There's always excitement around these parts when Tilly and the Buttons release a new sewing pattern, and especially a BEGINNERS sewing pattern! It's been so lovely during lockdown to see loads and loads of brand new sewers, as well as regenerated sewers who have powered up the old sewing machines after years of them gathering dust, so I'm very excited to be able to offer another sewing pattern for you to whet your whistle with!
We all know by now how amazing the TATB Stevie pattern is. It's such a wearable item and it's so nice for newbies to make something that doesn't necessarily look like it's been a doddle to make. So for Tilly to release a follow-up to that in the form of the Lotta certainly got me a bit giddy!
If you are a beginner, you will use some of the same, standard dressmaking techniques you used for Stevie to sew up Lotta, however this is a good progression as it will take you one step further; you will learn how to encase elastic into the waist to give your dress some shape, how to sew a bodice onto a skirt, how to add a bracelet sleeve onto the grown-in short sleeve and another way of making patch pockets which this time round have a lovely folded-over detail at the top to make them look a bit more fancy. You can also make this dress using both woven and knit fabrics, so the world really is your oyster!
I've made this pattern twice in a row now, which shows it really is a good 'un as it takes a lot for a pattern to hold my attention so much I want to make it again immediately! For my first attempt, I chose to make the midi-length, short sleeved version using a viscose crepe. I was hesitant to go for the midi-length to be honest. I've always thought I would look a bit Laura Ingalls in "Little House on the Prairie", however looking through all the amazing versions on social media that people had made, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a whirl and I can't say I'm disappointed! Confession time: I didn't technically have enough fabric to do the full midi version. You need 2.8m to make the midi length, however the piece of fabric I had in my stash was only 2.5m so I did what all good sewers do and just adapted the pattern to suit! :) To do this, I just cut a 1.5" strip off the bottom of the pattern and stitched a very small hem of 0.5" to make up for a bit of the missing length. For me, this is a nice length; not quite midi, but good enough for me! I reckon if you were a bit shorter than me (I'm 5'8") then you could get away with using this method for the proper midi length so make sure you have a look at the finished measurements on the pattern before deciding how much fabric to buy. We don't like fabric wastage, do we!
For my second dress, I used the gorgeous Cloud9 Rayon in Dabble that landed recently. I initially intended on making the full length sleeve version with the proper midi length, however whilst trying it on, I wasn't overly keen on the full length sleeve. I don't know whether it was because I had combined it with the midi length which gave uber skin coverage, but I just felt a bit dowdy. So I changed the sleeve to a 3/4 length and I felt much more confident in it. To do this, just try your frock on and fold up the sleeve to wear you want it to sit, allowing a bit extra for hemming. For me, this meant chopping off 3.5" from the sleeve and then hemming 0.5".
With regards to pockets, a dress isn't a dress if it ain't got pockets and one of the best things about making your own clothes is that you can put pockets in everything! For the first dress, I sewed on the patch pockets as per the pattern, however as the fabric I used was very fluid, they do sag a little bit, especially when I try and fit in all my valued possessions, which I tend to do when there's a pocket in the vicinity! Therefore for my second dress, I sewed in side seam pockets instead, which worked lovely. I'll do another blog post in a bit for the hack so you can do the same, so stay tuned!
As with all the Tilly patterns, the instructions are very easy to follow. Even though I have my own way of sewing things, I ALWAYS make sure to follow the instructions provided the first time round so I can make sure that everything's tickety-boo before I recommend a pattern to you. The only thing I did get myself in a tizz over was the folding of the patch pockets. These are very cleverly done, I must say, and what I found helpful was to fold the paper pattern piece in the way described first so I could see the effect I was having to achieve, then replicated it with the fabric. (I'm going in for my Origami Brownie badge next week!!)
As an experienced sewer who procrastinates with the best of them, this dress took me about 6 hours from cutting out the paper pattern to the finish, however this did include a few coffee breaks, a Netflix search and a break for dinner. For the more conscientious amongst you, it would probably only take a few hours!
If you are sewing the woven version, unlike the Stevie where you can get away with using a more mediumweight fabric, I would definitely recommend you use a more fluid fabric, like a viscose/rayon, just because the skirt is quite full and you want that flouncey effect which you won't achieve with a mediumweight fabric. I know, viscose can be a 'mare, but you have to try it sometime so you might as well use a nice, easy pattern for your first foray! Just make sure you use a different method for finishing off your seams rather than the zigzag on your sewing machine which will just chew it up; either the good old French Seam, an overlocker or even just a pair of pinking shears will do to get you started.
Enjoy - I can't wait to see your Lottas!