The Bettine Dress by Tilly and the Buttons was one of the first garments I made as an early dressmaker. It's an excellent beginner friendly pattern with a few techniques to stretch those sewing skills whilst elevating it away from just a simple day dress. With a gorgeous deep scoop neck and a fitted elasticated waist, it’s very comfortable to wear whilst radiating a stylish summer look.
I chose this blue leopard needlecord from Sewalicious for my version which I absolutely love. It's a gorgeous leopard print design on a cream base and it's even got a teeny bit of stretch in it whilst being super soft to touch. The fabric washed really well with minimal shrinkage too. It's a narrow fabric at 112cm but despite this I still managed to fit the size 2 into 2 metres of fabric (I'd recommend a bit more though for size 3 and above as it was tight!)
As I'd made this pattern before I knew the size 2 would be a good fit for me so I went with this size again. The standard length of the skirt is above knee length however I decided to hack the pattern slightly and lengthen the skirt pieces by around 6 inches. I then finished the side skirt seams with a split that is around 9 inches long, although this could be as short or as long as you like. I had a play around with a few different lengths and think this is a good balance overall!
The pattern is super simple to follow, the bodice is assembled first with addition of the sleeves cuffs to finish the sleeve hems. There's an option to add little tabs and buttons onto the cuffs too which add a really lovely detail but I didn't want to make the sleeves too fussy when I was adding the side split. The neckline facing is finished neatly with topstitching which you can either match to your fabric or use a contrast if you're feeling daring and on point! I went for black thread for my topstitching and I think this blends in nicely whilst still being partially visible.
The next step is to attach the pockets (also optional, but er hello... who doesn't love pockets?!) which Tilly makes a breeze and then it's just a matter of attaching the top to the bottom whilst making a neat casing for your elastic. Simple! When I got to the final step of hemming in order to make my cheeky split I pressed up the seam allowance either side of the skirt pieces to form the split, and then tucked under the raw edge to make a narrow folded hem and then topstitched it down, pivoting across the top of the split and back stitching to keep this area nice and strong.
The fabric was lovely to work with, just like using a slightly thicker cotton. I tried to only press the fabric from the wrong side just in case the heat marked the fabric (which can sometimes happen with needlecord fabrics) but actually I didn't need to worry too much as on a lower heat setting it was fine. Other than this I used no special measures whilst sewing it together!
Ta dah! I'm really pleased with this make! Needlecord isn't actually one of the suggested fabrics for this pattern but I wanted to try something a bit different and I think it really works as it's quite a light weight needlecord and behaves more like a lightweight denim than a true cord. You can see that the dress has a bit more structure to it and the excess fabric below the bust 'poofs' out a bit more than it would if you used a crepe or viscose, but I quite like it like this. I also love the longer length style, it's just something a bit different and I can see me wearing this with wedges and a jean jacket for the daytime, and heels and a clutch in the evening!
If you don't fancy making a Bettine in this I also think a fitted skirt (for example the Tilly and the Buttons Ness skirt) or a cute bomber jacket (like the Sew Over It Amelia Jacket) would look totally amazing.