This is the Mathilde Blouse, first commercial pattern released by Tilly and the Buttons. Let me repeat that – the first time she’s ever tried drafting a pattern for others to use. She’s never done this before. Get that? Now think about the words ‘achievement’, ‘staggering’ and ‘damn hard work’. All those words apply to Tilly and she deserves a huge amount of applause. The fact that this pattern is also a little piece of heaven just goes to show how far Tilly will undoubtedly go. I feel humble to be in at the start, making this blouse.
So, the pattern! Tilly may be a mate, but she didn’t have to give me a Chinese burn to have me downloading this the moment it was released. I knew straight away what fabric I wanted to use, some gorgeous crepe that had been gifted to me by Claire of Sew Incidentally 18 months ago. The fact that it took me over a year and a half to use this fabric just confirms that the right fabric will find the right make … eventually. Don’t feel too guilty about those stashes!
Why did it take me so long to use the crepe? It had a beautiful sequinned border, but I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to use those sequins. I have a love/hate relationship with sequins. Less is more, if only the high street stores would remember this at Christmas time! When I saw the yoke on Tilly’s blouse, I knew I’d found the perfect vehicle for my sequins. Just a tiny bit. Just on that yoke.
This yoke is crying out for bespoke treatments. Sewists of the world, this is your opportunity to have fun and make your mark! Though if you’re looking at pattern (or sequin) placement, I strongly recommend tracing and cutting out a whole pattern piece rather than trying to cut fabric on the fold.
Did I adjust the pattern at all? A smidgen. I scooped out some of the boat neckline, as I was a bit worried about the neckline coming too close to my moon face. I also widened the shoulders slightly, for fear of bra straps showing. And I added two inches to the length of the blouse to cover my posterior when wearing over jeans. I graded from a 4 in the chest to a 5 in the waist and hips. Despite these adjustments, despite cutting out damnably slippery fabric, every pattern piece came together perfectly in the sewing. The drafting is good, folks!
For the button back, I used some vintage buttons I’d bought last year on a memorable day in Leigh-on-Sea with an extremely good friend. I’m so glad these buttons have been used. I shall think of darling Alex every time I wear this blouse!
I used flat buttons and I’d recommend doing the same. You don’t want shanks digging into your spine when you lean back in a chair. I spaced my buttons out slightly more than as suggested on the pattern (8cm apart, as opposed to 7cm apart) because my buttons were larger than suggested by the pattern and I wanted to give them room to ‘breath’.
What else? The sleeves are really interesting. There is loads of volume to be gathered at the cuff:
I wasn’t sure about this amount of volume, but they make for the most romantic sleeve. Really, really gorgeous. Regarding insertion of the sleeve head, I’d advise bringing all your gathers together right at the top of the sleeve head. If you spread the gathers along the line of the gathering stitches, you’ll end up with a fairly standard set in sleeve with no gathers. This is a subtle detail, but the online tutorial for this step is exemplary.
Which brings me on to the instructions. Deep breath, here, Karen. Try to contain your excitement. The PDF instructions are brief but they include … A TICK LIST!!!!
There are hardly words to describe my sheer joy at ticking each step off the list. ‘Done!’ I’d trill, waving my pencil in the air, and giving a little dance of joy. The best ideas are the most simple and this is genius. Seriously, I have been trying to think how I can use similair tick lists to motivate people at work. This is so motivating!
If you’re worried about the brevity of the PDF instructions, don’t be. Tilly is supplying an exhaustive list of supplementary instructions online. Original thinking – that woman has it by the bucketload.
Any other thoughts? This blouse isn’t a walk in the park – certainly not if you use slippery fabric like mine. (Though doesn’t it suit the slippery fabric?) If you’re going to go ahead without a toile – as I did – I’d recommend a disguising print. (The words ‘disguising print’ are going to be engraved on my tombstone.) This blouse does call for accuracy. You’ll want your tucks to be perfect, you’ll want your button bands to be perfect. A solid colour is the perfect platform for the details of this make, and I’m a bit sad that my tucks aren’t more easy to photograph. But a solid colour will also be the perfect platform for your mistakes. So, you know, think about the fabric you choose for your first Mathilde blouse. You can save the vibrant solids for your second or third makes. Because, believe me, there will be second or third makes…
I make no apology for gushing in this blog post. I am simply in total awe of Tilly’s achievement and grateful for such a beautiful pattern to work with. Of course, there was one last test the Mathilde would have to pass. Would it go with the ultimate accessory…
Oh yes, I think so.