Pinafore Party

So last week, I asked on my Instagram for suggestions for my second blog post. @taylorsews suggested I talk about my first make, which sparked a little idea. Now, a little disclaimer, my very VERY first make was a questionable purple satin dress with one diamante shoulder strap for my GCSE Textiles project (17 years ago!) It was a very ambitious project, given that it had boning in the bodice and was made from a very slippery material. But actually, other than the hem, it turned out pretty well, and I was only 1 mark off an A* grade so it must have been pretty decent! However, this make is not what I’m going to talk about in detail here. I’m going to talk about the make that kickstarted my dressmaking journey earlier this year and my love for the pinafore style dress.

Now I’ve been a fan of pinafore/dungaree dresses for a good while now. I’m not sure exactly what it is that I love about them, but I definitely enjoy a relaxed style of dress that I can pair with my favourite shoes (trainers or flat boots). I also love layering pieces and pinafore dresses are perfect for this. For this reason, they can work in any season – layered over a t-shirt with bare legs in the warmer months or with tights and a polo neck/knitted jumper in the colder months. Perfect!

So I already owned three ready to wear pinafore dresses, two of which were very cheap dungaree style and the other is an absolutely beautiful Laura Ashley pinafore that my mum bought me for Christmas. This is a special dress that I will always treasure, but the dungaree dresses didn’t fit particularly well and  when I saw online that Tilly and the Buttons had released a dungaree dress pattern, it was the inspiration I needed to begin my dressmaking journey.

My first Cleo

Cleo-collage-1The Cleo is a gorgeous dress pattern that enables you to mix and match between a variety of options (dungaree buckles or button fastenings, mini or knee length, different pockets etc). I opted for the mini length dungaree style and off I went to the haberdashery section at Boyes to find some suitable material (This was before I discovered the wonderful world of online fabric shopping!) I went for a simple black corduroy. I thought this was a good choice as a) it would be very forgiving if I made mistakes, given that it was my first foray in to dressmaking since my GCSEs, and b) Black goes with everything, so perfect for layering over any number of tops. I ordered the pattern and dungaree clips directly from Tilly’s website and I was good to go! Now, admittedly, it did take another few months to pluck up the courage to get started, but I needn’t have worried. The pattern was an absolute breeze and as I’m sure you all know, Tilly’s instruction booklets are INCREDIBLE. The step by step, clear instructions along with detailed colour photographs are perfect for beginners. I made one slight error in the making process (I’ve now come to accept that a make isn’t a make if you don’t make one mistake along the way) which was that I accidentally top stitched down the centre front in navy thread instead of black (The lighting in my sewing room isn’t great!) However, this really isn’t noticeable so I’m ok with it. Once I’d completed my dress, I was absolutely delighted. My first make and a very successful one at that, but I couldn’t help thinking I wanted to personalise it in some way – make it more ‘me’. So I had a look in my stash and found some gorgeous little heart buttons, which I proceeded to sew on to the front bib pocket and the back pockets. I love this detail and always receive compliments on it!

My second Cleo

After successfully completing my first Cleo, I just had to make another. I went to my amazing local fabric shop,  1st for Fabrics and chose some beautiful mustard denim along with another set of dungaree clips. I love the colour mustard and it has been ‘on trend’ for quite a while now. I went for a sewing day with my lovely friend Maria and helped her make her very first Cleo (in a gorgeous baby blue cord, again from 1st for Fabrics) while I made my mustard denim version. IMG_6903

I had the confidence to personalise this dress too, by facing it in a beautiful floral cotton from Sew me Sunshine . Unfortunately I ran out of thread before I had a chance to hem it and it stayed this way for a few months. Well I finally finished it off earlier this week and now I’m annoyed that I’ve missed out on wearing it all this time! I’m really pleased with the result. The fabric was a dream to work with. I used a denim needle and my sewing machine coped with it wonderfully. I think I’ll get a lot of wear out of this in Autumn, layered over black long sleeved tops and with thick, black tights.

I know some people struggle with the shape/sizing of the Cleo, but it works really well for me. I made a straight size 4 with no alterations and have found it to be a great fit. If you haven’t made one already, I’d highly recommend it. I’ve got two, but I’m definitely going to be adding to my collection.

The Bibi pinafore

I had some lovely jersey in my stash that I thought would make the perfect Bibi (from the Tilly and the Buttons Stretch book.) After finally plucking up the courage to tackle sewing with stretch fabrics, I whipped this up in less than two hours using a combination of the zig zag stitch on my Brother Innovis F420 and my overlocker (Brother Lock 3034DWT). I made a size 5 and the only adaptation I made was to add a couple of buttons on the front bib for extra detail. I love the result, it’s super comfortable and perfect for work. I’ll definitely be making another, but next time I’ll reduce the width of the bib slightly.

So there you have it, my collection of me made pinafores which all happen to be patterns by the very amazing Tilly and the Buttons. I’ll leave you with some inspiration I have for further pinafore makes that I’m sure will be on my sewing machine very soon.

Pippi pinafore by Jennifer Lauren Handmade

I fell in love with the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Pippi after seeing The Stitch Sisters’ versions in their you tube video review and also Amanda from I Sew A Lot. They’re all gorgeous but I especially love Rachel’s pink version.

Ivy pinafore by Jennifer Lauren Handmade

Another by the wonderful Jennifer Lauren Handmade which I was immediately drawn to when I saw this version by @roisinmuldoon and is definitely on my ‘to make’ list. I love it layered over those bright stripy tops, just gorgeous!

