Tilly Walnes

Hello! I’m Tilly Walnes, the founder of Tilly and the Buttons. We design gorgeous step-by-step guides to sewing your own clothes for the new wave of DIY dressmakers.

With jargon-busting instructions and photos showing each step, our blog, sewing patterns, workshops and book help you create gorgeous clothes that you’ll be proud to say you made yourself... even if you're a new stitcher.

Making your clothes yourself is so much more fun and fulfilling than buying them!

How this all began...

Six years ago I was bored in an office and felt an urge to do something creative with my hands. On a whim, I signed up for a sewing class and soon fell head over heels in love with making my own clothes. It’s so fun and fulfilling to take a flat piece of fabric, cut it out and stitch it together to create a unique, made-to-measure garment that I dreamed up in my head.

Over the next few years, I dived deep into the world of sewing and pattern making, and undertook training at the London College of Fashion. I started this blog to share my passion for dressmaking with others, joining an online sewing circle of makers who pool their sewing knowledge and spur each other on to keep creating. Soon the blog was being visited over 3 million times a year by people from all over the world.

The idea for the business gradually blossomed as friends, blog readers and random strangers kept telling me the same story – that they would love to make their own clothes too, but that they found the technical jargon, diagrams and conventions of traditional sewing resources confusing, intimidating and ultimately off-putting. They had a good point – sewing patterns tend to assume you already know what you’re doing, which just isn’t the case for my generation and younger who never learnt to sew.

So I set out to rethink sewing patterns for modern makers, blending my passion for sewing with ten years of professional expertise in designing learning programmes. Our patterns include lots of helpful features to help you have a fun and fulfilling experience sewing up your dream wardrobe. I don't have a background in the fashion industry - everything we do is designed especially for people who sew at home, for themselves, for fun.

You can find our patterns in our online shop, as well as in lots of lovely shops around the world – from Paris to Australia to Liberty of London. My first book for beginner dressmakers, Love at First Stitch, was a Sunday Times bestseller, won 'Best Book' in the British Sewing Awards 2014, and has been published in nine languages. I’ve been featured in the likes of The Guardian and The New York Times, and have sewn on telly as a contestant in BBC2’s The Great British Sewing Bee. I've given talks on blogging and business for the likes of Folksy, Blogtacular, Enterprise Nation and the Clore Leadership Programme, taught sewing for Janome, and been awarded the HRH British Made bursary from the Duke of York.

In 2013 I quit the day job to focus on Tilly and the Buttons full time and started growing a lovely team. You can come to our lovely studio in South London to enjoy a friendly sewing workshop led by me or one of our carefully selected teachers. (There will be wine. And goody bags.) Or you can take a sewing workshop online!

We hope you’ll enjoy reading the blog and sewing with our patterns. Do send us a photo of what you make – we can’t wait to see!

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