18 November 2015

Christmas Shopping and New Year Workshops

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Nope, me neither - every year I say I'm going to make all the gifts, but it never quite works out that way... so I should really start shopping!

In case you're not a member of our email list, I wanted to let you know about some offers on gift ideas in our shop that may help you with your own Christmas shopping, plus some fun sewing workshops we've got coming up in 2016 at our South London studio...

If you're looking for a gift for a fellow craft lover - or are dropping hints to Santa for what you'd like to receive - we've introduced sewing pattern bundles just for Christmas. For £30 you get a set of three beautiful printed sewing patterns, which include a gorgeous step-by-step instruction booklet with colour photos. Buying a bundle saves you 20% on the full price! The bundles are Easy Peasy Patterns (speedy projects with no fiddly bits), 9 to 5 Classics (for turning heads in the office), and Tilly's Favourites (the ones I can't live without!).

Thinking of gifting our book, Love at First Stitch? I'm happy to write a personal message in it - just email Lexy with up to 20 words that you'd like written in the inside front cover. Best to email her within 30 minutes of placing your order (to catch her before she hits the post office), and please include your order number in the email so I make sure I write it in the right book :)

Ooh and speaking of bundles and books, we're doing a book bundle for Christmas too! For £25 you get a signed book, DIY Dressmaker tote bag (it's great quality, Fair Trade and massive) plus two badges saying "DIY Dressmaker" and "Sewing is Good For You". A really nice gift for crafters (and yes, buying a gift for yourself is totally allowed).

Plus of course we do gift vouchers if you want to let the recipient choose something themselves, whether that's a pattern, book or workshop.

And did you know we also sell sewing patterns on Amazon UK? So you can put them on your wish list to let your friends and family know what to get you ;)

UPDATE: We no longer run workshops at Tilly and the Buttons HQ.  You can now enjoy Tilly teaching you to sew in the comfort of your own home by signing up to one of our online workshops.


We've got some exciting workshops coming up in 2016, including this brand new one! Sophia Palmer of Jessalli Handmade will show you how to mix free-motion machine embroidery - basically drawing with thread at an exciting high speed machine pace! - with appliqué to embellish your sewing projects or create a custom piece of textile art. I've already reserved a place for myself, it sounds so much fun!


Learn tips and tricks to cut, stabilise and sew low-stretch knit fabrics on your normal sewing machine, while making the popular Coco top or dress pattern. Once you've sewn your first of these comfy garments, you'll never look back!


Get to grips with threading a sewing machine and learn to sew a simple scarf to tie around your head, neck or bag. Perfect for absolute beginners or those looking for a refresher.


If you can use a sewing machine for basic stitching and want to start making your own clothes, this workshop offers the perfect introduction. You'll learn how to make the easy-peasy pyjama bottoms project using the Margot sewing pattern, and get a copy of our book, Love at First Stitch, to take away with you.


Save £15 by booking both Make Friends with a Sewing Machine and Make Pyjamas workshops on the same weekend. This is a great way of plunging head first into the wonderful world of sewing. Come along on Saturday with no experience, and by Sunday night you'll be wearing pyjamas that you've made yourself!


Do you own a favourite dress or perfect fitting jeans that you just wish you’d bought three of? Then this class is for you! We'll show you how to clone your favourite clothes and create a pattern that you can use to sew them again and again… and make them immortal!

All workshops are at our studio near West Norwood and West Dulwich stations.

Hope to see you there!

11 November 2015

Your Makes!

Hello! Lexy here, the newest member of Tilly’s team. It is my privilege today to go through some of the lovely things that you have been making with our sewing patterns, and have selected a few to go into this month’s round up blog post…this has been difficult. You are all so talented. (I also get sidetracked reading your blogs and wanting to make things, which really isn’t helping guys. Also, many of you have ADORABLE pets.)

Orla sewing pattern - made by Momita and Jennie

Orla is the newest member of the TATB pattern family, and she’s a beaut! Who can resist a snowdrop collar and dipped hemline to skim your derriere?! Tres flattering. Here we have Jennie rocking her cat print Orla. Tilly was lucky enough to see this IRL at the Knitting and Stitching show, and assures me it is every bit as gorgeous in reality as in the pic. Momita has also made a beautiful Orla, and customised hers with textile markers – super creative and cute.

Mathilde sewing pattern - made by Bonjour Teaspoon and AmyMathilde was Tilly’s first ever pattern, and has established itself as a classic – and can we please take a moment to appreciate the beauty of this bicycle print version, posted by Bonjour Teaspoon?! And if you prefer the life aquatic, how about Amy’s lovely royal blue one covered in fish?

Miette sewing pattern - made by Wiebke and Bex

Miette is such an amazing first project – it’s the first thing I ever made (aside from some embroidered cosmetic pouches, but the less said about those…). We are loving Wiebke’s chic purple version, which will no doubt become a wardrobe staple. Props for the cute floral waistband lining, I may have to borrow this idea for my next Miette. And here’s a hack we shared on Instagram, but are still in love with – Bex’s pinafore Miette, where the pinny is attached with poppers. How could you not want this in your wardrobe?!

Coco sewing pattern - made by Karen and Ashleigh

Oh Coco, how well you serve us. A style that flatters all, and is versatile for winter and summer, it remains one of our most popular patterns (and guess what? Beginners can do it too! Yeah!). Karen is looking lovely in her monochrome Coco, and has made it in a gorgeous striped ponte roma jersey. We heart stripes. Ashleigh is rocking her sweet tangerine Arielle – top marks for accompanying band t-shirt. I hope you didn’t need any Help! and that sewing it up didn’t prove A Hard Day’s Night. I’m sure it was fine, as it did all Come Together and it’s a beaut. (I love puns. I can’t help myself. Sorry Ashleigh.)

