3 February 2016

Dates for Your Diary!

Do you fancy improving your sewing skills in 2016? How about coming and saying "hey!" at an event? You're in luck! Further workshop dates have just been announced (including an exciting new Bettine Dress workshop!), and Team Tilly are going to be out and about over the next few months at various events. We'd love to meet you!


Saturday 13 February 2016, from 2.30pm 
Liberty, Regent Street - 3rd floor haberdashery 

Fancy sewing your own boudoir set this Valentine's? Our very own Vanessa will be making up the Fifi sewing pattern at Liberty of London on the afternoon of Saturday 13 Feb. Come say hi, browse our sewing patterns and gain inspiration from Liberty's dreamy haberdashery. 

 Can't make it? SEW FIFI AT HOME

3 - 6 March 2016 
Olympia, London 

For the first time, we'll be exhibiting at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London! Come and meet us at stand E80, where you'll be able to see our full range of sewing patterns (including a new one!) and chat all things sewing. Already made one of our patterns? Please wear it on the day, we'd love to see! 

21 - 23 February 2016 
NEC, Birmingham 

Do you work in the creative or craft industry? We'll be exhibiting at the trade show CHSI Stitches this year, at stand L25. Whether you're already a Tilly and the Buttons stockist or would like to find out more, we'd love to meet you! 


All our workshops take place at our sunny studio in South London, near West Norwood and West Dulwich stations. Apart from Learn to Sew Jersey Tops, which is taught chez vous! :)

Sunday 22 May 2016

New for the Spring - start making your own dresses with help from this beginner-friendly workshop, at our London studio. If you can use a sewing machine and have made a couple of simple projects, this is a great next step into dressmaking. You'll learn how to start using sewing patterns, take accurate measurements, and construct a cute dress with elasticated waistband and turn-up cuffs. The bestselling Bettine dress sewing pattern is yours to keep after the class.


By popular demand, we've scheduled two more classes with Sophia Palmer of Jessali Handmade. Use your sewing machine like never before, learning techniques to mix free-motion thread 'drawing' with appliqué. A fun and expressive way to create custom art pieces or to embellish your sewing projects! 


Learn tips and tricks to cut, stabilise and sew low-stretch knit fabrics on your regular sewing machine, while making the popular Coco top or dress pattern. Once you've sewn your first of these comfy garments, you'll never look back! 

Want to start sewing or in need of a refresher? This novice-friendly class will help you get to grips with threading a sewing machine and essential stitching techniques. You'll also learn to make a simple scarf to tie around your head, neck or bag. 


 If you can use a sewing machine for basic stitching and want to start making your own clothes, this workshop offers the perfect introduction. You'll learn how to make the easy-peasy pyjama bottoms project using the Margot sewing pattern, and get a copy of our award-winning book, Love at First Stitch, to take away with you. 

Saturday 28 & Sunday 29 May 2016

Save £15 by booking both Make Friends with a Sewing Machine and Make Pyjamas workshops on the same weekend. This is a great way of plunging head first into the wonderful world of sewing. Come along on Saturday with no experience, and by Sunday night you'll be wearing pyjamas that you've made yourself!

Online video workshop 

 Nowhere near London, can't make these dates, or just can't be bothered to leave the house? No problemo! Take our online workshop from the comfort of your own home at a time that suits you. Watch the video lessons to follow along with Tilly's stress-free approach to sewing stretchy jersey fabric on a regular sewing machine (no overlocker or serger needed!). The class includes a free PDF download of the versatile Agnes sewing pattern - destined to become your new favourite top. Once you've got to grips with sewing jersey, you'll never look back! 

We hope to see you at an event or workshop soon!

27 January 2016

Fabric Shopping in Japan

I just got back from Japan! It's been my dream trip for as long as I can remember and, after a rough ride towards the end of last year, I needed something to look forward to, so blew the budget and booked it. And I'm so glad I did! From soothing bowls of steaming soba to the excitement of watching a sumo tournament, from the bright lights of Tokyo to the peace of the ryokans, it was just the trip I needed.

Oh yes, and the fabric shopping is pretty good too. I've been a fan of Japanese prints and textiles ever since I started sewing, and I'd read a few things online about how great the fabric shops are over there, so I was excited to check it out. And yes - I fulfilled the cliché of having to buy an extra suitcase to bring it back in :)

If you're thinking of visiting some day, today I'm sharing the places I visited. This isn't a comprehensive guide - primarily this was a holiday with my lovely guy, so I didn't visit absolutely every fabric shop. I found blog posts by Cashmerette, Thewallina and the Tokyo Craft Guide really helpful, so check those out too...

