29 July 2015

How to Make an Eye Mask (free pattern!)

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons


There’s something so indulgent about slipping on an eye mask to help you get enough beauty sleep during light Summer nights… particularly when it matches your frillies! We couldn’t resist making an eye mask to go with the Fifi camisole and shorts set – and we’re sharing the pattern with you for free so you can make one too. Yay! This is a lovely speedy make, and a perfect project for using up leftover fabric. Ooh and it makes a great gift!

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons
How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

You will need:
  • Fifi eye mask pattern – download the free pattern
  • 15cm (1/5 yard) light- to medium-weight cotton for the main fabric (we used Cloud9 Escapade organic cotton voile courtesy of Hantex)
  • 15cm (1/5 yard) fabric for facing (we used a silky satin for the backing – choose something that will feel nice on your delicate eyelids)
  • Matching thread
  • 10cm (1/8 yards) wadding (we got ours courtesy of our studio neighbours Fancy Moon - thanks, Nancy!)
  • 38cm (15in) x 9-12mm (1/2in) wide elastic (a bit more or less if you think your head is particularly large or small!)
  • 1m (40in) string or cord
  • Sewing machine and basic tools
Open the pattern file in Adobe Reader (you can download it for free). Print the pattern on either A4 or Letter size paper, selecting “actual size” or “set scaling to 100%” or “turn off scaling” in your print settings. You can double check the pattern has printed at full scale by measuring the test square - it should be exactly 40mm x 40mm.

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

Cut out your fabric:

  • Cut 1 eye mask pattern piece in your main fabric, snipping the notches.
  • Cut 1 eye mask pattern piece in facing fabric, snipping the notches, then trim it down by 2-3mm (1/8in) all the way around – this will help the seam roll to the back so it’s not visible when you wear the mask.
  • Cut 1 eye mask pattern piece in wadding, then trim it down by 15mm (5/8in) so it will fit inside the other pieces comfortably.
  • Cut a rectangular strip in your main fabric for the elastic strap, 90cm (35½in) x 4cm (1 5/8in).

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

Fold and press the strip in half lengthways, right sides together. Cut a piece of string slightly longer than the strip. Slip it inside the folded strip and stitch it close to one end, back tacking over it a few times so it’s nice and secure. We’ll use the string to pull the strip right sides out once we’ve sewn it…

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

Stitch together the long raw edges of the strip using a 7mm (2/8in) seam allowance, enclosing the string next to the fabric fold. It helps to pull the string taught as you go, so you don’t sew over it.

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

You should now have a tube. Take hold of the loose end of the string and pull it out of the tube, turning the tube right sides out over it as you go. This can take a bit of time so go slowly! It can help to use then end of a pen or pin to push the fabric inside itself. Once it has turned all the way out, trim off the end with the string attached and give it a good press to neaten it up.

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

Attach a safety pin to one end of the elastic, and pin the other end to one end of the tube temporarily. Insert the safety pin into this end of the tube and feed it through, distributing the fabric evenly as it starts to gather up.

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

When the safety pin emerges at the other end, pin it to this end of the tube. With each end of elastic lined up with the opening of each end of the tube, stitch across each tube opening using a 10mm (3/8in) seam allowance to secure the elastic in place.

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

Tack (baste) one end of the elastic tube to each side notch on the eye mask piece, right sides together, using a 10mm (3/8in) seam allowance. Make sure the tube isn’t twisted.

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

Lay the facing piece on top of the eye mask piece, right sides together. Pin them together around the outside edge, matching the notches - since you trimmed the facing, you'll need to stretch it ever so slightly. The elastic tube will be sandwiched in the middle – take care not to catch it in the pins. We need to leave an opening between the two notches on the top edge of the eye mask – you can mark each side of the opening with two pins to remind you to stop sewing here.

