Tilly and the Button’s Agnes Dress

Hey there lovely people! Wondering what have I got to share with you this time? Well it’s yet another Tilly and the Button’s pattern for me! I have lost count how many I have made now but i just love them so! This is a hack on the Agnes top to make it into a dress that Tilly did a blog post about, you can read it here.

The fabric I chose was given to me by Sew Essential for this project. Sew Essential is an online sewing store which I have used to buy haberdashery items from in the past. I found items there that I struggled to find elsewhere and found navigating the website super easy and straightforward. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Lucy and Angela from Sew Essential over the last year through sewing community and blogger events. Firstly at SewBrum in October last year and in April I attended their own sewing bloggers meet up so got to see ‘behind the scenes’ at Sew Essential. You can read their write up about it on their blog. Lucy and Angela are both lovely and very friendly. Angela is the most amazing seamstress, she shared some of her quilts and embroidery projects with us on the day – we were all in awe! I was able to ask her about an issue I have had when sewing with jersey when I topstitch the hems and can’t get the tension right. She gave me some advice on using stretch interfacing to help stabilise the fabric – so this is exactly what I have done in this project – and it worked!! 🙂 Thank you Angela! Their business ethos is ‘for sewers by sewers’ which is absolutely evident and Lucy is blogging about her adventures learning to sew too.

So onto the dress…

The fabric I chose was a black and white polka dot jersey (95% viscose, 5% spandex). Initially I planned to do another agnes top (recent one on the blog here) but felt like doing something a bit different and remembered Tilly’s dress version when she blogged about it. I kept my fingers crossed that I was able to squeeze the extra material for the skirt section out of the fabric! The pattern pieces were all cut out ready to go from before which saved some time and then all I had to do was cut 2 rectangular pieces out for the skirt section.

Here is the finished dress…

agnes dress

agnes dress

The bodice is made first exactly the same way as the agnes top, except it is cut shorter and left unhemmed. I chose to do the ruched sleeves version again as I love the sleeves so much!! I’d love to say that they are really complicated to do (and require highly advanced sewing skills!!) but actually they are quite straight forward to do, following Tilly’s expert instructions! But look so effective – winner!! I also chose to do ruching at the centre of the neckline too which was different to my previous version.

agnes dress rushed sleeve
Ruched sleeves
agnes dress rushed neckline and sleeve
Ruched neckline centre

I applied stretch interfacing to the neckline piece before sewing it into the dress to help stabilise it.

Two rectangular pieces of fabric are then sewed together, gathered along the top edge and sewn to the bodice. I had to really press the inner seam created at the waistline in order for it to not be too bulky and I did skim some fabric off the waistline each side as this style can have the tendency to accentuate my hips, something which I did not want to encourage!

agnes dress rear view

Now to the twin needle topstitching of the hems. Armed with the advice of Angela from Sew Essential, I used black stretch interfacing to help stabilise the hem. I wasn’t too sure whether I needed to use it at the sleeves aswell but I decided not to, given my bulky sleeve edges on my previous Agnes top when I used stay tape. I used a size 4.0 ball point twin needle, practised on some scraps first and took care not to stretch the sleeves out when I was top stitching. After a press, I was really pleased with the sleeve hems.

Twin needle top stitching on agnes dress sleeveagnes dress rushed sleeve

I did use the stretch interfacing on the dress hem as I know that the hem of stretch fabrics can look really wavy if not stabilised. I overlocked the hem edge first and then ironed a strip of interfacing approximately 1.5cm wide along the length of the hem. This then made it super easy to iron the fold of the hem up, giving it a really nice straight edge. I didn’t even have to pin the hem up as it stayed in place really well.

Stretch interfacing on agnes dress hem
Stretch interfacing fused in place along the hem
Hem on agnes dress
Hem folded over and ironed, ready to sew
Twin needle top stitching on agnes dress hem
Twin needle topstitching
twin needle topstitching on agnes dress hem
Finished topstitching 🙂

So that is it! One stretch dress, super comfy and already worn out to dinner. It feels lovely and cool so will definitely be getting lots of wear out of this one. The fabric does have a lot of stretch in it so i am hoping that if I look after it properly it won’t get stretched too much and lose it’s shape. So for now I will enjoy wearing it!!

agness dress

Happy Sewing!

Lorna 🙂

The fabric and stretch interfacing were given to me by Sew Essential but the views and opinions are most definitely all mine.


  1. Maxine Robinson
    June 6, 2016

    Lovely dress, I have some polka dot material in my stash may try something like this for Lydia

    • Lorna
      June 7, 2016

      Thanks Maxine. I am loving the polka dots! Very versatile dress pattern too 🙂

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