24 May 2017

How to Line the Etta Dress

How to Line the Etta dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Sometimes it's satisfying to spend a bit of extra time on your sewing project to get a super luxurious finish – particularly if you're making an outfit for a special occasion.

Vanessa here today - I'm going to show you how to make and attach a lining to your Etta dress. You can also use this tutorial to line many other fitted dresses, including those with a fiddly kick pleat. A lining will not only give your dress more weight and a flattering shape, it also reduces static and twisting - so no tugging around an unruly garment!

How to Line the Etta dress - Tilly and the Buttons

When choosing a lining fabric, look out for something lightweight and drapey that feels lovely on your skin. Try acetate or poly satin (nice and cheap - but check it first as it can go a bit static), viscose (rayon) crepe de chine, silk satin or, if you really want to push the boat out, something like silk charmeuse. Tilly bought this lining fabric from A One Fabrics on London's Goldhawk Road.

You'll also need matching thread, some large pieces of paper to make a lining pattern, and the Etta lining template, which prints on one sheet of A4 or Letter paper:


I've sewn this version in a gorgeous quality red sateen - an easy-to-work-with fabric with a touch of stretch for comfort and a subtle sheen for glamour. You can get your hands on the same fabric that I've used as well as all the notions you need in our Etta sewing kits.

How to Line the Etta dress - Tilly and the Buttons

17 May 2017

How to Sew a Mitred Corner

How to Sew a Mitred Corner - Tilly and the Buttons

Mitred corners create a neat finish on exposed corners, without any flappy bits that you might get by folding one edge over the other. It’s a lovely little extra detail to add to the kick pleat on the Etta dress, and can also be useful on other projects such as blouses, tablecloths and napkins. Here’s how to sew a mitred corner…

The first thing to do is ensure the two folds to be joined are the same width. On the Etta dress the kick pleat fold is 40mm (1½in) wide, while the hem fold is 30mm (1¼in) wide. So you can either trim down the kick pleat by 10mm (3/8in) or fold the hem up an extra 10mm (3/8in) so both folds are either 30mm (1¼in) or 40mm (1½in) wide.

How to Sew a Mitred Corner - Tilly and the Buttons

Finish the seam allowances and, if you’re making the Etta dress, press the raw edge of the kick pleat under 10mm (3/8in) and topstitch in place. Press each fold to the wrong side.

11 May 2017

Inside our Online Dressmaking Workshop

Sew Your Own Knockout Dress - online workshop from Tilly and the Buttons

Today I thought I'd tell you a little bit more about our latest online workshop - Sew Your Own Knockout Dress - and give you a peek inside the members-only workshop site.

I've spent a lot of time developing each of our five sewing workshops to ensure they're clear, well-structured, user-friendly and jam-packed full of learning points. In fact, I've been designing workshops professionally for over a decade and it's my favourite job in the world!

Here's the trailer...



So what do you get when you sign up to one of our online workshops?

8 May 2017

Fitting the Etta dress sewing pattern

Etta dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons


Making yourself an Etta dress? Vanessa here to take you through some fitting adjustments you can make to create a personalised fit unique to your figure.

Bear in mind you almost certainly won’t need to make all of the changes covered in this post. You might not need to make any at all!

But since we’re all different shapes, one of the lovely things about making your own clothes is being able to get a bespoke fit – much better that shop-bought clothing. You can add or remove length where you need it, take the shoulders in or out, adjust for larger or smaller boobs... It does take a bit of extra work, but it's worth it to have a lovely outfit tailored just for you!

We’re going to look at:

  • Choosing your size
  • Lengthening or shortening the bodice, skirt or sleeves
  • Combining pattern sizes
  • Widening or narrowing shoulders
  • Adjusting for a sway back
  • Adjusting for a full or small bust

5 May 2017

Inspiration for Making the Etta Dress

Inspiration for making the Etta dress

Planning to make the Etta dress? Today I thought I’d share with you some gorgeous Pinspiration to help you decide on colours and prints, and get some styling ideas.

