26 February 2013

In Which I Rediscover Magazines

My friends, I've fallen back in love with magazines! Now, fear not, this doesn't mean I love blogs any less. Believe me, I love the blogosphere more with the dawning of each new day :) But after years of thinking that the authenticity of blogs was the only thing worth reading (apart from books and newspapers, you understand... oh and street signs etc), my faith has recently been restored and I'm WELL back into mags! Here are a few publications I've been enjoying recently which I thought you might like too...

First up is Peppermint, which does a fantastic job of balancing design and substance. The mag is beautifully produced and covers all sorts of things from fashion to food, but what's really interesting is that every article has an environmental and/or ethical slant. What's more, they include refashions, such as this shirt to top tutorial above, and their website has free sewing patterns to download.

I've mentioned Frankie before and I'm not ashamed to mention it again. I'm in love, y'all. Just LOOK at that embroidered cover! It's actually textured. And the back of the cover looks like the back of a piece of embroidery. I just can't express how much joy this brings me.

Behold Betty. It looks amazing. It feels amazing. It even smells amazing. A Moonrise Kingdom-inspired fashion shoot on one page, how to make mackerel pate on the next. Bliss.

And finally, Cloth. I always liked Cloth, and their recent rebrand is really interesting, as they seem to be repositioning themselves towards the mainstream. Doesn't that "top trends" spread, for example, remind you of fashion mags? For a sewing magazine, I reckon this can only be a good thing. Wouldn't it be awesome if young women accidentally picked it up in the newsagent thinking it was a fast fashion mag? And became inspired to get out the scissors and thread and make some stuff themselves? Are we about to see sewing taking off big time?

Oh, wait, there's one more thing...

For it is I, included in their cover mount about bloggers! Eep! Thank you so much to Jane and all the other lovely sewing peeps who gave me the heads up about the piece :)

[Soundtrack: 'Soft as Chalk' by Joanna Newsom]

24 February 2013

Your Mathilde Blouses: Part 1

Can you hear me squeal with delight every time I see a photo of a Mathilde Blouse made by you? I'm just blown away by how lovely they're looking! Here are a few recent makes by you...

Kirsty made her stunning blouse in a floral Liberty tana lawn - check it out in its fully glory on her blog. Kirsty says:
"I bought the Mathilde Blouse the moment I saw the pattern. It is such a cute and stylish blouse with gorgeous detailing. I knew it had to be part of my wardrobe. I was a little intimidated by the 7 buttons and the tucks at first, but Tilly’s online tutorials were so comprehensive, that it made sewing it an enjoyable experience. The fact that each of the steps is separate helps break up the sewing into manageable pieces, for those like me who need to spread the sewing out over a period of time. Oh and I loved being able to tick off the steps on the checklist! My Mathilde is a real 'romantic stroll in the garden' blouse."

Marie's version is seriously elegant. Tucked into a skirt this would look very Mr Selfridge-chic, non? Marie was kind enough to test out the pattern before it was released, and wrote about her experience here. She reports:
"Mathilde is so dreamy - with irresistible details like back buttons, frothy sleeves and tasty tucks. For my version I wanted to do right by the pattern by creating a chic and romantic look, so I knew immediately that it was destined to be paired with some delicate 1960s voile from my stash. And I'm delighted with the result! I would encourage anyone wanting to try Mathilde to go for it - Tilly's detailed instructions and complimentary blog posts expertly cater to varied abilities."

We jump from the Edwardian era to the present day with Karen's very modern, super cool blouse. Karen made a feature out of the yoke, making it in a sequined edge fabric - take a closer look. She tells us:
"For me, the Mathilde pattern represents a perfect combination of creative freedom and technical discipline. Creative freedom: customising the yoke and having fun choosing button and fabric combinations. Technical discipline: getting those tucks just right and making sure the button bands match up! Oh, and there's a tick list - instant gratification for my inner list-maker."

