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Ready for a spot of dressmaking inspo? It's Margot here today - I've been interning at Tilly HQ since the beginning of the year and have been loving scrolling through your fabulous makes on Insta and Pinterest. So I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my favourites...

Because of the classic British winter weather we've been having lately, we’ve been living in our Mila dungarees. I love how Sophia spiced up her dungas with some cute iron-on patches - such a simple way to customise your clothes. We’re definitely stealing this idea! And jus look at these bright and bold Milas made by Ari - there's no such thing as too much colour in my eyes.

As you may have noticed on our Insta Stories, our team is obsessed with the Nora top pattern. Mainly because it’s very comfy and oh so versatile. Juliet made a glamorous version in a shiny sequin fabric - we can't get enough of this! Did you spot her on the Sewing Bee last night? So exciting! And animal print fabrics are all over the high street at the moment - Mel’s Nora is very on-trend.



Cleo
is still on heavy rotation in the TATB team’s everyday wardrobe. These two gems really inspired us to make some more of them. Look at this beautiful floral fabric of Katharine’s dress. And we love the raw edges of the denim version by Alice-May as well. Instead of finishing your edges, just embrace them as they are for a modern look :)

Just have a look at these two beautiful makes for all the inspiration to make some delicate pyjamas! We love the stylish look of O Petit B’s black PJ’s with lace edges. Such perfect chic loungewear. Oh là là. Anna Jay looks gorgeous in her beautiful floral Fifi pyjamas set and look at the little bow.

We love to see you use our Agnes top pattern in many different ways and styles. @pearstitched made a bright and simple Agnes which will go perfectly with lots of skirts, like our Miette of course! This green polka dot Agnes by Meredith is a beautiful example of our Agnes dress hack. This is the kind of garment you can throw on for instant comfort and style.

This winter you guys are making all the Freyas (pattern from our book Stretch!) and we can't get enough! This bright stripy Freya by Vicky looks like the perfect roll neck to brighten up any day. And look at this gorgeous autumnal Freya by Rosabella – totally rocking this outfit. It’s a perfect combo with our Ness skirt.

Your Ness skirts have been totally killing it. This awesome leopard print Ness by Georgina – such a cool combo with a pink Nora! We’re all about the mustard too and Becca has totally nailed her Ness.

We think velvet is always a good fabric choice, but especially for the Joni (pattern from our book Stretch!), just check out Elisa’s fab version. And Jade shows the Joni dress works perfectly with a botanical print too. Just so cute!

Lastly, getting us dreaming of summer vibes, here are a couple of your stunning Seren dresses. Ashleigh made a Seren in a classic lightweight denim fabric, which works so well for an effortlessly chic look. This elegant red floral Seren by @myysweetsunshine is making us want to rush out and start sewing ALL the sun dresses.

Thanks so much to everyone who has shared their creations with us - they always get us feeling inspired. Share them with us @tillybuttons on Instagram and use the hashtags such as #SewingNora and #SewingCleo so everyone can see and like them.
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Do you buy fabric with a pattern in mind, or do you figure out what to do with it afterwards? Sometimes working out what to do with a piece of material can set a lightbulb off in your mind.

I came up with the idea of hacking the Nora top pattern into a cardigan came when I was mulling over what to do with an unusual piece of fabric I’d bought from Fabrics Galore. It's a very low stretch knit that is very structured and feels almost like a wool or felt, but softer. I couldn't resist the colour, but didn’t want to make a regular Nora top as the fabric would feel scratchy around my neck, plus it’s such low stretch that I wasn’t sure it’d go over my head. So I decided to take out the neckline and turn it into a slouchy, boxy cardigan instead.



It took me a total of two hours to hack the pattern, cut out the fabric and sew the cardigan together. It seriously is a speedy make – so no excuses for putting it off! If you fancy making a Nora cardigan yourself, here's how I hacked the pattern...


First I redrew the neckline on the front bodice, reducing the shoulder slightly and creating a V-neck opening that curves into the original centre line on the pattern. When you're redrawing pattern lines like this, try to make the corners 90 degree angles so they match up neatly.