When choosing your fabric, I suggest you pick a medium weight material. You don’t want anything too drapey or the dress might hang a bit funny. If the fabric has a bit of stretch in it, that’s always helpful for a fitted dress like this to make it more comfortable to wear. Look for stretch woven cotton, sateen, triple crepe, crepe-back satin, ponte di roma or stable jacquard knits. The cap sleeve version would also work nicely in brocade, but you might find this kind of material a bit uncomfortable on longer sleeves.

Above - clockwise from top left: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

It's easy to get drawn to pretty and unusual prints when fabric shopping. But don't forget the humble solid colour! These can often make the most striking dresses. The V-back collar looks particularly good in a solid as it will stand out more. Try a bright or jewel tone, or even a pastel or cream. Look for textured fabrics too, such as jacquard knits and heavy crepes, to add an extra bit of interest.

Inspiration for making the Etta dress

Clockwise from top left - 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

3 May 2017

NEW Etta Sewing Pattern! And Online Dressmaking Workshop!

Absolutely gorgeous! Etta sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons
Absolutely gorgeous! Etta sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

There’s a new sewing pattern on the block… she’s called Etta, and she’s a head-turner!

If that wasn’t exciting enough, I’ll take you through all the steps to make it in my brand new online workshop – Sew Your Own Knockout Dress.

Plus you can easily get hold of all the bits and bobs you need to make the dress with our limited edition Etta sewing kits.

So many good things to tell you about today! Let’s start with the design of the dress…

Absolutely gorgeous! Etta sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

26 April 2017

Sewing Space Tours... Ana's Sweet Sewing Space!

Sewing Space Tours... Ana's Sweet Sewing Space!
Sewing Space Tours... Ana's Sweet Sewing Space!
Fancy some mid-week sewing space inspo? You're in luck! Lexy here to introduce Ana, who has let us peep into her sweet and serene sewing room in the latest instalment of our Sewing Space Tours series. Over to Ana for more!

Hi! My name is Ana, I am originally from Spain, but I have been living in London for the past 6 years (and yes, I complain about the weather quite a lot – but who doesn’t!?). I used to work as a journalist and writer, as this is what I studied at university in Spain, but after starting my own sewing business in 2014 here in London, I gave up my freelance writing job to work on CocoWawa Crafts full time (or, as I usually say, 24/7!). It was a very scary thing to do in my thirties, but well worth it.

Sewing Space Tours... Ana's Sweet Sewing Space!

When it comes to sewing, I actually only learned 5 years ago! I wasn’t very crafty as a child – I even used glue to make clothes for my dolls, rather than stitch them! But since learning, I have not been able to stop, and now sewing and creating sewing patterns is my actual job.

Sewing Space Tours... Ana's Sweet Sewing Space!

19 April 2017

Your Makes... Cleo Special!

Your Makes...Cleo Special!
Hello, sewing friends!

Lexy here, and it's time, once more, to give admiration to (as well as seek inspiration from) the excellent things that you have been making with our sewing patterns this month. We've absolutely LOVED seeing all of your gorgeous Cleo dungaree dresses on social media, so we've decided to devote this Maker Gallery post to that very pattern! We've been totally spoilt for choice putting this post together, but here's a selection that have really caught our eye...

Oh. My. Goodness. Zoubi and Rumana (who you may recognise from the last series of The Great British Sewing Bee) have struck gold with their beautiful Cleo dresses. Zoubi's bold and bright Cleo is really eye catching, whilst Rumana's take on the pattern is classic and chic.

Your Makes...Cleo Special!

Ooh, denim and stripes!! Alexandra looks fantastic in her classic blue denim Cleo dress. Harriet also looks amazing in her bright red Cleo, styled perfectly for the unpredictable English weather with sunnies and wellies!

12 April 2017

How to Sew Four-Step Buttonholes

How to Sew Four-Step Buttonholes - Tilly and the Buttons

Sewing buttonholes is one of those techniques that many beginner stitchers try to avoid… but once you get to grips with them, buttonholes are honestly pretty straightforward! Plus it’s a great skill to have under your (handmade) belt, as it opens up a whole world of shirts, blouses, dresses, skirts and more.

