Liberty Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas

Despite it being one of my favourite pastimes, I find sleeping a really tricky thing to do. For me to get a fully rejuvenating night's sleep, I need a number of variables to line up. Temperature, light, and noise levels are the basics. If I'm too hot, I'm restless; if I'm too cold, I'm grumpy; if there's too much noise, I move rooms almost immediately. Additional variations include comfort, hydration levels, if I'm relaxed enough, when I last had caffeine etc, etc. Luckily, I can control most of these things while walking along a careful line to try not to drive my husband mad with my many demands!

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas sewn in Isa Liberty Tana Lawn.jpg

The bizarre and worrying warm temperatures of last month brought comfort and temperature to the forefront of my mind. A couple of degrees warmer at night is enough for me to switch from my snuggly winter pyjamas to summer ones and I remembered that I had been promising myself another pair of Fifi pyjamas since the middle of last spring. I basically live in my Summer Rose and Retro Swirl versions throughout the warmer months where they are in a constant cycle of wear, wash, dry, wear... Having a third pair would take the pressure off. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Boudoir set sewn in Liberty Tana Lawn Cotton.jpg

I wanted a slightly more sumptuous and whimsical pair this time. Laying patiently in my stash was a cut of Isa Liberty Lawn I picked up in one of their sales. The fabric was chosen by an academic who specialises in Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and at the time was exploring Alice in relation to fashion and dress. The design was selected because the crescent shapes evoke some of the elements of Wonderland: the Alice Band, the Cheshire Cat's toothy grin, and the dots apparently suggest the shifting shapes and patterns beneath the surface. The dreamlike sense the design rouses makes it perfect for a pair of pyjamas. Plus, I'll take any opportunity I can to use Liberty lawn!

Back view of Tilly and the Buttons Fifi pyjamas made in Liberty Tana Lawn.jpg

This pair are the same size as my others (graded between sizes 5 to 6 to 4) and I made no changes to how I constructed them. As you might image the lawn was a dream to stitch (not sorry), going through the machine like a hot knife through butter. I savoured every French seam and got a lot of joy from the insides beginning to look as neat as the outside. Not having any inclination to make my own, I used bright yellow ready made bias tape. As the yellow is so bright, I used it sparingly at the straps and the top of the camisole. I surprised myself with my colour choice as I steer clear of yellow and orange due their frequent ability to make me look ill, although the small amount at the front seems to work well here. Looking back, I would have preferred slightly narrower tape as the width takes something away from the delicate style of the camisole.

TATB Fifi pyajams in Liberty Tana Lawn.jpg

I've worn these a couple of times and they live up expectations. The soft supple cotton drapes beautifully which is ideal for the camisole and feels indulgent to wear. I've had a good couple of nights sleep. While I can't say for certain that this has anything to do with these pyjamas, I'm willing to give them the credit. 

Retro Swirl Fifis

Hello there. It's been a while again since my last post - I continue to be distracted by work and Adam and I took a little break to go to London. It was a lovely couple of days where we had lunch at the Shard with fabulous views and watched Wimbledon next to the river near Tower Bridge.

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I took with me my latest pair of Fifi pjs. I have been wearing the Summer Rose pair almost constantly and that's usually a sign that a second make is needed. The fabric is a cotton poplin called Retro Swirl in Cerise Pink and comes from Minerva. I purchased it after needing a cheap midweek pick me up and the print is rather fun. I had thought that some of the swirls were blue and bought pale blue satin bias binding to match. When the fabric arrived I discovered that the swirls are actually purple but the colours still work together.

This pair demonstrates how much a fabric can change an item. This cotton is quite stiff and doesn't have a lot of drape, even on the bias. As a result the pjs don't move so well with with the body making them less comfortable. The shorts are worse than the top and added to the fabric, I think I stretched the elastic a bit too much. I'm hoping that a couple of washes will soften the fabric. 

Tilly and the Buttons retro swirl Fifi Pyjamas 2.JPG

I stitched this pair in quite an unfocussed way for the design. While finishing the shorts, I added bias binding the hem and liked the effect. This led to unpicking the top of the cups on the top to add binding there instead of just turning the fabric over and stitching into place. If you decide to add binding to this area I would recommend you do this before you've put the top together to make life easier for yourself. While the outside looks nice and neat, the inside is a little messy for my liking. Overall I think I prefer the full bias binding finish - it looks very clean.

