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Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top

June 12, 2017

I’m always trying to squeeze garments out of pieces of fabric that are too small.  I had some fabric leftover from my Colette Moneta dress, which I decided to get a Coco top out of to wear under one of my many dungaree dresses!  I had to get creative with the cutting layout as usual, and it meant that the top would have to be short sleeved, and that the sleeve seam allowance would include the selvedge.


Once the sleeve was hemmed, you can’t see this unless it’s inside out.

Hemmed sleeve

There’s not much to say about the pattern itself – I’ve used it six times, I think, now!  It’s a very handy little pattern to have.  It’s really quick and easy to make and I like the fit of it on me.  As a top, it goes great under dungarees and it looks nice with jeans and it’s a good length.  I’d like to make another Coco dress soon – I’ve worn my black one LOADS, but I chopped my purple one into a top, so I need to fill that gap!

Tilly Coco Top with short sleeves

I made this during Me Made May 2017, and the first time I wore it was under a dungaree dress.

Me and a mini pirate for Me Made May (his outfit made by me too)

A nice, quick, easy addition to my wardrobe!

Glitter Star Print Linden Sweatshirt

May 19, 2017

Earlier in the year I went to visit a friend in London and we went to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Kensington Olympia, where I treated myself to some lovely glittery stars sweatshirt fabric to make a second Grainline Linden sweatshirt.  I made my last one in September and I’ve worn it quite a lot, so I wanted a second one to add into the rotation.  This fabric has a really soft, cosy, slightly fluffy backing and feels lovely to wear.

As is frequently the case with me, the fabric I chose was the last of the bolt, so I ended up with less than 1.5m, but I reckoned I could make it work anyway.  I did, but I had to cut View B, which is the shorter length, in order to squeeze it all onto the fabric.  I was a bit disappointed that I had to do this, because I’m not a fan of really short tops, and I’m quite long bodied anyway, but it was the best I could do.

Cutting layout – a bit of a squeeze!

Rather than go with View B for the whole thing, though, I still had enough fabric to cut the long sleeves and the hem bands for View A (although I couldn’t get the back hem band on the fold, so I had to cut two pieces and have a centre back seam).

I didn’t use ribbing for the cuffs or neckband because I couldn’t find any that matched and I didn’t want a contrast colour.  It’s fine not to use ribbing, the only problem I have found is that when you don’t use ribbing for cuffs, it’s harder to roll your sleeves up when washing up or something, because the cuffs are not quite stretchy enough!  I can live with that, though.

Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

In the end, by adding the hem band to View B, the length is not noticeably shorter than View A, and I’m happy with it.  It curves upwards slightly, but it doesn’t seem obvious when I’m wearing it.

Photo taken during Me Mad May 2017, worn here with the Grainline Moss skirt

What a great pattern – I really do like Grainline Studios designs!

Pride and Prejudice Preparation

May 9, 2017

Every year, I get together with one of my best friends and we spend a weekend together watching Pride and Prejudice (BBC, 1995), stuffing our faces with cheese, and drinking lots of wine.  We started this in 2004 I think, and since then we’ve both moved around quite a lot, changed careers, got married, and had children, but still we always manage to find a weekend to revel in the glory of Colin Firth in those trousers.


Nowadays instead of it being just the two of us, carefree and dependent free, it’s the two of us, three children and two husbands.  It’s getting harder and harder to sit quietly and watch the programme, because we’re trying to entertain the kids, prepare extra special meals, and fit in everyone’s needs and wants.  As we basically know the script by heart, we don’t need to concentrate super hard!  The eldest of the three children is now willing and able to watch with us in a relatively sedate manner, but the other two usually play whilst it’s on in the background – which is fair enough!  I’m sure the day will come when the eldest decides that this tradition is totally lame, but by then I reckon we’ll be able to revert to it being just the two of us and we might be able to go and stay in Bath and visit the Jane Austen centre.  It’s a continually evolving tradition.

Back in 2011, we bought some bargain plain cotton from Abakhan for £1 per metre.  There was not much choice of colour, so we ended with pale blue and orange, and I used the fabric to make us each a Pride and Prejudice Regency-style dress, fully lined with cotton voile.  (I had a bit of help sewing the costumes from my friend Aileen – thank youuuu!)  The pattern I used was Simplicity 4055 – a costume for a Regency era gown.  I also made my daughter a dress in some leftover orange fabric – she was only 1 at the time.  This dress has since been passed on to my friend’s daughter, and I made a new dress made for my daughter in the leftover blue fabric:

Three years ago!

Our dresses have served us well, however, I wanted a change, and for the past few years I’ve been half-heartedly on the lookout for new fabric which looks suitable for the period.  Eventually, I found some fabric which I thought would be suitable at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Kensington Olympia earlier this year – the only problem was there were only two end bolts of the fabric, and not even the full amount I needed.  Obviously, I did not let a tiny thing like that deter me, so I bought the lot (combined length of 3.3m split into two lengths).

For my new dress, I wanted a better fit.  I wanted the underbust seam to sit actually below my bust rather than across it, and I wanted more gathering across the entire bodice front rather than just a little on each side.  That’s when I considered a different pattern: New Look 6096, which I picked up in Boyes reduced to £1 because it has been discontinued.

