If you are looking for a swishy dress sewing pattern, then you have certainly come to the right place.
The Lotta Dress from Tilly and the Buttons is one of the easiest dresses that I have ever sewn. Whilst this makes it an enjoyable sewing project for any ability, it is one of the most perfect patterns to introduce dressmaking to a total beginner.
The loose fitting bodice (no darts), elasticated waist and grown-on sleeves make it an absolute doddle to sew, and your choice of swishy skirt length and sleeves mean that you can have your perfect dress sewn up in no time at all.
Optional large patch pockets are a cute feature and what’s pretty amazing about this pattern is that it is suitable for woven fabrics or stretchy jersey!
The two versions that I am showing you here are both made with viscose fabric that I purchased from Minerva. I made the bracelet length sleeved midi-length dress in a dark navy and white irregular spot, and the knee length short sleeved version in a red, blue and gold floral.
A huge bonus of this style dress is that it is so easy to fit. I made both of these dresses quite a while back now as these were my pattern tester samples for Tilly and the Buttons. Since then I have lost a little weight and probably come down a good couple of sizes, but the dresses still fit and feel great.
Apart from being no fuss to sew, the grown-on sleeves give you that lovely dropped shoulder feature when you add the sleeves on to them. I love that. My sleeves are admittedly a little long – their intention is to be bracelet length – but of course the length can be whatever you choose.
The neckline is finished with a neat facing in the woven version. Adding, understitching and pressing a neckband facing is one of my favourite parts of sewing a woven dress.
I love how the thin elastic at the waist is comfortable to wear and also cinches you in. It also means that you can slip this dress on and off over your head without the need for any fastenings and (more importantly) eat lots of cake without feeling uncomfortable! Ha!
As mentioned before, my red and blue floral version is knee-length and has the short sleeves. The only other difference is that I added in-seam pockets to this version as that was my preference. (Forgot to take close up pics of this – oops). As always, I just used any pocket pattern and added them in the usual way when sewing up the side seams of the dress.
I’m currently working on a jersey version of this pattern which I hope to finish and share with you on Instagram next week. Now that the weather is turning colder I imagine that a jersey Lotta dress will come in very useful.
For more inspiration on this dress search the tag #sewinglotta
I’m sure that most of you are familiar with The Stevie tunic and top pattern from Tilly and the Buttons. Did you notice last month that an add-on pattern had been released? This gives you the option to use the original pattern to add longer sleeves or a gathered skirt transforming it into an oversized smock dress whilst still retaining those classic and recognizable Stevie features.
The new dress version could not have appealed to me more! It’s right up my street! Gathered skirt – yes please. Tie back – of course. Swishability – 100%.
This dress is made using the original Stevie pattern plus the Add-on pattern. A bundle of both patterns together is also available here.
*polite/shy cough* I was beyond flattered to be asked by Tilly and the Buttons to model the pattern images for this new add-on pattern and, trust me, I’m still pinching myself.
The sample of the dress that I modelled for Tilly is made up in this beautiful linen/cotton stripe from Lamazi Fabrics and is gorgeous. Immediately that I saw it I desperately wanted to make my version in a linen stripe too and have a bit of fun copying those playful stripe directions.
The fabric that I purchased for my version is a viscose linen from Material Girl Laura. Unfortunately this is out of stock now, but it’s a beautiful mid blue with a narrow white stripe.
The acrylic pastel blue knitting necklace with gold plated chain is available from my shop.
As I needed to be very careful cutting this out to make sure that the stripe was running the correct way on each pattern piece, I drew out a rough sketch of the dress (front and back) and drew the stripes in so that I knew which way to lay each piece on the fabric. This was also important as I knew that I would only have just enough fabric to do this. Guess who despite this still cut out the back bodice piece (the piece below the back yoke) with the stripes in the wrong direction!? Yep, me..
This resulted in some rude words, and some intense pattern repositioning on the remaining pieces and I finally managed to squeeze out that back bodice piece by cutting it as two separate pieces (rather than on the fold) so now there is a little vertical seam running down the centre now. Never mind, you can barely see it ( I hope) and at least the stripes are running in the direction that I wanted.
Oh I also had to cut the sleeve cuffs with the stripe running in the wrong direction as a result of this, as this was the only way I could get them out of the fabric leftovers now, but you really wouldn’t notice this either.
So after all that self-inflicted stress cutting out, I was excited to get started sewing. (I am a straight Tilly size 4 by the way, but for this dress I wanted it a little less oversized so I cut a size 4 in the top grading it in to a size 2 at the waist, and a size 2 skirt). My measurements are 36-30-40 btw and I am 5’2″.
It’s a dream to sew, as are all of Tilly’s patterns, and I really enjoyed seeing it come together especially with all of those fun directional stripes. After adding the cuffs I decided to hand stitch them in place all the way around rather than just using some discreet stitches at the shoulder and side seam. I was trying to avoid the chance of them becoming a bit unturned whilst wearing them, if you know what I mean. Now that I have hand stitched them I feel that they look a bit flat and realise that they would look much better stitched in a couple of places as instructed, so I think I’ll whiz back to them, unpick that stitching and finish them as I should have done in the first place!