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I'm playing around with the idea of a more luxurious pair but that will have to wait - I have other greater needs for a summer wardrobe but I'll definitely be revisiting this pattern again.  

Summer Rose Fifi Pyjamas

Hello, there. I trust you all had a good weekend and made the most of the sunshine. It was lovely in Oxford and getting the suncream out for the first time was wonderful. In anticipation of the warmer weather and thinking about a summer holiday, my thoughts have wondered to my summer wardrobe and specifically night wear. I knew a lovely set of summer pyjamas were needed and when Minerva kindly got in touch to offer some fabric, I found the perfect match of pattern and fabric to create the Summer Rose Fifi pyjamas. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas 4.JPG

The fabric is called Rose Floral and it is a cotton poplin. I was drawn to the pink roses which remind me of country garden and times gone by and this nostalgia only grow when I saw that the print had a vintage/tapestry look to it. The roses are set on a black background - not my first choice for summer but it does lift the pinks well. When I originally received the fabric I thought it would be too thick and not have enough drape to make Fifi but all my concerns were lost after prewashing and wearing these for a night. The poplin has all the properties of a good cotton - good weave, some drape, incredibly easy to cut, press and stitch. I loved working with it and love wearing it. I decided not to go with the self-binding that is included in the pattern and opted for a hot pink bias binding that was in my stash. I had originally opted for a pale pink to match the roses but my machine (for a reason I can't fathom) just ate it. The hot pink doesn't give the fully romantic feeling I was going for but brings a fun modern vibe to them. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas.JPG

I took my time choosing which size to cut. While I love a lot of ease in my pyjamas, I also find a lot of them have too much around the hips for my liking. Based on the finished measurements I went for a 5-6-4 combination and it is largely spot on. I think I need slightly more room in the hips for when I'm pottering about on a lazy morning but they were fine to sleep in. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas 2.jpg

For a such a small item, Fifi took longer to stitch than I anticipated. This is mainly because Tilly had the foresight to finish these with French seams (my favourite finish) and you need to handle the bodice more carefully than most of other makes due its bias cut. However, the extra effort for the seams and the binding is totally worth it - it gives you a make that is gorgeous on the outside as well as the inside. The suggested technique for adding the elastic to the shorts also ensures a good finish - you stitch the elastic to a raw edge, fold over twice and stitch in place encasing all the raw edges and stitches. Such a simple but effective way to achieve a smooth, polished look. 

Tilly and the Buttons Fifi Pyjamas 3.jpg

I'm delighted with how this set turned out and this summer will see them being in high demand due to their comfort and prettiness. I may just have to make another pair to ensure these last! What's on your sewing table right now?

Note: The fabric for this make was provided by Minerva Crafts. Pattern purchased separately. 

Completed: Dark denim Miette

2014 has been a little slow to start in terms of sewing but I'm pleased to say I have completed an item. At the beginning of the year I knew that I needed a more coordinated wardrobe and that a few basics would go a long way in helping achieve this. What better way to start than with a dark denim Miette wrap skirt?

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt 3.jpg

As I was tidying up my stash over Christmas, I pulled out the Ralph Lauren medium-weight denim I picked up in Mood when I visited last November. I originally fell in love with the colour. I love dark denim and have often found it hard to find the right shade in RTW items which meant I couldn't pass this up. I debated for a while whether this would become a Kelly skirt or a Miette - both would look great but the Miette won. Only because I had the pattern and I was feeling impatient for a quick project.

Others have waxed lyrical about this pattern and I can see why. It is a very simple pattern that delivers a great result and would be absolutely perfect for beginners. I whipped up the skirt in a couple of hours of leisurely sewing. There are no complicated pieces to cut out or attach, everything is in a straight line. The trickiest bit was turning the ties through and that's because the fabric is quite thick. Tilly helpfully warns you not to use too thick fabric at the beginning for this very reason. I had to seriously grade the ties to make them lay flat once they had been turned.

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt 2.jpg

I chose to add the pockets. This is an unusual step for me as I tend to shy away from pockets in skirts and dresses. I don't know why and hope that those of you who add pockets to everything won't hold it against me. They were straightforward to assemble and they match up well at the centre seam. There is a small area in the centre seam, just underneath the pockets, where it looks like the fabric is under a bit of stress due to the thickness of six layers of fabric. I reinforced the seam and it seems to be holding up well. 

