25 March 2015

Your Makes!

Hello! It’s Laura again here, looking at all the amazing things you’ve been creating with T&TB sewing patterns over the last month. Here's a little selection...

We're really impressed with Katie’s makes from Love At First Stitch. Her fabric choices are inspired, using a fun woodland design for her Megan dress and a stunning flamingo print for her Mimi blouse. We love her style!

Tilly went to the Knitting and Stitching Show the other week, where her friend Lauren's lovely mum Fiona surprised her by wearing a gorgeous Mimi blouse that she made using Liberty 'Queue for the Zoo' fabric! Another good pal of Tilly's, Zoe - who teaches some of our workshops - has also made a Mimi blouse, choosing a cute ditzy blue floral. (Pattern from Love At First Stitch.)

The Miette skirt is great for the Summer, but also looks good with tights and winter shoes. Yvonne is keeping it classic with her polka dot version, while Erin has used a gem green corduroy - they both look so stylish.

The Megan dress from Love At First Stitch has been particularly popular again this month - it's a great make now the weather is getting warmer. We love Hilde's gingham version with added collar, and Amarjeet is looking very elegant in her Megan dress, accessorised with pearls.

More Megans! Zollie is all set for summer with her mint green version and cute white sandals, while Pamela loved making her dress in a cheerful bright pink.

Claire has used this lovely Atelier Brunette fabric for her first Clemence skirt (project instructions in Love At First Stitch), while Pascaline has added a crazily cute bow to her version.

Lauren is is popping up again, this time in her adorable Francoise dress sewn using a dotted burgundy chambray. Marina has added some lovely details to her long-sleeved version, using a contrast print on the collar, cuffs and hem.

We all love to lounge around in our PJs, and Elena looks very excited to be wearing her Margot pyjamas! Donna has sewn her PJs in a cosy floral flannel. (Pattern from Love At First Stitch.)

Taking inspiration from a Tommy Hilfiger design, Marika has made this Coco dress her own, by using navy fabric and ribbon to decorate the cuffs and hem. Carol looks fab in her colourful Coco dress... and can we have that aga, please?

Victoria added some nautical chic to her Delphine skirt by sewing on some adorable buttons, while Cara opted for a monochrome geometric design - complete with added dog! (The pattern is in Love At First Stitch.)

Last but not least, Izy has made a gorgeous bunting print Lilou dress from Love At First Stitch, with scalloped neckline and bow belt – we love it! Frankie tackled some pretty impressive pattern matching with her lovely striped version - want!

It has been soooo much fun looking through all your makes this month. There are loads more great examples in the Maker Galleries on Pinterest - go check it out! If you've sewn something with a Tilly and the Buttons pattern, send us your best photo for the Maker Gallery - you can tweet us, email us, or send us a link through this page (unfortunately we can't pin from Instagram). We can't wait to see!

18 March 2015

Design Hack: Pussy Bow Mimi Blouse

Thanks for all the love for my Mimi blouse hack! Today I’m going to show you how to make your own pussy bow blouse using the Mimi sewing pattern. I love the Chelsea collar on the original but it’s nice to mix it up every so often, non? The fabric I'm using here is Oxford B Tana lawn, courtesy of Liberty. (Psst! Have you seen the code on the right hand bar for 50% off Liberty archive fabrics? We're in love with the sweets print!)

You may have previously seen a pussy bow pattern piece drafted as a rectangle. What we're going to do here instead is start with the original collar piece from the blouse pattern and adapt it, changing the shape of the end and adding a bow extension. By starting with the original collar, which is drafted to fit the neckline of the blouse perfectly, we'll get a nice shape that lies smoothly on the neckline. Let's do this!

You will need:

  • Mimi sewing pattern - the pattern and instructions are in Love at First Stitch
  • Fabric, thread, buttons and interfacing - see the book for measurements, and if you're using 115cm wide fabric you may need a bit extra for the bow
  • Paper, pencil, ruler
  • Sewing machine and tools, including a tape measure

1) Trace the collar pattern piece in your size onto a new piece of paper, adding the notches and the ‘place on fold’ arrow. (Read my tips on tracing patterns.)

2) Now we need to remove the Chelsea-style shaping of the collar – in other words, even out the width and remove the pointy bit at the end. Mark a point 7.5cm (3in) down the short end of the collar (the short side without the 'place on fold' arrow). Using a curved ruler or a steady hand, redraw the outer edge of the collar from this point, blending it into the original pattern line about half way round the outer edge. Now you can erase the old line.

3) Now to draw the bow extension. Draw a rectangle 7.5cm (3in) wide by the length that you want each bow extension to be (measured from the neckline). I’m making mine 65cm (25 1/2in) long – it’s totally up to you if you want it to be longer or shorter. Stick this piece onto the lower edge of the collar piece and erase the line where the two pieces join. I want the end of my bow to have a diagonal edge, so I’ve redrawn this line.

4) On the inside edge of the collar, draw a notch 1.5m (5/8in) up from the line where the two pieces join to mark the point where the bow extension starts (it’s 1.5cm up because the original collar included seam allowance). You could also draw another notch or two down the bow extension to help you match the two fabric pieces up later. And this is your pussy bow pattern piece!

5) Now you can cut the fabric for your blouse. Ignore the collar piece in the original pattern, and instead cut 2 pieces of fabric from your pussy bow pattern, with the ‘place on fold’ line aligned with the fabric fold. Snip the notches. Trim the short ends and outer edge of one of the pieces by 2mm (1/8in), tapering to no trimming at the corner. This trimmed piece will form the underside of the bow – trimming it down will encourage the seam joining the two pieces to roll to the underside so we don’t see it when you wear the blouse. You can also stay stitch the inner edge of the pieces if you like, just between the notches marking the bow extension, to help stop them stretching out. The pussy bow will be softer than the original Chelsea collar, so you don’t need to cut interfacing.

Pin the two bow pieces right sides together, matching notches. Since you trimmed one of the pieces, the two pieces won’t lie flat on top of each other – you just need to match up the raw edges of the fabric.

6) Beginning from one of the notches marking where the bow extension starts, back tack securely, stitch down the bow extension towards the tip, around the short and outer edges, and stop stitching at the notch on the other side, again back tacking securely. Leave the inner edge between these notches unstitched.

7) Now snip each notch at either end of the stitching line up to – but not over! – the stitching line. In other words, these two notches at each end of the stitching line should be 15mm (5/8in). These notches will be crucial for the next steps...

8) Trim the seam allowances on the stitched edges – not on the unstitched inside edge - snip the corners and turn the bow right sides out. Use a pin to gently pull the corners into points. Press the bow, rolling the seam lines on the outer and short edges slightly to the underside. Don’t press in the seam allowances along the unstitched inner edge – leave them sticking out. (That's where those notches come in handy!)

9) Sew the rest of the blouse up to and including step 4 in the instructions in the book. (I’ve left the side seams unstitched in the photo above so you can more easily see how the bow is attached.) Now to attach the bow to the blouse. Align the inner edge of the bow with the bodice neckline, the underside against the right side of the bodice, matching notches, and aligning the ends of the stitching on the bow with the fitting lines on the centre front of the bodice. Pin in place. Sew the unstitched inner edges of the bow to the bodice using a 10mm (3/8in) seam allowance.

10) To complete the blouse, continue following the instructions in the book from step 7 onwards (constructing the facing). When you attach the facing to the bodice, keep the bow extensions under the facing but out of the way so you don’t accidentally stitch across them.

Et voila - a beautiful pussy bow Mimi blouse. Do share a pic if you make your own - I'd love to see!