Pattern envelopes side by side

Line drawings, side by side

Ok, so it is not authentic Regency design, but who cares?!  It looks the part and what’s more it looked easy to sew – winner!  It’s also unlined, which saves time and money – bonus!  Plus, I’m pretty sure this is the pattern my friend Amy used to make herself a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies dress, which worked out great!


First of all, I made a toile of the bodice, and, as I suspected, it was not big enough to accommodate the girls.  I made my adjustments to the pattern and BOOM.  Pride and Prejudice dress complete, and with only a short length of fabric to spare!

Finished dress – zero embellishment – just straight up

So, you know how I said I had a bit of fabric left over?  Well, the short bit of fabric left on the fold was enough for a bodice front for my daughter, with not a cm to spare!  Managed to cut the bodice back out and then some seriously puffy sleeves on the cross grain.  (I used New Look 6309 for the bodice and sleeves, btw).  The skirt was going to be a challenge.  I needed it be 32″ long, but there was no way I had the width necessary to cut a skirt front and back.

Scrap fabric left over, to make a skirt out of

In the end I cut six rectangles of fabric of differing widths but all 32″ long, and I pieced them all together into one big panel, gathered the top, and sewed it to the bodice.  This means that the skirt has six seams in total (centre front, centre back, and four side seams), but because it’s gathered at the top it isn’t really noticeable.  I really got my money’s worth out of those two bolt ends!

New Look 6309

I wanted a bit more embellishment on my daughter’s dress, so instead of doing boring top-stitching, I did a decorative stitch around the neckline.

I also found a length of vintage lace which had belonged to my Grandma, and I thought what better way to use it than on this dress, so I added it to the hem, and also to the waist.

Back view

My daughter is absolutely enchanted by the dress, and we are looking forward to wearing them together in a few weeks when we get together for P&P 2017!  Plus, my friend’s daughter can now upgrade to the larger pale blue dress, and I have promised to make my friend a new dress once she finds some fabric that she likes.

My dress again

Overlocked seams on the inside

Tilly and the Buttons Rosa dress

March 10, 2017

Hiya. I’m aware that this is the third post in a row about a TATB pattern, but what can I say? I dig her style, even though her patterns don’t always work out for me (Francoise and Bettine, I’m looking at you).  The Rosa pattern was a gift from my sister-in-law for Christmas, and the Minerva Crafts fairies granted my wishes by providing the needlecord fabric, interfacing and thread in exchange for a blog post.  Seems like a good deal to me!  This pattern worked out really well for me, and I have no complaints at all about it.

It had its first outing to the Knitting and Stitching show at Kensington Olympia, where I encountered a Game of Thrones white walker, a very impressive project by the Embroiderer’s Guild.

I used my Cath Kidston love-heart buttons for this project, which I’ve been holding onto for a couple of years.  I’m really pleased with how they look.

As usual, if you want to read about the making of the dress and to see more photos of it, head on over to Minerva here.  All opinions/writing etc are my own!

Two Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dresses

January 24, 2017

Greetings.  This month for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network I have made a pink corduroy Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress.  If you want to read more about it and/or see more photos, you can do so on Minerva’s page here.  I bought the pattern and interfacing myself and Minerva provided everything else.  I love the pattern and I love the dress!

My January Minerva Make - Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress in pink needlecord

My January Minerva Make – Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress in pink needlecord, worn with White Stuff tights, Doc Marten shoes, Primark t-shirt.

Before I made the pink version, however, I made a red one, which is equally awesome!  I used a fabric called ‘Gaberchino’ which is a combination of gabardine and chino fabric, so it’s medium/heavyweight hard-wearing fabric.

Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress

Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress

I got the jeans buttons and dungaree fasteners from Abakhan in Manchester.  It was the first time I had ever used jeans buttons and they needed a surprising amount of hammering!

Hammer and awl

Hammer and awl

The dungaree fasteners are ok, although the straps are that bit too narrow for them I think, which is why, when I made my pink corduroy version, I widened the straps to match the clips.

Early morning no make up selfie

Early morning no make up selfie – I was just so excited when I put it on for the first time!

I used a twin needle and regular thread to topstitch my red Cleo dress.  I didn’t use a triple stitch or anything, just a normal stitch with a slightly longer length for some subtle topstitching.  Using the twin needle was great – I set it up on my old Elna machine so that I didn’t keep having to switch needles.

Left: my main machine Centre: overlocker Right: machine set up with twin needle

Left: my main machine
Centre: overlocker
Right: machine set up with twin needle

I didn’t make any alterations to the red dress, but I did cut a size bigger than normal as I prefer a looser fit in these dresses.  I first wore the dress for a weekend away in West Yorkshire; the photos are taken on Scar Top on our way to Haworth.  It was very, very cold!

Nautical vibes on a hill far away from the sea

Nautical vibes on a snowy hill far away from the sea

During our visit, in a shop where I crouched down to look at something on a low shelf, I heard a rip of stitching and later discovered one of the straps had almost pulled out at the back!  I have since resewn it and reinforced it, and when I made my pink version, I made sure to triple stitch it, twice!!

