Tilly Does It Again! The Billie Dress Pattern Review

By Cara @sosewmad

Every now and again a pattern comes along that I know I need to get my hands on and make – immediately!

This was the reaction I had to the latest release from Tilly and the Buttons when I saw the Billie Sweatshirt and Dress pattern.
So when Dorte asked me if I could write a blog post with a review of the pattern, I jumped at the chance.
This ultra-comfy sweatshirt or sweater dress is exactly what I’m looking for at this time of year, comfort and style in one, perfect:

The Pattern:

Tilly has a reputation for amazing instructions and this pattern doesn’t disappoint. Each page of the instruction booklet is packed with useful information and tips on how to bring your make to life. The size range is from 76cm (30in) bust, 61cm (24in) waist and 84cm (33in) hip to 112cm (44in) bust, 96.5cm (38in) waist and 119.5cm (47in) hip.
It has an easy fit shape with a crew neckline with an option to make a sweatshirt or a sweater dress. The sweater dress has cutaway pockets, something I’ve not made before; a lovely feature. The star of the show is the sleeve options. You can keep it classic with straight cuffed sleeves or opt for a balloon sleeve with deep cuffs. The statement sleeve is on-trend at the moment and Tilly’s instructions make this designer feature accessible to everyone.

The Fabric:

The Billie calls for sweatshirt fleece, French terry, Ponte, double knit, interlock, or sweater knit with at least a 10% stretch. On the advice of Tilly If you choose a thicker fabric, you’ll need a sturdy machine in order to sew the balloon sleeve due to the gathering at the shoulder seams.
I chose the cable knit Ponte from Dragonfly fabrics in teal and was given the fabric in exchange for a blog post, I wanted something with enough structure for the sweater dress with straight cuffed sleeves, I  would opt for a lighter weight fabric for the sweater but for a dress, I prefer a heavier weight fabric.

The construction:

The pattern contains 3 pages:
These enable you to choose which option of the sleeve and cuff you’d like to make. The front and back are cut on the fold and have lines to mark the sweatshirt length option. After your pieces have been cut, the construction starts with the pockets and comes together surprisingly quickly:
The front and back are then attached at the shoulders (with an option to stabilise the shoulders if required) and the side seams are sewn. At this stage, I tried the dress on. I had made a size 5 and was aware of the relaxed fit of the design. The cable knit is a stable fabric and it holds its shape well, and I felt for me I would prefer a slimmer silhouette and chose to take the side seams in by 1.5cm and the sleeves too. In a lighter weight fabric with more drape, this may not be required and is a design feature that I opted for. Tilly’s instructions then take you through creating the neckband, the sleeves are inserted in the flat (gather stitches are required for the balloon sleeves). Then finally the sleeve cuffs and hem band complete the make. Using cuff and hem bands is one of my favourite methods of finishing an item as you create a really neat finish, it looks complicated, but it really isn’t!
I used an overlocker to sew the sweater dress but this isn’t necessary as the types of fabrics required don’t fray, or you could use a zig-zag to finish the edges.

The result:

I’m delighted with this dress, I love the colour of the fabric and it’s so soft to wear. It’s definitely toasty, perfect for autumn and winter. I like the subtle shaping of the dress it keeps its relaxed feel without feeling too sloppy. It can easily be dressed up or down which makes it wonderfully versatile. The length of the arms and the dress was perfect for me. I was nervous about this when I tried the dress on during the making as they seemed long, but I’m glad I didn’t alter it as the cuffs sinch the arms and hem in and they sit perfectly. The pockets are great, everyone loves a pocket.
I did make a number of amendments. In the next sweatshirt or sweater dress that I make I would do a very slight narrow should adjustment (this isn’t uncommon for me). I would also size down to a size 4. I like the crew neck, but I would lower this a little in my next version, again this is a personal preference for me, just based on my style.
Tilly advises that you can ‘whip this up in an afternoon’ and it’s true. It’s a relaxing and satisfying make that will become a firm favourite in my wardrobe.

Cara @sosewmad

Find the pattern here

Find the fabric here