Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Hack

Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Button Front Hack
Today’s post is my next Sew Crafty Design Team project. If you haven’t seen my previous projects,  go and have a look at them here. I have been a bit slack with getting these done and have been terrible at making up my mind!

For this project I chose the Dark Denim. Originally I had the Phoebe dress from Colette in mind as it’s in my Make Nine list for this year but the more I thought about this project it just didn’t seem right. I had also changed my mind and thought about making a Holly jumpsuit from By Hand London but again for this project I didn’t know if it would suit me and didn’t want to waste the fabric.

Finally I settled on a good old Tilly and the Buttons Cleo. Firstly, I knew the pattern would suit me and I  knew I would get tons of wear out of it. I haven’t got a denim version and, while I have a few Cleos now, nothing as classic as a denim.

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As soon as the Cleo pattern was released I knew I had to make a button front version. I’d seen lots of great high street versions and, of course, Abi from The Crafty Pinup’s version. So as well as the button front hack, I have also hacked this pattern so it doesn’t use dungaree clips or buttons. Instead it ties which I will explain later and also contains a secret pocket. So read on to find out more!

For this project I used:

You will also need:

  • Matching thread (For the denim I used, try this)
  • A hammer
  • A ruler
  • A seam ripper (as if we don’t always have one of those to hand!)

The Hacks!

A Button front

Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Button front hack

By adding 5cm to the front of the pattern I was able to add a button placket.

Once you have cut or traced your pattern pieces you need to add a section to your front piece and front facing to allow room for your buttons. On your centre seam cut out a strip of paper that runs the entire length. You want to add 2.5 cm for the button placket and ⅝ inch for your seam allowance. Add the same measurements to the cut on the fold part of your facing. (You will no longer cut this on the fold!)

Once you have added these to your pattern pieces pin it all to the fabric as usual and cut. Remember to not cut any of your front pieces on the fold. You need them to separate for the buttons.

Tilly and the Buttons Cleo hack

Tie strap fastenings

Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Tie strap hack

For the strap fastening. Assemble your straps as normal. On the front add a button whole where you want to strap to come through. Feed you strap through, tie and you’re done!

A hidden pocket!


As someone that doesn’t wear jeans I struggle to carry anything without a bag. While the Cleo front pockets are handy for carrying little things, they’re not safe enough for a phone. I knew I wanted to wear this to a gig where I needed it to carry my valuables.
So on the inside I added a phone-sized pocket with a flap for safety.

It’s super simple cut a rectangle of fabric to the size you want, fold the edges and sew. For the pocket I drafted the v shape and sewed it over the pocket opening. Simple and useful!

So there we go… a TATB Cleo packed full of hacks.

In case you’re wondering, I’m wearing it with a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top made in this awesome eye fabric from Minerva.

Have you tried hacking the Tilly and the Buttons Cleo? Let me know in the comments below.

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