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

Stitch around the outside of the eye mask, using a 15mm (5/8in) seam allowance - remember to leave an opening between the two pairs of pins. Trim the seam allowances and notch small triangles around the seam allowance every 2.5cm (1in) or so, being careful not to snip through the stitching. Press the seam allowances open (test the iron setting on your fabric first).

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

Turn the eye mask right side out through the opening. Press again, rolling the seam slightly under towards the facing so it’s not visible from the right side of the mask. Slip the wadding into the eye mask through the opening and smooth it out. Press the seam allowances on the opening to the inside of the mask and pin the opening closed. To close up the opening, you can slipstitch it by hand, or take a short cut and edgestitch it (topstitch close to the edge) on your machine (we won’t tell!).

How to Make an Eye Mask - free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons
Fifi camisole and matching eye mask - sewing pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

Admire your completed eye mask, and have a very stylish night’s sleep!

Maybe you could make one for our Summer Sewing Instaspam Party? Post a photo of your Fifi boudoir set or Bettine dress to Instagram or Twitter on Sunday 9 August 2015 using the hashtags #sewing and either #SewingFifi or #SewingBettine, and search the hashtags to find others at the party. See you there!

27 July 2015

Liberty Fifi Sets

Fifi sewing pattern made in Liberty lawn - Tilly and the ButtonsFifi sewing pattern made in Liberty lawn - Tilly and the Buttons


The Fifi sewing pattern was born to be sewn in Liberty lawn. The cotton has a lovely drape to it, allowing the camisole to hang softly over your body, and the small scale, detailed prints work well on the little pieces that make up the camisole. Swoon...

I've made two Fifi sets for myself in Liberty lawn so far. This first one is Oxford B Tana lawn, left over from making my pussy bow Mimi blouse. The colours are just lush.

This one was a bit of an experimental make while developing the pattern - I didn't have enough fabric to cut the camisole on the bias, plus the trees would look a bit weird at a diagonal angle, so I cut it on the straight grain to see what it would be like. It's nice. But if you're thinking of cutting a Fifi camisole on the straight grain to save fabric, just bear in mind that it doesn't hang as nicely as when it's cut on the bias.

Fifi sewing pattern made in Liberty lawn - Tilly and the Buttons
Fifi sewing pattern made in Liberty lawn - Tilly and the ButtonsFifi sewing pattern made in Liberty lawn - Tilly and the Buttons

The shorts, on the other hand, look better cut on the straight grain, hence why we suggest in the instructions that you cut them this way - and this is what I've done here. We tried them on the bias (not shown here) but the hems look a bit flouncy and the elastic-stitched waistband looks a bit messy. Trust me, stick to the straight grain for the shorts :)

Fifi sewing pattern made in Liberty lawn - Tilly and the Buttons
Fifi sewing pattern made in Liberty lawn - Tilly and the Buttons
Fifi sewing pattern made in Liberty lawn - Tilly and the Buttons

I made this second one in another Liberty print that had been sitting patiently in my fabric stash for years (I can't remember what it's called, sorry). I'm not usually massively into florals, especially pink florals, but this print seems perfect for a pretty boudoir set.

Fifi is my absolute favourite sewing project at the moment - both to make and wear. There's something so relaxing about sewing on a small scale, using intricate techniques such as narrow French seams and the elastic-stitched waistband. Plus it doesn't take that long as it's so small! I'm wearing these sets all Summer long - they're perfect for staying cool on hot nights, and they look so pretty too.

Fifi sewing pattern made in Liberty lawn - Tilly and the Buttons

The instructions for the Fifi camisole and shorts set are pretty detailed, but in case you need some extra help, we're writing a blog post on fitting the Fifi camisole (it's not too tricky, don't worry) and another one on easing curves together, in case you're looking at the cup pieces and wondering how to attach them to the bodice. Ooh and another exciting little bonus... watch this space!

24 July 2015

Seeking an Intern



We're looking for the first Tilly and the Buttons intern! Interested, or know anyone who might be? Read all about the role and how to apply on our jobs page.

