I've been seeing little teasers for this pattern for a while and have been eagerly anticipating its release, as the last couple of Tilly patterns have been more for those with a bit of sewing already under their belts whereas this one is aimed at uber beginners, and let me tell you - I don't think you'll be disappointed with it!
This pattern features a couple of variations, so you can make it as a top or a dress and there are a couple of different ways to fasten it - a neck tie, which is something you don't often see in beginners patterns, or by creating a buttonloop with an elasticated hairband, which I'm not overly sure of personally. It's all a bit "make do and mend" for me is anything like that, which I'm not against if something warrants it, and I'm all for a bit of upcycling but come on; we're talking a little bit of shirring elastic here, and for someone who has short hair like myself, it's cheaper buying that than a packet of bobbles!
One thing that struck me with this pattern was how carefully Tilly had planned the cutting layout. There certainly is very little wastage with this one, which I am a fan of. There's nothing that grinds on me more than having loads of waste fabric after cutting out, especially when you have to cut the majority of pieces on the fold, which you do for this pattern. When a pattern designer just lines the pieces up along the fold side by side for all sizes, it's nothing short of lazy. However, to give Tilly her credit, even though it might not be the easiest thing for a beginner to do, for sizes 1-5 you have to fold the fabric so the selvedges meet in the middle, therefore creating two folds for you to cut your pieces against, which is what she also does in the Bettine pattern. Now I say this isn't an easy task to do, it all depends on what fabric you use to make it with. I think I can just about say that I am past "beginner" stage now(!), so I thought I'd be a bit extravagant and use the Atelier Brunette Moonstone Green viscose that I've had my eye on for a while to make the dress version, which meant it was quite slippery for lining up the selvedges in the middle. For this fabric I only needed 1.4m, which for a dress I didn't think was bad, so if you want to push the boat out when buying your fabric for this, you're not going to break the bank.
Like the Bettine, the sleeves in this pattern are kimono style, meaning that they are already part of the bodice. There's no need to insert them separately, which makes this an excellent beginner's project. Given that it is meant for beginners, it would have been so easy for Tilly to create this using the back and the front basically the same shape, but she has added the back yoke including the keyhole opening, which creates a nice design feature, as does the optional chest pocket. We are actually that impressed with this new pattern that we've updated our Beginners Dressmaking workshop to accommodate it so you newbies will have the choice of making my beloved Cleo dungaree dress or the Stevie top or dress, depending on your style. As horrified as this makes me, I reluctantly agree that a dungaree dress isn't for everyone (#sadface) so it's nice that Tilly has released another pattern the same skill level for those "Anti-Cleo" people!
I must say that before I made this, I was slightly concerned that the finished garment was going to look shapeless, given the photo of the dress on the model on the pattern cover. Thankfully, the end result isn't as tent-like as I imagined and does have some shape to it, which is nice. If you wanted it even more fitted, you can always check the finished garment measurements and choose your size(s) accordingly. Given my poor bust/waist/hip ratio, it was refreshing that I could just choose one size for a change, rather than grading between a couple of different sizes.
What I like about this garment as well is that you can wear the end result all year round - with tights or *SHOCK HORROR* bare legs in summer (as it's not overly short either) or layered with a long sleeved top and leggings/tights in the winter. The sleeves are quite roomy, which is an added bonus for someone like me, who enjoys a kettlebell workout with the best of them! :) I have found personally with some garments, such as the Deer and Doe Arum dress, that my arms have to breathe in slightly when I'm wearing them. And yes, I know I should probably check before cutting out that the sleeves are going to fit my what pattern designers deem to be Hulk Hogan-like arms, but I don't. Sue me.
All in all, the Stevie is a very wearable design and will be a good addition to anyone's wardrobe, whether it be made in a basic cotton or a lighterweight fabric for a bit of pizazz, so give it a go, even if you think your skill level is way beyond "beginner" level; it's always good to have a few easy projects on the go so you're not slaving away over a hot sewing machine for hours on end.
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