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 pin I'm wearing with my dungaree dress so here's a close up. It's the beautiful 'me made' enamel pin from Pink Coat Club. The fabric is from Wear Lemonade which you'll see more of in my next blog post.

Image of a pink pin with the words me made in silver writing

I’m not entirely happy with the outfit photos because I look (and feel) really awkward on camera. I’ve set myself a challenge to add at least one blog post every two weeks regardless of whether or not I’m entirely happy with the quality of the content because I need to stop overthinking things and learn by doing. Whilst listening to a podcast earlier today, I was reminded of a relevant story from the book Art & Fear:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.”

I like this idea that quantity leads to quality so I'm trying to adopt this approach with my sewing, writing and photography. On to my next project – but first I need to tackle that shameful pile of unfinished garments!

Image of the back of a navy dungaree dress with a navy spotty shirt