Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo dress must have been the most popular sewing pattern of 2017. I’ve seen endless variations all over social media – from the traditional denims and cord fabrics, to florals and even sequins (!) – and have been dying to create my own. Fortunately for me, a pink denim pattern pack was waiting for me in my Christmas stocking (thanks for taking the hint, mum!).
I’ve made the Margot pyjama trousers from her book, but this was the first proper Tilly pattern I’ve used. It was super easy to follow as it goes into quite a lot of detail. It might be overkill for some people but after struggling with the old style patterns for so long, it was a real relief to have it all spelled out for me. The photos really help too because they actually look like what you’re making yourself!
This fabric choice was slightly out of my hands, though I had strongly hinted to my mum that I loved the pink denim. Although getting it as part of the pack takes away some of the creativity in choosing your own fabric, it was nice to know that the material worked well with the pattern – something I don’t always get right. It was really easy to handle too – it has a little stretch but I didn’t notice that at all as I was sewing. It pressed really well too, which was perfect for the pockets.
Because the pattern and the fabric made everything pretty easy, I didn’t really have too much trouble putting it all together.
Nothing was particularly difficult, but I did force myself to slow down and take more care, particularly with the the topstitching as I wanted to keep the lines as straight as possible. I’ve never done any topstitching before (and have actually actively avoided it), but I’m pleased this garment forced me to just get on with it and am really happy with how it’s turned out.
Likewise things like sewing the straps required a slow and accurate approach as any mistakes would be quite visible. I did struggle with one of the straps though (sewing at 11.30pm may not be the best idea). After unpicking wobbly topstitching 4 times, I decided to start again, cut out new fabric and restitch, which seemed to work.
For anyone worried about embarking on topstitching for the first time, here’s my advice:
- Take. Your.Time. It goes without saying really, but going slow and steady will keep your stitching more accurate.
- Pick your thread carefully. If you want your topstitching to be visible, think carefully about the colour you choose – the greater the contrast, the more visible the stitching.
- Adjust the tension. When topstitching you could be be sewing through over 6 layers of fabric, so make sure you test and adjust the tension on your machine accordingly.
- Pick a reference point. As a lot of topstitching involves sewing close to the edge of the fabric, you can’t rely on the seam allowance guide, so pick a different reference (i.e. the edge of the fabric needs to always be under the right ‘fork’ of the presser foot) to try to keep your topstitching the same distance from the edge at all times.
- Don’t be afraid of unpicking. If you’re not happy with how something looks, unpick and start again. If it bothers you now, it will bother you when you’re wearing the garment.
- Don’t be afraid full stop. You’re better than you think you are!
I’m so pleased with how its turned out and am really chuffed with myself – I can’t stop looking at it! I’ve already worn it twice, once with a classic breton top underneath and another time with a grey jumper. I think it would also look great with grey/white/black/navy roll necks and polka dots. I’m also looking forward to wearing it in the summer with plain white t-shirt and white trainers. At least one more version is also in order, in a more neutral colour. But for now, I’ll just wear this pink version to death and enjoy all the compliments I seem to be getting!