15 May 2019

Your Makes - Love at First Stitch Five Year Anniversary Special!

Your Makes - Love At First Stitch

You may have seen Tilly’s first book Love at First Stitch has just had its fifth birthday - wowee time truly does fly! It’s Jenny here using this opportunity to celebrate the wonderful Love at First Stitch me-mades we’ve seen over the years. Nearly every day we find ourselves oohing and aahing over them and these are just a few of the goodies out there :)

Your Makes - Love At First Stitch
Top left - Claire. Top right - Pamela. Bottom left - Johanna. Bottom right - @sharpneedles

The first project in the book is the easy-peasy Brigitte scarf. If you're new to using a sewing machine this is the place to start. Simple and speedy, this chic scarf will add the finishing touch to your outfit - just like Claire's mustard floral Brigitte. So seventies! Pamela is giving us nautical chic with her navy and red birds, and we love it.

Ohemgee Johanna, is this high-fashion polka dot scarf?! because *heart eyes*. We love how @sharpneedles (on Insta) has styled her Brigitte scarf, the bow looks lovely and so 1920s.

8 May 2019

An Overlocker That’s Easy to Thread?! (Ad)

An Overlocker That's Easy to Thread! - Janome AirThread 2000D serger

Overlockers (AKA sergers) are amazing machines for creating a professional-looking finish on seams and for whipping up garments in knit fabrics. Yet, when the subject of overlockers comes up amongst stitchers, it’s usually not long before there’s a sharp intake of breath and someone whispers, “Urgh, but I hate threading it”.

From talking to countless DIY dressmakers, I know that loads of you feel intimidated by using overlockers because of their reputation for being tricky to thread. Even those of us who use these machines regularly – me included – avoid changing thread whenever possible because of how time-consuming and fiddly the process can be.

A few months ago, Janome told me they were planning to release a new model of overlocker that is so easy it almost threads itself. As you can imagine, I got super excited as I knew this was exactly the kind of thing you guys had been dreaming about! So I asked to review it.

This is a paid review, but trust me when I say that this is my honest opinion – I wouldn’t recommend something to you unless I genuinely loved it myself and thought you would too. We’ve been using this machine in the studio for the last few weeks to stitch up samples (as well as our own just-for-fun projects at lunchtimes) and have fallen in lurrrrve…

An Overlocker That's Easy to Thread! - Janome AirThread 2000D serger

How it works

Here’s a video showing how to thread it...

1 May 2019

Five Ways to Use Up Your Scraps

Five ways to make use of your scraps

Sustainable sewing is a hot topic at the moment and you might have found yourself questioning whether there are any ways you can make a difference in your sewing practice.

When you cut out your fabric, there will inevitably be some wastage. Many pieces can feel like they are too big to throw away and that there must be something you can do with them. Pattern designers will always try to be as efficient with the cutting layout as possible, but just as with RTW, there will be some bits that could languish in the bin.

As avid watchers of the Great British Sewing Bee, we really enjoyed the episode on sustainability and dressmaking. Patrick Grant said that 30% of all our fabric is wasted - wow! Our unused fabric scraps are likely to either linger in a drawer or end up in the bin. So what can we do with these little pieces of fabrics?

If you are looking for small ways to make your sewing practice more sustainable, we've pulled together five projects ideas to help you use them up these unloved pieces of fabric. You could prep a batch of pockets for upcoming makes (because every me-made needs pockets!), and bias binding to make your garments look as pretty on the inside as they do on the outside.

Five ways to make use of your scraps

1. Make your own bias binding

24 April 2019

Louise's Nora Dress with Cuffs Hack

Louise's Nora Dress with Cuffs Hack - Tilly and the Buttons Louise's Nora Dress with Cuffs Hack - Tilly and the Buttons

If you're anything like me, making a pattern once is never enough. I am not satisfied until I have tried the pattern in a number of fabrics and attempted a hack. Can you relate?

It's Louise here, the Sales and Communications Manager at Tilly and the Buttons, sharing a Nora dress hack I made recently with added cuffs (fabric bought from Stoff and Stil). I am a serial hacker who just loves working with perfectly constructed simple designs so that I can have some fun putting my own spin on it. I'm not a pattern cutter, so find using my favourite patterns like the Freya pattern from Stretch! and the Stevie tunic make experimenting easy.

Louise's Nora Dress with Cuffs Hack - Tilly and the Buttons

When Nora was being developed, I had loads of fun looking for design inspo and dreaming up all the ways this wonderful pattern could be made. As a result I have a wardrobe full of Nora tops (see just a few in this team blog post). I have tried it in sweater knits, viscose jersey, interlock, sweat shirting... but found myself wanting a dress version of this wonderful pattern.