Pattern: Mimi blouse from Love at First Stitch
Fabric: Oxford B Tana lawn c/o of Liberty

13 March 2015

Admin Update

Happy Friday! Just a quick update today to let you know that from next week I'll be switching up the blogging schedule. After years of posting twice a week, every week, I've decided to post once a week from now on - on Wednesdays.

You're probably thinking, "So what?", but I think it's nice to know what to expect when you read a blog regularly, non? What you can expect from this blog now on is a focus on the best posts - dressmaking tips, techniques, design hacks, inspiration from your makes and some peeks behind the scenes. These are the posts which are the most popular with T&TB readers, and which are also the kinds of posts I most like to write! There's soooo much content out there that it can feel overwhelming sometimes, so I think one post a week from this blog is enough. And rather than rushing to get two posts per week published, I'd much rather spend my time and energy preparing one really great post that I feel proud of and hopefully that you'll enjoy reading :)

Speaking of content, we've been updating our page categories - have a click around the links in the dropdown menu at the top of the page and you'll see that there is a wealth of stuff to read. And there will be more, oh yes, there will be more.

We're working on some fab new stuff at the moment, and we'll probably do the occasional extra post when we have a special announcement or new release. But if you want to be the first to know about new patterns, workshops and other exciting stuff, you should sign up to our newsletter! That's where we'll be announcing new stuff first. TBH I've been a bit slack with the newsletter recently but I'm planning to make it much better in the near future - promise :)

Thanks so much for reading. I really do appreciate you stopping by, and I'm feeling really inspired and motivated to keep on improving this blog bit by bit.

Bon weekend!

10 March 2015

Liberty Pussy Bow Mimi Blouse

It's a sunny day in London, still pretty chilly but the daffodils are starting to pop up... in Sainsburys at least ;) So here's my first Springtime make of the year! 

I hacked the Mimi blouse pattern from Love at First Stitch, swapping the Chelsea collar for a pussy bow. The fabric is Oxford B Tana lawn, courtesy of Liberty. I lurrrve the jewel tones, and it's such a detailed print, one of those fabrics you can lose yourself in.

If you're not familiar with the original pattern, Mimi is a loose-fitting button-front blouse that you can tuck in or out, with gathering at the yoke, and a cute pleated sleeve detail. Because of the floaty, almost smocky shape of the bodice, it works well in drapey fabrics such as lightweight cotton lawn or voile, lightweight silks, viscose, polyester or blends. Liberty Tana lawns are a perfect choice for Mimi as they have a nice amount of drape, plus the plain bodice panels allow you to show off the delicate prints.

If you want to make your own pussy bow version, here's a tutorial! :)

Pattern: Mimi blouse from Love at First Stitch
Fabric: Oxford B Tana lawn c/o of Liberty

6 March 2015

Behind the Scenes...

Happy Friday! I hope you're having a good week. Today I thought I'd share what we've been getting up to behind the scenes at T&TB HQ recently.

First up, we're working hard on two new patterns! I'm seriously excited to show them to you - they've already become staples in my wardrobe. They're currently at the external testing stage, and will be ready in the spring. The technical perfecting-and-formatting stage is always quite a task, and a design feature of one of these patterns caused particular brain ache. Luckily we have the lovely view to keep us inspired :) (Can you spot the Shard?) Ooh and when I say "we", that includes our new Sewing Pattern Assistant! I'll introduce you to her soon, once she's had a chance to catch her breath and settle in...

We've also welcomed lots of lovely people into the studio for our workshops. It's been a bumper few weeks as more people are catching the sewing bug - that makes us so happy! We've just added some new dates so if there's something you fancy doing, take a look at what's on. As always, if there's something you'd like us to run, let us know as we're always open to new ideas.

I'm also working on some sewing projects to share with you on the blog soon - watch this space for those. Ten points if you recognise the pattern (lurrrve that pleated sleeve).