Bettine from the Block

Bettine dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons
Bettine dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

On a typical day in the T+TB studio, at least one of us will be wearing a Bettine dress – it’s become a bit of a staff uniform. We snapped these pics of Laura and Tilly in the corridor of our building, much to the amusement of neighbours and passing couriers (cringe). Two styles, two perspectives.

Laura’s going to tell you about hers first…

Bettine dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

“During the testing stage, Tilly asked me to be a guinea pig for the Bettine instructions by making my own dress. I am still really new to sewing and Bettine is the first dress that I have made myself. If I could understand the steps and make the garment without any issues, anyone could!

I knew Tilly had designed Bettine to be the perfect first dress project with no fiddly fastenings, but I was still slightly apprehensive. Would I really find it that simple…? The answer is – yes! I found the whole process very quick and easy, and most importantly, fun!

Bettine dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons
Bettine dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

I decided to make things slightly harder for myself by making the version with pockets but even this was very straightforward. I did have to concentrate extra hard on the pockets, but once I had everything in front of me it all fell into place.

I used a lovely viscose fabric with an abstract monochrome print, gifted by Remnant Kings - it's on sale at the moment if you like it. The fabric is super soft, was lovely to work with, and the print helped to hide a multitude of sewing sins and not-quite-perfect stitching (heehee). The only question remaining is, what fabric will I choose for my next Bettine?"

Bettine dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

Over to Tilly!

Bettine dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

“I've sewn five Bettine dresses for myself so far, and this is one of the more recent ones. I used a super cool sunglasses print poly that I bought from Guthrie & Ghani (alas, it’s since sold out). You might recognise it from a post I wrote a few weeks ago on tips for sewing with slippery fabric.

A fancy print like this works really well on a sewing pattern like Bettine as it doesn't have many seams to break it up. The fabric is very lightweight and drapey, so gives the dress a lovely floaty silhouette. This dress is sooo easy to throw on in the morning with sandals or plimsoles, and the print makes it a really cute Summertime frock to wear out and about.

Bettine dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

The only slight problem I have with it is that the fabric likes to cling in awkward places, but there’s a trick for fixing that. Tumble dryer sheets. Rub one over the inside of your dress (preferably not in public) and it won’t cling anymore... well, until the next wash at least :)”

Bettine dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

Have you heard? We're having a Summer Sewing Instaspam Party on Sunday 9 August 2015 to celebrate the creativity you bring to our patterns. Share a pic of your Bettine dress or Fifi boudoir set on Instagram or Twitter that day, and use the hashtags #sewing and either #SewingBettine or #SewingFifi so we can all find each other at this party. Read more about it here. Hope to see you there!

22 July 2015

Choosing Your Size and Fitting the Bettine Dress

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Vanessa here today – let’s talk about choosing your size and fitting adjustments you might want to make before sewing the Bettine dress.

We designed the Bettine sewing pattern with beginners in mind, so it’s an easy pattern to fit. It has a relaxed, blousy bodice and design ease at the hips, and the elastic does the job of cinching it in at the waist. It doesn't have darts or close-fitting seam lines that need to mould exactly to your curves and, as the bodice is meant to slouch nonchalantly over the waistline, there’s no need to adjust for a sway back.

That said, one of the joys of dressing handmade is making your clothes fit your individual shape beautifully. So, while some of you won’t need to make any fitting changes with this dress, it’s worth considering whether you want to tweak the pattern for your shape before sewing.

This is a bit of a bumper post – we’re going to cover choosing your size, lengthening the bodice or skirt, shortening the bodice or skirt, how to combine pattern sizes, adjusting for bust fullness, adjusting a gaping neckline, and shortening the sleeves.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Choosing your size

First up is choosing the right size for your measurements. Use a tape measure to find the circumference of your bust, waist and hips, by which we mean:

  • Bust – the fullest part of your bust, ie. around your nipples
  • Waist – the point at which you bend to the side
  • Hips – the fullest part of your hips - it helps to turn to the side and look in a mirror to see where this is

Keep the tape measure parallel to the floor and don't hold it too tightly around your body, as tempting as it can be, particularly after a big meal (or am I alone in my vain measuring?)!

