Dresses

From shirt and dungaree dresses to floaty summer dresses, here's where you'll find every dress I've made since starting my blog.

Heart Print Rosa Shirt Dress – Tilly and the Buttons

For the Love of French Fabric

I started making this shirt last year and it sat half finished, waiting for buttonholes and sleeve tabs for five months. When I saw that @stitch_make_bake and @patsypoomakes were organising a Rosa sewalong, it gave me the motivation I needed to complete it in time for Spring.

Claire wearing a navy heart print shirt dress
Claire wearing a navy heart print shirt dress

I used 2.5 metres of heart print stretch cotton from Pretty Mercerie because I wanted to make a shirt dress that was similar to this one from Sézane:

Pretty Mercerie sell some beautiful fabrics but they sell out so quickly! If you find something you like that's sold out, sign up for stock alerts and you'll receive an email if the fabric is ever re-stocked.

Another great French fabric shop is Make My Lemonade. They sell lots of brightly coloured prints, their delivery to the UK is reasonably priced and their site can be viewed in English if you don't know any French.

Back to the Rosa shirt!

I cut out a size 4 (UK size 12) and shortened the bodice by 1¾″. I usually add this back on to the length of the skirt but I forgot this time so the finished length is a little shorter than it should be. I often have to do broad shoulder and large bicep adjustments with most pattern companies but I've never needed to do that with Tilly and the Buttons patterns.

Shirt dress collar pieces and rose gold scissors

Because I wanted a clean look, I skipped the topstitching on the princess seams and yoke pieces and only topstitched the collar and button band. I also decided to use plain navy buttons since the print is already quite busy. For the buttonholes, I used the stabiliser plate attachment that came with my buttonhole foot (previously mentioned in my button front Cleo post).

Tilly Buttons Rosa shirt made with navy heart print fabric
Close-up of the collar of a navy shirt with a red and white heart print

I had a few issues sewing the collar:

  • The points of the collar kept getting stuck in my machine despite using a wedge of fabric to level the presser foot (see more on this below if you don't know what I'm talking about). I think I may have needed to adjust
Continue reading

Bright Floral Lottie Dress – Sew Over It

Stash Control and Signature Style

I recently went last minute shopping for an outfit for a party and was instantly reminded of why I started sewing in the first place - I visited ten shops, only found one thing I liked and it didn't fit me. I had a half finished Sew Over It Lottie dress at home so I rushed back to add buttonholes and hem it so I could wear it that night.

Claire wearing a black dress with a bright floral print

The pattern came with issue 3 of Lisa Comfort magazine and is exactly the style of dress I love to wear in this hot weather - loose fitting, thin straps, gathers at the bust and a tie waist belt to give the dress some shape.

Turquoise sewing pattern envelope with a a navy blue and white polka dot dress on it

The simple design makes it a great dress for showing off bold prints. I had planned to use a fabric from my stash but I noticed on the last page of the magazine there was a preview of the new cotton lawn fabric being released by Lisa - Busy Blossom in Boho Black.

This is exactly my style - black with bright florals - as seen in this Instagram post I made during Sew Photo Hop last year on the subject of my signature look:

Being surrounded by lots of beautiful fabrics on Instagram, it's easy to be tempted into buying everything. If you know what colours suit you, which prints you feel good in and what your style is, it's much easier to say no to fabrics and keep your stash under control. My fabrics need to be cool-toned and highly saturated and any prints I choose need to be large and simple (small, busy prints such as ditsy florals make the overall colour of the garment look

Continue reading

Rifle Paper Co Cleo – Tilly and the Buttons

Abandoned Projects and Perfectionism

I started making this Cleo dungaree dress back in November last year and since then it's been sat in a basket with all my other half-finished projects.

Image of the insides of a navy dungaree dress with pink floral facings

I had trouble sewing the buttonholes through this corduroy fabric - my machine wasn’t feeding the fabric so it would just stitch in one place and tangle up! I threw it on the pile and forgot all about it until I had a similar problem with some buttonholes on a corduroy skirt.

After searching through the instruction book, I discovered that my sewing machine came with an additional stabiliser plate that attaches to the buttonhole foot and helps feed difficult fabrics. This solved all my buttonhole problems and now I want to add buttons to everything!

Image of Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dungaree dress sewing pattern envelope

I made a size 4 with no adjustments except for adding an extra inch to the length. I tried it on just before hemming and it still felt a bit short so I folded it over by 1cm instead of the recommended 3cm.

I used The Crafty Pinup’s button front Cleo tutorial but I changed the width of the button band to suit the size of my buttons. Instead of adding 2 inches plus the seam allowance to each front piece, I added 4cm (folding and pressing at 1cm and then 3cm). I only added 3cm to the facing pieces so I didn’t have to topstitch through extra layers.

Navy dungaree dress with silver buttons

I accidentally started my first buttonhole too far down (it starts 2cm from the top when it should have been 1cm) but I didn’t notice until it was too late so it will forever bug me! I used plain hammer-on jeans buttons to contrast the textured needlecord and added matching sliders to my straps so I can adjust them if they shrink or stretch over time. For the facings I used a beautiful pink and navy Rifle Paper Co quilting cotton. I don’t own an overlocker so I finished the edges with the double zigzag stitch on my sewing machine with the overedge foot.

Insides of a navy dungaree dress with pink floral facings
Navy corduroy dungaree dress with silver buttons worn over a spotty navy shirt

You can't really see the

Continue reading

Royal Blue Floral M7381 Dress – McCall's

Sewing for Spring

The sun’s out and I have nothing to wear - the dresses I made last year no longer fit me! I’ve started running again to get back in shape but in the meantime I’m making some loose fitting dresses that I’ll still be able to wear when I’m back to my usual size.

Image of blue dress with white and red floral print

This is the McCall’s M7381 dress which features a lined bodice with a tie front and a pleated skirt. I got this pattern free with Love Sewing magazine which includes sizes XS-XXL (4-26) but if you're buying the pattern from elsewhere, the pattern comes in two sizes: XS-M (4-14) and L-XXL (16-26). If you're buying from the McCall’s website you can choose a size by clicking on the size range next to the quantity box (it’s not immediately obvious as they’ve removed the default select box styles for some reason).

Image of the McCall's M7381 dress sewing pattern
McCall's M7381 pattern envelope

I made this dress in a size XS last year in exactly the same fabric and the sleeves, waist and bust fit perfectly but the shoulders were a little too narrow (this is a common fitting issue for me and I’ve since learnt to check for this by measuring the pattern pieces and subtracting the seam allowance). Here's a picture of the one I made last year – my photography has definitely improved!

McCall's M7381 size chart
Size chart on envelope flap

This time I made a size M with no adjustments. The shoulders fit perfectly but I‘ll try a small bust adjustment next time because there is far too much ease in the chest area and it bulges out when I sit down. Other than that, I’m happy with the fit and length (for reference, I’m 5’5” and it ends just above my knee).

When I made this dress last year, it was my first time using a Big Four[1] pattern and I had trouble finding the finished garment measurements. For anyone else having the same problem, the finished measurements can be found on the individual pattern pieces (just

Continue reading