Fabric shopping in Tokyo 

My favourite fabric shop in Japan that I visited was Tomato in the Nippori Fabric District, near Nippori station - a veritable textile wonderland. If you only get a couple of hours to fulfil your fabric buying needs while over there, this would be where I'd advise you to go for a sure-fire fix.

Tomato has various buildings all close together, the largest of which has five floors (I think? I lost count). Five MASSIVE floors of goodness. A couple of tips to avoid the faux pas I made - you need to pay for fabric on the floor that you found it on (I got told off). And if you see a beautiful Nani Iro double gauze bolt lying lonely in a trolley, don't feel it up lest you bring evil looks upon yourself from other customers - the trolleys are for customers to carry the fabric they plan to purchase ;)

There are looooads of other fabric shops in the same area as Tomato which are worth a look if you have any energy left - here's a map.

The other place I went in Tokyo was Okadaya in Shinjuku (here's a map). There are two shops - the more visible one has cosmetics on the ground floor, with notions and other crafty bits on higher levels. The other shop is down the alley next to it - between the other Okadaya and AttaGirl - with five floors of fabric. There's loads of gems in here - the most magical thing I spotted was these Liberty prints with blink-and-you-miss-them Hello Kitties!

Fabric shopping in Kyoto

In Kyoto, the first place I visited was Nomura Tailor. There are two branches - a smaller one in a covered shopping arcade on Teramachi St, and a larger one on Shijo street around the corner. While the smaller one was a calmer shopping experience (ie. I was the only frenzied customer in there), as far as I could tell (but I could be wrong) the larger one stocks the same stuff and then some. Lots of double gauze, cotton prints, amazing quality knit, printed fleece and Japanese drapey fabrics on the ground floor, fake furs, silks, wools upstairs, and notions, accessories, knitting bits and sewing patterns on the top floor. Basically, a wealth of sewing eye candy!

Another shop I was keen to check out in Kyoto was Misuyabari needle shop, which isn't far from Nomura Tailor. The address system in Japan can be tricky to navigate - particularly if your Japanese is limited to "Delicious", "Thank you for the lovely meal" and "Where is the toilet?" (ahem) - but I found this post really helpful in finding the shop. Their speciality is needles and pins - the friendly owner gave me a booklet all about the history of the shop, alas it's all in Japanese so I can't tell you too much about it! But what I can tell you is that if you go, you will be in awe of the teeny tiny hand-crafted pinheads. Look at the little doggie and kitty pins I got - eep!

So what else did I get? These three fabrics above are all snuggly soft double gauzes which I plan to make into pyjamas, and possibly a baby dress for a friend in the polar bear print. Double gauze was what I was most excited about as it's usually very expensive in the UK - these were all around £5 per metre.

As you can see, there's a bit of a theme evident in my purchases! I did my best to avoid buying too much of the "kawaii" (cute) stuff that is everywhere. As much as it makes me happy, I know I'd rather wear geometric prints when it comes down to it. But how could I resist these kitties?? They're on a lovely lightweight cotton lawn - the B&W one will definitely be a shirt, and I might make a Fifi camisole and shorts set with the yellow one. The geometric print on the left is a linen mix with a nice drape (and not creasy - YES) - I'm planning to make a plain shift dress with it to wear with a brightly coloured necklace. The third fabric along is a drapey viscose which I'm thinking of making into a boxy blouse or tee for the Summer - I left so inspired by the loose-fitting clothes in Japan, everyone looked sooo stylish.

The pencils print is a lovely canvas from a designer/shop called Sou Sou - it's destined to become cushions for my sofa. I'm not sure if the navy fabric in the middle counts as "kasuri" but it's certainly a Japanese aesthetic. Another shift dress with this one, I reckon. The one on the right is a textured mystery fabric, which I'm planning to make into a Megan dress.

When you find a gorgeous quality stripe double knit, hold onto it for dear life. Even if that means buying another suitcase! The fabric on the left feels so lovely I'm almost melting into my keyboard right now (it will become a Coco dress, bien sûr). The pale blue stripe is a beautiful sweatshirt knit that I couldn't resist either. The other two fabrics in the pic above look like denim (win) but are actually double gauze (double win). Bettine dresses for those, I think.

