Category Archives: Tilly and the Buttons

Seren for summer

In my ongoing quest for the perfect sundress (and jumping my project>blogging queue again) I sewed up Tilly’s newest offering, the Seren dress, at the weekend in a pretty printed viscose from my stash that I bought locally last year.

Tilly and co kindly sent me the pattern for free to try out. Their new packaging is so pretty and I found it as user-friendly as ever to work with. The pattern includes a view with a neckline flounce and a sweet tie-front option, but it’s already at the upper limits of my ‘girliness’ taste-o-meter so I kept it plain.

I made a toile as this style is usually difficult to fit on me. Starting from the size 4 I made the following changes:
– graded into a size 2 at the top edge, blending out towards the waist; a typical adjustment for me as I have a narrow upper chest.
– split the bust dart into a two – pivoting half of it down into a waistline dart – as it’s quite a big dart and I was getting some bubbling at the tip. I also had to drop the bust point a little lower.
– omitted the waistband from the pattern: not a fan of it visually and I didn’t want to chop my print up too much. I cut a size smaller in the skirt to match with the lower bodice edge directly, since the waistband is contoured hence wider along the bottom edge.
– moved the front straps towards the centre by an inch. Bra strap coverage for the win!

The good thing is this style is pretty easy to adjust as you sew as well since the main fitting points to get right are the upper edge and waistline, so you can fine-tune via the side seams. I think it’s also the type where fabric choice might influence the fit: this viscose version fits a bit looser than my muslin and I have 2-3″ of comfy ease at the waist. I was worried the shape wouldn’t be so flattering on me but it actually skims the lower half really nicely. I typically default to a gathered skirt but will definitely experiment more with A-line or quarter circle types now.

I didn’t massively follow the instructions as it was quite intuitive to construct. I especially liked the all-in-one facing unit which finishes the top edge and gracefully curves into the button band facing; a technique I haven’t really seen before but will be saving to my bank for future use. I did do a couple of things I did my own way for preference:

– topstitched the entire facing down, which as well as keeping it in place created quite a pretty detail around the centre front of the neckline
– created a jump style hem to get a nice finish at the front corners. To achieve this the facing is cut an inch shorter and sewn horizontally to the skirt’s lower edge RST; the resulting length difference ‘jumps’ the hem allowance up, and when it’s turned RS out you get a nice crisp corner.

It feels so cool and comfortable to wear! This viscose was cheap as I recall but it’s nice quality and perfect for this style. I’ll definitely be making a second one in a solid colour (pink or olive green linen, mmm). I also have Closet Case Patterns’ new Fiona dress cut for a wearable toile; it’s a not too-different-style so it will be interesting to see which I end up preferring.

Velvet Martha


I made this dress with the thought of festive parties coming up: who wouldn’t love a party dress that’s super comfy and snuggly? It’s a Tilly & The Buttons Martha dress in rather lovely Chinoiserie-style stretch velvet.


Martha is a swinging 70s-inspired frock with a high mandarin collar, princess-seamed bodice, fluted sleeves and a twirly panelled skirt. I think Tilly gave me the pattern as a thanks for pattern testing and I knew I wanted to make it up in velvet for winter. I don’t think the sample garments actually do this pattern much justice, though it looks like I was inspired by the large floral print of the knee-length view. I sewed the mini length and bell sleeve options of the powder blue view.


The fabric is this cotton-mix stretch velvet from Minerva. It’s my first time sewing a fabric with any sort of pile, but it was a very gentle introduction and I was generally able to treat it like any other knit. I just made super sure to cut all the pieces in the same direction in case the pile showed up differently after it was sewn. (The skirt pieces are meant to be cut on the bias if you’re using a woven, but I cut them on grain.)


There are a lot of seams but it’s still a pretty fast sew, especially as I used the overlocker for all the construction – and as you can see, I made no effort to pattern-match this large scale print. I pressed with a warm heat on the reverse, avoiding pressing the right side of the velvet. I took the time to handsew the hem and slipstitch the inner neckband down because I thought it’d look prettier than topstitching. The hand-stitches sink right into the pile, appearing satisfyingly invisible.


There are some neck facing pieces in the pattern that I couldn’t really see a use for, since the collar fully encloses the raw neckline, so I left them off. Despite using a stretch, I still inserted a short invisible zip into the back because it’d be tricky to get the funnel neck over my head without distorting it.


Fit-wise, I cut a straight 4 but took in the side seams at the waist quite a bit as I sewed it up, probably because the stretch makes it more forgiving. I sewed clear elastic into the waist seam to prevent it growing out over time. I also tweaked the sleeve cap to remove the excess ease because I wasn’t keen on the puffed-up look. Next time I’ll cut a size smaller in the shoulders as they are a bit too wide. (n.b. the rippling in the upper back in the pic above is because I didn’t realise the zip tape was stuck up in my bra band…)


After finishing this I wondered if I could repurpose it for daytime too: it’s definitely the type of dress I’d want to wear to work as it’s so cosy and comfy. I might try it out in ponte, ribbing or French terry sometime for a more casual version.

Marigold in bloom


Howdy! Now it may not look exactly like it, but this is my tester version of Tilly and the Buttons’ new pattern, the Marigold jumpsuit which was released on Monday. Y’all know I love a jumpsuit so I was happy to help test this pattern before the launch, and I’m pretty pleased with how my version turned out.


Marigold is a breezy elastic-waist jumpsuit with a loose pegged leg, dainty straps, and a sweetheart neckline, plus a variation to make standalone high-waisted trousers. I think the jumpsuit’s very versatile too since you can wear it like dungarees with a tee underneath to adapt it to cooler weather.


You’ll notice the key difference in mine around the waistline. After making the design as patterned for the testing process I made a small tweak for personal preference – removing the elasticated waistband and sewing the bodice directly to the trouser instead. I’m just all about waistless silhouettes right now – I think it looks more cool and modern, though it was perfectly nice with the elasticated band too. Here’s a ‘before’ shot. Did I make the right call?


Sans t-shirt. I sewed a straight size 4 from the pre-release pattern and the only key fit adjustment I needed was to taper in the side seams at the very top to account for my hollow upper chest. I also reworked the straps as they were very short originally but that’s been corrected in the final pattern. Mine are skinnier than patterned because I had to re-cut from my very last scraps of fabric, also hence the annoying bra straps on show.


I used an extremely lovely large scale floral viscose which was an eBay steal. I’m not typically a florals type of person, but the scale and colours of this one really appealed to me. If it wasn’t sold out I’d buy more to make a floaty kimono jacket! It was a rally nice match for Marigold; you’ll want to use something lightweight and drapey but opaque.


The pattern is marked for confident beginners but there are quite a lot of steps to tackle and bits of the fit to get right. It’s got pleats, darts, facings and an invisible zip to deal with so it’s a moderately involved project. But Tilly’s instructions are great and clearly photographed as usual so you’re in safe hands. I’m really happy with fit so I might use the pattern again with a couple of tweaks next time I get the all-in-one urge. Which probably won’t be long. Long live the jumpsuit!

I was a tester for this pattern, so I received it for free, and the photos/review don’t necessarily reflect the final pattern.