13 September 2019

How to Combine Pattern Sizes


Do your bust, waist or hip measurements fall across different sizes? If so, you can "grade" between sizes to get a perfect fit. Hooray! It's Nikki here, Product Manager and self-confessed fitting nerd here at Tilly and the Buttons, and in this post I'm going to cover how to combine sizes on pattern pieces.

One of the best things about sewing is that you can create clothes that fit your unique body shape. If you have bust, waist and hip measurements that are different sizes, like me, you'll probably have stood in a clothes shop fitting room before, surrounded by a pile of clothes that are too loose on top and too tight across your hips, or vice-versa. Luckily, when it comes to making your own clothes, you can combine pattern sizes to make parts of the garment bigger or smaller to give you a truly bespoke fit. 

When should I combine pattern sizes? 

Now, it might be tempting to combine sizes for the bust, waist and hips on all your patterns, but depending on the fit of the garment you don't always need to do this. 

If you're making a looser fitting garment or a garment that is looser fitting in some areas, you might not need to combine sizes at all. A looser fitting garment will have a lot of "positive ease", meaning the garment (or parts of it) will be much bigger than your body, so a few inches difference in that area won't make much difference to the overall fit. 

So for example, if you're making something with a fitted bust and loose waist and hips, like the Indigo top and dress pattern, and your waist measurement is 2 or 3 sizes different to your bust, then you probably won't need to make any alterations here. The same applies to the hip measurement - the skirt is loose and flowy so a few sizes difference between your body measurements won't affect the fit of the garment. However, if your bust and waist span across more than 3 sizes you might want to consider grading between sizes.

On the other hand, if you're making a garment that is designed to have a closer fit, like the Ness skirt or Etta dress, you will want to grade between sizes at the bust, waist and hip, where applicable, as there is much less ease in these areas.

Please do bear in mind though, if your bust measurement is particularly smaller or larger than the body measurement of the size you have picked, then you might need to do a bust adjustment, as well as combine sizes. Check out our bust adjustments post (coming soon!) for more info!

Most sewing patterns will list the finished garment measurements in their instructions, so if you're a bit unsure whether you need to combine sizes, comparing them against your body measurements will help you decide :) 

General info about combining pattern sizes

OK, so you've decided that you need to combine pattern sizes, but there are a few things you need to know before you get stuck in! 

Most patterns will have notch markings on them signifying where the bust, waist and hip should sit. If a pattern doesn't have them, you can hold up the pattern piece to your body to get an idea of where they should be. You can use these notches as a start and finish point and grade between them. 

When combining pattern sizes, it's very important that you make sure they will match the pattern pieces that they are joining. So for example, if you are making a dress and have graded between the bust and the waist, make sure the waist size is the same for both the bodice and the skirt! If you are sewing something with a front and back bodice, front and back skirt etc. make sure you have done the same adjustment to both pieces. The same applies to facings - if you have graded a piece that will join it, make sure it matches. 

The first diagram below shows how you combine sizes on a pattern piece that has a straight side seam, and no dart.  If you are combining sizes on a curved seam, it's exactly the same principle but you'll want to use a french curve, pattern master or a steady hand to draw a smooth curved line, instead of a straight one. The Jessa fitting post has more deets on how to do this is you fancy having a look. Later on in the post, I'm also going to cover how you combine sizes on a bodice that has a bust dart.

Ready to get stuck in? let's do this!

Combining sizes for an un-darted seam


Combining and grading pattern sizes fitting - Tilly and the Buttons

If you're combining different bust and waist measurements, on a straight seam, draw a straight line at the side seam joining up your bust size at the top and your waist size at the bottom. The above photo shows a back bodice for a size 6 bust and a size 5 waist in red, and a size 3 bust and size 4 waist in green.

If your pattern piece is more curved, draw a curved line between the sizes using a pattern master, french curve or by hand.

