Tilly and the Buttons: Mathilde blouse

I was introduced to Tilly and the Buttons through the sewing school I started my sewing journey at, more than three years ago now! The Mathilde blouse was one of the patterns you could pick to sew up as part of the beginners course. I’d somehow overlooked it when making that somewhat panicked choice about what I wanted to make – I picked the Colette Ginger skirt. Then one evening in class I saw the Mathilde Blouse in a red solid fabric, and fell head over heels in love with it. I’d already started on my skirt, so with the beginners bravado, I decided to have a go at making the Mathilde myself at home.

Great pattern

Tilly’s patterns are beginner friendly, written with the novice sewer in mind, and so I really recommend them to those starting out. This pattern is probably designed for an experienced beginner – it’s more difficult than a typical beginner pattern because of the button holes, tucks and the puffy sleeves. Having said that though, I was pretty much a novice, and managed to do OK with it – I was an enthusiastic beginner, none the wiser and just dived in.

This was the very first garment I made by myself without help from a tutor and the first sew I ever finished. In true Sew slow Sarah style, I set myself a goal of making a garment for my honeymoon to Sri Lanka, both to give me a deadline to work to, but also because I was really struggling to find decent cotton clothing in high street shops.

Of course, I didn’t finish in time to take it to Sri Lanka, but I’ve still had a lot of wear out of it – sometimes to the office, but mostly on holidays.

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Fabric choice

As a novice, inexperienced sewer, I did what most wouldn’t…I used a Liberty print to make this blouse. It was the most expensive fabric I’d ever bought at that point (but a bargain for Liberty at £7.99 a metre! – Fabric Bazaar in Glasgow gets Liberty in stock from time to time for amazing prices), but having made a toile I was confident I would be OK. It’s a tana lawn so it was a great beginner choice as it’s lovely and stable for cutting and sewing.

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Construction Challenges

The most challenging aspect of putting this pattern together for me was getting the tucks properly traced off and marked on the fabric. I’d tried to modify the pattern using a hack tutorial on Tilly’s website that used gathers instead of tucks (ambitious beginner much?!). However, I just didn’t like it, and the way the gathers hung from my relatively large bust, and so I decided to re-introduce the tucks. I did however keep the shorter sleeves that were also included in the hack.

As a new sewer I don’t think I’d discovered carbon paper at this point, and was still pinning and cutting my fabric with scissors rather than using a rotary cutter. This meant that my neither my cutting nor my pattern markings were hugely accurate, and so trying to add in the tucks after I’d already cut and sewn the front piece once was challenging. It took a few attempts, and whilst the tucks are probably still a bit wobbly, I’m proud of my novice sewing self’s perseverance to get the blouse finished.

Looking at it now, I can see some rookie mistakes, especially in some of the finishing> For example, after attaching one side of the cuff to the right slide of the sleeve,  I assume I was meant to catch the seam allowance inside the seam as I attached the cuff on the wrong side, but managed to miss it. It’s no big deal, and just a newbie mistake that helped me learned how to finish a little more professionally.

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I also look to have had difficulties with the facing. It just doesn’t want to stay inside the neckline. I think I’ll have to secure it down with a bit of stitching.

Fitting

I made a toile first, but, looking back, it was a bit pointless as I didn’t yet understand when to and how to do proper fitting adjustments!

Once sewn up, as far as I could see, the toile fitted OK. I still wear this blouse from time to time now, but as I’ve developed my fitting skills I can see there are a few changes I would make were I to make this again.

  • The blouse would definitely benefit from a bust adjustment. I’m not sure how this would affect the tucks, and so I’d need to toile it again to be sure that I’d done it correctly before cutting into a nice fabric.
  • The neck is very gapey, particularly at the back. In hindsight, perhaps I’ve made a size too big on the shoulders – I’d size down and then do more of an FBA to compensate. Alternatively, I could perhaps I’d add in a couple of shoulder darts to take out some of the excess fabric at the back.

The verdict

A lovely pretty blouse that would be a challenging but achievable make for a beginner. The cotton lawn makes it a great garment for wearing in the sunshine. I may make more in the future, probably in a plain fabric to better show off those tucks.

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