When Tilly (from Tilly and the Buttons) brought out her latest dress pattern - the Francoise - at the end of last year I knew straight away that I needed to make one. 

My little sister actually bought me the pattern for my birthday back in December but it took me a little while to locate the right fabric with which to make it! If you've not seen the pattern, the Francoise is a sixties-style dress with 3/4 sleeves and - my new favourite thing - a collar. It isn’t half lovely.

The pattern recommends that you use a medium weight cotton or twill to make the dress, so I chose this fabulous navy floral print twill fabric from Minerva Crafts.

I’ve never sewn with this kind of material before and, at first sight, it feels a bit like upholstery fabric - but I do love it! It’s a great weight and print for this pattern, too. I’d go as far as saying it’s the perfect match. (By the way - the contrasting collar is made using bit of denim-blue chambray that I had leftover from another project!).

The reason for using slightly heavier fabric, like a twill, than the normal cotton lawns and polycottons that you’d use for dressmaking is because you need the fabric to hold its shape: the flared-out skirt will hang differently if you use 'drapey' fabric rather than 'stiff' fabric.

As with all of Tilly's patterns, the Francoise dress is a delight to sew together. It's definitely a step-up from the Coco in terms of technical ability, but the instructions are lovely and clear, with plenty of step-by-step pictures, so I'm sure anyone at any level could easily give it a go. For my first attempt at the dress I'm rather surprised by how well it turned out! My 'can't be bothered with making a toile first' approach catches me out sometimes - but not today!

The finished dress fits me rather well - as with the Cocos that I've made previously. I think next time I’d let it out by an extra inch around the shoulders but otherwise I think Tilly has got it nailed when it comes to designing patterns for the more ‘petite’ dressmaker. If you're a bit taller then I'd probably recommend lengthening the skirt a little as I imagine it'd be fairly short otherwise (I'm 5ft3 and the length is perfect on me). I think my finished Francoise will be great for British Spring though, what do you think?