Jo's blouse started out as a muslin (test version), but she loved it so much she's now wearing it for real. Take a peek at her hilarious photos! Jo says:
"There are so many things that I love about this blouse. The instructions... The tick boxes are genius... As for the pattern itself - I love that it is simple enough for a beginner to put together but has those little touches, in particular the tucks and the buttons, that stop it looking like it has been made by a beginner, even if you are one. The sleeves are fabulous. Finally I love that this pattern is so versatile. It is modest enough for work, looks great with jeans and is dressy enough for evening wear depending on what fabric and embellishments are used. The buttons can blend in or be a feature, and it can be tucked in or lengthened to tunic or dress length for a totally different look. You could even leave off the sleeves for a summer top. I am just about to cut out another, and as soon as I can justify buying new fabric I'm going to make a bright pink version. And after seeing Solvi's I think I need a black one as well."

Orange buttons is starting to become a trend! My beautiful friend Mai lives hundreds of miles away from me in Scotland, but the Mathilde Blouse can bring us together (sob!):
"I love the Mathilde Blouse! It's such a beautiful design and unusually versatile too: it can look casual, cute, romantic or super dramatic, depending on what fabric, colour and pattern choices you make. The instructions are really clear and engagingly chatty, and the construction is simple, but it encouraged me to strive for something like perfection (those tucks!). I chose quite a flamboyant iteration for my first version, with a big bold graphic print and contrast buttons. I'm planning a red wool pencil skirt to show it to its best advantage. Note that I refer to it as my first version; there will be more..."

Check out more gorgeous blouses in the Maker Gallery. If you're feeling inspired to make your own, you can buy the pattern for just £7. Use the insanely detailed step-by-step photo instructions to guide you through every stage, or take a workshop with me at Ray Stitch sewing school.

Have you made a Mathilde Blouse? I'd LOVE to see! Submit your bestest photos to the Maker Gallery by leaving a link to your blog / Pinterest / Twitter / Facebook, or send me an email.

22 February 2013

Coppelia in Red

Look what I made! It's the Coppelia cardi by Papercut Patterns, in a fire engine red wool jersey from Simply Fabrics in Brixton. I really enjoyed making this, firstly because it was a relatively quick make, secondly because I'd been coveting Lauren's version, and thirdly because it's always great to try out an indie pattern company for the first time (noooo, of course I'm not hinting at anything...).

Winnie just wrote a great post asking what steps people add to a sewing project that aren't listed in the pattern - it's so interesting to read about different people's approaches. For this pattern, a couple of steps I added were to stay stitch the seams that were cut on the bias and apply stay tape to the side seams to help prevent the knit from stretching out of shape.

When I first finished this, I declared it a wearable muslin* because I wasn't totally happy with the fitting...

... the neckline seemed to be sticking up by about a mile, which I put down to my narrow shoulders...

... or if I pulled it down to fit my shoulders the cardi gaped at the bust. So I was planning a refitting operation involving pinching out triangles of fabric at strategic points and redrafting the pattern to fit me...

... but then when I wore the cardi properly for the first time, I just did the wrap bit up a bit tighter, pulled it a slightly different way, and tada! It didn't seem so bad after all. Do you ever have that when you stare at a project for too long and blow little niggly things out of all proportion? In the meantime, however, I'd emailed the lovely Katie Papercut and she offered to produce a photo tutorial on the fitting. How's that for customer service? Pretty awesome, if you ask me!

Have you sewn a Papercut Pattern pattern? I'd love to see! Check out my interview with Katie Papercut, then get yourself over there.

[Soundtrack: 'Flutes' by Hot Chip]

*a test version of a sewing project to check the fitting, but that can also be worn around the house when no one's looking

19 February 2013

Come Sew With Me!

Hey pals, great news! I'm now signed up to lead two different workshops at Ray Stitch sewing school in Islington, London over the Spring. My professional background is in learning and skills, so it's brilliant to be able to apply that experience to sewing!

