I currently use a Janome 6600P, a professional digital machine, which I LOVE! Until recently, I used a Janome J3-18, which is a fairly basic, low cost mechanical model. It served me well for over three years, doing everything I wanted it to do, and I would recommend it for beginners or those on a budget. Choosing a sewing machine does come down to personal preference though, so if you're not sure, you could try out a few in a shop before deciding.
Should I get an overlocker/serger too?
An overlocker/serger is great for creating a neat finish to seams, sewing stretch fabrics and more. I didn't get one until I'd been sewing for a year - they're certainly not essential when you're starting out. But if you do decide to take the plunge, they're brilliant for creating professional looking seams. I've got a Brother 1034D.
Which dress form/tailor's dummy do you have?
I use a Lady Valet adjustable dress form, which is great as you can adjust it to your size, plus it looks really nice.
I'm just starting sewing - can you recommend an easy sewing pattern for beginners?
Yes I can - in fact, I designed the Miette skirt as the PERFECT first clothes sewing pattern for beginners! It is easy to make, easy to fit, and has no fiddly zips or buttons. The instructions are written with beginners in mind and have lots of photos to show you what each step should look like.
Can you suggest some places to go fabric shopping in London?
Yes I can - read this!
Can you recommend some online fabric shops?
Some of my favourite online fabric shops are featured on the right hand side of my blog. Here are some tips on online fabric shopping.
I’m looking for a particular fabric – do you know where I can get it?
This post lists the places I usually buy fabric in London. I’m not an expert on who stocks what though, so if you're desperate to find something in particular, your best bet is to give a few of the shops a call and see if they have what you’re looking for. You could also try searching online for shops that may have what you're after.
Can you recommend a good sewing book?
I love these books:
- Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book by Clive Hallett and Amanda Johnstone - absolutely priceless for finding out what different fabrics actually feel like - reviewed here
- Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing by Gretchen Hirsch - the adorable Gertie guides us through couture techniques and gorgeous vintage-inspired patterns
- DIY Couture by Rosie Martin - refreshingly down-to-earth approach to sewing without patterns - reviewed here
- Complete Book of Sewing by Chris Jeffreys - super useful reference to millions of sewing techniques
- Design-It-Yourself Clothes by Cal Patch - simple and accessible pattern making projects
- Pattern Cutting by Dennic Chunman Lo - drafting explained in an intuitive manner - reviewed here
- Sublime Stitching by Jenny Hart - delightful intro to embroidery
- Sew U Home Stretch by Wendy Mullin - overlocking made easy
- Colette Sewing Handbook by Sarai Mitnick - pretty projects in a beautiful book
- Sew Over It: Sew It, Wear It, Love It by Lisa Comfort - good for alterations and embellishments
- Pattern Magic by Tomoko Nakamichi - pattern play to make you go "woah!" - reviewed here
- Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire Shaeffer - classic couture techniques reference
- Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by Winifred Aldrich - pattern style reference
- The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff - mind-bending fabric-twisting
Will you help promote my product/business?
If you run a small sewing-related business that my readers would love to hear about, you might consider becoming a sponsor. If your sewing business is larger, please get in touch to discuss how we might work together. I'm sorry but I don't promote clothes shops - I'd rather readers made their own!
I occasionally review a sewing-related book, pattern or fabric if I love it and think my readers will too. Unfortunately I have to turn down most review offers simply because of limited time and editorial space. You can try me though if you think I’ll love your product – send me an email.
We would like to contribute an article / guest post to your site...
Sorry, I create the content for this blog myself.
What was that sewable tracing paper I saw you using on the telly and where can I get some?
It's called Swedish tracing paper and you can find it here.
I really like that vintage sewing pattern featured on your blog. Where can I get a copy?
You can source vintage sewing patterns on eBay, Etsy and specialist online shops, as well as at antiques and charity shops. While you may not find the exact same pattern, similar styles come up all the time. Good luck!
Do you plan to make your sewing patterns available in larger sizes?
Yes! Coco and the patterns in my book comes in eight sizes, from UK 6 - 20. Miette and Mathilde currently come in six sizes and, due to popular demand, I'm now working on updating them to include eight sizes. Watch this space! In the meantime you can hand-grade patterns using this tutorial.
Help! My sewing machine is playing up!
Ooh noo! Alas, I’m no expert on the mysterious mechanics of the machine. If it’s a minor issue, you might be surprised how often you can find the solution just by Googling it – chances are someone else has had the exact same issue and written about it online. Hurrah for the interwebs! If it’s an ongoing problem, best get your machine checked out by a professional.
Does sewing run in your family?
Yes! My great-grandfather was a tailor and my mum was a knitwear designer. They didn’t teach me to sew though!
How did you learn to sew?
I started sewing a few years ago on a whim, feeling a sudden urge to make something with my hands. I took a workshop at Oh Sew Brixton (sadly now closed) on how to use a sewing machine, followed by a three-day course on how to make a dress. I was instantly hooked! For years I was then self-taught through blogs, books and trial and error. More recently I took some courses in professional sewing techniques and pattern drafting at the London College of Fashion.
I've started my own blog. Can you give me some tips on building an audience?
You can watch a video of my 'Craft Your Blog' talk which I gave to designer-maker businesses at Folksy Summer School here.
Which sewing blogs do you read?
Squillions - far too many to list! And I'm finding new ones all the time. Just a few of my favourites are: A Fashionable Stitch, All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go, A Sewing Odyssey,
Did You Make That?, Dixie DIY, Elegant Musings, Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing, Handmade Jane, Lazy Stitching, Lladybird, Liza Jane Sews, My Happy Sewing Place, Nette, Paunnet, Sew I Thought, So Zo..., Stitch and Witter … the list goes on! I also enjoy reading blogs on craft, fashion, food, business, life...
Can I use a photo from your blog on my website?
The content of this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licence. What that means is that I’m happy for you to use an image so long as it’s for non-commercial purposes, you don’t alter it, you credit www.tillyandthebuttons.com and link back to the original post. Please don’t reproduce tutorials in full and please request permission if you want to use more than one image.
And I’m more than happy for you to post as many images as you want to Pinterest as long as they link back to the original source. In fact, I'd encourage it!
Can I buy the clothes that you make?
Sorry, I don't sell the clothes that I make. My aim is to teach you to learn to sew clothes yourself!
Can I pay you to alter some clothes for me?
Sorry, I don't offer an alterations service.
Can I sell garments that I have made from your sewing patterns?
Sorry, purchasing one of my sewing patterns allows you to make garments for yourself or as gifts, not to sell them to others.
Can I teach a sewing class using your sewing patterns?
Yes, you can! Each student will have to buy their own version of the pattern as they are for personal use only. Please be sure to credit the pattern to Tilly and the Buttons and use the pattern's correct name. Thank you.