Then I drew a second line 6.5cm (2 1/2in) inside the neckline and centre front to mark the inside of the facing.



I knocked back the shoulder and neckline on the back bodice the same amount as on the front bodice, and drew on the inside line of the facing too, again at right angles to the shoulder. You can place the front and back bodices together at the shoulders to ensure the facing edges will join up when sewn.



I then traced off the facing pattern pieces onto a new piece of paper, and trimmed 2mm (1/16in) from the neckline/front opening to help the seams roll to the inside when sewn. I drew a grainline arrow onto the front facing parallel to the centre front edge, and a 'place on fold' arrow on the centre back of the back facing. Markings like this are a godsend to remind yourself what you're doing when you're cutting out late at night after a long day!

Cut two front bodice pieces (rather than cutting one on the fold as you'd do for the regular Nora top) using your new neckline cutting line as a guide, and cut two front facings. Cut one back bodice piece on the fold with the altered neckline, and cut one back facing on the fold.



I didn’t interface the facings as the fabric is so structured I didn’t feel it needed it – but if you’re making your own in a stretchier knit, you may want to try adding a knit interfacing to create stability around the front opening. Test it out on a scrap of fabric and see what you think.

To sew it all together, join the shoulders as normal (see the pattern instructions), and join the facings at the shoulders too, trimming and pressing open the seam allowances. Finish the outer edge of the facing with an overlocker (serger) - or you can leave it raw if you don't have one as knit fabrics don't fray. Lay the facing over the bodice, right sides together, and pin them together around the neckline/front openings. Stitch. Trim the seam allowances and clip the curves to open out the seam allowances.

Turn the facing to the inside of the cardigan and press, rolling the seam line 2mm (1/18in) to the inside so it’s not visible when you wear the cardigan. Pin in place. Topstitch close to the inside edge. In hindsight I wish I’d used a walking foot for this bit to help feed the layers through at the same speed, as I ended up with a little rippling in the fabric. Do as I say, not as I do! ;)



Then you can attach the sleeves, sew up the side seams, and hem the cardigan to your preferred length. I went for a high hip length, but you could make it longer using the longline hem cutting line on the pattern.

I also added some simple large square patch pockets to my cardigan. Because everyone loves pockets!



Any questions about these steps, do let me know in the comments. If you make your own Nora cardigan, I'd love to see it! Please share with us on Instagram @TillyButtons #SewingNora so we don't miss it.

*****
Photos of me by Jane Looker
With thanks to Dress Like a Mum for painting the wall!
Photos of the pattern pieces (i.e. the rubbish photos!) by me
Nora cardigan worn with my Ness skirt made in Rifle Paper Co for Cotton + Steel canvas
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If you’re new to digital print-at-home PDF sewing patterns, this post will guide you through the simple steps to turn the file on your computer into a full-size paper pattern.

While assembling a digital pattern does add an extra step to your sewing project, there are soooo many benefits to using them:

  • They’re cheaper to buy than hard copy patterns, as you’re not paying for professional printing, packaging or postage
  • If you accidentally cut the wrong size or spill your tea all over it, you can reprint the file
  • You can support independent designers who can’t afford the costs or minimum print numbers involved in hard copy patterns
  • You can get your hands of them instantly as soon as you get that urge to sew!

If video tutorials are more your thing - we've made a how to video linked below!



You will need:

For A0
  • Home / office / copy shop printer
  • A0 paper
For A4 or US Letter
  • Home / office / copy shop printer
  • A4 or US letter paper
  • Paper scissors or guillotine 
  • Glue stick or tape

For both A0 and A4/US Letter, download your pattern and save to your computer files. Open the file in a PDF reader such as Adobe Reader, which you can download for free. Other PDF readers are available, but you may find that some scale the pattern to the wrong size (see below).

Scaling is super important! You need to ensure that the pattern is printed at full scale so your garment turns out the size it was intended to be. Just a few % out and your garment could end up annoyingly tight.