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Circle your measurements in the ‘body measurements’ chart in the instructions. If your measurement falls in between a size (for example, if it's 27in rather than 26in or 28in) it’s nearly always better to choose the larger size, as it’s easier to take the dress in if it’s too big than to let it out if it’s too small.

If your bust, waist and hip measurements all fall into one pattern size – fantastic! That’s your size! There’s a key on the pattern sheets which shows a particular style of solid or dashed line for your size – that’s the one to use when you cut your fabric.

Don’t worry however if your bust, waist and hip measurements span 2 or 3 different sizes – since our bodies have different proportions, this is very common! This calls for a bit of mix and matching – see ‘How to combine pattern sizes’ below.

To lengthen or shorten the bodice or skirt:

What if you’re particularly tall or petite?

If the measurement from your nape (the knobbly bit at the back of your neck) to your waist (at the centre back) is significantly different to 41cm (16in), then I’d suggest it would be worth changing the length of the bodice. (Bear in mind that Bettine has been designed so the bodice is about 5cm (2in) longer than a standard nape to waist measurement, to give it a relaxed, slouchy look over the waistline.)

The finished skirt measures 47.5cm (18¾in) from waist to hem. If you want it particularly longer or shorter than this and don’t want to affect the tulip shape, you can change it on the pattern before cutting your fabric.

To lengthen the bodice or skirt:

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

First of all you need to draw on a bit of paper two parallel lines, the width between them the amount you’d like the lengthen either the bodice or skirt by. Draw a line at a right angle to these lines at one end.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Cut along one of the ‘lengthen or shorten here’ lines on either the bodice or skirt pattern, depending on which you want to change, separate them, and then insert the paper strip you just drew on. Line the two parallel lines up with the cut edges, and the other line up with the centre front or centre back lines (the straight one with the ‘place on fold’ arrow). Stick them down with tape or a glue stick.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Using a ruler or a gentle hand, redraw the side seam of your pattern size to neaten it out, sketching a gentle curve if you’re lengthening the skirt or a straight line for the bodice.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

If you’re making the pocket skirt version, the new side seam curve will need to match the pocket and pocket facing pieces too. Lay these pieces in turn over the skirt piece, matching them up at the hip notch, and trace the new side seam curve. (Don’t worry that the top curves of the facing and skirt don’t match up, they will do once you’ve understitched and rolled the seam to the inside. Just match the pieces up at the hip notches.)

To shorten the bodice or skirt:

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern 
To shorten either your bodice or skirt, draw a parallel line above the ‘lengthen or shorten here’ line on either the bodice or the skirt pattern, depending on which you want to change, the distance between the two being how much you’d like to shorten it by. Cut along the ‘lengthen or shorten here’ line to separate into two pieces.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Overlap the bottom piece of the pattern on the top piece, aligning the cutting line with the new line you’ve drawn in, and keeping the centre front line aligned (the straight one with the ‘place on fold’ arrow). Glue or tape it in place.

Using a ruler or a gentle hand, redraw the side seam of your pattern size to neaten it out, sketching a gentle curve if you’re lengthening the skirt or a straight line for the bodice.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

If you’re making the pocket skirt version, the new side seam curve will need to match the pocket and pocket facing pieces too. Lay these pieces in turn over the skirt piece, matching them up at the hip notch, and trace the new side seam curve. (Don’t worry that the top curves of the facing and skirt don’t match up, they will do once you’ve understitched and rolled the seam to the inside. Just match the pieces up at the hip notches.)

