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The Cleo Dress Pattern Review by Rachael

If like me, you remember the 90s then there'll probably be a few things that come to mind when you reminisce about that decade. Furbies, lava lamps and the Spice Girls are some of the few things that spring to mind, but if there's one thing that's really got me feeling nostalgic this year it's the return of the denim dungaree dress. So when I started to see Cleo dresses by Tilly and the Buttons pop up all over the internet, I knew it was time I made one.

This is the very first Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Pattern I've used and, like most indie patterns, the packaging, pattern and instructions were a delight for the eyes. The full colour instruction booklet contains step by step instructions with pictures, a sizing guide, cutting tips and a handy jargon buster for sewing novices.

The pattern includes two variations of the Cleo dress, a longer one with a split front and a mini version. I decided to go for the mini length variation with a single front pocket in dark denim. The dress consists of six pattern pieces, printed on durable paper. Normally I'd trace the pieces to preserve the pattern, but in my eagerness to get going I cut straight in.

As the paper was quite thick, I drew around the pattern pieces directly on to my fabric. This is a good idea if you use thick, rigid fabric like denim. Then I cut out the pieces and assembled the dress, following the instructions. I finished the seams with my overlocker and top stitched using grey thread. The whole dress came together in an afternoon.

I made just one alteration to the pattern. As my hip measurement is one size larger than my waist, I cut a size 1 at the waist and graded it into a 2 at the hip, using my french curve ruler. Accurate sizing isn't absolutely necessary with this pattern as the design is meant to be loose, so if you're not confident about altering it then you can get away with just cutting one size larger than you'd usually go for.

I used a dark 8oz Denim Fabric which I pre-washed before I started. The dress is quite structured so I wouldn't suggest using fabric much lighter than this one, although you can still use a number of other types, such as corduroy or cotton twill.

There's nothing I didn't like about making this dress. I love simple designs with little details so all the top-stitching was an absolute highlight for me. It's an incredibly versatile garment as well. You can wear it over a loose T-shirt in the summer or throw it on over a sweater and tights in the winter.

Cleo is aimed at beginners but I think sewists of any level would enjoy making it. It's a simple design with enough details to keep it interesting, and as it only takes a few hours to make, it's a gratifyingly quick afternoon project.

Thanks for reading,

Rachael x

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