Tilly and the Buttons Lilou Dress

Lilou Dress ivHey, guys! Keeping cool in the sun? After a pointless trek to Ella’s dog groomer, only to discover a calendar clash, I’m ever so slightly overheated. Not that I’m complaining about a British summer that actually delivers on the sunshine. These times are to be cherished!

This is the intermediate dress from Tilly and the Button’s Love At First Stitch. It’s one of seven patterns (plus variations), which at an Amazon cover price of £10 for the book means that each pattern costs you £1.43. Admittedly, some of those patterns are very beginner-friendly and all of them will need tracing. But, still. That’s a bargain in my book (forgive the pun) and has given me a perfect linen dress for summer, fabric bought from Minerva Crafts here.

I made three toiles of this bodice:

  • One to assess fit
  • One to adjust fit
  • One to apply a split bust dart, of which I am disgustingly proud.

Lilou Bodice DartsDon’t ask me how I worked this. I still don’t really know. But having applied an FBA to the Lilou, I was aware of a huge bust dart that held all the danger of giving me Killer Nipple Guns. Kapow! Nah, not saving the world, just wearing a dress. One answer to this challenge is to divide your bust dart into two, avoiding unnecessary bubbles at the point.

I took this much care over the bodice fitting because I’d love to make this a go-to pattern. It’s so adaptable. I can really see this as a summer or winter make. No collars or unnecessary fuss to get in the way of cardigan wearing.

To all those people who’ve raved over the pleat fitting of the skirt on this pattern – dang right! This is the uber flattering answer to a gathered skirt. Breathable and flirty, it moves gorgeously.

Lilou Dress iiHow did the dress stand up to the sun? Fantastically well. I need to do some further tweaking to my back bodice, a day of wearing revealed. I’ve always had issues with my left shoulder sitting low and the strap on this dress kept falling down. I feel a blog appeal to expert readers coming on!

Walthamstow FestivalI can’t resist sharing the above photo. Ella and I gatecrashed preparations for a local festival this morning. You wouldn’t believe the number of naive fools trying to steer me out of the tent, muttering words like ‘health’ and ‘safety’! Have blog, don’t take orders, will photograph. Especially when there’s a cake that matches my new dress. Yum!


Have you made the Lilou Dress? And do you have a weird body quirk like my dodgy left shoulder? Don’t be shy, we all have them!

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48 Responses to Tilly and the Buttons Lilou Dress

  1. CurlsnSkirls says:

    Lovely dress & what patience to do 3 toiles! Thank you so much for this info on a split dart. Had no idea of all these details… oye-oye-oye. Have only just started incorporating fit intricacies, so this one’s a-plenty to understand just now.

  2. you look fantastic in that dress! i’ve used the ‘turn on big dart into two smaller darts’ a few times [i’m a generous C cup] sometimes one one next to the other, more often one on the side and one coming down from the armseye. if the dress had sleeves, i’d recommend a thin layer of batting used as a shoulder pad on the left side. on tanks, i’ve had to take apart the seam and shorten it to keep it from falling. okay you have inspired me for the day!

  3. Nicole says:

    Love the dress and the fabric. I’ve never successfully split a dart, but I will try again in the future.

  4. Art2wear2@aol.com says:

    I love it and I want to know about that double dart. that is just what I need so I will be practice that. I am very excited about your well fitted dress. It looks so nice and I am ready to get sewing. thanks so much for making my day. Peggy Frankovich

  5. Oh my goodness! Thank you for this! The bodice is very similar the emery dress. After my FBA, I totally get the horrible Nipple Guns, lol. I have to try this. But, I might have to split my bust and waist darts too, but the one that’s bothering me the most is the bust dart. Thank you, thank you for the enlightenment!

  6. Sheree says:

    Dress looks lovely on you – so cool. This post has filled me with dread, however. I have just about managed to get my head around to doing a FBA. Don’t tell me I also have to do split darts!!!

    • I wouldn’t worry about it too much! I spent two years sewing without FBAs, another year largely ignoring my need to FBA, a fourth year finally admitting I needed to FBA. This split FBA was more motivated by my technical curiosity than anything else. These things aren’t deal breakers!

      • Lorna says:

        Well, that makes me feel much better – I’m not the only one frightened of the dreaded FBA! I’ve been sewing for just under two years now, and (hangs head in shame) have only made skirts…

  7. Eliza-sew-little says:

    Planning one this week and yes I have shoulder quirks- wide enough for a milk churn. Wonder how I’ll get on. Love your fabric and linen too. What a great idea.

  8. Amy says:

    Beautiful darts there! And, great fabric. Hooray for a new go-to pattern!

  9. Jen (NY) says:

    Oh, yeh. I’ve been ignoring my shoulder discrepancy. One seems to be narrower than the other, if that’s possible. I only notice it on sleeved blouses – the shoulder seam fits perfectly on one side, but the other hangs over by about 3/16 – 1/4.” I guess I should start correcting this by now!

  10. The perfect Summer dress. It takes all of my patience just to slow down a little, let alone do three toiles. Highly impressive, looks great!

  11. Rachel says:

    I have been very tempted to make the Lilou dress myself as the pattern seems really flexible and could so easily be made as a casual outfit or something more formal. You just can’t keep a verstile pattern! The double dart is a great idea and I’ll definitely keep it in my mind for when I make my own.

