Saturday, 12 November 2016
Pattern Testing: Cleo Pinafore & Dungaree Dress from Tilly and the Buttons
Tilly and the Buttons has just released the Cleo Pinafore & Dungaree Dress which I had the pleasure of testing a little while back. The dress shown in the pictures here is my test version so might be ever so slightly different from the final pattern released but it's pretty close and I'm really chuffed with it I so thought it worth sharing! I said a big fat yes to testing this baby when Tilly asked as it's a style that is all over the shops this season and definitely something I wanted to give a whirl as utility style it seems somewhat suited to the practicalities of my job. I've already seen a tonne of inspiring versions all over Instagram that have got me inspired to try this out in a multitude of fabrics and lengths. With mix and match pocket choices on this pattern too the options appear to be endless.
When I first received the pattern, however, all I could envision was a standard, classic denim pinafore. As luck would have it I had just enough indigo denim lurking in my stash. It's the darker version of the denim I used for my McCalls shirtdress (still one of my most worn garments to date and the fabric has held up to washing and wearing beautifully). I bought it from Unique Fabrics on Goldhawk Road. It's a kind of mid-weight non stretch denim which is nice for this as it still has quite a soft hand and moves nicely when worn but I would like to try a version in a thick and heavy denim with nice chunky topstitching too. I'm looking forward to this denim washing out in a similar way to my dress as that has a really lovely worn around the seams look now.
I chose to make the mini length version as while the knee length looks super cool with that front split I'm not sure I could quiet pull it off. Having said that as I type I can't get the idea of a burgundy corduroy midi length one out of my head so we'll see what happens! I cut the size 3 which is about an inch bigger than my measurements on the size chart and easily got it out of one metre of my denim. i hemmed it exactly as instructed without altering the length and it is spot on for me but I wouldn't want it any shorter and I'm only 5ft 3". The length will of course be affected by how much you shorten your straps but it's worth bearing in mind that you may want to add length if you're tall.
I like how slim fitting it is around the hips as that feels quite contemporary and a little less nineties! I wouldn't want the sides to scoop down any lower as there are already a couple of tops in my wardrobe that I can't wear with it for fear of flashing a bit of flesh at the hip! I did play around with making the straps even shorter to rectify this but then it felt like the dress wasn't sitting right. The straps are a generous length so if you're tall I wouldn't worry about adding anything to these. Mine are folded back by a good 3.5" and I'd take a bit of this off next time. I stitched my straps down with two lines of stitching; one at the end of the strap and one just above the clip to hold it securely in place.
There's a lot I love about this pattern like the deep topstitched hem and the pocket placement which is spot on. There's a also a lot of room to make it your own in the details. The only thing I am wary about with this trend is looking too much like I've dressed like a child as I'm aware I'm small with a bit of a baby face as it is. For that reason I opted to use the dungarees clips rather than buttons to fasten the straps. I'm not sure why...the metal hardware just seems to have an edgier workwear vibe I guess. The only thing I'm slightly dissatisfied about with this project is that the pattern calls for 30-35mm dungaree clips and despite hunting high and low across London I could only find 40mm. I thought maybe I'd get away with it but they do look too big for the straps. I'd definitely recommend going for the smallest size you can get your hands on as I think a strap that fills the clip would look best.
My interior is all overlocked to finish, which was a little tricky getting into the point at the top of the back facing but I got there in the end! I did faux flat felled seams as recommend in the pattern by overlocking the raw edges of the seams allowances together before pressing them to one side and topstitching. I chose a contrasting golden brown thread for my topstitching but stuck with normal thread rather than the thicker topstitching thread you can buy as I wanted the effect to remain subtle. I did two lines of topstitching down the centre front back and side seams just because I like the look of it and think it ties it in with the pocket stitching. To keep my two lines neat and even I aligned the seam line with the gap in the centre of my sewing machine foot for the first pass, then with the outside of my foot for the second. If you do want to use thicker thread to make a feature of your topstitching the best tip I've got for you there is to keep normal thread in your bobbin and just use the topstitching thread in the needle. Play around with the tension on a scrap before you start and that will really help stop your machine getting snarled up.
Tilly's patterns are in general aimed at beginner or advancing beginner seamstresses and I think this is absolutely perfect for that. It gives you the opportunity to experiment with some fairly easy to handle bottom weight fabrics and is also the ideal thing to try out your first bit of topstitching on. There's not too much of it and quite a lot of straight lines. You don't have to deal with too many layers of fabric at once either which I found to be the most difficult part of topstitching my Ginger Jeans. If you've got some simple dressmaking projects under your belt and are looking for something a little different this could be just the thing. The accuracy needed to sew this pattern neatly is a good challenge.