Red dungaree dress FTW

Red dungaree dress FTW

What I love about these dresses is how practical and cosy they are as part of an outfit, not to mention cute!  When I first started wearing them, I worried that I basically looked like a five year old.  But then I got over it.  I don’t care!  I feel great!  I love how you can layer up underneath them with one or more t-shirts (even my Grainline Studio Linden sweatshirt looks good underneath), you can wear thick, cosy tights, warm boots with extra socks for foot warmth, and then throw a big slouchy cardigan over the top (which I did right after these photos!).

Warming up with a coffee in Haworth :-)

Warming up with a coffee in Haworth 🙂

I may have to make myself at least one more version – I’ve got some lovely navy blue fabric that would look great with contrasting topstitching!

Tilly Buttons Cleo - winner!

Tilly Buttons Cleo – winner!

Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress

January 17, 2017

Well, I really wish I could be more positive about this dress, but today I’m sharing a bit of a sewing fail with you!  A friend of mine, Nicola, made this dress in some awesome bee print fabric, and she looks fab in it.  I loved her dress and the fabric, so much so that I eventually tracked down some of the fabric for myself (to make a different dress with of course), and asked her if I could borrow the Bettine pattern to have a go at making one for myself in some anchor print chambray I got in Fabricland in Bristol.  This is Nicola rocking her Bettine dress at a sewing session I led at Nicola’s house for the WI Hull – I asked and she was happy for me to post the photo of her!

Excellent Bettine Dress

Excellent Bettine Dress #girlcrush

The Bettine is not my usual style of dress, and I wasn’t sure it would suit me.  I also knew that I was likely to have some fitting issues with it, as I am tall, long bodied and…erm…curvy, so I made a toile first of all to see what it would look like, using up some leftover fabric that I really couldn’t imagine ever using again…

Tilly Bettine toile with no alterations

Tilly Bettine toile with no alterations

When I made this dress and flattened it out, it looked like the craziest shape of dress I’d ever seen!  It didn’t look very good on, either.  I definitely needed to cut the next size up, add some length to the bodice and possibly reshape the skirt a bit.  I had a feeling I might need to do an FBA, but I thought I’d try the basic changes first just to see how they affected the overall fit.



So, I traced the next size up, added an inch to the length of the bodice, and reshaped the curve of the skirt to get rid of the excess at the hips.  I cut this next version in the chambray because I didn’t have any more fabric I wanted to waste on a toile… something I would come to regret!

This whole thing was back in November, so although I remember basting it all together to check the fit, I can’t remember if I tweaked it any further before sewing it up to wear.  I knew by this point that it wasn’t really working for me, so I just wanted to have done with it (and I hate unfinished projects so I tend to just finish them whatever).  Had I more time/patience, I would do a full bust adjustment, and that would help to add yet more length to the front bodice (but not the back), which would better accommodate my bust and long upper body.

I wore the dress to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, but didn’t get a photo of me in it.  I liked the fit of the skirt, but the style of the top just felt too clumsy and unflattering.  I felt as though I was wearing something very obviously ‘home-made’/’home eccy Becky’ – and, although I know it sounds conceited, I am used to making things that fit me well.  I did still love the fabric, however, and, as I mentioned, I quite liked the style of the skirt, so I gave the dress another chance for a day out sampling the delights of Manchester.  This time I got an obligatory photo of me wearing it, but I’m attempting to divert your attention to the portrait behind me of my friend Rachel, who is a priest, poet, author, and, of course, excellent friend.


That’s the only photo of me in that dress you’re getting.  The insides are neat though, and it’s well made even if it does look crap (trying to cling on to the positives!):


I have since chopped the top part of it off and turned it into a skirt.



It’s an improvement, but I haven’t worn it yet, and I’m not sure I will!


My Christmas Dress!

December 27, 2016

Despite my love of novelty print fabrics, my December 2016 project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network represents my first ever Christmas-themed dress.  I loved the red fabric print with black and white reindeer, some stripy, some spotty, some floral and some plain – it seemed Christmassy but not too babyish.  Better still, it was 60” wide so I only needed 2m to make pretty much any dress I wanted.

Simplicity 'Amazing Fit' 1606

Simplicity ‘Amazing Fit’ 1606

The week before making this, I rediscovered a dress I made with Simplicity Amazing Fit 1606.  I put it on and instantly loved the style and the fit.  Recently I’ve been sewing and wearing more practical clothing: straighter skirts, layers, plainer colours, less shaping etc (pinafore dresses especially), and putting on this fit and flare dress made me feel like I was going to back to an older version of me that had got pushed to the background somehow.  This style of dress is what I think of as being my ‘signature style’ – colourful novelty print with fitted bodices and swishy skirts.  It felt good, and I wanted more!

If you want to read a bit more about the making of the dress, or see more pictures, there’s a fuller account over on the Minerva blog here.  I accessorised the dress with a plain black sash belt, and this amazing reindeer ring!  I hope you all had a good holiday period, and that despite the difficulties facing the world in 2017, you can find some happiness, somewhere!

Reindeer ring!

Reindeer ring!

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