April 6, 2015

A comedy of errors: Tilly & the Buttons Coco Top

Despite the fact I have an undergraduate degree in History, my grasp of historic events is somewhat… tenuous. A recent visit up to see Carrie in Salem to eat donuts at a brunch donut bar (yes, you read that right) and then take some blog photies led us to the lovely House of the Seven Gables. Is that where Louisa Alcott lived? No. Is it where Anne lived? No. I suspect any American 6 year old could tell you this, but it was where a sea merchant lived in the 17th century and it inspired a Nathaniel Hawthorne book, which apparently busloads of tourists are now interested in.

And so it seemed apposite to pose in front of it in my new Tilly & the Buttons Coco top made from The Smuggler’s Daughter‘s fabric (see what I did there?!).


The continual struggle in my sewing life is to find nice printed jerseys. I don’t understand why more aren’t available to the home sewing market when RTW clearly manufactures them in droves. So I was excited when I was approached by Susan at Smuggler’s Daughter to try some of her fabrics. She has a small but nice collection of light and midweight jerseys, and I chose a Milly print to try – still available here. It’s a great weight, though it does have a slub texture that I wasn’t expecting.

Why a comedy of errors? Well this started life as a dress. Another M6884 fixed wrap dress, to be precise. I had it all cut out and ready to sew up, when I realized I had two right fronts. I must have made a mistake! But it turns out that you’re meant to cut one of the pattern pieces *print side down*. Who does that?! McCall’s apparently. So, a warning to you: read the cutting layout even if you think you don’t need to!


A new plan was called for: a t-shirt, which would have to be colour-blocked given the cutting that had already gone on. So I whipped out my Tilly & The Buttons Coco Top which I previously re-drafted as a colour-blocked version (super easy – just cut a line across and add seam allowances). At this point I made yet another error. Yep. It was meant to be black all around the body with the Milly at the yoke, but I cut the back the wrong way round. Oh well! Now I have a somewhat eclectic top to show for it.


I’m glad something wearable came out of my calamaties – once upon a time I’d probably have just given up. Do you have garments that were salvaged from the sad remains of botched projects? And do you have any other good sources of grown-up jersey prints that aren’t poly fluoro floral monstrosities?

29 thoughts on “A comedy of errors: Tilly & the Buttons Coco Top

  1. Gretchen Jaspering says:

    It’s a one of a kind and looks good on you

    1. Thanks! It wasn’t a total disaster in the end…

  2. Emily C. says:

    Cute top! I’m glad you were able to salvage some of the fabric.

    I once made a t-shirt with two right sleeves. Or is it two left? Anyway, I went to re-cut the duplicate one, but decided that the sleeve pattern piece was really close to symmetrical, so I didn’t bother. it turned out fine!

    I make a lot of clothes for my kids, so usually my botched cutting ends up being clothes for them.

    1. Ha, I think I’ve probably put sleeves in the wrong way round many, many times!

  3. Well done on the save!

    I am always looking for good patterns in knits… some are very child-like or too garish like the fluro floral you mention. Where are the remnants of all those designer fabric ending up!?!

    1. Right? There’s tons of toy cars and dinosaurs but I want Boden knits! The best ones I find are definitely through EmmaOneSock but I’m always on the hunt for more.

  4. Charlotte says:

    Is “go to New York” bad advice? Because go to New York. NY Elegant Fabrics, B&J, Rosen and Chadick, and probably best of all, Mood, have grown-up prints. Sometimes Elliott Berman surprises me with an excellent, excellent knit print. Harts had the Saint James knit that everyone was using, intentionally or unintentionally, a few months ago.

    You need some sort of Internet support group, where you communally post good fabric finds, based on tastes. (This shouldn’t be too weird, since I find myself overlapping with you, Meredith from Bright as a Button, Idle Fancy’s Mary, and Gina from Feminist Stitch all. the. time. for instance.) Does the CSC have forums?