In this post I’m going to take you through sewing four-step buttonholes on a mechanical sewing machine. Check out my post of making one-step buttonholes on a digital machine too. (If you’re not sure which type of buttonholes your sewing machine makes, take a look at the manual.)

Four-step buttonholes take a bit more effort than the one-step kind, but the good thing about them is you have more control over how they turn out. Always always always test sew a buttonhole (or five) on a double scrap of your fabric (interfaced if your project) before starting on your precious garment, so you have a chance to alter the settings and check everything is in order first. The other key with four-step buttonholes is to ensure that you’re stitching them to the correct length.

How to Sew Four-Step Buttonholes - Tilly and the Buttons

Mark the buttonhole on your fabric. Attach the buttonhole foot to your sewing machine, and position the fabric underneath it so the window is showing the full buttonhole and the top end of the buttonhole (the end furthest away from you) is underneath the needle. Lace the thread under the foot and towards the back.

5 April 2017

Big Project in the Works!



As you may or may not have already guessed from hints dropped here and there, I'm working on something BIG for 2018... my second book!

I know it's been a long time coming since the publication of my first book, Love at First Stitch, in May 2014, and that a lot of you have been asking for a second book sooner. The truth is that I felt so burnt out after writing the first one that I really needed a break. And then the sewing pattern and online workshop side of my business started growing... and growing... and the idea of trying to write a book alongside running a business seemed crazy!

Last Summer I decided that the time had come, and I started getting excited again about the idea of writing a second book. I wrote the proposal and outline over the Summer and designed all the projects, then pitched the book in September 2016. In the Autumn, I started fleshing out the content - this time with the invaluable help of Vanessa, our pattern cutter, on the patterns themselves.

The book will be published in Spring 2018 by Quadrille. So far I've designed all the projects, outlined the structure and content, written three chapters, sourced the fabrics, sewn lots of samples, had two photo shoots, and Vanessa has drafted the majority of the patterns. We've still got quite a bit to do before the deadline at the end of June, but it's really getting there.


29 March 2017

Your Pets on Our Patterns!

Pets on Tilly and the Buttons patterns!

It's Wednesday, and Wednesdays call for cuteness. Lexy here, and to get us over the mid-week hump, we thought it might be a good idea to pay tribute to the furry friends who keep us company during our many (we wish) hours of sewing. The ladies here at Tilly and the Buttons are all confirmed cat lovers, but that's not to say that any kind of furry company isn't most welcome when we're measuring, cutting, and stitching. Here are a few of your gorgeous pets that have "helped" during sewing, or assisted when it comes to modelling your Tilly and the Buttons creations!

Rona is a gorgeous sewing companion who lives with Abi, who very kindly shared her gorgeous sewing space with us last week. Check it out if you haven't done so already. As if we weren't already envious enough of Abi's fantastic space, she gets to sew with Rona next to her everyday.

Pets on Tilly and the Buttons patterns!

22 March 2017

Sewing Space Tours... Abi's Pretty and Practical sewing space!

Sewing Space Tours...Abi's Sewing Space!
Sewing Space Tours...Abi's Sewing Space!

Hello! Lexy here with the latest in our Sewing Space Tours series, where we are offered an insight into a reader's sewing area. Today, the lovely Abi is showing us around her slice of pastel heaven. Over to Abi for more!

Hello! I'm Abi and you can find me blogging about my retro dress making over at The Crafty Pinup. Welcome to my sewing space, which is also where I also run My Retro Closet, my vintage inspired handmade lingerie and nightwear business. I live in Shrewsbury, a pretty Tudor town near Wales, with my family. I work from home in what was once a dining room, and is now my very own little studio. Along with my sewing space, I have a separate office in the house for all the boring admin and non-creative computer things, which isn't very exciting!

Sewing Space Tours...Abi's Sewing Space!

15 March 2017

Your Makes... Zadie Special!

Your Makes - Zadie Special!

Hello sewing friends!

