Sewing · Tutorials and Hacks

Two Stevie tunics, one hacked into a smock dress…

Stevie #1

I made my first Tilly and the Buttons Stevie tunic in preparation for my trip to Copenhagen (which you can read about here) using a tencel twill from Merchant and Mills in the colour ‘Pluto’, an unusual grey/purple. This was the first time I’d worked with tencel, and since then I’ve fallen completely in love with it! It was lovely to sew with and feels amazing to wear.

I’ve been thinking recently about how I can make my sewing more sustainable. I’ll be posting more about this as it comes up to the end of the year, but basically: most of my me-mades are cotton, which is a very un-sustainable fabric, so I’d like to try and minimise how often I use it and find alternatives- one of which is Tencel.

As I was sewing my Stevie tunic, I really took my time and went very slowly and carefully. I think simple patterns like Stevie can be elevated into something truly special if a lot of care and attention has gone into their making. I personally love topstitching and this pattern has quite a bit of it, which I emphasised by using thread that was slightly lighter than the fabric (confession: I actually just couldn’t be bothered to buy matching thread…).

I didn’t make a toile; it’s an easy fitting style and I’ve made enough TATB patterns by now to feel confident that they’ll fit me. I cut a straight size 1, deciding not to grade up a size at the hips like I normally do after checking the finished measurements. Fit wise, everything turned out fine except for the front neckline which constantly rides up, especially when I sit down.

I also wasn’t crazy about the tie closure at the back. It’s almost impossible to do up yourself and even if you get someone to do it for you it’s difficult to get the bow lying straight.

Despite that, I’ve worn this lots since I made it and I’m enjoying seeing how the tencel ages with each wash. I love how at first glance it seems really plain, but if you look closer you can see all the gorgeous details. I think the grey colour would go perfectly with this pair of socks I just made!

Stevie #2

Part of why I bought this pattern was because it seemed like one of those endlessly hackable styles you could make millions of. One hack I knew I wanted to try was a smock dress. I really liked the idea of playing with stripe direction on the yoke and front pocket, so I used this striped cotton and linen blend from my fabrics.com.

Because I wanted a smock style, I decided to start my gathered skirt about 8cm below the front pocket. I drafted a skirt pattern piece that was 1.5 x my hip measurement wide. The other changes I made were: lowering the front neckline by a few centimetres and changing the facing accordingly, and using the button closure option instead of the tie closure.

After attaching the skirt it felt far too loose and baggy at the back. I knew I wouldn’t wear it out like that, but I still wanted to keep the option of wearing it loose around the house, so instead of permanently taking it in I decided to add ties at the side seams. I’ve noticed that I wear me-mades far more often if they have elastic or adjustable waists, so this ended up making it way more wearable for me! Here it is with the ties undone:

(And with them done up at the front)

Since I started sewing I’ve been wearing garments with longer hemlines, and this dress is definitely part of that. I love being able to wear a dress without tights even in Autumn, and I always feel very swishy and majestic in long dresses! This is one of my favourite recent makes, and I’ve already worn it many times.

Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons ‘Stevie’ tunic
Size/Fit: I made a size 1 which fit well aside from the neckline.
Fabric: Tencel twill from Merchant and Mills and Cotton/Linen from my fabrics.com
Sewing Time: Both were fairly quick makes, but they took me longer as I went very slowly and carefully.
Quality of instructions: Great as per usual!
Difficulty: Very, very easy. Perfect for someone who’s never made a garment before.
Adjustments/Hacks: None on the first one, but on the second: adding a gathered skirt and waist ties, and lowering the neckline.
Make again? Yes, for sure.

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