Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Voila: Bettine Dress by Tilly & the Buttons

This week is my BIRTHDAY week and I wanted a bright and cheery dress to wear out and about in Shanghai… but especially to wear a nice new dress on my birthday day. It’s my first time having a birthday in Shanghai, so I was looking forward to sitting on a rooftop sipping some bubbly and generally being amazing in the summertime… compared to wintertime birthdays in Melbourne. BUT, no one saw more TYPHOON weather coming! It rained all day Saturday & Sunday and even most of my birthday on Monday. Husbie was glowingly positive saying “Shanghai smells so beautiful and fresh thanks to all the rain!”. He was right, despite the wetness, the town was smelling amazing! So before we picked the little one up from kindergarten, we popped out for some photos but without a lot of covered areas near our apartment, we found a little corner near the cafe that was sheltered from the blustering wind and rain for some photographs!

And can you see my birthday present from little Felix? A phone case shaped like a camera - Oh China, where you can find everything fun!


The dress pattern is Tilly & the Buttons Bettine, and this is the FIRST time I’ve sewn one of Tilly’s patterns. Moving to Shanghai last year, I only brought a few patterns with me… and now that I’m back enjoying sewing so much AND blogging so much again… I started to pick and choose a few new patterns to try! While I thoroughly welcome all the independent pattern designers, I am usually consistently thrifty & mindful of just buying secondhand. BUT, this recycling way of life is WAY different & trickier in Shanghai… there aren’t ANY op shops here and definitely no sewing patterns for sale! LOL! Anyways, new patterns can be EXPENSIVE, right?! This dress & the little underwear set pattern Fifi were on sale together, so thought I’d take that as a sign to get thrifty AND sewing. I was curious to try a different dress shape too… and I think it’s a lovely casual day dress.

OK, so I actually loved how simple this pattern was to sew… there are not many pieces, and the skirt front and back is the same piece. I don’t have much of a toosh sadly, but it might be something to consider if you’re more rounded at the back than the front. But it's a simple beginner project, this version, and while I’m probably an intermediate seamstress, it’s nice to have some simple projects once in a while.

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I size between a 4 (at the bust) and a 3 at the moment, so because the shape of the bodice pieces (a big fat T!) so I traced the 3 size everywhere but around the bust/underarm area where I tapered to the 4. Also while tracing the skirt, I shortened it by 2cm, which made it all perfect in length for these short legs but also made the shape of the skirt tricky to know the right side up… which is why I attached it upside down. Oops.

The fabric is some very light cotton from the Dongmen Lu Fabric Market, and the same market stall I got the fabric for my Anna/Circle Skirt dress. The seller said it was cotton, but due to it’s drape it could be viscose or a rayon, I just don’t know my fabrics well enough to guess. But it’s very comfortable to wear and irons ok but there are a few creases that come with it while wearing. The floppy nature of the Bettine bodice is perfect for the amount of drape in this fabric.

I also have become a bit of a french seam lover when it comes to this fabric, it’s lovely to sew up… with the 5/8 seams the Bettine suggests, I just did 5mm wrong sides together and then 1 cm right sides together. Have no idea if this is the right measurements… it comes up lovely on the insides though… I just wish I’d folded and stitched the overlocked facing edges and hem now as the overlocked finish with the grey threads looks a bit ghastly with the nice neat french seams. Oh well!


As I made this up over several days, sneaking a few minutes here and there around my Mama Life Responsibilities… I somehow lost track of the top of the skirt, and until I tried it on finished & sewn up, I realised the skirt piece with the blue pattern was upside down… looking in the mirror I was like, hey that blue key looks different on the skirt piece. URGH. Maybe I’m more of a beginner seamstress after all. What a dickhead! Of course a print like this can hide it well… but there’s a slightly different drape shape in the skirt (haha drape shape) so I will have to make it again to get it done well.

It’s a very quick dress to make up, and Tilly’s instructions are VERY easy and fun to follow. I don’t mind a bit of handholding sometimes and I took the advice of actually measuring the neckline facing topstitch and drawing a fabric pen line… it makes it incredibly neat. Thanks to all you Instagram friends who suggested the black threads (instead of yellow or white) sometimes it’s hard to know what to do!


Thinking back to my old vintage pattern stash, this dress would probably have been similar to a late 1970s or early 1980s elastic waisted dress… the built in sleeves making the T shape… I wonder why the dress couldn’t have been just one long T shape instead having a separate T or skirt piece. I also wonder if trying the pocket version will hide a cute as a button tummy bulge or will it accentuate it?

Anyways, I’m looking forward to trying the Fifi pattern now! I think I’m going to team it with a Sew This Pattern Venus Kimono! Just gotta work out how to mix and match the fabrics!

Hope you’re having a lovely week and remember that my giveaway is still open till Monday. A great prize, your own personal Shanghai shopper (me!) and a gorgeous Megan Nielson Pattern of your choice!


And because this is my first Tilly & the Buttons pattern, here are some Tilly-esque photos! Il est une petite femme mignonne! Just like you Tilly!

Notes & Summary:  
Pattern: Bettine by Tilly & the Buttons
Fabric: Cotton with a floaty light drape. Purchased from 168 Dongmen Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Er Lu, 东门路168号,近中山东二路  
Size: Size 3 but a Size 4 at the bust  
While Sewing: All fine, and lovely! Just got to label the top of the skirt a little better next time!  
Will I Wear It? Yes, the weather is a little cooler so it’s not annoying to have elastic around your middle. This could be my autumnal staple!


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