Category Archives: Tilly and the Buttons

The Knit Wit Outfit

I love a good knit. This may or may not come from my mother. If Megan Trainor is all about that bass, my mother is all about the knits. And who can blame her? A knit is a godsend to all women. Say what you will about Coco Chanel, but that woman made other women more comfortable by her innovative use of knits. Look, I love wovens. Who doesn’t? I would never surrender my love for them. But knits are just so deeply comfortable. They make anything cozier and easier to wear. If the casting off of the corset after the First World War transformed the way women felt in their clothing, then knits have done that once again, embracing curves and angles without darts or fabric geometry, stretching with the human body, moving as they move. They are more forgiving than any Catholic priest ever could be. They don’t mind too much if you have a big lunch, and they also shrink to you when you’ve been good about your running routine. Knits are like a sweet non-judgemental friend you can watch dumb movies with and enjoy large bottles of wine and large bowls of ice cream. Wovens are like that friend that motivates you and makes you feel ambitious and high achieving and professional and adult, but wovens aren’t going to hang out with you on a Sunday night while you watch The John Oliver Show, because wovens are busy, wovens are important, wovens don’t approve of getting their news with a side of comedy, wovens have ALREADY read the New York Times article and seen the BBC report on that issue and have OPINIONS before you even have context. Knits kind of make fun of wovens, as soon as they are out the door, and you smile, and sigh, and say “I’m friends with both of you, okay? But yes. Wovens can be a little uptight.¬† Now. Back to John Oliver. More wine?”

See, I would watch that show. That show with those three characters. It would be great. I wish someone would pay me to make a show where it’s just me talking to my fabric. Wouldn’t you watch that?

NO? Fine. Whatever. I wouldn’t watch your dumb show either.

Ahem. Anyway. Knits also make everything a little less formal, which I generally don’t approve of, as I like to feel fancy like a grown up, but I do think that knits can get there, with a little bit of sophistication and style. Of course, with silk jersey and rayons you can have a drapey slinky 1970’s dream, but what about the in between of this? Isn’t there something between sweatpants and draped halter?

And that’s why I like some of the new knit patterns that have been released by independent companies in the last few years. They have flare and they have fun. They are comfortable but they don’t only look like they are comfortable. You know what I mean?

Take, for example, Tilly and the Buttons Coco. I did:

KW1Oh, and what’s that on the bottom, lurking underneath? Is that a Colette Patterns Mabel? I DO BELIEVE IT IS! How delightful.

KW3

Yes yes! See, it’s all knit there, but I don’t look like I’m wearing a Juicy Couture Sweatsuit, I look like a person who has a job, and ambitions, and dreams.

KW5

I made my friend Liz take these photos when we went to Philadelphia for the day to see the Patrick Kelly show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I knew nothing about this designer, and the show is excellent, as is his work. Really a fascinating and vivacious man, bursting with talent and innovation, whose appropriation of cultural and racial stigmas and stereotypes richly activated his work. I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of him before, and saddened by the brevity of his amazing life. If you have the chance to see this show, please do, it’s really lovely and worth the trip if you aren’t in the area.

Liz sews too, in fact she works at the Museum at FIT, so she is always a wonderful person to see these shows with, to force to take my photograph, and to enjoy drinks and fries with afterwards. She’s a multi-talented human being.

What can I say about the construction of this. Knits are easy, man, especially the ponte de roma that makes up this top. It’s got structure for days, for a knit, but still moves with your body. Score.

KW9I used the three-quarter length sleeves and the funnel neck, which is as close to turtleneck as I can get without feeling horribly self-conscious about my chest.

KW7

There is also  a little split action on the sides, which I like a lot. You can just see that in the photo above.

KW4Close up! I love the cuffs on this shirt, they are genius. I’ve made this once before, as a dress, actually.

KW8

The skirt is the longest of the Mabels, because I’m not a micro-mini kind of girl. It’s seamed up the front, which is hard to see on this black.

KW6See? Even I can’t see it! This skirt is just the easiest thing I have made in months. It literally took me 40 minutes, from cutting to hemming. That’s the real length of a one hour drama minus the commercials. With breaks. To drink wine.

I got that scarf at a vintage store in Austin, by the way. It has ships all over it. I love it.

KW2See, that is the face of a comfortable YET decently dressed person. Simple, easy, cozy, yet with flare. What else can one ask for as the weather grows cold? Don’t worry that I have abandoned my wovens, I will always be more type A then type K (GET IT? K FOR KNITS? Seriously, this would be a great show), but it’s nice to have the option, isn’t it?