How to combine pattern sizes

If your proportions don’t match one pattern size – for example, if you’re a size 4 at the bust and size 6 at the hips – you can mix and match sizes to make a dress that fits you. If you’re lengthening or shortening the pattern too, combine the sizes after you’ve done that as it will affect the shape.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

To combine sizes, what you need to do is to re-draw the side seam so that it gradually tapers from one size to another. The red line in the photo above shows a side seam that tapers from a size 4 at the bust to a size 3 at the waist. The green line shows a side seam adjusted for a size 3 bust and size 4 waist.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

The red line in this photo (above) shows a side seam that tapers from a size 3 at the waist to a size 4 at the hips, and vice versa in green. You’ll need to draw this one in with a gentle curve to keep the tulip shape of the skirt. A curved ruler can be really helpful to do this, but isn’t essential.

Repeat the process for the back pieces too. If you’re making the pocket skirt version and have changed the side seams at the hips, sketch the same curves onto the pocket bag and pocket facing too.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Whatever changes you make, an important thing to remember is that the bodice and skirt will be sewn together at the waistline using a 30mm (1¼in) seam allowance, so make sure you keep the side seams at a right angle to the waistline for 30mm (1¼in) above and below the waistline so the pieces match up when you sew them together.

Adjusting bust fullness

The slouchy design of the bodice means that you might not need to make bust changes that you usually would for a fitted dress. But if your boobs are particularly large or small, you might need to make a full bust or small bust adjustment.

If your boobs are on the larger side, you may find that the pattern fits your bust but is baggy at the upper chest and shoulders. Our sewing patterns include a 5cm (2in) difference between the full bust (measured around your nipples) and high bust measurement (measured around your upper chest just under your armpits). If you have around 7.5cm (3in) or more difference between your full bust and high bust, then what you can do is pick a smaller pattern size based on your high bust and then add extra room at the full bust by doing a full bust adjustment – AKA an “FBA”.

If, on the other hand, your bosoms are on the smaller side, you may find that while the full bust fits you, the upper chest and shoulders are too tight. In this case you can pick a larger pattern size based on your high bust and then subtract room at the full bust by doing a small bust adjustment, an “SBA”.

Measure your high bust (around your upper chest just under your armpits) and add 5cm (2in). Choose the pattern size with that measurement at the bust to do your bust adjustment on. How much larger or smaller is your actual full bust measurement from the bust measurement on that pattern size? If it’s 2.5cm (1in) bigger, you’ll be adding 2.5cm (1in) when you do your full bust adjustment; or if it’s 2.5cm (1in) smaller, you’ll be subtracting 2.5cm (1in) when you do your small bust adjustment, and so on. Since the front dress pattern represents one half of the front dress (as the fabric is cut on the fold) – or one boob – you’ll be adding or subtracting half of that difference - 1.25cm (1/2in) in this example - to the pattern piece.

Both adjustments start off the same way by marking some cutting lines on your pattern, slashing them open, then either spreading them apart or overlapping them, to add or remove space at the bust.

Trace off a copy of your front bodice piece so you can keep the original one intact in case you need to go back to it.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Hold the front bodice piece up to your body so the shoulder line lies 15mm (5/8in) over your actual shoulder line. Make a marking where your nipple is (the bust apex if we’re being proper!). As a guide, the bust points are usually about 19 to 20cm (7.5 to 8in) apart from each other and about 27cm (10.5in) down from the shoulder/neck point – but of course this does vary from person to person!

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Draw two lines fanning out from this point – one running vertically through it parallel to the centre front (where the place on fold line is), from shoulder seam to waistline; and a second line to the underarm notch. Cut up these two lines, separating your pattern into 3 different parts.

Full bust adjustment

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Lay the pieces on top of a fresh piece of pattern paper, and position them so that they meet at the underarm notch and shoulder seam, pivoting away from each other at this point to separate at the bust apex. The amount you need to pivot the two side pieces away from the apex is the amount that you noted down earlier.