17 April 2019

How to Thread Your Sewing Machine with Video!

Threading your sewing machine is a quick and easy process once you know how. Yes, it can seem long and complicated the first few times you do it, but keep practising and you'll soon be threading up in seconds, I promise :)

Machines vary, so some of the parts on my machine (a Janome DKS100) may be in different positions to yours, but nothing will be that different that you won't be able to work it out.

Ready to sew? Let's go!

This is an extract from our 'Make Friends with a Sewing Machine' online video workshop.

See below for picture steps if that's more your thing!

1) Wind the bobbin

A sewing machine uses two sources of thread – the spool (or reel) of thread that sits on top of the machine and the bobbin of thread that comes up from below. You buy the spools of thread in the shops and the bobbins come empty – so before threading the machine, you need to get some of your chosen thread off the spool and onto the bobbin.

Place the spool of thread onto the spool pin (the prong sticking out the top of your machine). Some spool pins stick upwards, others stick out towards the left and have a plastic cover to hold the spool in place. The thread should be coming out from behind towards the left if the spool pin is sticking up, or over the top towards the back if the spool pin is on its side.

10 April 2019

5 Tips for Stress-Free Snaps

Who doesn't love that satisfying "pop" sound as they close a snap on a beloved piece of clothing? I know it can't just be me. However, the prospect of inserting snaps can be a little daunting and intimidating as there are a few elements and tools involved to get a nice finish. It's Nikki here, Product Manager at Tilly Towers, and I'm here with some top tips to assist with stress-free snap insertion. So without any further ado, let's talk snaps.

A "snap" is a type of fastener which connects two pieces of fabric together by connecting two interlocking discs. They are also known as studs or poppers and can be made in either metal or plastic. If you want a bit more info about the different types of snaps out there, Closet Case Patterns have written an excellent post which explains the difference between "ring" and "spring" snaps.

The pictures I have included here are of spring snaps, specifically Prym 15mm anorak snaps (this is an affiliate link). They are my favourite kind of snaps and I've used them on both jackets and skirts. Our latest pattern, the Eden coat or jacket, has the option of using snaps, and I love how they look on a bright jacket. And, they're fun to insert once you know how!

So without further ado, read on for my top tips for stress-free snaps.

5 Tips for Stress Free Snaps - Tilly and the Buttons

5 Tips for Stress Free Snaps - Tilly and the Buttons

1) Tools

You can install snaps in a few different ways - either with a good old fashion hammer or a specialist snap tool. Both methods will get the job done and it's not necessary to buy a special tool if you don't think you'll be inserting snaps often into your projects, or if your budget doesn't allow it.

However, it is significantly easier to use a snaps tool and I'd thoroughly recommend investing in one if you see a moderate amount of snaps installation in your future. It also has the benefit of being a lot quieter. In the studio, we use the Prym Vario Pliers, which can be used for attaching both snaps and jeans buttons - win!

3 April 2019

Nikki's Whatever the Weather Eden Jacket

Nikki's Eden Jacket - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

Nikki's Eden jacket - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

Do you ever make something that you love so much you can’t stop showing it off to every person you meet? It’s Nikki here, Product Manager at Team Buttons, and that’s how I feel about my Eden jacket. I finished mine a couple of weeks ago and I’ve worn it nearly every day since. It’s true love.

I knew I wanted to make a short Eden version in something water resistant, so chose a beautiful sage green dry oilskin from Merchant and Mills for the outer fabric. When I first bought it the fabric felt really stiff, almost a bit like cardboard, and I’d certainly not handled anything like it before on my previous sewing adventures. I was a bit nervous about how my machine would cope with such an unusual fabric, however, I needn’t have worried as it was a dream to sew with. I followed Tilly's advice and used a microtex needle and used fabric clips instead of pins and the whole experience was rather enjoyable. I’m so impressed with it!

Nikki's Eden Jacket - Sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

Nikki's Eden Jacket - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

Nikki's Eden Jacket - Sewing Pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

I love how you get a little peek of lining at the cuffs and inside the hood on the Eden so I wanted to line it with something a bit jazzy. I am obsessed with gingham at the moment (I mean literally obsessed) so I lined it with a black and white cotton gingham from Bloomsbury Square Fabrics. I also chose to line the main part of the sleeves in a black acetate lining fabric to make them slippy enough to get my arms in easily.

28 March 2019

How to Bag out a Coat Lining - with Videos!