Make Your Own Pattern and Skirt
Saturday 20th April 2013, 1.30pm - 6.30pm
or Saturday 1st June 2013, 1.30pm - 6.30pm

Learn to make this gorgeous gathered button-down skirt with practical pockets – aka the Picnic Blanket Skirt! The class starts as a gentle introduction to pattern making, guiding you through drafting a simple pattern to your own measurements. Then we’ll sew the skirt, learning techniques, tips and tricks along the way, including gathering, constructing a waistband, stitching pockets, forming buttonholes and finishing it all off neatly. You should already be comfortable with using a sewing machine and basic stitching. Please bring along 2m fabric and 8 - 10 x 20mm buttons. Choose a medium weight cotton or linen – the skirt looks great in plain colours, gingham, polka dots, florals, cats, bicycles… you name it!

I'm also excited to be running a Mathilde Blouse workshop over two Saturdays for those of you who need a bit of hands-on IRL guidance with techniques such as tucks, sleeves and French seams:

Mathilde Blouse
Saturday 2nd March & Saturday 9th March 2013, 2pm - 6pm (two days)

Learn to make this cute, versatile button-back blouse, which can be dressed up with a pencil skirt or dressed down with skinny jeans. The pattern designer will guide you through each step of construction, including creating beautiful tucks or gathers, setting in puffed sleeves, and finishing it all off with elegant French seams. You should have already made at least one garment, be comfortable with basic sewing construction techniques, and be ready to take your sewing to the next level. This is a digital print-at-home pattern - you will receive the pattern by email and will be asked to print and assemble it before the class. Please bring along 2.5m x 115cm fabric (or 2m x 150cm) and 7 x 15mm buttons. Choose a lightweight, drapey fabric, such as cotton lawn, voile, lightweight chambray, silk or polyester crêpe de chine, habotai or charmeuse. Please avoid anything too slippery!

If you fancy learning some new techniques, sewing with like-minded people, having a laugh and a currant bun, sign up on the Ray Stitch website. I'd love to see you there!

17 February 2013

FINAL STEP! Attach the Cuffs

Mathilde sewing pattern - How to attach the cuffs

Last part of making the Mathilde Blouse, y’all! You excited? I am!

As you will have no doubt noticed, the sleeve hem is a lot bigger than the cuff band. By gathering a large sleeve into a small cuff band we’ll be giving the blouse an elegant puff. Let’s do this…

Mathilde sewing pattern - How to attach the cuffs

Your cuff pieces should have already been interfaced. Stitch the short ends of each cuff together, right sides together. Press the seams open.

Now fold each cuff in half lengthways, wrong sides together. Press the fold line to mark it, then unfold it again.

Mathilde sewing pattern - How to attach the cuffs

Slip a cuff over the edge of each sleeve, with the right sides together. Start by pinning them together at the seam lines and notches. Pull on the gather threads at the sleeve hem until the fabric has gathered up to fit the cuff. Then you can use your fingers to spread the gathers out evenly. Once the sleeve hem fits the cuff and the gathers are spread evenly, pin them in place. Use lots of pins - pinned at right angles to the edges - to help keep those gathers even.

Mathilde sewing pattern - How to attach the cuffs

Stitch the sleeve hem to the cuff. If you sew with the sleeve turned right side out, and the wrong side of the fabric directly under your needle - as shown - you can keep an eye on the gathers and readjust them as necessary (mind your fingers!). If you’re super earnest and want to make extra sure your gathers are really even, you could tack (baste) first using long stitches that you can pull out later. Take your time here to get the gathers even - there’s no hurry.

Mathilde sewing pattern - How to attach the cuffs

Trim the sleeve seam down to reduce some of the bulk. Unpick the gather stitches.

Press the cuff away from the sleeve. Now turn the sleeve wrong side out. Fold the bottom edge of the cuff under by 1cm (3/8in), wrong sides together, and press. Fold it under again along the fold line that you marked by pressing earlier, and press again. The inside of the cuff should just overlap the seam line.

