15 August 2019

Jessa: Sewing the zip fly

Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern

Hello sewing gang, are you ready for your next installment of the Jessa sewalong? Yeah you are! It's Nikki here, Product Manager at Tilly and the Buttons, and today I'm going to cover something very exciting - how to sew the zip fly on your Jessa trousers or shorts.

OK, here comes a pep talk. If you've never sewn a zip fly before, the process can seem a bit intimidating. There are a few different steps involved in constructing a zip fly and I can totally relate to the feeling of flicking through a pattern booklet and looking at all the instructions thinking it looks a bit scary.

The good news, however, is that it really isn't as fiddly as it seems! Constructing a zip fly is like sewing anything - completing a series of small steps until you end up with something amazing, that looks different from the pieces and notions you started with. You can do this!

The Jessa zip fly construction is very similar to the steps in Ness skirt instructions, so you can mostly follow along using the brilliant 'How to sew a zip fly' video Tilly and Jenny made last year. Yay! There are a couple of differences between the video and the Jessa construction which I'll talk you through below, but the middle section follows the same steps.

To make the Jessa trousers and shorts you will need an 18cm (7in) jeans zip. If your zip is on the long side we have a great blog post which talks through how to shorten a metal zip.

Need to get up to speed on the previous Jessa sewalong posts? Check out the dedciated sewalong page to catch up on all posts. 

Ready to sew a zip fly? Let's do this!

Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern

12 August 2019

Jessa: Making the pockets and faux pocket flap

Hello lovely stitchers! It's Nikki here, Product Manager at Tilly HQ, and I'm back today with your recommended dose of the Jessa sewalong.

Catching up? Check out the dedicated sewalong page to find all of the posts published so far. 

Today is a very special day because I am going to be covering all things pockets. Who doesn't love pockets? Nobody, that's who. Luckily for you the pockets on the Jessa trousers and shorts are very roomy. Keep your phone in there, your snacks, a small sudoku book... these pockets are here to serve you.

You have a few different options when it comes to choosing your pockets for Jessa. You can choose to attach the patch pockets to the front or the back, or both! You also have the option of adding a faux pocket flap to the front leg, or both legs if you are feeling fancy. I think the faux pocket flap looks best on its own with no patch pockets on the front but hey, who am I to tell you what to do. If you want all the pockets then go right ahead :)

Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern

The patch pockets

Before we stitch the pockets to the legs, we have to finish the edges and turn them under so the edges are hidden on the inside. Using an overlocker, or a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine, finish all edges except the top edge on all of the patch pockets you are using.

To help get lovely even pockets, staystitch all the edges you have finished 14mm (just under 5/8in) from the edge. Don't worry about backtacking at either end of the stitching. We'll come back to this in a minute.

Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern
Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern

Fold the top, unfinished edge of the patch pockets down, wrong sides together, by 10mm (3/8in) and press down. Fold the same top edge under again by 20mm (3/4in) and press. Topstitch this top edge 15mm (5/8in) away from the edge.

8 August 2019

Jessa: Prepping the pieces and sewing the darts

Welcome back to another Jessa sewalong post. It's Nikki here, Product Manager for Team Tilly, and today I'm going to cover the next few steps in the adventure that is sewing the Jessa trousers and shorts - prepping the pieces, AKA interfacing the waistband, zip facing and optional faux pocket flap, staystitching the relevant pieces, and sewing the darts.

Need to catch up on the previous sewalong posts? Check out our dedicated sewalong page to make sure you're up to date! 

I always find there's something so satisfying in the prepping steps and doing those first few stitches on a new project. These steps make sure your cut pieces will behave properly when you sew and wear your finished garment. It might be tempting to skip the interfacing and staystitching and actually get on with the sewing (I know I did this in my early sewing days!) but I promise the next few steps will help support your pieces and will stop them from stretching out when are sewing or when you actually wear your finished trousers or shorts. Your future self will thank you.

 Ready? Ok let's jump straight into...

Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern


There are loads of different types of interfacing out there, which can make it overwhelming when it comes to choosing one for a project. I usually opt for an iron-on woven interfacing as it's easy to apply and I find it gives the best results for most projects I sew. It's important when choosing your interfacing that you pick something that is a similar weight to the fabric you are sewing with. For this pink denim pair of Jessas which are featured in the sewalong, I used a medium weight woven interfacing as it was a good match to the weight of the fabric.

Tilly has written a blog post which covers the different types of interfacing if you want to do some further reading :)

You will need to interface the back wasitaband, both front waistband pieces, zip facing, and faux pocket flap if you are sewing one. You need to apply the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric - the purpose of interfacing is to secretly add structure and support to the garment and isn't intended to be a fashion statement!

Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern

Use the same pattern pieces you used to cut your fabric to cut your interfacing. The back waistband needs to be cut on the fold to get the correct shape. You only need to cut one fly facing and it needs to be cut with the glue side - the rough-feeling side - facing down.

Lay the interfacing pieces over the wrong side of the cut fabric pieces, glue side is facing down. If you run your fingers over the interfacing, the glue side will be rough and bumpy whereas the non glue side will be smooth. Make sure the glue side is against the fabric and not facing up towards your iron otherwise you'll have to press pause on your project and clean melted glue blobs off your iron (fun rating: 0/10).

Hold a hot iron, steam turned off, over the interfacing pieces to fuse them to the fabric. I picked up a great tip on this year's Great British Sewing Bee where Patrick said that you should place the iron on the interfacing and count to five, before you carefully pick it up and move it to another section. Try to avoid moving the iron as if you are ironing a shirt as the glue can get all squidged up.

To protect the interfacing from too much heat or moisture, you can place a pressing cloth (a piece of muslin or a tea towel will work) between the surface of the iron and the interfacing if you like, or just make sure there's no steam and the iron isn't too hot. If you are sewing with corduroy or velvet (mmm...), you can use the same fabric as a pressing cloth, right sides together, to avoid squashing the pile.

Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern


The next step on our list is to staystitch the waistlines on the front legs, back legs and waistband facings (uninterfaced back and front waistbands). As these pieces are curved, staystitching helps to stabilise these pieces and keep them from stretching out of shape as you handle the fabric and sew it.

Despite having a slightly technical name, staystitching is actually really easy to do. For each piece that needs to be staystitched, sew a line of regular stitching (2.2-2.4mm long stitches) 10mm (3/8in) away from the edge. You don't have to backtack at either end - hooray!

Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern

Sewing the darts

Now we're ready to sew out darts on the back legs. These darts will help create a nice shape over your booty.

Fold the fabric, right sides together, so the dart lines you have marked on the wrong side of the fabric are visible. Manoeuvre the fabric so the dart lines are on directly on top of each other. I like to do a couple of things to make extra sure the darts are totally in line with each other.

Firstly, I snip into the fabric a couple of millimeters at both ends of the dart legs, so I can easily line up the snipped fabric and therefore the dart at the edge. Once I line up these snipped edges I then
put a pin horizontally across the dart point - this really helps to anchor the shape of the dart. After this I pin vertically through one dart leg, and make sure that the pins are also exactly going through the dart leg on the other side. If they're not, I carefully move the fabric until it is all lined up and the pins are running exactly through the lines on both sides of the fabric.

We'll be sewing from the raw edge to the tip, so point the pins towards the raw edge, most of the fabric to the left of the pins as shown, so you can easily pull the pins out as they're approaching the needle.

5 August 2019

Jessa: Cutting, marking and prepping the fabric

Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern
Tilly and the Buttons - Jessa trousers jeans shorts sewing pattern

Are you taking part in the Jessa shorts and trousers sewalong? If so, hello there! It's Nikki here and I am bringing you the next post in the Jessa sewalong series to help you on your way to a gorgeous pair of trousers or shorts.

Louise has written an excellent (as always) fabric and style inspiration post to help you decide which gorgeous fabric you want to use to make your Jessas. Our previous post in the sewalong covered fitting and adjusting the pattern pieces to make a nicely fitting pair of shorts or trousers, so make sure you've caught up with both these posts if you've missed them.

Ready? On to the matter at hand which is...

Preparing the fabric

It's a universal truth that the most exciting part of sewing is when you find the perfect fabric for a new project, whether that's in a fabric shop or from your stash. Once you find this magical fabric and pattern combo it can feel like the stars have aligned and all you want to do is bust out your sewing machine and get started right away.

However, I'm going to ask you to pump the brakes a little, because new fabric needs to be washed and dried before you start sewing. Fabric can often shrink the first time you wash it, so make sure you pre-wash your fabric in the machine before you start cutting to make sure your Jessa trousers or shorts stay the same size later on.

Once your fabric is dry, iron out any creases, making sure to test the iron temperature on a scrap piece of fabric beforehand. If you're sewing with corduroy, go light with the iron and try not to squish the ribs in the fabric. Tilly has written a great post with tips on how to handle corduroy fabric if you want more help.

Fold the fabric in half lengthways, with the right side (the nicer side) on the inside of the fold, bringing together the selvedges, which are the finished edges of the fabric. It's important to make sure the fold is hanging straight and the fabric isn't twisted. If you need to adjust the fabric, hold it by the fold and adjust until it's straight.

Keeping the fabric folded like this, lay it out on the largest table you have, or even the floor, preferably with a cutting mat underneath so you don't scratch what's underneath! Folding the fabric in half allows us to cut two symmetrical pieces at once, or one symmetrical double-sized piece where a piece is cut on the fold.