Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Sew Over It Erin Skirt & Tilly And The Buttons Freya Sweater Pattern Reviews

Hello sewing doves and a slightly belated welcome to 2021. I haven't been lazy I've just been busy slow always! 

A personal challenge for 2020 was to sew a more co-ordinated wardrobe. I had made plenty of new garments in 2019 but ended up with a lot of separates which just didn't go together. A problem with buying random fabric and patterns just because at the moment you see them they are so gorgeous you can't live without them. Hands up who isn't guilty of that! 

During 2020 I tried to adopt a more co-ordinated approach to planning and sewing. It hasn't always worked but I'm getting better and I want to carry that ethos into 2021. 

So let's take a look at two garments I completed this week to make a co-ordinated outfit.

Erin Skirt by Sew Over It : Pattern Review

The Erin skirt was one of my Make Nine Challenge garments for 2019. I kept putting it off, because it involved putting in buttonholes which I hadn't done before and also because at my age I only wear above the knee skirts in deepest winter with thick woolly tights! 

This really cute front buttoning, straight, denim style skirt is a versatile staple for both your winter and summer wardrobes. Best of all it has pockets and who doesn't love pockets. Straight away that made it a winner for me.

The Erin skirt is one of five pdf patterns included in the Sew Over It City Break ebook. Retailing at £25 I'd say that's great value. 


The pattern is designed for wovens and I've made both mine in needlecord but it would be equally fabulous in a medium weight denim or a lovely cool linen for summer.

The first version is in a cute ditsy floral turquoise needlecord which I've teamed here with a co-ordinating navy ponte Audrey top with retro neck bow detail, also by Sew Over It. 

I loved the skirt so much that I immediately made a second version in this pretty, deep red needlecord from Pound Fabrics UK. A snip at just £5.50 a meter!  


With classic denim skirt style features the Erin is a hugely versatile wardrobe staple. Choose between the short length for a cute casual look or the just below knee length for a more elegant city chic. I opted for the shorter length to pair with woolly tights and knee boots. 


This pattern sizes from a UK 8 - 20. Not the most inclusive size range however SOI are currently working on extending their siez range. Let's hope this will include the Erin Skirt.

With a 32" waist (size 12/14) and a 37" hip (size 8/10) I find it almost impossible to buy ready to wear fitted skirts. Either they fit on the waist and swamp my hips or fit my hips and I can't do the waist up.  

You can imagine how excited I am to finally have a "made for me" skirt which fits both comfortably at the waist and hips. I can even tuck in my top with no nasty overhang because the waist is too tight. Something I've rarely been able to do! Happy bunny! 

Following the pattern recommendations I made a size 12 waist grading down to a 10 hip allowing room for a lining, which isn't included in the pattern, and room to wear thick tights.

Sewing Level & Challenges

SOI describe the Erin as a beginners pattern. It does involve making buttonholes so I would say this is for an advanced beginner and I wouldn't recommend it as a first sewing project.

Specific sewing challenges include; sewn on waistband, inserting front hip pockets, making buttonholes and top stitching.


Although not part of the original pattern I decided to fully line the skirt so it would hang nicely with tights underneath. This wasn't complicated to do. I cut the skirt pattern again in the lining fabric and sewed it up before I made the skirt button placket or attached the waistband. I also used the lining fabric to make the inside part of the pocket and so cut down on bulk at the hips.

Having hemmed the lining, a little shorter than the skirt would eventually be, I basted it to the top of the assembled front and back skirt pieces. I then folded it into the placket at either side before sewing the placket down. The lining was then sewn into the waistband along with the main skirt. Not complicated but you do need to think about where to include it in the pattern instruction steps.

I used a patterned fabric and pattern matched the skirt front with the the pocket back. Something to consider at the layout and cutting stage.

So proud of my pattern matching

Large waist adjustment with front hip pockets             

A specific challenge for me was the need to grade between a 12 waist and a 10 hip. Usually a straight forward adjustment but complicated by the front hip pocket construction. 

