I'm back with another review - this time it's the new Tilly & the Buttons Skye Sundress & I bloomin' love it.
The pattern is aimed at confident beginners & has a simple Empire bodice with pleats instead of bust darts, a scooped, slightly squared neckline, optional shoulder ties & a floaty gathered skirt portion which can be made in mini, knee or maxi lengths & of course, pockets.
There are no fiddly zips or buttonholes to do with this dress but the neckline & sleeves are finished with bias binding which perhaps elevates this from a very basic beginner pattern to confident beginners. But don't worry if you don't fancy the effort of making your own bias binding, we have your back with a range of ready made poly cotton bias binding in the shop, make sure you get the 1" wide though & not the 2" wide like I did & then had to faff about cutting it down to 1"! I might also put together a tutorial of how to line it if anyone is interested because I think this would give a nice neat finish for those who don't like sewing with bias binding.
Philippa asked I fancied making it up in our lovely Green Manalishi Tencel lawn & I said "yes please"! I'm not usually drawn to green but as soon as this came into the shop I was really drawn to it; the design is beautiful & it has the perfect weight & drape for this dress, lightweight but not see through. It handles really well, doesn't fray & holds a press without being too prone to creasing when you wear it too. (I called it Green Manalishi because Fleetwood Mac were on the radio when I was uploading it!)
The pattern is in the new extended size range which goes from UK size 6 to 24 in the printed version & 16 to 34 in the PDF, (we can print your PDFs for you). I generally sew a size 5 for Tilly's patterns (I'm 37" bust, 32" waist & 39" hip, so between the 4 & 5 on the bust & 5 at the waist & 4 at the hip) & despite her advice to go up a size if you're between sizes, I ignored it & went down to a 4. There's loads of room at the waist & hip & around 3" at the bust & found that it was just right for the fit that I like - I'm only a B cup though, so maybe take your cup size & how much room you prefer into consideration. Or make a quick toile out of a remnant like I did - it takes no time to whip up the bodice. I did add around 1 1/2" to the length too, as Tilly drafts for someone who is 5'5" & I'm 5' 8".
As usual, Philippa challenged me to get it out of less than the required 2.8m suggested on the pattern, so I took 2.5m home to wash & I'm not going to lie, it was a push so I'd suggest going for 2.75m to be on the safe side. (This is for the size 4 so you'll definitely need more for the larger sizes as the skirt pieces wouldn't sit side by side. They may do for a smaller size & a wider fabric but this fabric was only 145cm wide!) & if you're fussy about pattern matching then you'll definitely need more - I didn't think it was necessary for this print & the gathers hide any need for it in my opinion. If you choose a large floral just watch out for floral boobs!
The size of the skirt did mean that there was a wide strip of fabric leftover, which would in part be used for the bias strips but seems a big waste. The instructions for cutting 8 bias strips & then sewing them together seems overly complicated - I have a video which yields around 2 metres of bias binding from a 10" square here which I find easier & less wasteful.
Sewing up was straightforward, once the bodice was sewn (2 pleats at the bust, shoulder & side seams), there was just the pockets to sew in, which are interfaced for strength first & then understitched when sewn on to keep them in place. Then, all you need to do is sew up the side seams & attach the skirt to the bodice and Bob's your uncle! I prefer to use the elastic method for gathering, which you can find here. It's a lot less faffing trying to get the gathers even than the traditional method of 2 rows of basting stitches!
The ties are an optional extra & aren't integral to the straps, so can give you a different look & there's also instructions to make a strap stay to keep the shoulder straps in place to stop your bra flashing but I found I didn't need it. The pockets are the perfect size for keys, phone & lippy if you like to travel light.
All in all it was a really straightforward make & very easy to chuck on & go when the sun shines.