Monochrome Cleo

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

Reviewed by Charlotte.Rand on 14th January, 2020

Ok, I admit it. I’ve made this pattern 3 times already. I love it and I’m milking this style for all its worth until it goes out of style (literally). I made two previous Cleos from Tilly and the Buttons in corduroy with dungaree buckles.  I snagged two pieces of remnant black bull denim on sale right before the holidays and thought it would make a very cute all seasons Cleo pinafore dress.  I cut my usual size 3 in this pattern and I knew it would fit having made this pattern before.  However, I would advise that if you are using a very stretchy fabric to go down a size or grade between sizes.  I found my size 3 in stretch corduroy to be just annoyingly too big to really feel comfortable wearing.

I made the mini version because I was using two small remnant pieces and that’s all I could squeeze out.  I believe one was 1 yard and the other 1/2 yard.  I added the front pocket and the two small pockets on the back.  The remnant pieces turned out to be just a hair too short for the pattern so I opted to use an unfinished, frayed hem. Since it was non-stretch bull denim, and after washing the ends were frayed anyway, I just went with it.  I kept the frayed hem on the front and added it to a section of the back where I had to cut the pieces to even them out using my seam ripper.  I sewed a line of stitching 1/4 of an inch above the frayed hem to keep it from fraying more than I wanted.

Lastly, I used 3/4 inch white buttons instead of dungaree buckles.  I really like this version and I found it way easier to manage than the buckles.  The two buttonholes aren’t that scary and it eliminates the need to fold the straps to the correct length after installing the buckles and stitching through 4 layers of thick fabric.  You simply sew the buttons to the front of the straps at a spot that’s most comfortable for your fit.  This is an easy adjustment as well since you can reposition the buttons without pulling out your sewing machine again.

Overall (pun intended?), this is an easy beginner pattern with a lot of options.  The monochrome style goes with a lot of colors and styles in my wardrobe and the cotton denim will work year round.  I can’t recommend this pattern enough for anyone interested in venturing into pinafore or dungaree dresses whether you’re new to sewing or not.  Tilly’s patterns are always a mix of classic style and wearable comfort.