I followed this excellent tutorial by Professor Pincushion which talks you step by step through the pivot and slide method to make this adjustment. The pattern needed to be let out on the skirt front piece, the pocket inset and the waistband. This straight forward tutorial shows you how to do this accurately so the front of your skirt still lays nice and smooth and flat. I'm delighted with the results. 

Professor Pincushion has many really fantastic tutorials on a whole range of sewing techniques. It's really worth subscribing to her channel on Youtube.

Buttonhole construction

So we arrive at the the part I was most afraid of with this project, making buttonholes. I don't know how, but in 3 years of dressmaking I have managed to avoid them 😉 I've sewed lots of stretch projects and tie wraps so just hadn't had to do any. Now I found myself facing not one but six buttonholes. 

Luckily my Janome 230DC has a great automatic buttonhole feature and foot. The button slots neatly into the back of the foot and guides the size of the buttonhole as it's sewn. The automatic setting takes all the guesswork out of getting the size right and ensures the same perfect buttonhole consistently time after time. 

However you still need to measure and accurately position them on the placard. It really does pay to practice several on scraps of your garment fabric. It's a good idea to fold it to recreate the same fabric thickness on which you are going to sew the real buttonholes. Also sew in the same direction on the fabric as you will do your real ones. Particularly important when using fabric like corduroy as it will handle differently depending on if you sew with the wales or across. It's worth remembering when planning placement that when using the automatic buttonhole function your machine will sew backwards from the starting point! 

I'm really happy with the finished result and although I did still break out in a wee bit of a cold sweat whilst sewing them I did wonder what I had been so terrified of. I now have a new found confidence to tackle many more and planning on making a few blouses! 

If like me you've been avoiding buttonholes don't wait any longer. Grab some scraps and dive right in the water's lovely! 

Overall I'm so proud of my two Erin Skirts. Tackling this project added some new techniques to my sewing skills kitbag, including; large waist adjustment, buttonholes and sewn on waistbands. All things I wanted to try before tackling my first pair of jeans later this year. A relatively simple project with a well drafted pattern and clear instructions. I really rate the Erin as a cute and stylish wardrobe staple which is now firmly one of my tried and true patterns. 

Freya Sweater by Tilly & The Buttons: Pattern Review 

Now to the second part of my outfit, the fabulous Freya Sweater by Tilly And The Buttons. With simple close fitting lines and contemporary turtleneck the Freya is another versatile and stylish wardrobe staple. The pattern for this gorgeous top can be found in Tilly's Stretch! book (aff link). 

Courtesy of Tilly Walnes

After seeing so many pretty Stella Hoodies everywhere on social media I decided to treat myself to a copy. Beautifully illustrated and containing full size patterns, Tilly takes us step by step through the tools and techniques needed to successfully sew stretch fabrics on both a standard sewing machine or an overlocker. There are useful sections on fabric choice and preparation.  In total the book contains 5 on trend projects, all of which I want to make, plus lots of ideas on how to hack each one and make it your own. I've already made the Bibi skirt which I love and now the Freya Top. This super book is available on Amazon (aff link).

Pattern Sizing

Tilly has her own sizing structure ranging 1 - 6. I like this as it stops comparisions being drawn with RTW sizes. Also, I often get confused as to whether patterns are in UK or US sizes. Using a 1 - 6 numbering system simplifies all that.

However the sizing isn't the most inclusive I'm afraid:

Size 1:  30"/76cm bust  /  24"/61cm waist / 33"/84cm hip
Size 6:  44"/112cm bust  /  38"/96.5cm waist  /  47"/119.5cm hip  

I made a size 4 bust & hip grading down to a 3 at the shoulders and out to a 4.5 at the waist. These are standard alterations for me. Normally, being a petite 5'2", I usually need to shorten sleeves by up to 2 to 3 inches. Amazingly I didn't have to shorten at all on this pattern. Something to check out before cutting if you are of standard to tall height.  


Light to medium weight sweater knits, jersey or ponte with at least 25% crosswise stretch are recommended. I wanted a base layer garment and so chose this dark grey and black stripe, light weight, drapey, viscose jersey  from Minerva. Despite it being inexpensive at £4.99 a meter I am really pleased with the quality and luxurious feel. 