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt.JPG

The seams are a mix. Most are overlocked but the side seams are flat felled. I couldn't resist the idea of using flat felled seams with denim and I wanted to add some top stitching details along the side. I chose a bright aqua green for the top stitching and then went a little mad! The pockets, side seams and the ties are all top stitched. I had thought about using the green on the hem but realised that would be a little too much. Instead I used a navy blue which you can't see at all. It honestly looks like invisible thread and I was relieved that none of it needed unpicking.  

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt 5.jpg

One of the things this skirt is known for is the fact that the wrap at the back doesn't come apart enough for you to lose your dignity and I have again proved it. I wore this skirt while travelling for work to Switzerland and it survived moving luggage from trains and walking up outdoor stairs to an airplane. Neither piece moved and it kept me warm! (I realise I don't look warm in the photos though - it was rather windy in Oxford today even in the relative shelter of the gardens in Merton College.) I also realised the value of the size of the pockets - they are big enough to hold your passport, boarding pass, keys and phone without any chance of them falling out. 

Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt 6.jpg

I love this skirt and have worn it many times since I finished it. It definitely is a wardrobe staple and will be constantly in rotation. It works with causal tops for the weekend and could be dressed up for an evening - perfect day to night wear! Somehow I don't think this will be the last Miette to cross my sewing table. 

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Completed: Submarine Mathilde

When I first saw Tilly’s Button-Back blouse as it was known then, I knew I wanted something similar. In, what for me is classic fashion, I got side tracked by dresses and skirts and didn't do anything about finding a top that was similar for many months. Then Tilly released the pattern to the delight of everyone. Here is my finished version.

Tilly and the Buttons Mathilde blouse.jpg

I have no doubt that I am echoing the words of many when I tell you that this pattern is absolute dream to work with. The actual pattern is easy to assemble, providing you follow advice on how to print it correctly (I didn't on the first page) and the instructions are very clear. I love the check boxes next to each step – it appeals to the list maker within me. It is a satisfying feeling when you add the next tick, I feel like I am always making progress when that happens!

Once you get past the pleats and remember how to make French seams (if using), this comes together very quickly. That reminds me. Have you seen Tilly’s detailed, and I mean detailed, step by step tutorials? They are a fantastic resource and I used the one for the pleats.  It was my first time creating them and I wanted to check that my instincts were right. Turns out they were. I’m rather pleased I went for cotton and not a slippery fabric to begin with.

Tilly and the Buttons blouse 3.jpg

Am I happy with my version? Absolutely. Trying to get gatherings to look similar at the top of sleeves is always a challenge for me but I've actually managed it this time!  I normally wear more fitted tops and was a little unsure about the loose fitting but those doubts are long gone. I have spent most of yesterday just admiring the sleeves out of the corner of my eye. I do love that there is a lot of volume in them. Generally you won’t see me in prints like this often but that may change now. There is one thing I would alter though and that is the position of the top button as the top right corner does stand away from the back a little but it isn't a big deal. I also realised that I have the perfect shoes to match this top - my red Poetic LicenceBacklash shoes. The ribbon is not too far away from my fabric. I missed out on the pale blue version (*sob*) but they now have some with polka dots! Check out these! Anyway, I digress.

Tilly and the Buttons blouse 2.jpg

One other thing, I might also see what taking it in a smidge at the hips does. I have narrow hips and it feels a little big at the bottom and in the strongish winds we've had here, this is where I am feeling it. Saying that, there will definitely be more Mathilde’s in my wardrobe and I’m on the hunt for fabric to make the next one. Have you got your hands on one of these yet?

New Project!

I'm really excited about my next project. I have a lack of tops in my wardrobe that I can wear at home or at work. It seems to be something I have struggled with for years and I've had enough! I don't want to continually scratch my head in the morning searching for something to wear. So I resolved to make more tops this year.  I've made a couple already and I'll share them soon. But in the meantime I've opted for the Mathilde blouse by Tilly

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Here's my fabric

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My pattern is assembled and my fabric is being washed as I type. I cannot wait to get started although a weekend of social plans may mean I have to push the pause button on my excitement for a short while but you can be sure I will doing as much as I can. Oh, and I need to find buttons, I'm debating between red or yellow. What would you go for?