To Print A0
Ensure the print settings are set to 100%. After printing, measure the test square to check it's exactly 60mm x 60mm.

To Print A4
1. Go into your print settings, under 'page size' click 'poster' to centre the tile and ensure the scale is set to 100% (or 'actual size' - NOT 'fit' or 'shrink pages') to print the pattern at full scale.



2. Print page 1 only to check the print settings are correct. On Tilly and the Buttons digital sewing patterns, page 1 has a test square on it. If you're using another pattern, the test square is often somewhere in the middle of the pattern - locate the square and print that page only. Measure the test square – on my patterns it should measure exactly 60mm x 60mm. If it’s a even a couple of mm out, check your print settings or PDF reader and try again.

3. Once you’re happy with the scale settings, print the full pattern.


4. Cut along the rectangular border lines - one long side and one short side - on each piece of paper.


5. Align the little triangles to match up the pages (1A with 1A, 1B with 1B… etc) and glue or tape them together.


Et voilà! Your pattern is now ready to use. Take a look at Tilly and the Buttons digital sewing patterns in my shop.
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For today's sewing space tour where we peek behind the closed doors at a maker's inspiring sewing space, we're in London with Kate Tabor, the extraordinary costume designer, stylist, and maker.

Kate's impressive work is well known for being in music videos for artists such as David Bowie, Kylie Minogue, The Chemical Brothers and many more. Her work has also been featured in films and commercials and she just so happens to work in the same building as us! Her studio is awe-inspiring and original, we've admired her space for years and feel privileged to share her fascinating studio with you.


 I made this piece for The Chemical Brothers world tour visuals, it is one of four that was worn by dancers for the track 'Keep on Mak'in Me High'. This piece is made from Plasterzote which I cut into rings and threaded together to form the bodies.


I'm a Costume Designer living and working in South East London. I work in music and film, designing and making weird and wacky costumes. I specialise in using unusual fabrics and fabric manipulation to create unique pieces for each project.



My studio space is where all my creations happen. My space is very bright and colourful, the ceiling is high so I have a lot of wall space that's mostly covered with my favourite costumes that I hang after they've been used. I have lots of postcards from exhibitions dotted around that inspire me as well as shelves full of magazines and books. I also like to have lots of plants in my space to keep it feeling fresh and alive.

My fish tank dress was a personal project, I was inspired by a wooden fish tank I had seen in a Japanese restaurant. The dress is made from wooden lino that I riveted together and the fish tank is made from clear acrylic plastic.





When I’m designing I have a 1960s yellow chair which sits at the back of the room next to all my books. I like to sit here and sketch before I begin the making process. I have two large tables in my space, one is my cutting table and the other is split in two - one half is for my sewing machine and the other is the messy end for gluing and painting.



This costume was used for a stills photography shoot with photographer James Day called Dancers. The red body is made up of acetate fringing which I snipped into individual pieces and threaded each one through the base garment evenly letting the majority of each fringe hang from the garment.


I work a lot on my sewing machine which is an old style Bernina. I treasure it very much - it never lets me down even when I put strange materials through it. As well as machine sewing, I do a lot of hand sewing to construct the costumes. When I need to work on a more 3D shape, I have two full body mannequins - a female and male - that I work off. I also prefer to use these when I do my pattern cutting, as I like to cut on the stand to get my pattern pieces for each costume.





I have a big shelving unit full of all my bits and bobs. I have drawers for each thing - like a zip draw, trimmings draw and fake flower draw. I feel I work more efficiently when the studio is as organised as possible. Some of my projects can be on a large scale and I’m always working to tight deadlines so the studio can quickly get very messy and chaotic so I like to try and keep it as organised as I can.



I’m a bit of a night owl when it comes to making. I love my studio during the day and work from it most days but my favourite time to work there is in the evenings when it’s quiet and everyone else has gone home. I find it very peaceful and I feel I can think more creatively. I drink a lot of tea when I work - earl grey is my go-to. I like to have incense burning too. My studio is a creative sanctuary for me to escape into.