The Freya can be made as either a close fitting top or an A-line dress with a choice of 3 sleeve lengths. There are further suggestions to personalise the look including instructions for a sweet front bodice ruffle and cowl neck options. 

Courtesy of Tilly Walnes

Sewing Level & Challenges

The Freya is very simple and quick to make. A perfect starter project for someone new to sewing or new to sewing knits but still a satisfying sew for the more experienced sewer looking for a great wardrobe builder or looking to experiment with different fabrics types or designs. The illustrated instructions are clear, step by step and easy to follow. The book contains lots of additional guidance on sewing with knits to ensure the success of your project.

I chose this project because of it's simplicity, enabling me to concentrate fully on my first attempt at stripe matching without having to worry about complicated construction or fit issues.

Stripe Matching

Stretch! has an excellent section on stripe matching which guides you through the process which begins at pattern placement. A good result requires time, accuracy and careful attention to detail.  

I started by laying the fabric flat and unfolded right side up so I could clearly see the stripes. I began with the front bodice piece which needs to be cut on the fold. I laid the piece and marked on the pattern the bottom of every black stripe and then cut. I marked where the "foldline" of the pattern was on the fabric and carefully turned it over to mirror the piece already cut. I then matched each black stripe bottom on the fabric with the markings on the pattern. Using the front pattern piece as the template I then transferred the stripe markings onto the back pattern piece and repeated the process.  

Following the suggested method in Stretch! I picked one stripe in the middle of the sleeve head to match across the upper bodice. With fabric pieces curving in different ways its impossible to match them all so best to chose a prominent stripe to create visual harmony. A clever tip to ensure stripes meet perfectly at the stitch line is contained in the book. 

To get the perfect finish it's important that the layers of fabric don't move whilst sewing or serging. I took extra care here and firstly pinned every stripe together before machine basting and finally serging my seams. I strongly suggest doing one or both.

I did have a bit of a disaster when serging the first sleeve head to the bodice. The sleeves are inserted on the flat which means you sew the shoulders and then insert the sleeve heads before finally sewing the side and sleeve seams in a continuous line.

I basted in the sleeve far so good... and then began serging, cutter engaged as the seam allowance was greater than my serger stitch depth. With the bodice fabric to the bottom I just didn't notice the fabric had gathered up underneath due to the curves until I was chopping into the bodice! 

You can imagine the screaming and wailing that ensued after all the time taken to accurately cut, pin and baste all those stripes! 

Lucky I quickly realised what was happening and so the extent of the damage wasn't too great. I managed to hide most of the cut in the seam allowance and delicately hand sewed the rest closed. I reinforced the hand stitches with some Stop Fray Fabric Glue (aff link) to the applied to the fabric wrong side which dries invisible. Also it's on the back of the garment so I don't think it's really noticeable ..... and if anyone can see it then they're just too close! 

Lessons learned: Firstly to be very carefull in future when serging fine fabrics to be sure they are laying flat before serging with the blades engaged. Secondly to stop sewing when tired as this is when most mistakes happen.

I'm so delighted with my stripe matching on this project. It was a labour of love but very satisfying to see the end result. My next challenge will be checks! 


I hope this has inspired you to try either or both of these great patterns. I will definitely be making more as they are such great wardrobe builders. I'm already planning a Freya dress with a cowl neck in a heavier fabric like Ponte or a cosy sweater knit. 

See you soon
Linda x


Skirt Pattern:  The Erin Skirt is in Sew Over It City Break ebook

Skirt Fabric:    Red corduroy Pound Fabrics UK available in red, grey or navy

                       Turquoise corduroy  Pygmalion in Cahors, France

Top Pattern:    Freya Sweater & Dress Pattern in Stretch! by Tilly Walnes (aff link)

Top Fabric:      Viscose Jersey from Minerva 

This blog article contains some affiliate links to products. Where this is the case links are marked (aff link). The item doesn't cost you more to buy but I do get a small commission enabling me to keep bringing you pattern and product reviews. The views expressed in this blog article are entirely my own. 

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