    1. I’ve only ever found terrible polys at Mood and never had much luck at B&J either… They must hide them when I walk in the door. I haven’t tried the other two though so I’ll check them out next time I’m in the big smoke

      1. Charlotte says:

        Weird. I’ve found really lovely silk and wool jerseys at Mood and B&J (no good rayons, though), and sometimes even at Kashi. Then again, I only pop by when I’m visiting home, so I might have just gotten lucky. There is a solution here. I know it.

        1. Clearly I need you to come with me as a lucky charm

  5. Joen says:

    Very cute! I have the same problem with printed knits, there’s so many in ready to wear but not much of a selection for us home sewers – Smugglers Daughter did have some great one’s thanks for the tip!

    1. You’re welcome – hope you scored something good!

  6. Emily says:

    for some reason Sewfisticated often has silk jerseys with prints. More often in Framingham than Somerville, and sometimes truly bizarre prints, but sometimes quite nice.

    Also, I’m in love/lust with the art gallery knits, though they are rather on the expensive side for me

    1. Ah, I’ll have to check it out! I’m going to try the Somerville one at the weekend with ma sewing ladies so fingers crossed. I quite like the art gallery knits but they aren’t quite so “fashion” and often a bit heavy for things like wrap dresses.

  7. Cynthia says:

    Cute top! I made a knit dress last week that fit well but once I finished I really there was far too much decolletage for ‘a lady of a certain age’. It, too, will end up as knit top. 🙂

    1. Knit top saves for the win!

  8. Sally says:

    I’m so glad this was salvaged as this fun top! I think the side view is really awesome with the print placement, and I bet it’s quite comfortable, which in my world means it’s a winner 😉 Hope you get lots of wear out of it!

    1. Thanks! Ironically, given its problematic development, I’m sure it’ll get worn a lot.

  9. Good save. I haven’t purchased, but I’ve often had a virtual shop and filled my basket at Hawthorne threads, which has a huge range of printed cotton-Lycra. Being in Australia the postage is holding me back but in the usa would be fine.

    1. Yeah I used to shop with them a lot early on when I started sewing, so I will check them out again!

  10. No idea what shipping to the US might cost, but MyFabrics have some amaze-a-balls jersey prints. My favourite of late is a wondrous digital zebra print. Not zebra stripes, a whole herd of zebras. Two tops so far and counting. As for reclaiming disasters, I had a recent big success in re cutting an ill fitting and unflattering top in a fantastic striped slubbed silk- I made a Style Arc ‘Lexie’ with some careful cutting.

    1. Huh I haven’t heard of them – I’ll have to check it out!

  11. V Reed says:

    I adore your top! My latest flub netted me an unexpected red skirt. The fabric was intended to be interlining for another skirt, but when I stitched it together, the top fabric and the bottom fabric decided not to play well with each other. The top fabric didn’t really need it, I just wanted some extra defense against the fierce Oklahoma winds. I had just enough fabric scraps to cut a facing for the waist band and make a skirt of its own out of the red fabric. I now love that unexpected skirt!

    1. That sounds quite marvelous!

  12. Megan says:

    Jersey project-fails usually become underwear!

  13. qplourde says:

    Top looks great! I don’t think I could list all my oops moments. I’ve just started reading your blog as I am another sewist/blogger in the Boston area (well I actually live in the ‘burbs) and it’s nice to read from someone local. Hope you fared well this winter – it’s supposed to be nice this weekend. Take care!

  14. julia says:

    Have you ever shopped Gorgeous Fabrics (gorgeousfabrics.com)? I’m a fabric shopping novice, but when idly surfing I’ve seen a fair number of stylish, grown-up — even Boden-y — printed knits there. At least as far as color/pattern! Not sure about fabric content/quality, since I don’t yet feel qualified to judge. I found the site because of a glowing recommendation from a professional shirtmaker. I do appreciate the nicely presented product details — Pantone references for the colors (swoon)! The business seems to be in your neck of the woods (617 area code), so maybe this is all old news.

    1. Hi Julia – yes I have a look occasionally, but their stock is almost entirely the same as Metro Textile in NYC, except it’s half the price there so I stock up when I’m in town 🙂

Let me know what you think!