Tilly & the Buttons Orla Blouse

Last Spring when we were in London I made my first pilgrimage to the venerable Liberty of London, and after touching every bolt of fabric I came home with a piece of Tana lawn, and a pattern.

I bought the fabric and pattern together, thinking they were a good match. Liberty fabric is expensive so for this first attempt at this pattern, I left it in my stash. I didn’t want to possibly ruin the fabric by picking out stitches over and over again!

The pattern I purchased is Tilly & the Buttons Orla blouse. There are a couple of features that I really like: French darts, which add gentle shaping to the front of the bodice, and the length.


Since the Liberty fabric was being reserved for my best effort, a wearable toile was in order. And the thought of spending hours on something I won’t wear is nonsensical to me, so I used a piece of 100% cotton from my stash that I bought just because it was so purty. I’m a sucker for anything pink, especially if’s also shiny.



  1. There was a fold of fabric from the center of the neckline down to the bust, causing a huge gape at the neckline. Thinking this may be because of my narrow shoulders, I lifted at the shoulders and took off 3/4″ from the front of the bodice, leaving the back untouched.
  2. Shortened the bust dart by 1/2″ so it ended lower. (Sigh … gravity)
  3. Added interfacing to the hem facing to provide more shape
  4. And I missed one adjustment: Since I changed the shape of the front bodice at the shoulder, I needed to alter the corresponding collar. And I didn’t think of this until after I had interfaced and sewn two perfect collar halves. Next time I’ll correct that. As a reminder, the collar pieces are now coasters on my sewing table.


Tilley and the Buttons patterns are printed on beautiful, 20# weight paper, so I traced off the pattern onto Swedish Tracing Paper before cutting.

The pattern calls for 2.3 metres of fabric, and for the toile I had just 2 yards, which meant there wasn’t enough fabric for the sleeves. Dang. So I cut the sleeves shorter to correspond with the amount of fabric available. As it turns out, I like this length.

One of the things I liked was the hem facing, although I added fusible interfacing which makes the hem a bit more stable. (One of my Lafayette 148 blouses has the interfaced hem facing and I love how it hangs.)

Tilly & the Buttons patterns have excellent instructions, in full colour in a booklet. They provide information that would be helpful to a new sewist. I found their instructions on the visible zipper to be quite good, but I still had to mess around with hand stitching.

These photos are the finished blouse on the dress form.


 Time Required

I took a fair bit of time with this pattern – probably a total of about 10 hours. Towards the end I was frustrated with the fiddly little things, especially hand stitching the hem, but then I realized that I would be pretty happy to have a new garment (or completed project) every two weeks. Slow down and enjoy the process.


I really like this pattern, but it still needs more adjustments (and different fabric) for it to be right for me, and worthy of a precious piece of fabric. Here are the adjustments that will need to be made on the next one.

  1. There is still too much fabric at the neckline, and in the shoulders. Next time I’ll cut a smaller size based on my high bust measurement, then do an FBA. (I’ve only learned how to do an FBA on a regular dart so this will be an additional challenge.)
  2. Today I wore the blouse for the first time and three people commented that the shoulders are ‘pouffy’. The pattern calls for the sleeves to be pleated and gathered. I’ll get rid of the gathers because this looks like Little House on the Prairie.
  3. Should I make this again I will definitely use a fabric with a softer hand. I knew that the pattern needed a lighter weight woven, but this was what I had on hand.

Here are some pictures after wearing it all day, so please excuse the wrinkles!


Side View and you can see the extra fabric in the top of the bodice.
I like the shape from the front
At first I didn’t like the exposed zip, but it has grown on me. I also like the shape of the hem at the back.
Shoulder is still too big, even after adjustments. Pouffy sleeve.
After the shoulder adjustment there is still excess fabric at the neckline. It shows pretty clearly in this photo



6 thoughts on “Tilly & the Buttons Orla Blouse

  1. I love the fabric. I see what you are saying about the sleeves. I think that would have bothered me, too. As for the neckline I couldn’t tell but then I’m not the one wearing it. If something doesn’t feel right to me it will end up the in back of the closet forever. As for the rest….the fit across the back looks spot on as does the back neckline closure. Bravo on the princess seams, too.


    1. Thanks, Eileen. I wore the top once, and it is now in the closet. You are so right about things going unworn if they don’t feel right! I appreciate your educated eye on the fit.


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