Cleo Pinafore & Dungaree Dress

A review of Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Pinafore and Dungaree Dress

Reviewed by jennyexclamationpoint on 4th February, 2017

I was debating whether or not to buy the Cleo pattern. I’m sure I could have made my own dungarees dress pattern. (I’m a bespoke tailor, so I’m not a beginner and not really in the target group of the brand.)
But I wanted to test a Tilly and the Buttons pattern. I own the book, Love at First Stitch, and have made two versions of the Mimi blouse. I like the brand’s look, and many people speak highly of the patterns, so I was curious as to what my opinion would be after using the pattern.

– Variations –
The pattern comes with variations: Different lengths and an optional centre-front split.

I don’t see different lengths are seen as a different version or a bonus. That’s the simplest adjustment you can make and I think many people use a length that suits them best, not going for the given length

But since Cleo is marketed as a beginner-friendly pattern, that makes sense. Beginners might need more guidelines.

I also think that it’s not that much of a stretch to vary between using buttons, making buttons holes and making a pinafore, or using overall fasteners and making a dungaree dress.

So the more or less only real variation, in my opinion, is the slit/vent.

– Pattern buying –
A negative thing was the PDF version of the pattern. I realized that the shop didn’t offer an A0 version – which is kind of a no-go for me. In my opinion, A0 should nowadays be a standard for digital sewing patterns.

Since I’m in Germany, I didn’t want to pay for shipping and wait for the pattern to arrive. I wanted to print the pattern out at a copyshop. I hate the taping together of A4 sheets of paper, and as I already said, it’s a big disappointment for me when companies don’t offer that option.

I bought the paper pattern. It comes in a lovely envelope with a booklet for instructions. It’s all very cute and beginner-friendly.

– Modifications –
The only alterations were a few centimeters I took in at the side seam so the curve at the hip would be more defined, and the shortening of the straps of about 10 centimeters. Yes, I’m not that tall.

– Conclusion –
I like the pattern. It’s easy and fast to make, and as with most things regarding sewing, you are only limited by your imagination.

I like the Tilly and the Buttons brand very much, because it’s colourful and 60’s cute, but doesn’t lose itself in a world of playful pastels and over-adorable details.
I like that the clean lines and the simplicity of the designs play down the cuteness. They are never overdone, and that’s what I like about them.

I think Tilly and the Buttons is an excellent brand for people who are kind of new to sewing and still want to make classy clothes that don’t look like ‚trying too hard‘ or ‚children’s section‘. It’s a very beginner-friendly brand.

And I think that’s why I’m not sure if I will buy a pattern again (depending in the design, of course!). For experienced sewists, Cleo doesn’t offer much in terms of challenges. Sure, I love a quick and trouble-free project as much as the next person. But it’s not a pattern that will push your abilities. As I already stated, I’m not in their target market, which is totally fine. I’m wirting this review from the perspective of someone who was trained as a tailor.

For beginners, on the other hand, the pattern is great. It’s straightforward and can challenge some people, I guess, but without having details that can lead to frustration with less experienced people.

I posted a more detailed version of the review on my blog. The post also features handy tricks for sewing Cleo – for example how to nail those pockets: