I made a dress! Another striped dress. Let’s not count how many striped things I might have in my closet, m’kay? (A lot.)
This is the new Tilly and the Buttons Bettine dress. It’s my first Tilly pattern, and she’s nailed her demographic – this was super simple to make. Would it be better with a few more details? Well, yes, maybe. More on that later!
The pattern calls for a lightweight woven, but I chose a ponte because I thought it would be perfect for the tulip/pencil skirt shape. To make it from a knit, I made a few changes:
- cut back the neckline 5/8″ish so that I could finish it with a folded band (which basically replaced that width)
- used a wide folded band for the sleeve cuffs, serged on with the seam to the outside, which is then hidden when the cuff is folded up (I find this stuff so hard to explain – I could never write pattern instructions!)
- cut one of the two pocket pieces from rayon jersey for less bulk. Next time I’d do the pocket bag more like jeans, with only the little part you can see made from ponte, and the whole rest of the pocket bag from something light.
- top-stitched the pocket bag to the skirt because it wouldn’t hang flat
- lengthened the skirt an inch so I could do a deep hem. If you are taller than my 5’2″, you might need to lengthen it a lot!
- The dress is meant to have a 1 1/4″ seam at the waist, which folds up to make elastic casing like on a Saltspring. I hate elastic casing, so I cut off an inch on the bodice and skirt, and serged elastic to the seam instead.
Let’s talk fit, shall we? I cut the largest size skirt and 2nd largest size in the bodice. In the end, I sewed the bodice as is, but took almost 1″ off the sides seams to make the skirt snug. This shape of skirt looks so horrible when it’s loose, I find – it’s got to have the body supporting it.
I mentioned that this pattern was really simple – simple in a very clever way! I bet the ponte highlights some fit issues that a lovely drapey woven would hide. For example, the skirt is identical in front and back but could really benefit from some darts for shaping in the back. Similarly, the front bodice could use a curved hem to add length over the bust, like the Comino Cap pattern has. If I was a beginner though, I’d be totally happy with how the pattern fits. The instructions are SUPER hand-hold-y helpful. If someone was learning to sew this would be a great pattern!
The most distinctive part of the pattern is the skirt, which has a dramatic hip curve that looks like this:
Wowza, right? Let’s put it this way: If you have a smooth, balanced hourglass figure, this curve is perfect for you. If you have indentations on your hip line where underwear sit, or your bones/flesh protrude, you might have issues. I carved away some of the curve at the high hip… and next time I might make more space for the widest part of my hip, which is very low down. (Yes, yes, go look, then come back! ;)
Warning: Pirates may chase after your booty in this dress!
In truth, I was quite disappointed in the skirt when I first finished it. But surprise, surprise (actually, seriously, surprise), my husband likes the skirt best of all! He’s not a fan of the blousey bodice, though…
As a pattern for knits, I think it works well – but I’m not sure of the ideal weight of fabric. The ponte is good for the skirt but heavy for the top; light jersey *might* not hold the shape of the skirt well? I think my perfect version might be a ponte skirt with contrast jersey top.
For my next version though, I’ve got some dark teal rayon knit and I’m planning on making the neckline slouchy and casually off one shoulder. WIll it work? Who knows! That’s why cheap jersey exists, right?
Have you sewn a Tilly pattern before? Any interest in Bettine, in knits or woven? Be honest! I know it’s not for everyone!
PS. I’m going to be in Ottawa all day Friday and Montreal on Saturday and Sunday to meet some sewcialists… anyone local wanna join up?