The Crazy Dress Woman


This is my, um, fifth Coco dress from Tilly and the Buttons. What can I tell you, with the right fabric, I love this pattern for a comfortable make that can still look pretty dramatic.

Coco-In-BloomI made this from two metres of quilted something at £2.50 a yard from The Textile Centre, a shop on Walthamstow market. The fabric is super-crazy and I wasn’t entirely convinced that I had the chutzpa to wear this. I was wrong. I have no qualms in wearing this dress!

Quilt Fabric Detail

I adore how the zig zag stitch works with the quilted texture. Isn’t it fun?

I went for a short sleeved make as a transitional piece for bidding farewell to summer. I’ve actually wondered if this would be a great dress for industry fairs. Easy to pack, wouldn’t need ironing, and people would definitely remember me amongst the sea of corporate black, navy, grey and beige. I’m lucky, I work in a creative industry so eccentric attire is happily indulged. Plus, I’ve noticed that some of the most successful individuals in my industry brand themselves. The red bow tie. Neon doc martens. Masses of silver jewellery. Fedoras. Maybe I can be the Crazy Dress Woman!

Would you brand yourself or do you consider such concepts anathema?



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51 Responses to The Crazy Dress Woman

  1. I accidentally branded myself. I was told “you always wear brown”. So I dumped it all and now I wear blue and white and pink (especially cerise) and lots of tie dye and hand embroidery. Us creatives need to flaunt it! (

  2. lisa g says:

    i love these quilted fabrics i keep seeing, great dress! nothing wrong with a signature look, especially if you want to be noticed in a sea of business suits. i say go for it! 🙂

  3. The dress looks amazing! I tend to shy away from bold prints but I’ve been looking for something similar to wear to a “tropical” themed party next weekend and I have to say, I’m really rather drawn to it! My usual theme is “lots of black and grey with architectural elements and the odd bit of red”. Hasn’t changed for years!

  4. Suzy Roberts says:

    Love the dress! But where’s Ella?

  5. lapaixjoyeux says:

    Outstanding dress!

    The McCall’s blog had a piece last week about “art-teacher chic,” with patterns by the Tilton sisters and others highlighted. Maybe you could be at the forefront of publishing-industry chic!

  6. Sheena says:

    Frankly, I love it, and I love the idea of being the Crazy Dress Woman. If only you hadn’t thought of it first… 😉

  7. Hila says:

    Love it! What I especially like is its the sort if dress that would make me smile if I saw it on someone else, like it really cheers people up. Its awesome when apparel can be both comfy for wearer and a joy to look at ..:-)

  8. Hila says:

    Oh and it must be Coco week – I made my second Coco this week as well. 🙂

  9. Trish says:

    Far from benign anathema, it is the only sensible reaction. So long as you are comfortable with your particular look. Make yourself memorable, and look confident. It is certainly a look which suits you.

  10. Trish says:

    Sorry, that was being. iPad strikes again.

  11. Fab fabric and great dress! And I love, love, love the idea of a ‘Crazy Woman Dress’, if you’ve got the chutzpah you should definitely go for it 🙂

  12. Oh the utter joy that is Walthamstow ….. Over did most recent visit yet again but has to be done, nowhere matches it in my book. Lush dress, only a creative can carry something so vibrant….. You carry it well 😉

  13. LadyxBec says:

    I have unintentionally branded myself via my deep love of fit and flare dresses, pastel colours and especially pink. People tend to remember me because my look is so defined and just different enough from most people at work to stand out.

  14. Caroline says:

    Love the dress. Love the fabric and you definitely pull it off with style!
    Creative-Industry-Style x

  15. Violet says:

    Looks great !

  16. Philippa says:

    You can without a doubt pull this look off. I see self-branding is very successful in creative industries. I do have colours and shapes I prefer which could form the core of a ‘brand’, but I’m not sure. Personally, if I try to restrict myself too much I break out….I guess I’m still a rebel, even at my advanced age 😉

  17. liza jane says:

    There is something very assuring about wearing handmade to work functions- especially when it’s this awesome! I find that I feel really confident and capable at work when I’m wearing something I made that I love. So go for it, Crazy Dress Lady.

  18. Natalie says:

    These Coco dresses look fab, and if you are on your fifth…I think it is time that I made one! Fabric choice is pretty. I love the thought of wearing something that no-one else will have at all!

  19. Graca says:

    Love your fabric choice. I totally get making many versions of a much-loved pattern. I recently finished my sixth pair of pants using Vogue 1325. When you hit the jack-pot on a pattern it is hard to turn it away.

  20. oonaballoona says:

    karen, you crack me up. not because of the dress, obviously, the dress is EVERYTHING. if that’s branding, i’m all for it. but the real life meaning makes me cringe. probably because half of my auditions are for commercials!

  21. Charlie says:

    I used to be the navy blue lady, but I am now trying bolder colours and prints to mix my wardrobe up a little 🙂 love your new Coco!

  22. Mertxe says:

    Karen, I totally support your intentions! I adore when people stand out in their clothing. They make life visually more fun! If the dress becomes you and makes you pretty as a flower, what can be wrong? I am a Primary School teacher, and my students love it so much when I dress with a touch of madness that they always give me compliments. So, oh, yeah!

