Pattern Reviews

Sewing my first Lyra Dress by Tilly and the Buttons – A Sewing Pattern Review…

The minute Tilly and the Buttons brought out the Lyra Shirt Dress pattern, I knew it was right up my street and I had to have a go at it. I bought the pattern immediately and then, despite my initial enthusiasm, it sat in my stash for a little while while I admired all of the other lovely versions I saw people making up online.

The pattern is described as a ‘romantic shirt dress’ which I think is a great description for it since it has the more formal style ‘proper’ shirt bodice and then the floaty romantic style ‘buffet style’ tiered gathered skirt at the bottom. If you’re looking for something a little less floaty you have the choice of sticking with a single gathered skirt and there’s the option to add either a short straight sleeve or a long sleeve which is elasticated at the bottom.

I’ve never made a shirt or dress with a collar on a collar stand before so I was a little bit nervous about trying this pattern at first but, having used many a Tilly and the Buttons pattern in the past, I knew that the pattern instructions would be as helpful as always in guiding me through and I was excited to get another dressmaking skill under my belt.

The pattern is sized from a Tilly size 1 (UK6) to a Tilly size 10 (UK24). I decided to go for a straight size 2, I’m normally in between a size 2 and 3 in Tilly patterns but, as there is quite a lot of ease in the bodice of this pattern, I was confident that a size 2 would be big enough and as we were heading into summertime here in the UK at the time of making, I decided to go for the short sleeve this time. Since the midi length version takes quite a lot of fabric, I hunted around for a while for the perfect fabric to try out my first version in which wasn’t too expensive but that I still liked enough to want to wear at the end. I was lucky enough to find this Dashwood Rayon in the sale at my local John Lewis for under five pounds a metre so I snapped up three metres – I thought it would be perfect for a floaty dress like this.

Unusually for me (I’m normally a strict tracer) I decided to cut my pattern pieces directly from the pattern pages. I didn’t think I’d be making this dress for anyone else and I was confident that the size I’d chosen wouldn’t need too much by way of alteration – or you could also just say I was having a lazy day!!

As always, I cut my fabric using my cutting mat and rotary cutter. I was a little confused initially about how to cut the under collar on the fold and on the bias but after a bit of head scratching all became clear ;). One of the collar pieces and the button plackets require interfacing and a good tip I’ve learned when having to interface a fabric with a lot of movement like viscose, is to fuse a piece of interfacing onto your fabric before cutting out your piece. This then ensures both pieces are cut correctly and match perfectly! The interfacing I’ve used this time is probably a little thicker than I should have used and feels a little papery so I’ll probably go for something a bit softer next time.

I really enjoyed the process of sewing my first collar and collar stand. Since this was my first time trying this technique I really took my time and made sure to follow the instructions carefully. I found my pieces came together really nicely and there wasn’t any stretching out thankfully due to the stay stitching the pattern asks you to do at the start of the sewing process. I love how the finished collar has turned out and there are a few tips in the pattern to get your collar points lovely and pointy too!

Something I like about the pattern is that the bodice is completely finished, right down to the button holes and buttons, before you even start on the skirt. Such a great idea because could you imagine trying to manoeuvre your full gathered midi skirt around the machine to put your button holes in at the end!!

So onto the skirt which is gathered and attached in the normal way. Since this was my first go at the pattern I decided to cut and sew the tiers as they were with no changes so that I could try the dress on and then decide if I wanted to make any alterations. Once my tiers were attached I tried on the dress and it came right to the floor full on maxi style! After deliberating for a while about whether I wanted to keep it that way, I decided I’d rather stick to the midi style and chopped off a whopping 10cm from my bottom skirt tier. I much prefer the length of this now although I might be tempted to make a maxi version in the future – who knows!

I wanted to make the optional belt tie with the dress so I made this at the end too, I like the fact that the belt is detachable so you don’t have to wear it and I quite like the look of the dress being loose and a little more roomy around the waist too – perfect for hotter days.

The pattern does give instructions on how to make your own belt loops for the dress but I decided to use a little hack I picked up ages ago which is to use a thin black hair elastic, cut it in half and thread it into the dress knotting on the inside to form a loop. Perhaps not as professional looking as handmade loops but much quicker 😉

I absolutely love my finished version of this dress and I can’t wait to make another one – I think there are so many little changes you could do to make the dress your own and I like that in a pattern.

I’ve recorded a YouTube video talking all about my experience making this dress and showing it in ‘real life’ and you can watch it below if you’d like to.

I’d love to know if you’ve sewn up the Lyra Dress yet and which version you went for?

Until next time! Happy sewing…

Sally xx

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