{Tilly and the Buttons} Cleo dungarees

I'm not one to follow trends. I don't pay attention to them and I am blissfully unaware of what is being sold in the shops from one season to the next. I have nothing against them, it's just not something I care about. I've always opted for classic shapes and styles that I know I'll be able to wear over and over. 
Certain trends are hard to ignore though. Like dungarees, for example. When the Cleo came out last year, it seemed to open the dungarees/pinafore floodgates. Suddenly, everyone was releasing patterns for them. I was convinced they were absolutely not for me. I'm almost 40 years old, for crying out loud! I can't pull that off. Can I? 🙊
However, while I was at the Handmade Fair in September, I saw Louise wearing the most beautiful Cleo! I don't know if it was the fabric she chose or the way she'd styled it, but something clicked in my brain and I knew I had to make one for myself as soon as I could. And so I did.
Cleo Dungarees by Tilly and the Buttons


I'm probably the last one to jump on the Cleo bandwagon but here is how it went for me anyway.
I made a straight size 3, which is what I normally am in Tilly's chart. However, I had to let the hips out and ended up sewing the sides with a 1cm seam allowance instead of the standard 1.5cm. I measured myself again afterwards - I know, I know, don't @ me - and I've gone up from 37" to 38" on my hips... I am exercising more and my husband says my bum is harder than usual, so that's got to be a good thing. 😆
Cleo Dungarees by Tilly and the Buttons
The pattern offers a mini and a knee-length option. I didn't want it super short, in case I want to wear it without tights in the summer. But I thought the knee-length might look too apron-y on me. So I cut mine an inch and a half longer than the mini version and it's exactly the length I wanted.
Cleo Dungarees by Tilly and the Buttons
The construction is so easy! It came together in  the course of 2 evenings and that was with contrast topstitching, which meant I had to keep rethreading my machine every now and then. All the seams are mock felled. There's something so satisfying about that. And I'm pretty proud of my topstitching overall. There are a couple of wobbly areas but I decided to live with them.
The instructions were crystal clear, as usual. I know a lot of people forego looking at them when they're a little seasoned and sewing up an easy pattern, but I don't think I ever will. I need to be told what to do next or my brain farts at the most inopportune times. Hell, even with instructions it's  almost always inevitable that I'll end up making a mess of something anyway...
Cleo Dungarees by Tilly and the Buttons
The fabric is amazing and unfortunately I can take zero credit for choosing it. It's the exact same fabric Louise made hers in. It's an Art Gallery Denim from Ray Stitch and the most expensive fabric I've ever bought! It's a medium to heavy weight and I was a little worried about the bulk and topstitching combination. But it was fine for the most part.
Cleo Dungarees by Tilly and the Buttons
The colour is amazing. There are all these threads in different shades of orange and yellow running through it, resulting in a very rich colour. However, it's a bit of a nightmare to photograph. The colour is more accurate in the close-ups of the bib. The weave doesn't look like your normal denim twill weave either. It is a very unusual denim indeed with a lovely texture to it. 
Cleo Dungarees by Tilly and the Buttons
The only difficulty I encountered was topstitching the bit where the back meets the straps. It gets quite bulky there because of seams and straps. I thought it had gone ok but when I turned it over to look at the inside, I had a huge thread nest there! Since it's a long, continuous line of topstitching I decided to rip off just the area in question and redo it. If it was on the front, I'd have been tempted to unpick it all and start again. But I'm learning to live with my sewing being less than perfect these days.
The other small struggle was trying to work out how the buckles should go in. Oh my gawd, it was comical the amount of time I took to figure it out. And I bet I couldn't do it again if I had to. (See? I told you I need those instructions... :D)
Cleo Dungarees by Tilly and the Buttons
The good news for me is that even though they've been around for a while now, it looks like dungarees are staying a bit longer. I don't often go shopping these days but I went with my daughter a couple of weeks ago and there were dungarees EVERYWHERE! Better yet, lots of yellow ones as well. Pah! Looks like I'm gonna be bang on trend this A/W. Who knew? And as far as being able to pull it off at almost 40 years of age... Well, I don't actually care because I love them and I will wear them! 😉

Pattern: Cleo Dungarees by Tilly and the Buttons
Version: dungarees
Size: 3, graded out to a 1cm seam allowance on the hips
Changes: added 1.5" to the mini length
Fabric: cotton denim

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