Stick the pieces down with tape or glue. Redraw the underarm curve, connecting it up with the side seam, and then redraw the shoulder seam to straighten it out.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

The bottom needs to be lengthened slightly to accommodate the fuller bust. To do this, use a set square or a piece of card with a right angle. First, extend the centre front line (the line with the ‘place on fold’ arrow) down by a few cm. Then draw a line at a right angle to the centre front line meeting the bottom of the side seam. Now measure the waist seam on the skirt in your size, add in any extra on the bodice waist seam so it's the same length. Finally we need to square off the seam allowance at the corner – draw another line at a right angle from this point up, 30mm (1¼in) high, and smooth your side seam into this line.

Since you've added a dart-like wedge at the side seam on the front bodice, you'll need to remove some of the fabric to sew it to the back bodice. Rather than turning it into a dart, we would suggest ease stitching the fullness - this method of shaping a garment is more in harmony with the design of the dress, plus it gives you more scope for getting the side seams to match up. Sew some ease or gather stitches from just above the notch to about half-way down the side seam (two or three rows of long temporary stitches - the same way you'd add ease or gather stitching to a sleeve). Start pinning the side seams together, then pull on the ease stitching to gather the excess fabric up so the front side seam fits the back side seam. Pin them in place, stitch, then remove the ease stitching.

Small Bust Adjustment

Before you embark on a small bust adjustment, do bear in mind that, as the pattern has an unfitted silhouette, you may well be able to get away with not making this pattern change. It does mess with the shape of the side seams, so you may prefer to keep it simple and leave the pattern as it is :)

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Lay the pieces on top of a fresh piece of pattern paper, and position them so that they meet at the underarm notch and shoulder seam, pivoting at this point to overlap each other at the bust apex. The amount you need to overlap the two side pieces over the apex is the amount that you noted down earlier.


Stick the pieces down with tape or glue. Redraw the underarm curve, smoothing out the broken line.


The bottom needs to be squared off to match up with the straight edge of the skirt. To do this, use a set square or a piece of card with a right angle. Draw a line at right angles from the bottom of the centre front - the line needs to be the same length as the waist seam at the top of the skirt pattern piece in your size. From the end of this line, draw another line at right angles - this line should be 3cm (1 1/4in) long (this will be the seam allowance for the waist channel). You can then taper your new side seam to the end of this line.


To finish, measure the side seam of the front and back piece. Your front side seam will most likely be slightly shorter than the back now. To even them up, simply work out the difference between the front and back side seam lengths. Trim this amount off the bottom of the back bodice, parallel to the waist seam.

Adjusting a gaping neckline

The neckline on the Bettine has been designed not to gape – it should lie fairly flat against your d├ęcolletage (love that word). However, since we’re all different shapes, if you find the neckline on your first version of Bettine is still a bit gapey, you can adjust it further.

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Draw a line from the underarm notch to the middle of the neckline curve (this can be approximate).

Fitting the Bettine dress sewing pattern

Cut along this line, leaving them attached ever so slightly at the underarm notch. Overlap the pieces at the neckline by about 1-1.5cm (1/2in). Stick the pieces down with masking tape, and then re-draw the neckline to smooth it out.

Shortening the sleeves

One last thing – if you want to shorten the sleeves, you'll probably need to change the size of the cuffs to fit the new sleeve hem width. You’ll probably want to try the dress on after you’ve sewn most of it but before you add the cuffs, so you can decide how long you want the sleeves to be. Trim the sleeves down and measure the circumference of the new sleeve hem. Add 30mm (1¼in) to this measurement for seam allowances at either end of the cuff, and that is the length each cuff piece needs to be cut. The cuff pattern piece needs to be half of that measurement as it’s cut on the fold.

*****

Phew! That was a long post. If you're still reading, well done for getting to the end :) I hope you found it helpful.

We're loving seeing your Bettine dresses popping up on Instagram and Twitter. Keep 'em coming, and don't forget to use the hashtag #SewingBettine so we can see!