Lexy here, with another look at what gorgeous things you’ve been making with Tilly and the Buttons patterns. In celebration of our latest release, we’re dedicating this instalment of Your Makes to the Zadie dress! The response to this pattern has been HUGE - it's been our biggest launch to date, and has quickly become a bestseller! We’ve loved seeing the different colours and prints that you've put together to make a unique Zadie dress. Here are a few that really caught our eye...

We’re opening strong here – Nina looks phenomenal in her gorgeous spotty Zadie dress! We love the spotty print and contrast panels. @candlelightstitches also shared her beautiful Zadie dress with us on Instagram, and has created a stand-out Zadie that looks incredibly modern and super flattering.


Another Zadie that really caught our eye was Jade’s amazing floral and black colour blocked creation (keep an eye out for some exciting news about new Zadie kits!). The vibrant florals, contrasted with the black sleeves and neckband, looks lovely. Sarah opted for solid colour blocking for her super chic Zadie, and demonstrated perfectly that neutrals really lend themselves to a relaxed yet stylish look.

9 March 2017

Sewing Zadie: Sew the Side Seams and Hems

Sewing Zadie - Side seams and hems - Tilly and the Buttons

Last steps of the Zadie sewalong! Let’s get the side seams sewn up and the dress hemmed.

Catching up? Order your Zadie sewing pattern and catch up on the sewalong!

Sewing Zadie - Side seams and hems - Tilly and the Buttons

Let’s get going. Fold the front dress over the back dress, right sides together.

This next bit is probably the second fiddliest part of making the dress – sorry! The aim of the game is to create a neat, triangular point where the diagonal skirt seams meet at the side seams. Line up the diagonal pocket opening seam with the diagonal back skirt seam so they’re exactly on top of each other.

Thread a needle and tack (baste) them together by hand for about 5cm (2in) up from the side seams. Don’t tack the front side panel – you’re just tacking the pocket facing, front skirt and back skirts together.

6 March 2017

Sewing Zadie: Attach the Neckband

Sewing Zadie - How to attach a jersey neckband - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Zadie dress? In this post I’m going to show you how to attach the neckband.

Sewing Zadie - How to attach a jersey neckband - Tilly and the Buttons

Start by pinning together the short ends of the neckband, right sides together. Stitch them together with a narrow zigzag (1-1.5mm wide x 2.2-2.5mm long) to form a loop. (You can do this bit on an overlocker or serger, but it’s a bit less lumpy if you use a regular sewing machine.)

Sewing Zadie - How to attach a jersey neckband - Tilly and the Buttons

Trim the seam allowances and press them open. Fold the neckband in half lengthways, wrong sides together, and press.

2 March 2017

Sewing Zadie: Attach the Sleeves

Sewing Zadie - How to attach raglan sleeves - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Zadie dress? In this post, I’m going to show you how to attach the sleeves. We’ll start with the cap sleeves – scroll about half way down the page to the long or three-quarter length sleeve steps if you’re making those instead.

Catching up? Order your Zadie sewing pattern and catch up on the sewalong!

For the cap sleeve version:

Sewing Zadie - How to attach raglan sleeves - Tilly and the Buttons

If you’re using an overlocker or serger, finish the bottom of the cap sleeve, and finish the underarm edge at the top of each front side panel and back side panel. If you don’t have an overlocker, don’t worry – just leave the edges raw.

Fold each sleeve hem under 15mm (5/8in), wrong sides together, press and pin in place. Topstitch with a wide and even zigzag (2 x 2mm or 2.5 x 2.5mm), 10mm (3/8in) from the edge.

Sewing Zadie - How to attach raglan sleeves - Tilly and the Buttons

27 February 2017

Sewing Zadie: Make the Back Dress

Sewing Zadie - Making the back dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Zadie dress? I’m going to show you how to put together the back of the dress. (Order your pattern and check out previous steps if you need to catch up!)

These steps are similar to how we made the front of the dress in the previous post – however, there are a few differences, so do pay attention! The good news is that it’s quite a bit easier than making the front dress as it doesn't have the pockets.