Thank you for showing us around your inspirational sewing space, Kate! We've loved seeing behind the scenes in your studio and we can't wait to see what you make next.

Have you seen the rest of our Sewing Space Tours? Head over and check them out.
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Did you see Tilly's Ness skirt with the plaited belt detail? If you fancy making your own, you're in luck! It's Serefina here, sewing pattern developer at TATB, and I'm going to take you step-by-step through how to sew this seventies-inspired detail.


It's pretty straightforward to do once you know how, and will add a super cool detail to your me-mades. We attached the plait to the waistband on the Ness skirt. You could also stitch it around the pocket openings, or make it into extra fancy belt loops. Louise even has plans to make plaited braces for her next Ness skirt!

The plait is made up of four long strips sewn just like the belt loops in the Ness pattern. The first thing you need to do is work out how long to make these strips. Measure the part(s) of the skirt you want to embellish and add 50% for the curves of the plait. So, for example, if I want to make an 80cm long plaited belt, I would add 40cm (50%) and make each of the four belt strips 120cm long.



Cut four strips of fabric 3cm (1 1/4in) wide by the length you worked out above. Finish one of the long edges of each strip with zigzag stitch or an overlocker (serger). You could also be super smart and cut the belt loop along the selvedge of the denim, so you don’t have to worry about finishing the edge.



Press the unfinished long edge under 10mm ( 3/8in) to the wrong side, then press the finished edge over it.



Using a contrast topstitch thread, topstitch 2-3mm (1/16in-1/8 in) from each fold. It looks really cute if you make your stitch length a little longer than usual, 3 or 4mm, to make more of a feature of the stitching. Tilly's shared a video with plenty more topstitching tips if you so desire :)

Give the strips another steam press so they’re nice and flat for the next step.

How To Sew A Plait Detail - YouTube

Now to plait…. If videos are more your thing, here you go :) For more explanation, read on...



Lay out the four strips with the topstitching facing up and line up the top ends. Pin them to an ironing board or tape them to the table, making sure they're secure. I've numbered the strips in the photo so you can see how to plait them together...



Cross 1 over 2 and 3 over 4.



Now cross 4 over 1 (the original 4, which is now the 3rd strip along).




Now re-number the strips according to their new positions, and start the process again - cross 1 over 2, 3 over 4 and then 4 over 1.



You’ll find once you get into your own rhythm that the plait comes out even and equal. Even if it doesn’t, not to worry - you can go back and even out the tension at the end. Our video shows this in action :)



When you come to the end of the plait, you need to secure the strips together. Using thread that matches your fabric, stitch across the end of the strip, keeping the strips all together, and backtacking securely. If you’re making one long plait to cut up later for multiple areas, you can strategically stitch the plait into pre-measured sections so it won’t unravel when you cut it.

Now you can attach the plait to your skirt, stitching it either by hand or by machine close to each long edge in thread that matches your fabric. Here are a few ideas of where to position it...



Around the pockets

If you want to add the plait to the pocket openings, sew your Ness skirt up to the point where you have attached and topstitched the pocket bag to the front skirt, but before you have tacked the skirt to the pocket facing at the waistline and side seam.



Position the plait around the pocket opening, adjusting the strips to accommodate the curve, and secure in place with plenty of pins before sewing in place. Then complete your Ness as normal.



As belt loops

You could alternatively replace the regular belt loops with chunky plaited ones. Because they're so bulky, it’s best to trap the lower part of each loop into the seam that joins the skirt and waistband seam first, then pin and edgestitch the top part of each belt loop into the seam when you sew the facing to the waistband. Skip the topstitching, as the layers of fabric will now be super thick!



As a belt 

This is my personal favourite place for the plait, and it looks so professional! On this one, I avoided sewing the plait into the button area, because it's a can of worms! It would be waaaay too thick and really difficult (if not impossible) to get a buttonhole through, so I stopped it at the front belt loops, and hid the ends of the plait underneath.



