Pattern Reviews

My (first) three versions of the Billie Sweatshirt by Tilly and the Buttons – a pattern review…

As soon as Tilly and the Buttons released the Billie pattern, I fell in love with it.  I love to wear jersey and sweatshirts have fast become my wear of choice during this extended lockdown period we’ve found ourselves in here in the UK meaning that we’re at home in our cosy clothes far more than we usually would be perhaps.  

The Billie can be made as a sweatshirt or as a dress.  I’ve not yet made a dress version but I definitely hope to in the future. You can order yourself a copy of the Billie pattern here.

I loved the look of the basic sweatshirt pattern, but I loved the version with the balloon sleeves even more.  Statement sleeves are so on trend at the moment and I love the contrast of a dressier sillouette sewn from a more casual jersey fabric.

Since I was so eager to purchase the pattern the minute it came out (very unusual for me) I was lucky enough to be one of the first to order and therefore receive the free gift of a lovely vinyl iron on MAKER transfer from Happy Fabric UK – lucky me!!

For my first version I decided to make the basic sweatshirt pattern with the straight sleeves, just so that I could check the fit and see if I needed to make any alterations.  In Tilly patterns, my measurements usually make me a size two but since I like my sweatshirts to be a bit oversized, I sized up to a three for this make.  I traced my pattern pieces because I really like to keep my patterns all intact in case I need to retrace or make any amendments at a later date.

It’s worth mentioning that, as I was using my main fabric for the neckband and cuffs rather than a ribbing fabric, I added a little extra to the length of these pieces when cutting to accommodate for the lack of stretch in the sweatshirt fabric.

I decided to make use of some lovely dusky pink sweat shirting fabric I’d had in my stash for a while for this version, it’s a really pretty colour and has a lovely fleece backing to it so is very cosy to wear. I’ve linked a similar fabric here.

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So during the making of this sweatshirt number one, I managed to break my overlocker (the less said on that matter, the better!), so I ended up sewing the whole thing on my sewing machine using the lightening stretch stitch.  This worked absolutely fine but it isn’t finished as neatly on the inside as I’d have liked particularly at the neckband where my overlocker chewed up my seam allowance but of course it’s fine to sew jersey with a sewing machine and leave the edges unfinished since jersey doesn’t fray anyway – I’m just fussy!  

Here’s how my first version turned out.  Despite my overlocker issues I absolutely love this version and you can see that I’ve used my Maker transfer here and I really like how it adds interest to an otherwise plain jumper.  This was, or would have been, a super speedy sew and as always with Tilly and the Buttons patterns, the instructions are fab and hold your hand throughout with helpful hints and tips.

So having made the basic sweatshirt pattern and been happy with the fit, I couldn’t wait to have a go at the balloon sleeve version.  For this version I used a beautiful fleece backed jersey I had from Higgs and Higgs.  I absolutely love this fabric, it’s not too thick but because of the fleece it’s still super cosy.

I actually filmed the making process of this version of my Billie Sweatshirt as a sew along with Becky from Notes from the Sewing Room.  We both made different versions, recorded our making process and compared our makes at the end.  It was a really fun collaboration and if you’d like to watch it, the YouTube video is linked below (don’t forget to subscribe to my channel while you’re there of course) hehe!

I’m pleased to report that the making process of this version went much smoother than my first attempt.  Again, since I was using the main fabric for the neckband and cuffs, I added an extra cm to the length of all of these pieces to allow them to fit in easier.

This version does take a little longer to make up given the gathering in the sleeve head and cuffs but even with these extra steps the sweatshirt still makes up very quickly which is great, I found it a very enjoyable sew.

Below you can see photos of my finished first balloon sleeve version.  Because the fleece backed jersey is quite structured, you can see that there is a lot of volume in those sleeves!  When I first tried this one on I wasn’t sure I felt comfortable with such a big sleeve but after a little while of wearing I decided that actually I really loved it.  The only thing I decided I would change about this version next time,is to lengthen the sleeves as they feel a little bit shorter when moving around then the straight sleeve version.

My most recent balloon sleeve version was made from a beautiful Lady McElroy textured knit fabric which I was kindly gifted from Minerva in exchange for a review which you can read here.  This fabric is so beautiful, it has a lace pattern to it and feels as though it has been knitted, it’s lovely.

Since I found the sleeve to come up a little short previously, this time I added 2.5cm to the length of the sleeve pattern piece to give a bit of extra length but also so that my gathers would really pool nicely at the cuff.

I did find that I needed to take extra care sewing this pretty but quite delicate knit fabric.  It did fray quite a bit and I felt that it could stretch out of shape quite easily.  I found the neckband a little tricky to insert this time but I took my time, used the quartering method, and tacked it in on the machine first before finishing it on the overlocker.  There was a little section of my neckband that didn’t quite get tacked in properly first time on the sewing machine and needed a bit of unpicking which wasn’t fun in this fabric! 

I absolutely love how my finished top has turned out in this fabric.  It definitely gives a more dressy feel to the sweatshirt but equally it could be dressed down with a pair of jeans and trainers.  I don’t have a lot of black in my wardrobe so I feel like this is going to get a lot of wear. 

So to conclude, I absolutely love the Billie pattern (you never would have guessed would you 😉 ) it’s very versatile and can be made as dressy or casual as you like depending on the fabric you choose to use.  I’ll definitely be making more of these in the future. 

What’s your favourite sweatshirt pattern and have you tried the Billie yet?

Until next time, happy sewing!

Sally xx

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