Sewing Zadie - Making the back dress - Tilly and the Buttons

We’re going to start by attaching the back bodice to the back skirt – lay these pieces out on your sewing table, right sides up. If you’re not sure which is the neckline and which is the waistline on the back bodice, look for the centre notch that you snipped at the cutting stage – this edge is the waistline.

23 February 2017

Sewing Zadie: Make the Front Dress

Sewing Zadie: Make the front dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Zadie dress? Today I’m going to show you how to put together the pieces to make the front of the dress.

Not started your dress yet? Order your Zadie sewing pattern and catch up on the sewalong!

I’m including lots of photos so you can see which pieces and seams I’m referring to, but if you’re still not sure which bit I’m asking you to pin or sew, have a look at the seam labels on the pattern sheets.

Our patterns include a 15mm (5/8in) seam allowance – so sew with the raw edges lined up with the 15 or 5/8 guide on your needle plate, unless the step says otherwise. And back tack at each end of the stitching to secure it in place.

Sewing Zadie: Make the front dress - Tilly and the Buttons

20 February 2017

Sewing Zadie: Stabilise Seams and Sew Pleats

Sewing Zadie: Stabilise seams and sew pleats - Tilly and the Buttons

Ready to start making your Zadie dress? Today I’m going to walk you through the first steps – exciting!

Getting started

First things first – take your measurements, choose your size and make any initial adjustments to the pattern. Go back a couple of posts to read up on sizing and fitting for the Zadie dress.

Sewing Zadie: Stabilise seams and sew pleats - Tilly and the Buttons

16 February 2017

My Teal and Stripes Zadie Dress

Tilly's teal and stripe ponte Zadie dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons
Tilly's teal and stripe ponte Zadie dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

The Zadie sewing pattern was a labour of love for us. The unusual style lines meant it was a complicated pattern to draft, fit and format, as any teensy change to one pattern piece had a knock-on effect on nearly every other piece. We took our time, and it was soooo worth it. Any time we got stressed about the amount of time and effort it was taking, I wore one of my Zadie dresses into the office and it all felt worthwhile. I reeeeally love this dress!

I've made four versions of the dress for myself so far - one solid red, one black and white, one in stripes, teal and pink (the same one demonstrated in the instructions), and this one - teal and striped ponte. It's such a great pattern for combining different colours and prints.

13 February 2017

Sewing Zadie: Choosing Your Size and Fitting Your Dress

Fitting the Zadie dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Zadie dress? Vanessa here today to talk about how to choose your size and make any alterations you might need to get a beautiful fit.

Just to warn you, this is a loooong post - but you don't have to read it all! The good news is that knit fabrics stretch in places where they need to, so that takes away some of the fitting work for you. However, as our bodies all carry volume in different places and proportions, you may find that you need to make some tweaks to the pattern to get a personalised fit. In which case, skip to the section that you think you need in this post. Whatever you do, definitely read about choosing your size, making a toile and fitting as you sew - these are all essential!

We're going to cover:

  • Choosing your size
  • Making a toile
  • Lengthening the bodice or skirt
  • Shortening the bodice or skirt
  • Shortening the back bodice for a sway back
  • Lengthening the back bodice for a long back
  • Combining pattern sizes - the quick n easy method and the more accurate method
  • Adjusting for a full bust
  • Adjusting for a small bust
  • Making a second toile (after making changes to the paper pattern)
  • Fitting as you sew

Fitting the Zadie dress - Tilly and the Buttons
Fitting the Zadie dress - Tilly and the Buttons

9 February 2017

Five Tips for Making a Colour Blocked Dress

Five Tips for Making a Colour Blocked Dress - Tilly and the Buttons

Combining different coloured fabrics – or colour blocking – is a great way of highlighting interesting style lines on a garment, such as the Zadie dress. Those panels are just screaming out for contrast colours!

Today I thought I’d share some thoughts on how to approach colour blocking a dress that you’re making – from planning, through sewing, to after care. I’d love to know your thoughts on this too!

Five Tips for Making a Colour Blocked Dress - Tilly and the Buttons