Once you’ve sewn the outer waistband on to your skirt, pin the belt loops to the top edge of the waistband. You can use the guidelines in the Ness instructions for how to space them. Next pin and sew your facing as per the instructions, trapping the belt loops in the top seam and finish the waistband by stitching in the ditch. Give the waistband area a good press.



You should have a skirt with a finished waistband, with belt loops that are trapped into the top edge, but loose at the bottom. Now pin your plait in place, making sure that you use lots of pins and that the plait is even all the way round the waist.

If you want to end the plait at the front loops, staystitch the plait so that the stitching lines up under each front loop, and then edgestitch the plait along both sides, all around the waistband, in a thread that matches the fabric.

Trim off any excess plait strands, and use a product like Fray Check on the ends to keep them neat. Fold down all of the belt loops, tucking the end under and topstitch each one in place. The front loops will cover the ends of the plait.



That’s it! I hope you like the plait detail as much as we do. We’d love to see your plait projects here at Buttons HQ, so tag us on Instagram @TillyButtons. If you have any questions about this tutorial, let me know in the comments. Enjoy!
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Blame Louise for the title of this post - I asked for suggestions and her joke was waaay more interesting than the holding title. So there we go!

We shared a sneak peek of this denim skirt with added plaited belt detail in our coin pocket tutorial, and had a lot of Qs on social media about it. So here it is in all its glory. The skirt was made with our Ness sewing pattern. I got the idea for the plait detail a few years ago while browsing ready-to-wear garments, and have been dreaming of adding to a me-made outfit ever since. The seventies vibe of the Ness skirt seemed like the perfect garment to add it to - and I'm absolutely in love with the result.




What I love about this skirt is how the plait elevates it from a classic blue denim skirt to something a little more special. Throw it on with a stripey top (my rule for everything, admittedly) and you're good to go.




The plait detail is pretty easy to make too. You can add it to other areas of the garment too, not just the waistband. Keep an eye out for the next post if you fancy stitching one yourself - we're going to take you step-by-step through how to do it with a video as well as pics :)
*****
Photos by Jane Looker
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Fancy sewing your own clothes but don't know where to start?

If you've stumbled upon this site while researching how to get into sewing - in which case, welcome! - you may have spotted that we offer lots of resources aimed at stitchers, including complete novices, from step-by-step patterns and award-winning books through video workshops and free tutorials.

It can all still be a bit of a maze of information though when you're just starting out and don't know what you don't know. So I thought I'd break it down into six simple steps to get started sewing. You're welcome!


1) Get a sewing machine

Whether you buy, thrift, rent or borrow it, you'll obviously need to get your hands on a sewing machine. Shopping for a machine can feel a bit overwhelming, but all you really need is a machine that has a straight stitch (for most stitching) and an adjustable zigzag stitch (for finishing edges and sewing knits). Full size machines (rather than those cute half size models) are best for garment sewing. If you want to try before you buy, go to a specialist sewing machine shop or large department store such as John Lewis if you're in the UK. Or keep it easy by buying online. I always say that the best machine is the one you have, so don't sweat the decision too much!

Read more about choosing a sewing machine



2) Gather a basic toolkit

As well as a sewing machine, you'll need a few low cost tools. Don't worry about getting everything at once - all you'll need to get started is a pair of fabric scissors, pins, tape measure, seam ripper (for unpicking temporary stitches... and mistakes!), marking tool (such as a chalk pencil), iron and ironing board. You can find these on Amazon, at department stores or indie haberdasheries - take a look at some of my favourites on the right.

Read more about your essential sewing toolkit



3) Learn to use your machine

Before you dive into your first dressmaking project, get comfortable using your sewing machine. You'll need to know how to set it up and do things such as raising and lowering the presser foot, how to thread your machine, and do some basic stitching practise on scrap fabric.

Learn all this and more in my video workshop Make Friends with a Sewing Machine


4) Choose your first project

The big question is what are you going to make first? Exciting! When choosing a first project, make life easy for yourself by picking a pattern that is simple to construct and easy to fit, without fiddly bits.