  23. stgilbert says:

    Holy fabulous dress! Love it! It look sensational on you! Definitely something to wear for trade shows.

  24. Fadanista says:

    Branding all the way! Fabulous dress lady sounds like a good tag. Go gaudy, be noticed, and liven up those trade shows.

  25. Oceanpeg says:

    That is something I would wear and I’m in my 70’s. I prefer wearing happy and lively bright colors than drab dark solids and the like. That’s my style, even though some of my family members are against same…

  26. Um, I am very definitely crazy dress lady at work. And crazy shoe lady. I think it works for me, though!

  27. Ros says:

    Does the fabric have some stretch in it? I assume it must to make the Coco work, but it doesn’t look like it does.

  28. oceanpeg says:

    Would probably look great with a lightly quilted fabric for winter months and more appealling than those sporty clothes…. If not worn outside the house, for inside the house for its warmth and comfort.

  29. my favorite dress pattern is butterick 6538. i’ve had it about 20 years and have made it dozens of times, stripes and prints, plaids to lace to sheers to drapery fabrics. it has been altered and realtered as i’ve aged. i’d make it in holiday fabrics for st patrick day, xmas july 4th, halloween. a co-worker: you dress like an over enthusiastic kindergarten teacher! me: as long as the clients smile, my work is done here! [i’m a high level tax accountant]

  30. Carolyn says:

    The dress is fantastic! I love the bold print and the quilted quality of the fabric. Also, if a pattern works for you, I think you should make it again and again! 😉 And of course you should develop your own style and run with it. I definitely have a work style and sew for it.

  31. helen says:

    The dress looks fab and you are right about the look of the zig zag stitching on the quilted fabric.
    After feeling a bit dowdy for a while after having children I’m trying to get back to my own style. I know what suits me and I need to be a bit braver. Making my own clothes really helps with individuality. I love coloured shoes and I always smile when I see a pair of red shoes trotting along the street!

  32. What a great dress – and a great question!

  33. I am branded for sure – now wear my hair with a large bumpit every day, with a flower in the back. So, there’s a brand and a half. Although I am now almost universally called Marion instead of Maryanne since the shop is called Made on Marion – but that is because it is on Marion St. So, “Marion the Big Hair lady who owns the [insert hyperbolic adjective] craft shop”. Could be worse! And now I am getting a bit more of “oooh, you’re that female drag queen!” so my alter ego is becoming infamous too!
    Crazy dress lady, now THAT is worth aiming for!

  34. jobirdie says:

    your dress looks fabulous – I love the way it stands out. What a great Coco! Enjoy being seen – we can’t miss you in a crowd 🙂

  35. Great dress! Being known as the crazy dress lady? Why not!
    I’ve always been branded, from the day I was born. Curly hair does that to a girl. I’m not known as ‘that short/fair/whatever girl with the groovy clothes’, hell no! I’m known as ‘that girl with the curls’. Note the word ‘girl’ too. How come grown up women never seem to have curls but all the piccies of little girls have curly hair?

  36. I love that fabric. I have to wear corporate wear (-ish) for work but have a whole load of crazyily coloured, printed and vintage blouses. Makes the day a bit more cheerful. Plus I am know to wear my DM’s with a suit. 😉

  37. sewbusylizzy says:

    I love this craziness on you. Such a great print & a wonderful pattern choice, it lets the fabric ‘sing’ or perhaps go ‘SQUEE’!

  38. Jan Carr says:

    Brand Brand Brand! Dress looks fabulous Karen!

  39. I am always being told that I have a “look” sort of subtle 30s styling, but it isn’t sometthing I think about or aim for it seems to be what other people see in me! I wear a lot of Japanese style dresses and I love the slightly androgonous look they give.

  40. Alison says:

    love your dress, you look great in it!

  41. clemensnp says:

    I need to start coco-ing asap!!

  42. kate0795 says:

    Wow! truly a gorgeous dress! I love the pattern and the quilting…go for it…be The Crazy Dress Woman!!!!

  43. Ninutschka says:

    this is soooo sweet! I love the fabric and the summer-pattern! Beautiful 🙂

  44. Tilly Buttons says:

    Ooh I loooooove! The fabric looks soooo snuggly.

  45. Colleen says:

    Amazing fabric! And, good for you. But, not crazy at all….why not be the fun dress lady? I think I do brand myself because everything I wear I’ve made myself (except jeans and shoes). I, too, work in a creative industry and don’t need to dress my age, so sometimes I can get a bit too crazy. But, it’s all wonderful, isn’t it?

    Back to the dress: what I love the most about it is the way the flower patterns take their time to express themselves….they are dainty little scatters and then one big one and then medium and all around the place. Love it!

  46. ooobop! says:

    We were only chatting yesterday about how we love that nobody dresses in ‘normal’ clothes in the office! Love your crazy lady dress. It’s soooo publishing, darling!! x

  47. A brave fabric crazy lady but it makes a great dress. Jo x

  48. I would definitely want to see you in the Frankfurt halls in that. 🙂 Come to the Swedish meatball reception and I¨’ll try to match it with something similarly crazy. “I work with children’s books” is my standard defense when making slightly mad warderobe choices…

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