A Second Attempt - Tilly and The Buttons Cleo Dress Review

Hello my dears,

In late 2016, I attempted to sew a Cleo dress. I made it out of a floral needlecord or corduroy, depending on which you call it. I was less than impressed with the finished dress. It was lumpy, bumpy, and all sorts of unflattering!

I was so disappointed! I have seen a bazillion versions of the Cleo dress on a variety of different ladies and it always looked stinking adorable. Why didn't it work for me? What had I done wrong?

Well, I've sewn up another version of Cleo and it has been a rousing success. Let me tell you what I learned.

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With a well defined hip/derrière area, I knew I would be better off selecting a size according to that measurement and adjusting for my waist later. Keeping that in mind, I cut out and stitched up a straight size 7.

It was still a bit too snug over my hips, but I just decreased the side seam allowance from 5/8" to 1/4" which sorted that problem nicely.

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I made this Cleo from a medium weight canvas I had in my stash. It has a body and sturdiness to it that is perfect for this pattern design. It made ALL the difference in the success of this dress versus my original attempt.

Trust me, if you make a Cleo dress, you have to have a heavier weight fabric. It lays smoother and doesn't bunch up awkwardly around the waist area.

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There is about a 12 or 13 inch difference between my waist and hip measurements which nearly always causes me some amount of grief when sewing garments. While the dress looked okay without any adjustments at the waist, it was too sack-like for my personal preference. I finished it completely without any changes and wore it a couple of times before deciding that it did, indeed, need some tweaking to make it perfect.

I took out about five inches of width at the waist. Strangely enough, nearly all of that extra fabric came from the dress front! I tried it on wrong side out with the seams unpicked and pinned out the excess. When I started taking equal amounts of fabric from the front and the back, the seam got all ripply and wonky. But as soon as I left the back alone and only pinned out fabric from the font everything went smooth. It was bizarre! 

Obviously, my derrière sticks out more in the back than my stomach does in the front, but I've never made an adjustment like that. I am definitely going to keep it in mind for future makes.

I had SO much fun putting the buckles onto my Cleo dress! It was my first time using buckles and I loved pounding away with a hammer to put the buttons on. It made me laugh really hard! (In case you didn't know, I am highly amused by the strangest/silliest things.) I actually bent one of the buttons with my enthusiasm. But, thankfully, it still works just fine.

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I do really love the Cleo dress. I was extremely sad when it didn't work originally. I am quite glad I worked up enough courage to give it a second chance. And now I have a cute, well-fitting jumper dress that I want to wear all the time.

I have considered adding some sort of cute patchwork or appliqué around the hem and lower pockets. However, I really like the simplicity of this version. I can wear it with literally every top in my current wardrobe. Maybe I will make another version later with more pizzaz to it.


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