Cleo dungaree dress from Tilly & the Buttons

Boy was this a fun make!  My first time working with denim and I can see why people get hooked on making jeans. Denim is such a fun fabric to work with. My Singer 401A really loved working with it and didn’t chew it up or lodge any complaints.  I used black denim from Joann and regular-weight teal thread for topstitching.

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tillyoutside

This is my first pattern make by Tilly and the Buttons. I’m new to the sewing community but I can already tell that she’s kind of a big deal.  The dress is called the Cleo pinafore and dungaree dress.  I made a size 14 (US) and added three inches in length (I’m 5’8″). It hits me just below the knee.

On the inside: teapots!  My mom gave me this teapot fabric on my last visit and I used it for the inner facings (a detail I saw on other Cleos on Instagram).

teapots

tilly_insides

I had planned to make one of the newest Tilly patterns, the Bobbi skirt and pinafore. When browsing Instagram checking out the Bobbi, I ran across the Cleo and ended up liking it a bit more. It looked more suited to a beginner at least.

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All the hip pockets ended up being a little low for my taste. I should have tested the placement before I sewed them all on. You can see above that the pocket is more on the back of my leg than on my butt.

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The cross back is super cute!

This project had a propitious start when I laid it out and it took less than a yard of fabric!

tillycleo_layout

I had so much fabric that I decided to do all the optional pockets. It was a lot of pockets. Each pocket had to be pressed and topstitched. I went the extra mile and pounded all the corners with a hammer so they would sit very flat.

hammeringpockets

Once the pockets were done, I tested my serger on the denim. I’m still getting used to how my new Brother 1034D operates. I put two denim needles in the serger and ran a test.

sampleserge

It checks out!

The instructions for Cleo were really fantastic. They used photos instead of drawings, which, at this point in my sewing journey, I prefer.  The instructions were definitely written with the beginner in mind — even an absolute beginner.

The one part I stumbled on during construction was attaching the straps. The instructions said to edge-stitch the straps.  Either I had cut the straps too wide or I was supposed to leave the 5/8″ seam allowance and not stitch them right on the edge because when I went to attach them, they were too wide.  I scissored them to fit but this was a mistake. I had made little fray bundles on either end of the straps that had nowhere to hide.

tillystraps2

I ended up hand sewing a bunch of loops around these imperfections and it looked OK.

Installing the hardware was a breeze. I didn’t measure anything and just eyeballed where I thought the buttons should be. Then I poked holes in the denim with an awl.  I took the advice of the Love to Sew podcast and hammered the buttons on on the back of my iron skillet.

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I couldn’t wait to wear this to work. Every shirt and sweater I own can be worn underneath it.  Here’s a shot my friend Suzanne took of me, pairing the dress with purple tights and a sweater.

tillywork

Not sure if I will make this again… It was a fun make and a great pattern, but for me I think one dungaree dress might be all I need. Next I’m going to do a denim skirt with the leftovers! -rp

6 thoughts on “Cleo dungaree dress from Tilly & the Buttons

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