It was my long-term friend Nicola’s wedding to Tim on Saturday and will be our friends Robin and Nicola’s wedding in less than two weeks, so a new dress was called for. I have found myself getting more and more disappointed with the offerings of the high street these past few months. Three years ago, any occasion dress you looked at in Warehouse, Monsoon, Hobbs, or the like would be made out of silk. Now it seems second rate man-made Polyester or Viscose will do. And I flat out refuse to buy polyester or viscose. I think the rise in these man made fabrics in high street stores must be to keep prices low and thus adhere to the somehow widespread belief that throwaway clothing is a good thing. Let me say this; It isn’t. I don’t want to wear fabric which doesn’t let your skin breath, rustles, goes static and looks just downright cheap. If I’m going to buy a dress I want it to last, wash well and look good. So no polyester or viscose for me, thanks.

After a long and unproductive scour of the internet for a suitable and re-wearable dress for a special occasion, I found myself browsing Liberty’s fabric ‘rails’. And what a lovely surprise. So many of Liberty’s new season fabrics are absolutely beautiful and when I came across the gorgeous Meandering Chrysanthemums Tana Lawn Art Fabric – an “iconic fabric… [to which] Zandra added her signature squiggle to the blotch of this archival design from 1966, which was inspired by florals from the 1920s with vibrantly coloured, oriental style flowers on dark grounds” – I decided to buy two metres of it and turn it into a new dress.

You may have noticed that lately the dresses I’ve been making – both for me and for girls – have been simple designs using beautiful fabrics. I’m all about the print at the moment and like to pair a simple dress pattern with a beautiful patterned and bold fabric. So I decided to make another shift dress out of this wonderful Oriental inspired fabric – a style which I know suits me.

I’ve made three shift dresses before (here, here and here) using Butterick pattern 4386 and tailoring it slightly. (The sizes of this pattern are very weird; according to the package I would need to make my shift dress size 14/10/16.) But this time, having bought Liberty fabric which is much finer and more expensive than the normal West African fabrics I make a lot of dresses in, and it being for a special occasion, I decided to alter the dress pattern by dropping the waist 3cm and tailoring the bust, waist and hip measurements (sizing at 6/8/12) on a test dress of African print.

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, altering the bust measurements twice and the zip seam allowance once, I was done and ready to move onto my Liberty dress. (Of course, I left the hemming and ironically only finished this test dress today, three days after finishing my Liberty dress.)

And bish, bash, bosh. Having (almost) completed the test dress the Liberty dress was hassle free and any stressing that I wouldn’t get it finished in time was unnecessary. And I love it. I paired it with a new Biba cardigan from my Mum and Dad for my birthday, a pair of coral flats from Aldo, my bridal bag and silk hair flower and the family heirloom Victorian lace shawl I made for our wedding. And all at a snip of the price of a well made dress from the high street and completely unique. Perfect.

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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.


Vi har den samme kjole på

My parents, sister and I were in cold cold Denmark last weekend for my Grandma’s funeral. This involved flying out on Friday afternoon and returning on Monday. Therefore, while my parents were busy sorting out my Grandma’s flat with my Mum’s siblings, Lisa and I paid a visit to the lovely Kingo-Berg household over the road from my Auntie and Uncle’s house where we were staying. As soon as Lisa and I rocked up at Mie and Dennis’ hyggeligt house in Åsum Ida-Marie – Mie and Dennis’ 4 year old little girl – realised she had the same dress as me. Now I say she had the same dress as me. However, this was not the intention. I had made Ida-Marie’s 1 and a half year-old little sister, Hannah, this dress for Christmas. But sadly, as was the case with the similarly aged L1 and L2 , the dress was too big for little sister resulting in big sister getting the pleasure of wearing it first.

So when I turned up wearing my purple shift, Ida-Marie instantly demanded she wear hers, despite a button having popped off a couple of days previously. Ida-Marie made sure she time and again reiterated the fact that “vi har den samme kjole på” (we have the same dress on). So I whipped my camera out  and suggested we take a photo so people can see. And here she is, looking as adorable as she is (while I look pretty bad), even though she did fart on my knee and find it hilarious.

And just to show how cute the family is, here’s a photo Ida-Marie took of her Mum (my cousin Mie) and Hannah for who the dress was intended:

Anyway, as a side note, yesterday I decided it’s time I made myself another dress. The last one I made for me was that purple shift above that I made way back in  September/October 2010. So today PBM and I took the Tricky Vicky Line to Brixton and I treated myself to the oh so expensive following pieces of cloth – one at £7, the other £10 for 5.5m. Bearing in mind I’m going to use less than 2m for each dress, I do believe this is a *much* better bargain than anything you could get in the oh so hideous Primark.

And while they’re being rinsed and drying, I just have to decide what style dress I’m going to make each into. One is definitely going to be a shift, but I just can’t decide which…


New shift

It’s autumn. That means I’m in the mood for new AW clothes. This involves dresses, wool tights, boots, wool cardigans, jumpers, scarves, hats, coats. You already know I’m in my knitting phase and have so far knitted myself a hat and some little people I know hats, booties etc. But this weekend I broke out of knitting. I haven’t the money to go wild and hit the street of London for all the new clothes/boots I need just yet, so I ventured to Brixton for fabric last weekend and made myself a new dress this.

And this time I broke from the cheaper range of fabric and went slightly upmarket – Vlisco Veritable Hollandaise to be exact.  And here’s what I made from it (below). I like it. I used a great versatile Butterick pattern. It’s great if you just look past the dreadful slightly ill-fitting quality and alter it as necessary – taking it in at the waste and shortening the length. I’m chuffed and will make another soon. Just bring me back my knitting needles first…