Five Hacks for the Tilly & The Buttons Erin Dungarees

Apr 05 2022 0 Comments Tags: #sewingerin, Pattern Hack, Sewing tips, tilly and the buttons, Tilly and the Buttons Erin Dungarees

As I was sewing up my Tilly and the Buttons Erin Dungarees I had lots of ideas of how they could be hacked to make them a bit different from the original pattern & thought I'd share them with you!

1. Fully Reversible

All it took was Philippa to utter the words "I wonder if these can be made reversible", and off I went to find out! The answer is a firm "yes, yes they bloomin' well can!!" Since the bib of the Erins are lined, it seemed like a logical concept to continue the lining into the bottom half & make them fully reversible. Perfect for those who like to travel light, as you've got 2 outfits in 1!

I altered the order of construction a bit to get it to work; the standard order to sew them is to construct both front & back bib, join them at the side seams & sew them right sides together, catching in the ties & then attaching the top half to the bottom half (shorts or trousers). To make them reversible, I essentially constructed 2 sets of dungarees first & then joined the bib sections right sides together. I then pulled them through the leg so that they were the right way round & tucked the leg portions inside each other. This left the bottom of the leg hems raw, so I carefully pressed up the 3/8" seam allowance on each pair & topstitched at 1/8" all around the bottom.

I would suggest only using fairly lightweight fabrics to do this as otherwise you might end up with something that's quite heavy & bulky. I used a cotton poplin on one side & a lightweight chambray on the other. I only put the waist seam pockets on one side to avoid too much bulk at the waist - I don't need any extra padding there!


2. Changing the Pockets

Whilst we're talking about pockets, swapping the type of pocket is an easy change to make. Personally, I think the waist seam pockets are what defines the Erins, but I get that they aren't for everyone, so how about swapping them for side seam pockets? Quite an easy thing to do & lots of tutorials online of how to do it if you haven't tried - here's one from Tillly herself:


3. Bib Pockets

When I made the reversible pair, I added a lined bib pocket into the princess seam. This is a slightly easier hack & can be made any shape & size that you want. It doesn't have to be inserted into the Princess seams but I thought it would keep the lines clean & should be done before you add the lining.

This means that when I wear them the other way around I have a secret pocket on the inside! Patch pockets can also be added at the back in addition to the waist seam ones (or instead of if you're not keen on that design feature) & a flap could be added to keep everything nice & secure & make them look a bit more utilitarian. I like to line my pockets rather than fiddle about turning the edges under & burning my fingers - useful for using up odd scraps of fabric too!

4. Add Belt Loops

If you're not so keen on having too much bagginess around the waist, try cinching it in with a belt. If you're always going to wear a belt, consider adding belt loops so you don't lose your belt every time you use the loo! This is a really simple thing to do; try them on first to determine where you want the belt to sit & cut some rectangles 3 times the width required. Fold to hide all the raw edges & topstitch in place & attach to your dungarees. Here's an in depth tutorial from Helen's Closet, if you need more info.

5. Add Grommets

There are 2 options for fastening the straps, either tied at the shoulder or through a buttonhole on the front of the bib. I have one of those fancy shmancy grommet presses at home & thought adding a grommet instead of a buttonhole would give it a different look. 

You don't need a fancy machine to install grommets though, you can just buy eyelets that includes the tool to install them - you just need access to a hammer. 

5. Make a DungaDress

This is a more involved hack but you could swap out the legs for a skirt. You can make this as long as you like, A-line or more fitted. Just remember that if you would like to be able to walk, you may need some slits if you make a long fitted skirt. This could be a back or front slit or even side slits. Take a look at the Lucy & Yak & La ReDoute examples below for inspiration.


Bonus Tips

There are many more ways that you could make this pattern unique, simply by using some funky fabric such as our Sneaky Sneakers Cotton or the Pigeon Wishes Retro Surfing Posters Sandwashed Linen which will make them stand out from the crowd.



If you're not keen on the shoulder ties & don't like doing buttonholes you could swap them for a loop, like the Lucy & Yak ones above or swap the straps for this wide elastic to give them a sporty feel a la Tommy Hilfiger. We've even got the buckles too!

I hope that's given you some inspiration to make the best use of the pattern. If you'd like more information about how we found sewing them, see our Review here.

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