One of the things that I love about this dress is the large pocket. It’s fab isn’t it? Sadly I had to reduce the size of the pocket because of my pattern placing error that I mentioned earlier. I simply couldn’t get it out of the fabric with the stripe in the correct direction at it’s original size. So whilst the width of my pocket is the same as the pattern, I had to make it about 4cm shorter. It’s only a little bit smaller than the original and still super cute.
I also placed the pocket so that it’s side edges lay exactly parallel to those vertical stripes on the skirt. The placement markings for the pocket actually means that the pocket side edges are parallel to the side seams (not the fold line/centre front of the skirt) so technically this means that my pocket is actually stitched on a little bit wonky, but it looks straight, because of the vertical lines of the skirt… Gosh does this make any sense? One last thing, I also raised the height of the pocket by about 4cm.
After attaching the skirt I realised that the weight of the skirt had pulled the waist seam down to lower than I wanted ( something that Tilly mentions might happen in her instructions). I felt that I needed to raise the waist seam by about 4.5cm along the front bodice from side seam to side seam. The back bodice didn’t need reducing all the way around, I just needed grade this 4.5cm reduction down to nothing for about 12cm from each side seam in towards the centre back.
There are some helpful and interesting posts on the Tilly and the Buttons blog here, here and here. So do check those out if you need any fitting help or inspiration.
I would also like to say that the add-on pattern was gifted to me when the pattern was released. This was with no obligations or conditions to share in any way. The thoughts in this post, as always, are entirely my own. The original Stevie pattern that is also needed to make this dress was purchased by myself.
It is designed to be used with the original Indigo pattern, and enables you to add short sleeves (with or without a ruffle), a gathered tier at the bottom of the dress making it into a swishy midi dress, and, my personal favourite, the option to give it a button back – how dreamy! The above two pictures are from the Tilly and the Buttons website.
Sew up your dream combination using a mixture of the old pattern and the new to create your perfect dress/top. All in all, using both patterns, you have a total of 48 versions that you can create!
I knew in a heartbeat that I wanted to make the button back version. I also wanted to try those pretty ruffled short sleeves. I kept the skirt length as the regular original length, and also gathered the skirt in the standard way rather than using the exposed ruffle as I thought this might be too fussy with the ruffled sleeves.
My fabric choice is this pretty ‘Beautiful Botanicals’ viscose from Material Girl Laura. It is a stunning print featuring green, cream and lilac leaves and flowers on a dark navy (almost black) background, and at a very reasonable £3.99 per half metre. I particularly loved how the lilac flowers perfectly matched my acrylic scissors necklace. I know it’s difficult to see here and due to the bright sunshine those tiny flowers look a little grey but they are a soft lilac irl.
Lilac acrylic necklace is available in my shop here.
I enjoyed sewing the pattern up immensely. As always with Tilly patterns, it was simple to sew, and the written instructions and pictures were spot on!
I couldn’t wait to make the button back bodice. Although it is an ‘over the head’ dress, I still decided to stitch and sew proper button holes – you could easily just sew on the buttons creating a fake button placket if you liked. They don’t need to be functional. I must admit I think I may have sewn my buttonholes a smidge too far in from the edge, and to make sure it lay nice and neat I actually ran a line of top stitching along that edge to hold it down, which actually makes the whole time spent sewing the button holes a bit of a waste but hey ho! it’s all good fun!
Check out the new sleeve design too – short sleeves with a gentle (optional) ruffle. They’re so cute!
Of course there are pockets, nice deep ones too! My standard pocket adjustment on this dress is to raise the height of the pocket by 2″.
There’s very little more to say about this beautiful pattern that hasn’t already been said! I wrote a blog post about my original version here if you want to take a peek, and have made 3 or 4 versions of it since then.
This pattern was very kindly gifted to me, with no obligations to share in any way, but I wanted to show you how lovely it is and of course all opinions on the pattern are very much my own.
Look after yourselves, stay safe, and I’ll be back soon,
Ok, this is special. It’s quite unusual for me to purchase a pattern full price – I almost always wait for sales to come around as far as patterns are concerned, but when The Indigo came along, I just couldn’t wait.
It’s right up my street – a breezy smock dress or top, with a choice of sleeves, exposed frill seams if you like, and that dreamy floaty gently gathered skirt – I could not resist it. I kept the sleeves simple so that I could wear it underneath jackets and cardigans with no bulk, and added a ruffle on the skirt hem – but more about that later!
