I have been a huge fan of Tilly and the Buttons since I found them as a sewing newbie. Their brand is bright and colourful, their designs modern retro (I guess). Tilly’s byline is ‘learn to sew your own clothes’, and by purchasing her patterns I was well on the way (from someone who thought they would never achieve dressmakery this is quite a compliment!).
To date I have bought her book Love at First Stitch, Francoise dress, Arielle Skirt and Bettine. It is Bettine I am going to review today.
I ordered the pattern online and it came pretty quickly. The pattern is made of thick paper (almost card) and is only printed on one side so will be re-usable time and time again. Nothing worse than a pattern made out of something you use to wipe your nose then to have to recycle it to use the other side!
My first step was to trace the pattern pieces. I could just cut them out and use but in case I want to make the Bettine in a different size in future I opted for tracing it. There are lots of different ways about doing this (a blog post in itself!) but I use greaseproof paper (which you can buy from the pound shop!) and a Sharpie.
The pattern comes in 8 sizes and gives guidance on sizes and measuring yourself – this is really helpful. It’s also simple to understand. I decided to make this in a size 5 (roughly a size 12) so I could give it away as a gift.
Once my pattern pieces were created and cut out, now came the time to pick fabric. For this dress I decided to go with a cotton twill I had in my stash – green with white bows on it. It is slightly Christmasy but not enough that you couldn’t wear it the rest of the year. I only had two meters and was concerned it wouldnt be enough but following Tilly’s advice about laying wide fabric out, I managed to cut everything within the stash I had – result!
Once the fabric was cut and the markings made with water washable ink, I found it really helpful to write which piece was which on the fabric in the seam allowance.
Before I started to make Bettine I read through the booklet that comes with the pattern. I think this is a really good idea. I am a huge fab of this booklet. It gives simple step by step instruction with colour photos to show what she is talking about. There was only one time I couldnt work out what she meant, which was probably my lack of experience, however given it’s for newbee sewers I would expect this to be explained. This didn’t take away from the experience – I just used my initiative and did what I thought she was asking.
As it was the first time I’d made Bettine, I expected there to be errors and for it not to come out perfect, but to learn from that. I have to say I exceeded my own expections. It did take a long time to make – from tracing, through to finishing the hem it was 9 hours of work (which I would expect to be speeded up in future) and so was quite a process, however it was a lot of fun to see my project coming together and mistakes were few and far between – pretty unusual for me!
My biggest problem was getting my serger to work properly – I ended up giving up on that and using pinking shears instead. My only other trouble spot was sewing the channel for the elastic. I sewed from the underside and ended up sewing half the skirt together (or the pockets in the wrong place anyway!) so the seamripper did come out for that. And I had to thread the elastic twice as it got twisted – otherwise a very straight-forward exciting project that I throughly enjoyed.
I can’t tell you the immense pride and joy I experienced looking at my finished garment. I never in a million years would have believed I could make something like this, it is by far the most advanced dress I have made to date. I went for the pocket and tab version – thank you Tilly and team!