I designed our Dominique skirt to be the perfect project for novices wanting to practise straight line sewing. For something a little more complex but still easy enough for beginners, try our bestselling Stevie tunic, cult favourite Cleo dungaree dress, simple Margot pyjamas (in my book Love at First Stitch), addictive Bettine dress, or seventies style Miette skirt. You can buy sewing patterns online or at indie haberdasheries or department stores.

Find out more about choosing an easy sewing project



5) Buy some fabric

One of the most fun parts of being a DIY dressmaker is choosing your material! But it can definitely be confusing if you're just starting out and don't know what you're looking for. Your pattern will list suggestions for fabrics to look for. You can stray from the list, but bear in mind the properties of the fabrics suggested will impact how the final garment looks, feels and hangs. If they work with your pattern, I'd recommend starting with woven fabric that isn't too slippery, such as chambray, denim, cotton canvas or drill, viscose (AKA rayon) as long as it's not too slippery, or cotton lawn.

Go shopping in person so you can get a feel for the fabrics, or buy from indie haberdasheries who are usually happy to offer you advice by email and even send you swatches so you can see and feel the fabrics before buying - see right for some of my favourite fabric shops.

As well as fabric, you'll also need some other bits and bobs, such as thread (get all purpose polyester thread in a colour that matches your fabric) and anything else listed on the pattern. Your chosen pattern will tell you exactly what you need, so don't worry about buying anything before you have a project in mind.



6) Get sewing!

Once you've got to grips with the basics of your sewing machine, chosen your first project and got your fabric and thread, you can dive right in! Our sewing patterns and books come with clear instructions with a jargon buster which translates the sewing terms and photos of each step. If you would like some more help, look out for a sewing class near you, or take one of my online workshops and you can watch me sewing the steps up close, pausing and rewinding whenever you fancy.

Take my class for beginners, Learn to Sew Skirts



And that's it! I really hope this post has made it easier for you if you want to get into making your own clothes. It's such a rewarding hobby - I hope you gain as much enjoyment from it as I have :)
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Looking back on another year, I can't quite believe everything that has happened at Tilly and the Buttons HQ! As the business owner, it's been a very different year from previous ones as I've been working part time so I can look after my little boy, who is now 15 months. The juggle is a struggle and, while I looooove being able to spend time with my son, I do often find myself frustrated that I can't get more done at work. Yet looking back on everything we achieved this year, I feel proud of myself and the team for what we managed to do - in terms of product launches, events and growing the team behind the scenes.


Over the year we had four new stars join the team - Sales and Communications Manager Louise (who previously worked here in a different role), Sewing Pattern Developer Serefina, Office Manager Kate and Product Manager Nikki. They are all amazing at what they do, bringing ideas and enthusiasm to help the company get better bit by bit. Plus we had another baby Buttons arrival, Katie's daughter Posey - awwwww!



In January we launched our 19th standalone printed pattern, the Mila dungarees. On any day approximately 50% of Team Buttons are wearing dungas at their desk, so we just had to make it into a pattern. We had our lovely friend and talented textile designer Zeena Shah model them. Sssshhh don't tell anyone but we all have girl crushes on her ;)



In February, the team was so proud to win a number of industry awards for our work. We won a few titles at the British Sewing Awards, including 'Best Independent Pattern House', which was a huge honour. We also scooped up the 'Sewing Designer of the Year 2018' at the British Craft Awards. These awards are voted for by the public, so thank you so so much if you voted for us. It really does mean a lot to myself and the team to have our hard work recognised in this way.




We worked at a flurry of events at the start of the year, which meant that behind the scenes our office was a mess of packing boxes. In Birmingham we exhibited at CHSI Stitches trade show, where we got to talk face-to-face with some of the lovely shop owners who stock our patterns and get some new ones on board. We also did the public Knitting and Stitching Show in London, where we met lots of inspiring sewists who had braved the snow to get there.