I also picked up a few other bits and bobs - some handbag handles, marking pencils and pen, turquoise fabric scissors, flat-head pins and little embroidered motifs (kitty and nautical, natch). Can't wait to start using them!

If you go fabric shopping in Japan, I hope you have a wonderful time. Remember to pack extremely lightly, otherwise budget for an extra suitcase :)

20 January 2016

Ten Tips for Pressing Your Sewing Projects Like a Pro!

If you’ve been sewing for more than ten minutes, you’ve probably heard that pressing can do absolute wonders for your dressmaking projects. A hot and steamy session with the iron can shape and set fabric, smooth out wrinkles, create neatly defined seam lines, and generally take your handmade creations to a whole new level.

Today I thought I’d share ten tips for pressing your sewing projects. And I’d love to hear any other tips you have in the comments!

Press seams flat, then wrong side, then right side
When pressing a seam, give it a quick press as sewn first, in other words, while it’s still flat, before you fold the seam allowances open or to the side. Pressing it flat will help set the stitches into the fabric and reduce any impressions made by the thread. Next, press the seam either open or to the side on the wrong side of the fabric, gently pulling the fabric away from the seam line with your fingers. Finally, press it on the right side, again easing the fabric away from the seam so you aren't left with any ridges.

Shape before pressing
The heat and steam from pressing can help “train” a garment into a particular shape. Try to avoid pulling a curved area, such as a neckline or collar, into a straight line as it’s going under the iron. Set up the shape you want to create first, then press the iron on top to set it.

Use the end of the ironing board
If you just want to press a small area, such as a collar, and don’t want to squidge up the rest of your lovely dress, position the collar on the end of the ironing board and dangle the rest of the fabric off the end of it. That way the iron will only press the bit you actually want to press.

Use shaping tools
Ironing boards are wonderful inventions, but sometimes you need an extra tool to help press the garment into the shape that you want, rather than just flat. Press darts and other curved areas over a tailor’s ham to help give them a nice shape. Insert a sleeve board or seam roll into narrow tubes such as sleeves and trouser legs that won’t fit over your ironing board. Don’t want to invest in extra tools, or want to DIY it? Tightly roll up a towel as a makeshift alternative, or here’s a great tutorial on making your own tailor’s ham and seam roll (or sausage).

Add a protective layer
Touching the plate of the iron to the fabric can sometimes damage it, leaving an unwanted sheen or even scorch marks. Always test out the iron setting on a scrap of fabric to check it’s not too hot and that it can handle the steam. If you place a pressing cloth – in other words, a layer of muslin, another or the same fabric, or even a sheet of lightweight paper – over the fabric before pressing, it should help protect it from excess steam and heat so you can turn the setting up a bit higher. A pressing cloth is also handy for pressing interfacing to fabric to help stop it squidging up with the moisture from the iron.

Hover, steam and finger press
In fact, you don’t necessarily need to touch the iron to the fabric at all in some cases. Press the seam open or to the side using your fingers, then, with your fingers out of the way, hover the iron over the seam and puff out some steam. Now, while it’s still hot and moist, run your fingers along the seam line again to reinforce the shape. Mind you don’t burn your fingers!

Avoid seam allowance impressions with a strip of card
Have you ever pressed a seam and found that the edge of the seam allowance leaves a line mark on the fabric? Most annoying. Slip a strip of heavy-ish paper or card between the fabric and the seam allowance before pressing to avoid it leaving impressions.

Avoid neat tap water
If you live in an area with hard water, you’ve probably suffered the dreaded murky water splutter on your lovely handmade dresses. The higher concentrations of minerals in hard water makes irons prone to limescale build up, limescale that they’ll eventually spit out all over your treasured Nani Iro double gauze. You can help keep your iron steam fresh by mixing tap water with distilled water or special iron water. The latter can also make your clothes smell gorgeous, which is always a bonus.

Save up your pressing
If you’re following instructions in a book or pattern, they may tell you to press a seam after sewing it. That doesn’t mean you have to press it then and there before moving on to the next step – you’ll save time by batch pressing a few seams at once. Just make sure you press a seam before you sew another seam across it, otherwise you won't be able to press the whole length of it the direction you want it to go.

Pimp up your ironing board
Last but not least, if the Ikea cover on your ironing board is doing nothing for your life, make your own cover in a snazzy fabric of your choice! It’ll brighten up your sewing room and put a smile on your face every time you plug in that iron.

Do you have any pressing tips for sewing projects of your own to share? Let us know in the comments!