  12. ellielou85 says:

    I love your Lilou! It’s on my list. I have shoulder fitting problems too: seams sit 3cm too far back. Haven’t worked out how to fix it yet…

  13. ellielou85 says:

    I love your Lilou! It’s on my list! I have shoulder fitting issues too: I think I’m a bit hunch backed because my shoulder seams sit 3cm too far back. Haven’t worked out how to fix it yet…

  14. Alison says:

    I’ve finally got ’round to ordering Tilly’s book, yes I know miles behind the rest of the world. Is the Lilou pattern & the others in the book, easy to alter?? I’m generally a very badly balanced body shape & struggle altering patterns to fit – big bust, narrow shoulders, short body, thick/fat waist & no hips,….. could go on

  15. Pat says:

    Your dress is lovely. It’s worth the time to do all those extra steps to make it work. My son and I both have one shoulder that slopes. I have no idea how to fit a pattern to compensate for it. O.k. Enough about sewing, I want to know about the food. What kind of a festival was it and what is that gorgeous cake that matches your dress made from? It looks so good!!!

  16. liza jane says:

    That is some seriously cool linen. I am really loving the pleats, too. I’ve seen lots of awesome versions of Lilou, but this might be my favorite. You look great!

  17. Nikki says:

    Great dress! Aside from the fitting issues that come with being short, I seem to have a shoulder issue that I haven’t found a fit solution for. I initially thought I had forward shoulders, but my shoulders actually curve round rather than being straight across. Because of this curve I also have a hollow between my shoulder and collar bone. I recently had a bodice with a curved French dart that I could not, no matter what get rid of the large nipple effect, so I dug out my FFRP and changed it to a side and waist dart ( it would have been too big for just one dart) the bodice is much better now.

  18. Laura says:

    Susan Khaljie recommends boning to fix this problem in this article:http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/4339/boning-not-just-for-corsets

    It is towards the end, a small horizontal boning section close to the seam

  19. lovely, summery dress. And what a cake!

  20. Mertxe says:

    Beautiful dress! You look fantastic! Well done about the spliting the bust dart. In Aldrich’s book there is a whole section on how to play with bust darts around the bust. I’ve tried some of them, and it is pure magic, the ways you can put the bust dart anywhere!

  21. Ruth says:

    I love the material you chose! I made my first Lilou last week, and love it so much that I’ve already started making my second, it’s such a great dress.

  22. Fadanista says:

    Stunning as usual! I haven’t bought the book, but every time I see these posts highlighting the garments I think I ought to!

  23. I love the fabric! The split bust dart is interesting, as well. I wonder how it’d look in a fabric where the darts show up more – stripes, maybe? I can see it being possible to get some interesting directional effects by splitting/moving darts, whether it’s strictly necessary or not.

    As far as bodily oddities go, I have an asymmetric bust. It’s, er, fractionally lower on the right than on the left. If I’m making a top with vertical fisheye darts down the front (my TNT shirt pattern has them, which is how I found out) I have to start the right dart an inch or so lower than the left one. Doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem with princess seams, for some reason.

  24. nita says:

    Of, funny! Right now I am wearing a tacky glittery broach on the right strap of my sundress because of a shoulder that slopes, causing every strap I wear to slide off.

  25. Three toiles?? you perfectionist!! It looks totally fab with pumps lady. Jo x

  26. Amanda says:

    This is smashing on you! And my mind is melting from the glory of the split bust dart! I’ve never FBA’ed (been doing sketchy work arounds) but this seriously makes me want to try it if I can get something that awesome happening. Sewing Revelation!

  27. scruffybadger says:

    ‘Killer nipple guns’! Almost made me choke!

  28. I have the opposite problem, almost no bust at all. You look aewsome in this dress, hope you got to sample the matching cake.

  29. Cerian says:

    This looks awesome and I love that it goes with Converse! Definitely on my list of things to sew.

  30. Carolyn says:

    Such a versatile summer dress in a really fun print! Great job, Karen. LOVE the necklace too – I think you’re in good company among other sewing geeks here. 🙂

    Like you, one of my shoulders is more muscular than the other and therefore my tops always hang *just* a bit crooked. Gotta fix this one day!

  31. Pretty! I haven’t bought Tilly’s book but the Lilou dress is the one thing that makes me thing I should (not that the other patterns aren’t pretty, you know, but the Lilou is very much my style) and seeing this is adding to the weight of wanting to buy the book, basically. You look very cool and chic.

    I’m sure my body has all sorts of weird quirks but in honesty I’m not advanced enough in fitting to really know what they are. I know that the distance between my shoulders and my bust is quite short – I always have to take RTW dresses up there and it’s the one adjustment I automatically do to any pattern.

  32. Love the dress Karen! The double-darts I’d seen (rarely though) before on vintage patterns – but what a fab idea for less point-i-ness :-)! And I’m now seriously coveting your neckline 😉

  33. Karen M says:

    Love your dress it looks beautiful on you!!! Love the fabric and the color is great.

  34. Sandra says:

    When I looked at the first photo, I thought, Oh I hope she shares a close up of that necklace, so thanks! So cute! Your dress was worth all the work you put into it. Lovely fabric, double darts (thanks, I need to check the link), and the style is quite flattering on you. I hope you enjoy wearing it!

  35. Natasha says:

    That fabric is to die for!! It’s a perfect match for the dress and the dress looks great!

  36. prettyfloralmail says:

    I love the fabric!

  37. Daisy Jones says:

    Fab colour on you, still to try this one!
    ……have book will get at it!

    Hmmmm I too have that shoulder thingy…apparently its the way i stand?!? (strange I know)

    How do you stand?

    bestest daisy j x

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