My fabric choice was this pretty green and orange floral print Javanaise viscose from Abakhan online. I can’t seem to find this exact fabric anymore, but have linked the search for similar fabrics as there are plenty more in other gorgeous Autumn colours. I must admit it’s a fairly lightweight floaty fabric (which is what I wanted), but it does mean that it’s a little slippery to work with. This is definitely a fabric that I needed to hang to let the hem drop, despite it not being cut on the bias – as there was certainly a risk when cutting out that the fabric wasn’t lying perfectly straight! I hung this dress twice – once before I added the hem ruffle, and also after adding the hem ruffle before the final hemming.
I knew that I would need to shorten the sleeves to ensure that they were a lovely bracelet length, but completely forgot to adjust the pattern before cutting out. As a result I needed to take off 7cm from the finished sleeve before finishing with a small hem.
The gently curved waistline shaping is pretty and flattering. I have chosen to gather my skirt and attach it to the bodice in the regular way, but I’m sure you’ve seen all the lovely versions that are popping up all over the internet at the moment with the pretty exposed frill seam. Such a cute feature and definitely a version that I will try in the future.
This Summer I have been loving wearing my midi length ruffle skirts and so I wanted to incorporate a nice wide ruffle at the hem of this dress. I also really like the design of ‘that Zara dress’ and think this is not a bad dupe for it. At the time of writing this Sister Mintaka has some glorious spotty black and white viscose if you want to go full-on copy!
The ruffle on the bottom of the dress was easy. No maths required in this case! I tried the dress on (I made the dress length exactly as it came), and decided how deep I wanted the frill/how long I wanted the dress to be. In my case I wanted an extra 6″, so simply cut two x 6″ strips the entire width of the fabric that I had left over after cutting. After some gentle gathering and joining them to form a loop, one strip would sit at the front of the skirt and one at the back with the side seams of the frill matching up with the side seams of the dress. The fulness of this gather happens to be just right for me, but you could definitely work out your perfect gather percentage if you want to be more mathematically correct!
Just when you thought this dress couldn’t get any better – it has pockets!
To be honest, these sit a little low for me, so I will probably position them a couple of inches higher up for my next one.
The dress bodice has a simple round neck, with bust darts, and what again makes this design so brilliant is that there are no fastenings – on and off over the head – hooray!
These photos were taken on a blustery October day, what better way could I have shown you how floaty this gorgeous dress is …
All in all, it’s the perfect smock dress that I was after. Easy and comfortable to wear, and perfect in a variety of fabrics for any season. Ten out of ten!
The style of this skirt pattern is a bit of a trip down memory lane for me. I had a tiered skirt like this about 15 years ago and I can remember wearing it ALL THE TIME after the birth of my second son, as it was elasticated like this and it was one of the few items in my wardrobe with accommodated my changing body shape at this time. I wore and washed it so much that in the end I had to let it go as the fabric had just dreadfully faded over time.
Fast forward a few years and I am delighted to see a revival in tiered skirts and dresses, and when I noticed this free download in issue 65 of Love Sewing Magazine I couldn’t wait to make it.
It’s an incredibly simple pattern to cut out and sew. There is just one pattern piece to download which is the skirt yoke. The rest of the pattern (the tiers) are formed by adding slightly gathered rectangles, each rectangle getting longer as you go down the length of the skirt. The measurements of the tiers (along with the sewing instructions) are written in the magazine issue.
All that you need to finish off your skirt is a length of elastic, and you are good to go!
Yesterday we went strawberry picking and I decided to use this opportunity to show you some pics of the finished skirt.
The pattern in the magazine shows the finished skirt as having the yoke plus 4 tiers. As I am 5’2″, I only needed to cut 3 tiers and found this to be the perfect midi length for me. You can definitely play around with the number of tiers that you cut to make it as long or as short as you want.
Fabric suggestions are tana lawn or lightweight cotton fabrics and I chose to sew it using a super pretty floral viscose from The Frugal Fabric Shop.
This fabric was sent to me as a gift from Kate from The Frugal Fabric Shop when we had a little product swap recently. It’s cool and swishy and just perfect for this skirt don’t you think?
Due to the ditsy floral print of the fabric it’s hard to capture the beauty of the tiers on this skirt. Hopefully the image below from the magazine shows you what the actual design of the skirt is a little more clearly. I think making this up in a solid colour next time might be a good idea.
This pattern was designed by Fiona Hesford from Sewgirl, and I loved just how quickly it came together and how comfortable it is to wear.
I cut it out in the morning and sewed it up in the afternoon. It’s very rare that I wear my new ‘me-mades’ straight away, as I always like to photograph them for my blog first, but with this skirt we had a sunny day last Saturday, and I wore it straight away on my morning walk!
Thank you to Fiona for sharing such a great pattern with us via Love Sewing magazine. Hand on heart I am making this one again .. and probably again …
Issue 65 of Love Sewing magazine has been one of my fave’s – I also made another free skirt download pattern from this issue – a ruffle skirt – and you can take a look at the blog that I wrote on that pattern here.
Do you have a favourite ‘go-to’ skirt pattern or can you recommend any other tiered skirts or dresses?