The first maternity-friendly addition to my handmade wardrobe: The Billie Sweatshirt Dress from Tilly and the Buttons. Find all the details about this make, including how I embroidered my family’s heart-shaped initials onto it, in this blog post!
My adventure in sewing with knits continues, this time with a cute and comfy sweatshirt dress from Tilly and the Buttons!
If you haven’t heard the news, I’m almost halfway through my pregnancy with our second daughter, and the bump is…well, bumpin’! I knew I wanted to make something that’s easy to move in with plenty of room for growth, but I’m not quite ready for maternity-specific pieces just yet. Then I remembered this Billie Sweatshirt + Dress pattern I picked up a few months ago and thought it would be perfect for what I was going for.
I chose to sew the dress version with regular long sleeves (only because I didn’t have enough fabric for those gorgeous balloon sleeves!) in a straight size 5 based on my measurements, which you can find at the end of this post (along with links to the pattern and fabric!). To be clear, these are my measurements pre-pregnancy, and although they haven’t changed too much just yet, I am definitely larger in my bust and waist these days. However, it isn’t a super-fitted garment, so I thought I’d be alright with the 5.
I can say honestly I definitely have more than enough room for the baby in this dress, and even wondered if I should have sized down when I first put it on. I’m only going to grow throughout the spring, and I like the slightly oversized look of the garment though, so I’ll leave it for now.
For this make, I used a red french terry sweatshirt fabric from Fabric.com that I actually purchased way back in November planning to make something for Christmas. Then I got pregnant and tired and had morning sickness so my sewjo kinda died and that obviously did not happen. With spring coming up and getting a little more energy back from my second trimester though, I was finally motivated to pick this project back up again.
This fabric isn’t quite as thick and cozy as I was hoping for when I purchased, but I guess that’s what you get from purchasing things online without getting to awkwardly pet them first like you would in-store. I would say it’s about a step up from a heavy t-shirt in terms of weight if that makes sense. Still, it has some great drape to it with a cool hand feel and almost feels silky against my body which I was not expecting. It’s crazy soft so I’m happy with it overall!
When I first purchased the fabric, I had intended to sew the top version with balloon sleeves, then changed my mind to the dress at the last minute, which is why I had to switch to the regular sleeves instead. I love the casual-cool vibe of the dress, and HELLOOOOOOO- pockets are always and bonus! As a preggo lady, I also love the length since I can wear it to cover the non-maternity jeans that I’m definitely securing closed with a hair-tie looped through the button-hole because I’m classy like that. Once the weather thaws out, I’m really looking forward to rocking this dress with sneakers and a denim jacket because I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom.
I still haven’t acquired a walking foot since my first knitted project (I know, I know) so I need to finally bite the bullet and buy one since I’m already planning my next version of this dress. I got a lot of waves from uneven pulling that I know could have been easily avoided, but this fabric pressed out nicely so I’m not mad at it. I’ve already added this foot to my Amazon cart though because as much as I love using what I already have on hand, I’m also a fan of avoiding headaches, so there ya have it.
I also cannot figure out how to insert neckbands into knitted garments for the life of me. I watched several tutorials, but after having to rip out and re-sew this one 3 times, I lost my patience and just went with whatever this mess is. It only looks jacked up in the back, which in my book: if I can’t see it, it’s not a problem! It bothers me 0 so I’m good leaving it as is, but I know I’ll need more practice for this step with my future makes.
My favorite detail is the embroidered hearts I added to it. I wanted to make this a special piece for Valentine’s Day, and I also wanted to commemorate this piece specifically since it’s the first bump-friendly addition I’m making to my new wardrobe. To do this, I hopped on Canva and made an image of overlapping hearts with our initials inside them in a cursive font I liked. (C+F for my husband Franco and I, M+M for our girls Mirah and now Mae).
I then printed it out and traced it onto a bit of scrap interfacing using a water-erasable pen. I lightly ironed it onto my dress where I wanted the embroidery to go, then I used another piece of interfacing to stabilize the back of the fabric. Using 2 different shades of pink, I embroidered along my traced image. Once I was done, I carefully removed the interfacing on the front by gently pulling it up. I needed to use my small thread snips to cut away at some areas, but for the most part, I was able to get it off by pulling at it. The key is to very gently apply it in the first place, by lightly tapping your iron to it so it doesn’t adhere all the way! I could not be more thrilled with the end result! Looking at our little family on the hearts just fills my cup to the brim. It definitely sparks joy, people!
I’d love to make another version of this dress with the balloon sleeves in a thicker fabric for a slightly more structured look (especially around the pockets) before spring officially arrives in just a few weeks. I love the comfort and wearability of this elevated everyday piece, and I know it’ll be a go-to item in my wardrobe for a while. If you’re not that skilled at sewing with knits yet, or even if you’ve never tried it before, I can’t recommend this pattern enough (linked below)! Tilly’s detailed and simple-to-follow instructions come through and the deceptively simple design makes for quick construction. I sewed this up on my regular sewing machine using a short zig-zag stitch if that helps!
Have you jumped on the #sewingbillie bandwagon yet? If you’d like to see my next version of this pattern, or just want to keep in touch and hear what I’m crafting up next, be sure to subscribe to my mailing list or follow me on Instagram to stay in the know. Until next time-
QUICK + DIRTY DETAILS:
PATTERN: The Billie Sweatshirt and Dress by Tilly and the Buttons
FABRIC: Stretch French Terry Knit from Fabric.com
SIZE: Straight size 5 based on my measurements (below). I made the dress version with full-length regular sleeves.
- B: 38”
- W: 31″
- H: 40″
- Height: 5’4″
KNOWLEDGE OBTAINED: If you’re seeing knits on a regular sewing machine, be sure to use a walking foot!
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