Mathilde sewing pattern - How to attach the cuffs

All that’s left to do now is attach the cuff to the inside of the sleeve. My preferred method is to "stitch in the ditch" - in other words, stitch on the right side of the sleeve, with the stitches hidden in the seam line where the cuff joins the sleeve hem. Make sure the other side of the cuff is caught in the stitching and that the raw edges are tucked away neatly.

If you prefer, you can hand stitch the cuff instead :)

Mathilde sewing pattern
Mathilde sewing pattern

Ta da!!! You’re done. You’ve made a beauuutiful Mathilde Blouse!

Wanna show us what you've made? Tag us on Instagram @TillyButtons using the hashtag #SewingMathilde so we don't miss it. Can't wait to see!

15 February 2013

Add Buttons and Buttonholes

Mathilde blouse - add buttons and buttonholes

Now comes a particularly monumental stage of making the Mathilde blouse – sewing on the buttonholes and buttons! You’ll be able to do the blouse up, y’all!

Mathilde blouse - add buttons and buttonholes

Before you start stitching, double check the placement of the buttonholes. The buttonholes go on the right back opening and the buttons go on the left back opening. (My pattern cutting teacher once told me the mnemonic, "Women’s clothing does up right over left, because women are always right." Totally sexist, admittedly, but I remembered it!)

If the buttonhole markings have rubbed off your fabric, get your pattern out and mark them on again. Line up the edge of the opening with the "fold line" marked on the pattern, and position the top edge of the pattern 15mm (5/8in) above the neckline to account for seam allowance.

Right, now let's get stitching...

Mathilde blouse - add buttons and buttonholes

Stitch the buttonholes on the right back opening. Depending on what sewing machine you have, you'll probably do either a four-step buttonhole if it's manual, or a one-step automatic wizzy one if it's computerised. Read about sewing one-step buttonholes, or take our Sew Your Own Shirt or Shirt Dress workshop if you'd like to watch the process for both in videos and get lots of helpful tips and tricks :)

Open up the buttonholes carefully with a seam ripper. To avoid ripping right through them, make an incision in one end, gently rip towards the centre, then do the same in the other direction.

Place the right back opening over the left one as if you were doing the blouse up, then pin in place. Push the tip of a chalk pencil or washable pen through the buttonhole to mark on the button position, 3mm (1/8in) down from the top, to mark the button positions on the left back opening with a little dot. It's best to mark the buttons here rather than in the centre of the buttonhole, as buttons will naturally want to pull towards the top of vertical buttonholes.

Mathilde blouse - add buttons and buttonholes

Sew the buttons on by hand, centring them over the little dots you just marked. Tip: If you find yourself frustrated by your thread knotting up, invest in some thread wax which will keep things gliding along more smoothly.

Et voila! It's starting to look like a blouse now!

Catch up on the rest of the Mathilde blouse sewalong.

PS. Want some more help sewing buttonholes? Sign up to our online workshop, Sew Your Own Shirt or Shirt Dress, to watch up-close-and-personal sewing videos with tons of tips and tricks!

14 February 2013

Sewing the Back Opening and Hem

Sewing the Mathilde blouse - back opening and hem

Making the Mathilde Blouse? In this post I'm going to show you how to sew the back opening and hem.

Let's get started...

Sewing the Mathilde blouse - back opening and hem

Turn the edges of the back openings inwards by 6mm (1/4in), wrong sides together, and press. (NB. If you pressed down the top edge of the back openings when pressing the neckline facings down, fold them up again for this bit.) Stitch the edges down using a 3mm (1/8in) seam allowance.

Fold the back openings inwards along the fold lines (or the edge of the interfacing), right sides together.

Stitch across the top edges of the back openings, at the same level as the neckline seam.

