‘Cleo’ dungaree dress (and what to do if your dungaree buttons go wrong)

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit obsessed with Tilly and the Buttons patterns lately… What can I say? It’s just nice to make something with really straightforward instructions once in a while. Especially as for the last month or so I’ve been working on a Simplicity 1960s cape (which is almost done- hooray!), which has been driving me crazy! Easy patterns like Cleo are a nice break from trickier projects.

For my Cleo I used a cute ladybird print fabric from Textile Express. It’s listed as denim, but it feels like more of a chambray as it’s quite soft and lightweight. Whilst this does make my Cleo ultra-comfy, it’s not the best fabric for cold weather!

It’s so simple to make, and there’s really no need to make a toile because it’s easy-fitting. I think this would be a great first project; it’s one of those instant-gratification patterns, so straight away you can see it taking shape. Because it’s so easy, you can really take your time with the finish, making sure your topstitching is neat and your pockets are symmetrical.

I was pretty proud of my topstitching!

However, that’s not to say everything went smoothly with this pattern. Tilly and the Buttons has an option of adding a set of Prym dungaree buckles to your order, and I (mistakenly) opted for this. What I really should have done is googled ‘Prym dungaree buckles’, in which case I would have found loads of bad reviews!

First off, they didn’t come with any instructions on how to use them, so I tried to follow those in the pattern. When pushing the buttons on with my hand didn’t work, I tried lightly tapping it with a hammer, which led to this:

Obviously, I was going to have to remove them, but I was worried that if I wasn’t careful they’d rip through the fabric, which is quite thin. Eventually I did get them off, with some help from my mum and a pair of pliers, but the fabric was left weak and fragile where the button had been.

To strengthen the fabric, I used a sample of some heavy denim from Textile Express that I had lying around, and attached it to the inside of the front bib, sandwiched between the facing and the main piece, using Bondaweb.

This worked so well that I decided to use it on the other corner, just in case!

I bought a new set of buckles- from Hemline this time- and they were SO much better. They actually came with instructions! You still have to hammer them in, but unlike the Prym ones they didn’t break as soon as I tapped them. I’m pleased it worked out in the end, but now I know never to buy anything from Prym again. If you’re making a Cleo or something similar, I’d recommend the Hemline ones instead.

If I made Cleo again, I’d probably add some ease around the hips. This isn’t a criticism of the pattern (it’s meant to be looser over the torso and more fitted in the hips), it’s just my personal preference. I generally prefer clothes that are fitted down to the waist and looser over the hips, and this pattern has really reminded me of that!

Pattern: ‘Cleo’ from Tilly and the Buttons
Size/Fit: I made a size 1, no adjustments necessary.
Fabric: Super-cute ladybird print denim form Textile Express
Sewing Time: A few hours.
Quality of instructions: Great, as is always the case with Tilly and the Buttons!
Difficulty: Really easy, perfect as a first project.
Adjustments: None.
Make again? Definitely, although I’d probably add a bit of ease around the hips next time.

2 thoughts on “‘Cleo’ dungaree dress (and what to do if your dungaree buttons go wrong)

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