Agnes sewing pattern - made by Marie and Emily

Hack alert! Marie has created the CUTEST bunny print dress by modifying the Agnes top. Bunnies in top hats. Bunnies in glasses. Cute and comfy dress. What’s not to love? Emily has also created a super chic and versatile stripy Agnes, which will no doubt be worn again and again. If you don't feel confident sewing stretchy fabric, take a look at our Learn to Sew Jersey Tops workshop which you can watch from the comfort of your own sewing room/dining room table/desk when the kids have gone to bed and you finally have some peace.

Bettine sewing pattern - made by Vivi and Rachel
Vivi chose a lovely red cherry crepe for her Bettine, and customised it with a scarf belt at the waist, which looks lovely and also comfortable, and is making us miss summer! Rachel has gone for a beautiful flowery number, perfect for cheering up a grey day. Rachel – you can never have too many Bettines. Go for it!

Fifi sewing pattern - made by Angela and Bee

How cute are these Fifi sets?? Angela has made hers in a beautiful, vibrant checked tartan, whilst Bee has created a gorgeous blue flowery print number. Who needs to get dressed when we could be lounging around the house in beauties like these?!?

Megan and Lilou Sewing patterns - Made by Alexandra and Jude

Alexandra looks lovely in her monochrome Megan dress, and Jude looks fab in her flamingo Lilou! These ladies have the party season sorted! These beautiful patterns are included in our book, Love at First Stitch.

Francoise and Delphine sewing patterns - made by Lauren and Rach

Lauren is such a sixties babe. This Francoise dress is gorgeous, the perfect thing for when you want to be able to say “This old thing? Just something I threw together!”. Lauren also has a post on her blog about using the Fifi shorts pattern as part of a Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween costume, I highly recommend checking it out! And to round off the delights of the Maker Gallery this month, here is the pattern we have been SWOONING over at #tillytowers…it’s the Delphine-arees! Hats off to you Rach, you have created a thing of beauty by hacking the Delphine skirt from Love at First Stitch, and we are in lust. This has been getting a lot of love on Instagram, head over to her blog to see more pics and read about how she did it.

So that’s it gang! I’ve had a lot of fun going through your makes, and as it’s always so hard to pick which ones to include on the blog, we’ve put more on Pinterest for you to go and check out and be inspired by. We love seeing what you’ve created, so please do get in touch via email, Twitter, or the link on this page. You can also tag us on Instagram, but please do also email it through so we can be sure we’ve received it.

I hope you all have a lovely November, and can’t wait to see your makes. Until next time! Lexy x

4 November 2015

Five Tips for Threading a Sewing Machine Needle

Tips for Threading a Sewing Machine Needle - Tilly and the Buttons

Tips for Threading a Sewing Machine Needle - Tilly and the Buttons

When you’re itching to get on and sew, the last thing you want to do is fall at the first hurdle – threading the sewing machine needle!

Maybe you're lucky enough to be able to thread a needle with your eyes closed, but many people find it tricky – particularly if your eye sight isn’t top notch. In fact, it’s one of those things students on our Make Friends with a Sewing Machine class often need help with. So today I thought I’d share some tips on threading a needle with ease...

Tips for Threading a Sewing Machine Needle - Tilly and the Buttons

1) Trim the thread end

Your thread may well have fluffy bits at the end that are getting in the way when you try to insert it through the eye of the needle. Grab a pair of scissors and snip off the end - if you cut at an angle it'll be even easier to get it through the tiny hole.

Also - lick it! Yeah I know it sounds gross, but we’ve all done it, non? Licking your finger and tightly pressing the end of the thread with your wet finger and thumb can help seal any fraying ends of thread. Sssshhhh!

2) Shed some light on the situation

The eye of the needle is teeny tiny – trying to get thread through it in a dim or shadowy room is really hard. Get some extra light with a desk lamp or the torch function on your phone. Of course you can always use the light of your sewing machine too – just be extra careful you don’t accidentally start sewing when the machine is on!

Tips for Threading a Sewing Machine Needle - Tilly and the Buttons

3) Highlight the eye of the needle

Place your finger behind the eye of the needle and you should find it easier to see exactly where you’re trying to insert the thread.

Five Tips for Threading a Sewing Machine Needle - Tilly and the Buttons

4) Hold it close

Hold the thread as close to the end as you can while still having a few mm to insert through the needle. That way you'll have a lot more control over getting it in the right place than if you are trying to thread a couple of centimetres.

Tips for Threading a Sewing Machine Needle - Tilly and the Buttons

5) Use an automatic needle threader

If all else fails, there are gadgets! Many sewing machines have an automatic needle threader attachment included. Check your sewing machine manual in case yours works a little differently, but on our Janome DKS100 machines what you do is this... Pull down the little lever to the left of the needle as far as it will go - if you look closely, you should now see a teeny little hooked wire through the eye of the needle. Wrap the thread to the left and under the plastic hook in the middle, pull it to the right just in front of the needle, hooking it into the little wire. If you let go of the lever on the left - or push it up - the wire should pull a big loop of thread through the eye of the needle.

If you don't have this on your machine, or if the little wire breaks (as they can do easily), you can try out a separate needle threader, such as this one (I haven't tried it myself, it just looks good).

Tips for Threading a Sewing Machine Needle - Tilly and the Buttons

Remember to check that the thread is going from front to back through the needle and that it isn't twisted.

I hope you found this helpful! Do you have any tips on threading a sewing machine needle?

If you liked this post, you may also like Common Sewing Machine Mistakes and How to Fix Them