It really is as simple as that :)

Combining sizes on a darted bodice

11 September 2019

How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern

How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Do you have a particularly long or short torso, legs or arms? If this sounds like you, you might want to consider lengthening or shortening your sewing patterns to get a better fit.

It's Nikki here, and today I'm going to talk you through lengthening or shortening pattern pieces. The diagrams below show a bodice, which you can adjust if you have a long or short upper body, but you can use the same technique on loads of pattern pieces - trouser legs or skirts if you have long or short legs, sleeves if you have long or short arms, you name it. This is one of the great things about sewing - you can adjust just the parts you need to get a garment to fit your unique shape.

If you are lengthening a pattern piece that has a matching pair or facing that will be affected by the length - for example, a front bodice will often join a back bodice and sometimes a front opening facing - make the same adjustment to the matching pattern pieces, else you'll end up with a wonky garment (not cool).

Ready? Let's get stuck in to...

How to lengthen a sewing pattern
How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

If you want to lengthen your pattern piece, cut along the bottom "lengthen or shorten" line, to separate your pattern pieces into two.

How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

9 September 2019

Fitting the Indigo top and dress

Fitting the Indigo smock top and dress

Making the Indigo smock and want some tips on how to get a great fit? The good news is that Indigo is relatively easy to fit thanks to the loose-fitting smock style. It does have a fitted bodice though, so you may want to make some tweaks to the pattern to create a bespoke-fitting garment especially for you.

It's Nikki here, Product Manager at Tilly and the Buttons. In the next few blog posts, I'm going to talk you through some of the most common pattern adjustments you may want to make for your Indigo. You'll also be able to use these techniques for lots of other sewing patterns in the future, so make sure you bookmark these posts to help you on your future sewing escapades.

In this post we're going to cover:
  • Making a toile
  • Choosing your size

The posts coming over the next weeks will cover:
  • Lenghtening or shortening pattern pieces
  • Combining sizes
  • Bust adjutsments for bust darted bodice
  • Moving a dart on a bust darted bodice
  • Wide and narrow shoulder adjutsments
Ready? Ok, on with the show.

6 September 2019

Inspiration and Fabrics For Making Your Indigo Smock

Inspiration for making the Indigo smock by Tilly and the Buttons

Do you suffer from wardrobe woes, with a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear? We think we have solved this conundrum with a wear-it-all-week piece that you can throw on and go! You won't give your outfit another thought (apart from, 'I look great!'), and can get on with your busy day in handmade style.

If you haven't already been introduced to our latest pattern, the Indigo smock top or dress, then make sure you read all the juicy deets in our previous post.

It's Louise here from team Buttons, a smock lover who is happiest when floating around in me-made style. I am going to take you through a little inspo for making your Indigo along with some dreamy fabric suggestions. One of my favourite things about Indigo is how it transforms with the choice of fabric. You can sew up an everyday top to chuck on with jeans, a smart dress that is office-appropriate or go for a swishy, party dress. Indigo just does it all!

I've broken things down by fabric type so you can think about what is best going to suit the vibe you want to go for. I guarantee you won't stop at one and will tick these off your list in no time and have an Indigo for every occasion!

Inspiration for making the Indigo smock by Tilly and the Buttons
Clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

First up, we have cotton lawn which something most of us probably already have sitting in our stash waiting to be made. Enter Indigo! Cotton lawn has just enough drape and feels silky soft to the touch down to its fine and high thread count. It's perfect for creating a smock with little more fullness to it as the cotton lawn will hold the shape beautifully.

Inspiration for making the Indigo smock by Tilly and the Buttons
Top: Fabric - Lamazi Fabrics / Dress  / Bottom: Dress / Fabric - Minerva Crafts

Recreate these floral beauties that would work as well with tights and a cosy cardigan in the autumn as they would with a pair of tan sandals in the summer.

Inspiration for making the Indigo smock by Tilly and the Buttons
Top Row: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 Middle Row: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 Bottom Row: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4