Does anyone else think of Dexy’s Midnight Runners when they think of dungarees? I haven’t worn a pair myself since the mid-90s when I had some short dungarees for the summer. [Un]fortunately I have no photos, but I loved those things – they were so comfortable and I thought I was so cool wearing them. I’m not sure I could carry off proper dungarees anymore but a dress version is a happy compromise.

Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo dress came along just at the right time. It’s an easy-fitting dress with two length options and instructions for buckles or buttonholes. I’ve seen loads of lovely versions over the internet, and not just in traditional denim. When Tilly released a new batch of kits, I snapped one up in aubergine needlecord.


The kit came with everything you need to make your Cleo – pattern, thread, interfacing, shiny silver buckles and enough fabric to make one dress. The fabric is seriously nice too. So very soft. Before cutting it out I must have spent a good 15 minutes just stroking it… Don’t judge me. I was… ermmm… testing for the nap…

Anyway, the pattern comes with Tilly’s trademark clear and detailed instructions. I went for the longer version and had no problems sewing it up – it’s a great pattern for a beginner, but a nice quick sew for someone with more projects under their belt. Proving every day’s a school day, I did pick up a new skill! I’d never done a bar tack before and never really realised that it’s just a row of really tight zigzags. Mine’s at the top of the front split for reinforcement.

As dungarees have a relaxed fit, I was confident that my standard adjustments to TATB patterns would be ok. I’m a 4 on top, but according to my measurements I should be a 7 on the bottom. I graded it out as normal but the finished article made me look like I was wearing jodhpurs, so I unpicked and resewed. I’ll try grading to a 6 next time instead.


Difficult to see in this pic, but I can assure you there is a painstakingly stitched pocket on this dress.

This was a really satisfying sew and I’ve had a lot of lovely comments about this one (apart from my dad, who asked me why I was wearing overalls *sigh*). From tracing the pattern (normally the part that takes me ages, mainly because I find it so very tedious) to trying on the finished article, this took me about four hours. I can see more on the horizon too. It doesn’t take up much fabric – less than 1.25m for the longer length dress – so it’s good for stash busting. I’ve already bought some dark blue denim and the buckles for my next version, though this time I think I’ll give contrasting top stitching a go.

That’ll have to wait though, cos I’m about two weeks away from the big move and I am mainly spending time sorting out my life right now. That and my machine and overlocker went into storage last week. I am itching to do some more making but I’ll have to restrain myself until I get to the other side of the pond.

What’s on your sewing table at the moment?




8 thoughts on “Too-rye-ay

  1. Caroline says:

    Hey Jo I love your new Cleo, the colour really suits you.
    Mine is part made – I did y usual grading from bust to hips too and when I sewed it up its a little on the large size so I need to re-sew the side seams again too. I tried to find my own buckles but North London sewing shops seem to be out of stock – it seems dunagree dress / overalls are all the rage right now!! ; )
    Good luck with the move!

    • Jo Laycock says:

      Hiya! Thanks! It’s all part of my drive to wear less navy blue and get more colour in my life!

      If you’re looking for buckles, it might be worth making a trip further afield. I picked up a couple of pairs in shiny silver and tarnished brass in the sewing superstore in Balham. They’ve got a box full of them – worth checking out and not toooooo far down the Northern line!

  2. emmaandhermachine says:

    Looks fabulous on you. I think you could mix and match all sorts with this so it’s very clever! The Cleo isn’t for me because I don’t think it’ll suit my shape, I have made some Dungaree trousers I’ll blog soon though!

    • Jo Laycock says:

      Thanks! I’ve got a gold t-shirt (not as horrific as it sounds) that goes really nicely underneath it – looking forward to trying it out! Looking forward to seeing your dungaree trousers – what fabric did you use?

      • emmaandhermachine says:

        Sounds like it would look good! It’s strange one actually, like a textured cotton, which is a purpley/wine colour. I have been told by my hubby that I look like a toddler ready for a play date in them though!!

  3. Lynsey Welch says:

    Loving your dungerdress, it looks great on and love the idea of a needlecord one, colour is lovely too. I’m going to attempt a needlecord skirt, it’s muslined so ready to go but not sewn with this fabric before. Hope your move goes well.

    • Jo Laycock says:

      Oh I love the term dungadress! I’m going to use that from now on!!

      I love sewing with needle cord, if only because I get to stroke it while sewing! If you’re looking for tips there’s a nice post on the Tilly and the Buttons site from a couple of weeks ago that I found useful.

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