Tag Archives: tilly and the buttons

Floral Francoise

Floral Francoise

Floral Francoise

Floral Francoise

Floral Francoise
dress: self-made, pattern here // shoes: Seychelles

*Note: I received this pattern from Tilly free of charge. All thoughts, opinions, and crazy fabric choices are my own.*

I don’t even remember how long I’d been wanting a Peter Pan collared shift dress. I’ve made several collared dress with waist shaping/seams but they tend to look a bit twee (and then end up being harder to wear in real life), so when Tilly asked if I’d like to try out her latest pattern, I immediately spent about three hours plotting on Pinterest.

My original plan was to find some kind of shiny/sparkly solid party dress fabric and pair it with a sequin collar to wear to holiday parties, but that kind of fell apart when December became a crazy month. Then last week I wandered into Sewfisticated and this fabric jumped off the shelf and begged to be taken home and turned into a Francoise. Whoops. Fabric diet fail. In my defense, it’s a crazy but gorgeous velvet with some kind of faux leather-ish floral design. Really pretty but kind of a bitch to sew because the velvet has a bit of stretch and the floral part decidedly does not.

Sidenote: I’ve always been terrible with muslins and even though I’d been pretty good about doing them lately, all this costumey self-drafting made me cocky and I ended up just diving right in. Based on the measurements provided, I decided to cut a size 3 on top and grade down to a size 2 in the waist. Turns out, it was spot on! The only changes I made were to shorten the skirt by about 2″ and I took it in about 1/2″ extra on either side in the back.

I sort of skimmed and followed along with the instructions for a few steps but there are so few pieces that it was pretty easy to figure it out. I especially loved that Tilly marked the edges of each pattern piece so you can see at a glance which is the neck edge. As someone who occasionally likes to sew things on upside down or backward, this was a helpful touch. The pattern itself came in a cute, roomy envelope with enough space for me to store my traced pattern pieces on top of everything else already in there. Plus I love when patterns are printed on thick paper; it makes tracing a breeze and I don’t have to worry about ripping things during tracing-Twister-poses.

I was a little skeptical about the darts when I saw the line drawing, but I’m pretty thrilled about how they turned out! I’d never sewn a side-seam dart like that but I’ve also not sewn many shift dresses in my life so I just went for it. The bewb area is PERFECT. Since my brain is lacking in the area that handles understanding FBAs, I usually end up wearing a smaller bra because most of my favorite patterns have smaller busts than I do. This dress is my actual bust size. Happy bewbs!

I’m definitely making another one of these. I’m thinking a plaid one next. I picked up a luscious deep purple plaid last week (another whoops!) that was going to be a circle skirt but might end up being a Francoise instead. And I still want to do one with a sequin collar.

And lastly, in an unrelated note, hair extensions are fun!

Love at first stitch // book review + giveaway

Tilly's book*I was sent a copy of Love at First Stitch free of charge and all opinions, egregious sewing blunders, and mischievous plots are my own.

From Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes, © 2014 by Tilly Walnes.
Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boston, MA.www.roostbooks.com

When I first started sewing I made a lot of pretty hysterical errors.

One time I tried to replicate a Star Wars dress that was originally made in some sort of textured crepe using a very lofty knit fabric just because the color was similar and the texture looked the same. I assumed that the grainline was something anal people bothered with and would cut things wherever they fit at whatever angle they fit and then scoff at the yardage suggestions. Oh, and I never ever finished an entire edge intentionally. There was a phase when I sewed exclusively with my mom’s serger and edges were just sort of finished by default but otherwise everything was just sort of open and happily fraying away on the inside. I’m also pretty sure I lost most of the extra presser feet from my first sewing machine because I thought they were extraneous and unnecessary.

Tilly's book

Who am I kidding, I still wouldn’t call myself any kind of sewing guru. Up until a few months ago I was still sewing buttonholes and zippers by hand to avoid learning how to do it on the machine.

In defense of babby Ping, I didn’t exactly have someone ready and available 24/7 to help me figure things out the right way and I was extremely determined to make these garments, right way or not.

Tilly's book

Anyway, the point is, ohmylord I wish I had Tilly’s book back then.

Things I was clueless about as a beginning seamstress that Tilly’s Book would’ve enlightened me about:

Backstitching: Never did this. Always wondered why my seams would come apart. Sometimes I would fray check the ends of my seams in desperation. (Am I sharing too much?)

Choosing fabric: I had SO much trouble with this. Like that time I tried making Kaylee’s Shindig dress out of cotton batiste. YEAH. That happened.

-Seam allowances: Another thing I assumed was just a helpful suggestion. I would sew Big4 patterns (usually 5/8″ seams) with about a 3/8″ seam and then wonder why their patterns were always so big on me. -headdesk-

Facings: Those extra pieces were just optional. I never used them. Like actually never.

-Inserting sleeves: For some reason I completely missed the memo on gathering the top of the sleeve piece slightly before inserting it into the armhole so I would inevitably end up chopping off about 1/2″ off the top of the sleeve and then wondering why my shoulders were too tight.

Yes. I’m just going to go hide in a corner now.

Tilly's book

The other thing I love about Tilly’s philosophy with this book is that she’s included several patterns meant to help a beginning seamstress learn how to sew without being stuck making pillowcases and curtains.

Tilly's book

The Clemence skirt is so cute and such a simple way to get started with sewing and learning the basics. And don’t get me started on the Mimi blouse. And yes, this aesthetic may not be your cup of tea but I love getting people to start sewing and I love the idea of encouraging people to jump right in sewing things they’ll wear and love. (Yes, I was one of those kids whose moms made them sew a million straight lines on scrap fabric before being allowed to touch the fun stuff, why do you ask?)

Tilly's book

As someone who’s been sewing for many years, this book wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of my need-to-have list, but I’ve been showing it to friends who have expressed an interest in sewing as a means of illustrating how accessible these skills are. (No but seriously, my sister is visiting next week and is being dragged to sewing club where I’ve instructed the Crafty Foxes to convert her. I will also be leaving this book around her vicinity accidentally on purpose. Hee.)

Tilly's book
In my extremely biased opinion, this is my favorite page.

Anyway, on to the fun part: Tilly’s book has finally come to the US and she generously sent me an extra copy of her book to give away to a Peneloping reader!

Just comment below telling me a sewing technique you’ve avoided like the plague or one you’d like to learn. Make sure you include your email so you can be contacted about receiving your prize!

This giveaway is open to US readers only (sorry, international friends!) and will be open until midnight Monday, October 27th. The winner will be announced shortly after.