And finally, the York pinafore by Helen’s Closet

I was unsure when I first saw the York pinafore by Helen’s Closet and wasn’t sure if it would be for me, but then I kept seeing the gorgeous Mel of Handmade by Ditsy Tulip’s versions and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I now LOVE this pattern and will be making my first version very soon. It’s so versatile, has AMAZING pockets, is great for layering and it also now comes with an apron expansion pack, which is very cute! Mel has recently made a you tube video showing her four different versions of this dress, all of which are gorgeous!


Thanks for reading, have a lovely weekend and happy sewing.

Tamlyn x




My Summer Sewing Favourites

Hi everyone and welcome to my first blog post. To start things off, I thought I’d give a run down of some of my favourite sewing-related things of the summer (and when I say summer, I mean the summer school holidays – being a teacher, I do enjoy those 6 weeks of freedom every year). I hope you enjoy this little round up of what I’ve been loving recently.

Favourite make

This is an easy decision – it has to be my Tilly & the Buttons Marigold jumpsuit. I decided to make this pattern after seeing the very lovely Harriet from The Little Dressmaker talk about it often on her You Tube channel (Go and check it out if you haven’t already The Little Dressmaker ) The idea of making my first pair of trousers but not really haven’t to do much fitting was VERY appealing! I bought the fabric (a lovely floral Rayon Challis) from my local, and very amazing, fabric shop – 1st for Fabrics. I started making the jumpsuit at a 3-day sewing retreat at Guthrie & Ghani , receiving some very useful advice from Lauren & Layla to help me on my way. IMG_5864The only change I made to the pattern was to grade from a size 4 on the bodice and waist to a size 5 on the hips. It was such a straight forward make and it is unbelievably comfortable (Definite secret pyjamas!) I’ve worn it so often now, receiving compliments every time, and I have the fabric ready to make a second one. The only thing I’d do differently next time is omit the invisible side zip. I don’t use it as I can pull the jumpsuit on and off without it, so it would save me time and effort to just miss this step out. If you haven’t tried the Marigold yet, I’d highly recommend it!

Favourite fabric store

As much as I love fabric shopping online and the excitement of receiving parcels of beautifully wrapped fabric in the post, there’s so much joy to be had in visiting a shop filled with fabrics to gaze at and stroke. I was lucky enough to visit two incredible fabric shops over the summer, so I’m going to have to mention them both.

Firstly, Guthrie & Ghani in Mosely, Birmingham. I have followed Lauren (who is super lovely!) since watching her on The Great British Sewing Bee a few years ago and she owns the most gorgeous shop and studio. IMG_4868I’ve admired it online in photos and videos for so long but FINALLY got to experience the real thing a couple of months ago. There is not only a beautiful range of fabrics but also an incredible selection of indie patterns and haberdashery items. Lauren and her staff were all so lovely and helpful. The only difficulty I had was trying to rein myself in! I did treat myself to a few pieces though, it would have been a shame not to.


Secondly, celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary in Amsterdam meant that I had the chance to visit the incredible A. Boeken fabric store & haberdashery. In fact, I shopped there not once, not twice, but THREE times over the course of a weekend! They literally have floor to ceiling shelves of every fabric you could imagine, so again it would have been a shame not to treat myself to a few bits…

Favourite ‘Happy Post’

I don’t know about you, but I love receiving things through the post. Well, not all things – I’m not so keen on bills. But lovely letters, postcards and parcels just make mIMG_6513y day! I’ve admired the gorgeous products from Joy (Pink Coat Club) for a while and decided it was finally time to treat myself to some lovely things. Everything was so beautifully packaged and high-quality. The ‘it has pockets’ pin has been particularly well received and I wear it on my Marigold jumpsuit with pride. I also have my eye on a couple of other things (a ‘Me Made’ necklace and a ‘Sewing Wife’ pin – hint hint). Head to Joy’s Etsy store to treat yourself (or someone else) to something gorgeous.

Favourite sewing tool


Less a tool, more of a machine, but after using the Brother Innovis F420 at the Guthrie & Ghani sewing retreat and falling in love with it, I just HAD to treat myself to it. It was just an absolute pleasure to use. So smooth, so straight-forward, and with a vast range of features that my standard machine couldn’t offer (My favourite being the self-threading needle!) Don’t get me wrong, it served me very well for a few years, but it was definitely time for an upgrade and I am so happy with this purchase. You can see that Ziggy is pretty approving of it too!

And a few other favourites…


Rachel & Nikki from The Stitch Sisters. I love watching these ladies and spent the summer going back and watching pretty much all of the videos on their channel. I love their video ideas, especially their recent ‘Battle of the Culottes’ series. I want a Stitch Sister!


The lovely Jay from The Camden Stitch. Not only does she have awesome style and a gorgeous cat (Betsey), but she’s the person I’ve had the most chats with in the sewing community and she’s just lovely. Go check her out on Instagramyou tube and her blog if you haven’t already.


Stitcher’s Brew with Gabby & Megan. I love listening to these girls and the wonderful, inspiring guests they have on. I look forward to Friday every week when their new episode is released.

Sewing refreshment & snack

Definitely a Camden Hells lager and dark chocolate covered pretzels. Yum yum!


And on that note, I think I’ll leave it there. Thank you for taking the time to read my first post. I’d love to hear from you about your recent sewing favourites. Also, head over to my Instagram for a little giveaway linked to this post.

Happy sewing, Tamlyn x