Tilly & the buttons: Cleo Pinafore

I’m sure I’m not the only one to have noticed that every Tilly pattern that’s released goes absolutely crazy. The Cleo, the Stevie, the Nora – they’re everywhere. Tilly seems to have such a good knack for designing patterns that are both really on trend, and practical to wear. As always with great new patterns, I wanted to make the Cleo immediately, but it took a little while for me to actually get my finger out and make one.

I made this up in a mustard needlecord I’d picked up for a bargain price in Remnant Kings. I love mustard, so of course had to buy it.


I opted to go for a contrasting navy blue topstitch, which I think works really well.


As it’s a Tilly pattern, the instructions are great, and it’s actually a pretty quick sew, despite the topstitching.

The most difficult part for me was cutting it out. I had some issues – these were due to fabric choice and were nothing to do with the pattern itself…

On the first attempt, I didn’t have the selvedges straight, and as I cut right up to the edges of the fabric, I was left with a significant chunk missing from the side of one of my pieces, with the wales of the needlecord running off grain. On my second attempt to cut this front piece I managed to cut it in a different direction to the first piece, so that the nap of the fabric faced in the opposite direction to the other side…

You can see the different shades here because I’d cut different directions

Third time lucky, and I got there eventually.

The finished garment is slightly different to the pattern as I opted to leave the pockets off (this seems to be a recurring theme in my sewing, I don’t think I’ve included a pocket on any of my Kalle shirts either).

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I’m catching up on makes, and so when I made this, I’d just started using my overlocker, and hadn’t quite got the tension right. You can see from the photo of the back that the insides are a little messier than I would have liked. I think if I make it again I might fully line it to make it look that little bit cleaner and to be that bit more luxurious. 

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The unfortunate truth

As much as I love the colour mustard, a Tilly patterns, and the needlecord trend, I just don’t really wear this garment very often. There are few things that mean it is often left in the back of the wardrobe, and they’re due to inexperience with matching fabrics to patterns.


The main problem is the fabric – it’s not a good pick for this pattern. It’s a bit too lightweight, and so that makes the dress a bit difficult to wear, as it creases really easily, and the straps feel a little flimsy too. It’s also a little shorter than I would like, and because it’s not lined, it’s difficult to wear with tights. I need to try it out with more items in my wardrobe to figure out how I can wear it and enjoy it.

In the garment district in New York

I’ve worn it a few times now, but it’s always a deliberate decision to wear it because I haven’t worn it for a while.

I made another for my sister for her birthday, in a thicker waled corduroy, and it’s much sturdier – it’s convinced me my lack of enthusiasm for my own is to do with the fabric choice.

Made my sister a matching Cleo for her birthday
Getting a decent photo was a challenge!

Final word on the Tilly Cleo

Definitely want to make more of these, but in a stiffer fabric!

In Mood with Swatch!


One thought on “Tilly & the buttons: Cleo Pinafore

Add yours

  1. I made one as well in a lightweight cord and like you it creases easy definitely want to make another in a heavier fabric


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