March was a big month for us as it saw the publication of my second book, Stretch! Make Yourself Comfortable Sewing with Knit Fabrics. We had a party at the Village Haberdashery to celebrate with the book team, family and friends. The real fun has been to see so many dressmakers using the book to get stuck into sewing with knits. The Freya pattern proved to be a firm favourite, with so many makers whipping up a whole collection of them.


At the end of March, we got the keys to our new studio. When I signed the contract on our first studio in 2014, there was just me and one part time team member and it seemed enormous. I'm not naturally a massive risk taker so it was out of character to be paying for a space that was bigger than we needed (read: expensive). But I trusted that if I took a large space it would give me the impetus to grow the company into it. And we did! A few months ago it had got to the point where I didn't have a desk and we were tripping over each other, as well as boxes and boxes of stock... So I marched down to the manager's office and asked them if they had a bigger space in the building, and signed the contract on a much larger unit shortly afterwards. Take a look...


When we released Stretch! we wanted to make it easy for readers to find drop-dead gorgeous knit fabrics to make the projects with. So we got in a batch of beautiful jerseys, sparkly sweater knits and snuggly sweatshirting which we sold on our online shop, as well as at a pop up shop at our studio one Saturday in April. A stream of eager shoppers came along to build their stash, sip fizz, scoff cakes, meet the team and chat to other sewing lovers. Yep, it really was a perfect day!


In the Summer we launched two more sewing patterns, the Stevie tunic and Seren dress. We had Zeena Shah back to model them, along with our lovely customer and now friend Alexandra Bruce. If you know these ladies on Insta or IRL, I'm sure you can imagine the fun we had at the shoot! Our talented office assistant Jenny made this awesome video all about the day. Speedy sew Stevie quickly became our new bestseller and starting popping up all over Instagram. We are addicted to seeing all your lovely makes!


The launch of Stevie and Seren also saw the reveal of our new patterns covers. The freshly updated patterns feature our real-gal models on the front, and look pretty as a picture!


August saw a "pinch me" moment for us as we hit 100,000 followers on Instagram! It is so exciting to think that there are so many people out there involved or interesting in the DIY dressmaker way of life. Social media sometimes gets a bad rap but it's inspired lots of us to get more creative and make connections with people we wouldn't otherwise get to mingle with.




In September, we did our favourite show, the Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace. This year I was asked to join Kirstie Allsopp on the Super Theatre stage to to a live demo sewing a Freya top from Stretch! while sharing tips and tricks for sewing with knit fabrics. Naturally I was nervous beforehand, but as soon as I got on stage all I felt was happiness to be able to talk about sewing with a crowd of smiling faces. My mum is devastated that I didn't get a picture with Kirstie, but I did get one with my little lobbus who came to visit!


A few weeks later we did our fourth show of the year, the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Pally for the first time (and not the last), and chatted to more wonderful sewists while enjoying being in the grandest show hall yet!

By the way, occasionally we get asked why most of the shows we do are in London and not elsewhere in the country. The reason why is that exhibiting at shows is verrrry expensive, and to add hotel rooms for the team and long distance transportation to the budget would mean we'd be losing money. I would absolutely love to do more shows in other places one day, but sadly it's just not viable at the moment. If you do decide to travel to a London show to see us, we will give you a special welcome!



October saw another pattern duo drop, the Ness skirt and Nora top, which together make the perfect outfit. The stunning fashion blogger Harriet Hutton modelled for us (heart eyes). Super speedy Nora can be whipped up in an afternoon, and Ness takes your dressmaking skills to the next level, with denim inspired details like a zip fly front and topstitched mock felled seams.


Towards the end of the year, we launched our Sew a Xmas Sweater contest, an idea I dreamed up last Christmas and have been looking forward to ever since! I cannot tell you how much fun we've had cooing over the incredible creations people made. It really was a humbling experience seeing all the effort people went to. It put my version to shame, hahaha!


To top off a fantastic year, we've just had news in that we have won four gold prizes at the British Sewing Awards:
  • Best Independent Pattern House 
  • Best Sewing Book 2018
  • Best Sewing Blog
  • Best Instagram
Thank you so so much to everyone who voted for us. What a way to round off a very brilliant year : )

Wishing you all a very happy (sewing-filled) new year and can't wait to bring more to you in 2019!