Of course, the photos I take are of the aesthetically pleasing side of what I do. Trust me, you don't want to see what I actually spend most of my time on - boring spreadsheets, tax paperwork, endless emails and never-ending to do lists, hahaha! Admin and finance stuff takes up a crazy amount of time, but I am making an effort to fit creative time in too :)

And finally, if you follow me on Instagram, you may be wondering what on earth were Laura and I doing on a forklift truck?? Well, it's a long sorry, but we had to collect our stock that our printers had been storing for us. What could have been a stressful day for various reasons turned into quite a fun one larking about at the warehouse, ending in a well-deserved pub lunch. (And before anyone writes in, nooo, we didn't actually drive it because health and safety.)

Anyone going to the Knitting and Stitching Show this weekend? I think I'm going on Saturday afternoon, so do say hello if you see me wondering around looking lost... Bon weekend, tout le monde!

4 March 2015

Essential Sewing Toolkit

Wondering what you need in your essential sewing toolkit? With lots of new people taking up sewing right now (hooray!), we’re going back to basics today. One of the most common questions in my inbox and at our workshops is what tools you need to get started with - and which ones in particular I’m using in my photos. 

If you're just starting out, you may feel overwhelmed hearing about all the bits and bobs that are out there - from rotary cutters to seam gauges - and fear how they are going to impact upon your bank balance. My advice is to not worry about getting everything all at once, just start with the essentials and build up your toolkit gradually.

Here's what I consider must-have supplies to start with (with links to the ones I use for those who have asked)...

Fabric scissors

Get yourself a nice pair of long scissors that you feel comfortable using. Classic tailor’s shears look super cool, but personally I find a lighter pair of dressmaking scissors with a soft grip more comfortable to use. Use them to cut fabric only – not paper – so they stay nice and sharp.

Small scissors

Arguably not an essential, as you can use your fabric scissors instead, but I do like to keep a small pair of polka dot scissors next to my machine for snipping threads.

Cutting mat

If you don’t want to scratch your kitchen table – or if you’re cutting out on the floor and need a smooth surface – a cutting mat is a great investment. My tip would be to get the biggest one you can afford so you don’t have to move it around so much when marking or cutting out larger pieces.

Marking tools

You’ll need something to transfer pattern markings onto your fabric. My favourite option is dressmaker’s carbon and a blunt tracing wheel (read about how I use it for cutting fabric without cutting the pattern) - or you can use tailor’s chalk, chalk pencils, roller chalk, washable felt pens, air-erasable pens… Lots of options to choose from!

Tape measure

Get the flexible kind so you can measure your curves – and the curves on a garment or pattern - accurately. Be aware that sometimes those crazy cheap ones you see online are cheaply made with an inaccurate starting point!

Pins and pin holder

I like to use coloured glasshead pins so you can spot them easily and so they won’t melt if you accidentally iron them (oops!). Many people use a classic pin cushion but I prefer a magnetic pin dish because I’m clumsy and am always dropping them all over the place.

Seam ripper

Whenever I demonstrate the seam ripper at a workshop, the whole room let’s out a collective sigh of relief. Ohhh... you can unpick mistakes – glory be! Unlike cheap tape measures, I’m yet to find a cheap seam ripper that doesn’t do it’s job properly.


You can get different types of needles for your sewing machine, from size 60/8 for fine fabrics to size 110/18 for heavier materials, and ballpoint or stretch needles for knit fabric, for example. A pack of universal assorted needles in a variety of sizes should cover you for your first bunch of projects. Depending on what you’re making, you might also need hand sewing needles for sewing on buttons, for example.

Paper, pencil, ruler and tape or glue

These bits will come in handy for tracing sewing patterns in order to preserve or adjust them.

Steam iron and ironing board

Last but not least, pressing your sewing projects is essential for creating a neat-looking finish. Even if you don’t iron your ready-made wardrobe, be sure to use the iron as you sew your handmade clothes!

And of course you'll need a sewing machine and presser feet, plus the pattern, fabric, thread and other supplies notions for whatever project you're making :)

I hope this helps you get started!

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