 

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The Coco Mademoiselle Dress (Mad Men Challenge #1!)

I’m not a big fan of bandwagons. Unless you count the musical, The Bandwagon, because it’s awesome and Cyd Charisse is amazing and because musicals about Broadway musicals are hilarious. Fred Astaire does a dance in an arcade, it’s great. The point is, I’m not a big follower, never really have been. In fact I can be quite contrary, often neglecting to do something because it’s so very popular. I literally just saw Frozen last week. And you know what? It’s a-god-damn-dorable. Seriously that thing is charming as hell. I have no idea what country or time period it’s supposed to be in, but whatever I just want Olaf the snowman to be my best friend. And we could have adventures with Sven the reindeer and sing together and live our lives in utter happiness in some unknown mildly Scandinavian country, oh, it would be so great! But, tragedy of tragedies, I don’t live that life. I guess I have to Let It Go, right?

Anyway, I have been trying to cure myself of this knee-jerk anti-following reaction when it comes to sewing. When it comes to moral decisions and Juicy Couture sweatsuits, I think it’s positive that I make up my own mind about it rather than following others, but when it comes to sewing, well, maybe imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? So when Tilly released her newest pattern, the Coco top/dress, I bought it almost immediately, and assembled it the same day. Only, I had to wait for my fabric to come, because despite my stash of jersey fabrics, this pattern demands a jersey with limited stretch. Honestly, I might try it in a stretchier fabric in the future because minimal stretch jerseys aren’t easy for me to find and also, comfort is essential to all things, because the more stretch int he fabric, the more food I can eat, the happier I will be. But for the first time around I wanted to follow the rules (well, sort of, more on that to come) and use the right fabric. So I waited patiently as Cocos popped up all over the internet, biding my time, telling myself it was worth it to wait and get it right. And you know what? I think it was!

CM 1.jpgOkay, so I mentioned that I stuck with the fabric recommended. What I did not do is leave the hem as it was drafted. First of all, I lengthened it quite a bit, because Tilly, waif that she is, has drafted this dress to be shorter then even my diminutive stature would be comfortable with. And then I realized that the original flare in Tilly’s design wasn’t working for me at this longer length, so I cut off a chunk, slimmed down the skirt, and added the extra fabric back in as a band, neatly finishing the hem and giving it a slimmer silloutte. And I always want the word slim to involved with me, frankly, so I love it!

CM 4.jpgSo this is the first of several, yes, I say, SEVERAL Mad Men Challenge Dresses! I love love love Julia Bobbin’s Mad Men Challenge (huh, maybe I AM a follower!) and I’m always excited to sew tribute dresses for the show that has changed the face of fashion on television. Even now, as we head into late 1960’s hell, I’m going to make it work. That being said, my next copy-cat will probably go a couple of seasons back. Come on. Can you blame me? phontoWhen I saw the Coco, especially Tilly’s mod versions, I thought, I bet there are some Mad Men dresses out there along those lines. And low and behold:

4071fba39e658f13b2b0d51141f9d2a4And then there is this:

2718d06b3097c8045f4bcd908298640e

And also, this:

830e552d5a2071ec6e4aa843f7d7f7d3Coral knit shifts seem to be the uniform for brunettes at Sterling Cooper Draper Price. That and misogyny. AM I RIGHT? So I tried to use elements of all three:

CM 3.jpgIt’s darker than this photo would imply, but not by too much.

CM 8.jpg

What I really like about the design is the funnel neck, which is sort of like a turtleneck but has the added benefit of NOT making me look like the bustiest person who ever lived. Turtlenecks are not my jam, but I do like the way they look, so this offers me a tribute-neckline without the negatives.

CM 6.jpgI cut the back on the selvage and seamed it, and the front on the fold. The sleeves didn’t quite ease correctly so I gave them a little pleat at each shoulder seam. I have to say, the thickness of the fabric is nice because it adds structure and warmth, but it’s still a comfortable dress. I used a Ponte de Roma from GirlCharlee.

I finally had time, given that this is spring break for me, to take daytime photos in my apartment alone with my tripod. Not only is the light good, but it has the added benefit of being able to include a guest star:

CM 9.jpgHe’s ready for his close up:

CM 10.jpgAnd so am I!

CM 7.jpgBoy am I glad I followed the crowd on this one. This dress went from dinner to a show to drinks afterwards and back home again in perfect comfort. It’s a nice spring dress for this brisk New York weather, and it’s just insanely cute for such a simple shape. Thank you, Tilly. I’ll get on your bandwagon any time.

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Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Sewalong, Sewing, Tilly and the Buttons