PS. You might also like to look back on the best posts from the blog in 2018.
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If you're getting into sewing or are looking to expand your skills, you might be looking for a fairy stitch-mother to show you the way! Enter Tilly - your sewing guru, who is here to guide you through techniques, tricks and head scratching moments.

We have a range of online video workshops that cater for every skill level and can be taken at your own pace with 24/7 access. You can take the classes from the comfort of your own home (PJs are optional), and Tilly will be there to break things down every step of the way, with clear instructions. The courses are split into modules, making it easy to revisit useful sections in later projects.

If you fancy taking a workshop there is no better time, as we have 40% off ALL of our online workshops until Wednesday 2 January 11.59pm GMT. Just pop in the code TAKEALESSON at the check out and the discount will be taken off.

So now onto the workshops...


If you have been given a sewing machine or bought one for yourself, you might be feeling a little scared to get it out of the box (we all know this feeling!). Our Make Friends with a Sewing Machine workshop will help you get your machine up and running and show you how to set it up, thread it, basic stitching skills, and troubleshooting techniques.


If you've got to grips with the basics of your machine and are looking for an easy first project, our Learn to Sew Skirts class could be for you! It will get you comfortable with using patterns, cutting out, hemming, and creating a neat finish. The workshop includes a copy of the Dominique skirt, and you can choose whether you would like a paper or digital copy.

  

Maybe you have a few projects under your belt and are feeling ready to expand your skills, but would like a little guidance? Why not take our Sew a Knockout Dress workshop, which will help you tackle invisible zips, set-in sleeves with bound armholes, and shape a fitted dress with darts. The workshop includes a copy of the Etta dress, and you can choose whether you would like a paper or digital copy.



Are you feeling ready to take your sewing to the next level? The Sew Your Own Shirt or Shirt Dress might be the perfect class for you! You'll get comfortable sewing buttonholes, creating a neat pointed collar, and tidy topstitching. The workshop includes a copy of the Rosa shirt or shirt dress, and you can choose whether you would like a paper or digital copy.



If you fancy sewing all the jersey things, you could take our Learn to Sew Jersey Tops class, and end up with a wardrobe FULL of basics. It covers everything from choosing your fabric, handling stretchy jersey fabric, to fitting your garment, and stitching techniques you can master. You can sew the top on your regular  home sewing machine, no equipment required.

The workshop includes a copy of the Agnes jersey top, and you can choose whether you would like a paper or digital copy.


Save 40% off ALL of our online workshops until Wednesday 2 January 11.59pm GMT with the code TAKEALESSON.

We hope to see you in class very soon! xx
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Do you wear me-made clothes for lounging? As home sewists, we love to get out and about in our handmade wardrobe to show off what we've made, but it can be equally nice to look down on your outfit while chillaxing on the sofa and feel smug that you made it yourself.




For lazy weekends and snuggly evenings on the sofa, I practically live in my Stella hoodies. I recently added a third one to my wardrobe, made in a super soft sweatshirt fleece that we had in our shop (it's out of stock now but we still have a couple of similar ones).

Stella is one of the patterns included in my second book Stretch! and this is the dress hack with kangaroo pocket outlined in the instructions. It works nicely in ponte as well as sweatshirting for a lighter weight option during the warmer months. I lined the hood on this one with a single knit cotton jersey from Maud's Fabric Finds, and used a simple white cording for the drawstrings.




This is one of those outfits I really miss when it's in the laundry basket... in fact, I wish I were wearing it now! It's super soft and comfy to wear, yet looks a bit more put together than PJs if you need to answer the door to the pizza delivery guy or nip out to the shops for an emergency bag of Maltesers.

If you make your own, please do share with us on Instagram @TillyButtons using the hashtag #SewingStella #StretchSewingBook. There are hundreds of gorgeous versions on the hashtag already if you fancy some more sewing inspo :)

*****
Photos by Jane Looker, taken in her lovely home
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