Sewing the Mathilde blouse - back opening and hem

Stitch the bottom edges of the back openings, 1cm (3/8in) up from the bottom edge. Cut a rectangle of fabric out of the interfaced part of the bottom corner to reduce bulk when you turn it right sides out. Don't cut right up to the stitching line though – the interfacing will help form a nice, neat corner when you turn it through.

Now you can start on the hem - check it's evenly balanced all the way around, then finish the raw edge of the hem using zigzag stitch or an overlocker. If you prefer, you could turn the raw edge under by 5mm (1/4in), press and stitch in place - we'll then turn the rest of the hem allowance up a bit later...

Sewing the Mathilde blouse - back opening and hem

Turn the back openings right sides out. You can ease out the fabric at the corners so they look more like right angles (read more about folding a neat corner). Press.

Sewing the Mathilde blouse - back opening and hem

When you turned the back opening out, you will have turned the rest of the hemline up too. Press the rest of the hem up neatly to the same level as the bottom edge of the back opening.

Stitch the hem in place, close to the inside fold or the finished edge.

Sewing the Mathilde blouse - back opening and hem

Topstitch (or "edgestitch") a rectangle all the way round each back opening, 3mm (1/8in) from its edges. Be sure to catch the edge of the neckline facing in the stitching.

And that's it for today! We'll do the buttonholes next...

Valentine's Guest Post by Craftivist Collective

Love is in the air today... but rather than celebrating with choccies and vino, we have a Valentine's special guest post from the awesome Sarah Corbett of Craftivist Collective - who you may remember from this interview - about their current hand-stitched project in support of Save The Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign...



"My name is Sarah Corbett and I run the Craftivist Collective. We are a collective open to anyone in the world to join who want to use craft as a tool for political and personal positive change. I loved craft and saw how through craft I could engage myself and others in global issues in a non-threatening and engaging way. Craftivism is a form of ‘slow activism’: it helps me stop and reflect about what the issues mean to me, who injustice effects and how we can be part of a solution. It’s about personal change as well as provoking conversation and building relationships.

As you may already know, Craftivist Collective is currently working on the UK-wide (not international at the moment sorry!) #imapiece Jigsaw Project, in support of Save The Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign. The aim is to stitch puzzle pieces with words that will encourage and challenge both the general public and the government to do what they can to end world hunger. With the G8 summit arriving in the UK later this year, it’s too good an opportunity to miss.

February 14th is a day that divide’s people - depending on your point of view it’s either the most romantic day of the year, or a commercial construct designed to make us spend money.

But there’s one thing that might get everyone to agree: what if we made it a day where we can show our love to all the people of the world? There are thousands of starving adults and children who go to bed hungry every night. But we can do something about that.

Each crafter is being encouraged to create three jigsaw pieces - one to send to Craftivist Collective to be a part of a massive art installation March 2013, one to send to your local MP to encourage them to use their position for good, and one to keep for yourself to remind you to keep being a part of the solution, whether that’s by signing a petition or shopping ethically.

We have until the 21st February to post our pieces for the installation and 1st March to hand over a piece to our MPs. Without your help we will have just a handful of jigsaws on a bare wall - we want thousands instead! It will be hard for anyone to not have a reaction to so many personalised messages, whether they’re an MP, Prime Minister or World Leader from the other G8 countries. Check out what craftsters have already made for inspiration. But we need hundreds/thousands more to make our crafty voice even louder and more overwhelming!

This Valentine’s Day, whether or not you’re planning on sending a card or a box of chocolates to your special someone, why not reach out in love to your global neighbour too? Stitch your own pieces by following the templates and instructions on the project website, sign the Save the Children petition, and spread the word online through Twitter, Facebook, blogs etc using the hashtag #imapiece.

Remember Aesop’s words: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

PS INVITATION: Everyone is welcome to see the installation up on Friday 1st March 6pm-8pm at People’s History Museum, Central Manchester where you will be joined by other craft lovers, media and local MPs and can have your photo taken with the installation as well as hear more about the project in person by Craftivist Sarah Corbett, Mr X Stitch, Deadly Knitshade & Hilary Pullen of Craft Blog UK. Check out the Facebook event."

13 February 2013

Sewing the Neckline Facing

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Sewing a facing is a great way of finishing the raw edge of the neckline on a garment. A slim-ish strip of fabric is cut to the same shape as the curve of the neckline, stitched, then rolled to the inside. Take a peek inside some of the clothes in your wardrobe if you can't visualise it - it's very likely you'll find a few neckline facings.

In this post I'll show you how to construct the neckline facing and attach it to the bodice, using the Mathilde blouse as an example. (Need to catch up? All the steps so far are outlined here.) This is a looooong post, but all the individual steps are pretty quick, I promise.

Ready to sew? Let's go!

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Your neckline facing pieces - front and back - should be interfaced. Pin them together at the shoulder seams, right sides together, matching up the notches. Stitch.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Trim the seam allowances. If your fabric looks like it's going to fray like crazy, you can finish the seam allowances with zigzag stitch or an overlocker (serger). Press them open on both wrong sides and right sides.

The lower edge of the facing isn’t going to be stitched to anything, so it needs to be finished to make it look a bit nicer and to prevent your fabric fraying all over the place. You can finish this edge however you like - zigzag stitch, using an overlocker/serger if you have one, attaching binding… or if you’re really lazy you can just snip it with some pinking shears – you’re the only one who’s going to see it anyway… ;) Don’t worry about finishing the ends of the facing – they’re going to be hidden away under the back opening when we get to that bit.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Now to pin the facing to the neckline. I find it helpful to add an extra notch at the centre front to help match them up - fold the bodice and facing in half lengthways, and snip a small notch at the neckline on the fold.

Pin the facing to the neckline, right sides together. Start by matching up the shoulder seams and centre front, before pinning the rest. On the Mathilde blouse, the ends of the facing should stop 8.5cm (3 1/4in) from the raw edge of the back opening. Hopefully the neckline won't have stretched out if you staystitched it earlier - but if it does seem a bit big, you can ease the fabric in gently to fit the facing neckline.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Once you’re happy that it all matches up, sew them together at the neckline with a nice smooth curve. Sew with the interfacing face up on your machine - it will help stabilise the two layers so they're fed through at the same speed and don't ripple up. Smaller stitches can help navigate a curve, so you could change your stitch length to 1.5 – 2mm. Be careful that the shoulder seams don’t bunch up or fold the wrong way when you sew over them.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Before turning the facing to the inside of the neckline, we need to reduce the circumference of the raw edge - at the moment it's longer than the curve of the seam, so the seam allowances would bunch up when turned to the inside.

One way of reducing the circumference of the raw edge is to clip into the curve. Alternatively you can just trim the seam allowances down - this way is less messy. If you make one of the seam allowance layers slightly wider than the other, the edges won’t by lying directly on top of one another, so it’ll be less bulky.

How to sew a neckline facing - Tilly and the Buttons

Press the seam allowances and the facing away from the bodice. Now you can understitch the seam allowances to the facing – this basically means stitching the seams and facing together, very close to the seam line. It will help keep the facing on the inside of the garment and keep the seam allowances lying flat.

I'm showing you what it looks like to understitch from the wrong side of the fabric so you can see what's happening - but you may prefer to understitch from the right side. It's up to you. As you're understitching, gently pull the fabric away from each side of the seam line so you don't get any ridges.

Now you can press the facing to the inside of the garment, rolling the seam line under slightly so it's not visible from the right side. Use a bit of steam from your iron to soften the fabric first (without touching the iron to the fabric), then roll it with your fingers to and press in place.

If you want to be extra certain that the facing isn’t going to roll to the outside, you could make a few little stitches at the shoulder seams – either by machine “in the ditch” (ie. hidden in the previous stitching lines) or catch stitches by hand.

And that's how to sew a facing!

Take a look at more sewing tips...