How to bag out a coat lining - Tilly and the Buttons

If you're sewing a lined coat or jacket, such as the Eden pattern, the instructions will often tell you to "bag out the lining", and then secure the lining and coat together with a "thread chain". If you're new to coat making this may seem a bit perplexing but I promise, it's not as mystical as it sounds.

To make these aspects of coat making even easier, we've made not one, but two videos to walk you through the process of bagging out a coat or jacket lining and explain how to sew a thread chain.

How to bag out a coat lining - Tilly and the Buttons

Bagging out a lining

So what does it mean to "bag out a lining" I hear you ask. It simply means to sew the coat or jacket lining to the shell (nice fabric) right sides together, leaving a small opening to turn the coat through so it's right sides out. This process hides all seams and gives an outerwear garment a lovely, professional finish.

Once the process is complete and the coat is turned right sides out, the opening is then closed. There are a few different methods for bagging out a lining, but the one we have chosen for the Eden coat or jacket is sewn totally on the machine and involves no hand sewing. Yay!

How to bag out a coat lining - Tilly and the Buttons

We've outlined this method in full, with detailed step-by-step photos in the instructions for our Eden coat or jacket pattern. To make it even easier to sew, we've made a video so you can see what it looks like in moving pictures. You can use this video to help you bag out many coat or jacket patterns, but if you are sewing Eden make sure you also refer to the instructions so you have all the info you need :)

25 March 2019

The Aquaria Coat

Tilly's winter Eden duffle coat - sewing pattern by Tilly and the ButtonsTilly's winter Eden duffle coat - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

In case you hadn't noticed, we've firmly caught the lilac lovers bug here at Tilly Towers. Not only did we pick this colour for the cover sample of our new Eden sewing pattern, I also made myself a winter duffle coat in lilac wool using the same pattern. I've been wearing this coat loads these past few months and absolutely lurrrrrve it!

Tilly's winter Eden duffle coat - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons
Tilly's winter Eden duffle coat - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

I bought the wool/poly blend fabric from Doughty's, and used a silky mint for the lining. The inspiration for the colour combo came from a beautiful creation worn by Aquaria in season ten of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. I’d never thought to put lilac and mint together before until I saw her drop-dead gorgeous outfit. This one albeit more understated - but it still makes me smile, particularly as I slip the hood over my head on a frosty London morning.

21 March 2019

Toggles Inspiration for Your Handmade Duffle Coat

Toggles inspiration for Eden coat or jacket

Busy planning your new Eden coat or jacket and considering choosing toggles as your fastenings of choice? It's Nikki here with another dose of seriously lovely inspo to help you plan and make your coat of dreams.

The Eden coat or jacket has the option of either snaps or toggles fastenings to keep it closed and shelter you from the elements. Toggles look gorgeous on both a nautical style raincoat and a winter wool duffle coat and are great for adding a bit of interest to outerwear garments.

I hadn't really thought much about toggles before. I mean, toggles are toggles, right? Well, that's not strictly true. There are so many fun and interesting ways you can jazz up your toggle fastenings to make your Eden coat or jacket totally unique to you. Here at Tilly Towers, we spend a lot of time planning and scheming about those little details that make our me-mades extra personal, special and fun. If you're wondering how to raise your toggle game on your Eden, then read on.
Toggles inspiration for Eden coat or jacket

18 March 2019

Ten Tips for Sewing Rainwear Fabrics

Ten Tips for Sewing Rainwear Fabrics - Tilly and the Buttons
Ten Tips for Sewing Rainwear Fabrics - Tilly and the Buttons

Want to get stuck into sewing a raincoat? There are more and more amazing water repellent fabrics coming onto the market for home sewists to get the hands on. And our Eden coat sewing pattern is the perfect accompaniment, taking you through the steps to making a gorgeous raincoat or jacket.

If you’ve never sewn with waterproof or water repellent fabrics before, here are some tips on what to look out for, how to handle the materials, and stitching tips to get a great result.

Ten Tips for Sewing Rainwear Fabrics - Tilly and the Buttons

1) Choosing your fabric

There are lots of different types of rainwear fabrics on the market, and more and more of them are becoming available to home sewists to buy. Which is great! However, be aware that they can vary wildly in weight, content, feel and how they behave when you cut and sew them.

How they perform in the rain will be one of the main factors to consider when choosing what to buy. If you want to sew something that will keep you dry in a full-on downpour, take a look at waterproof fabrics such as PUL and Goretex. They are proper performance fabrics that won’t let rain through the fibres… but on the downside they can feel very synthetic and aren’t breathable – so you may get a little sticky!

If you’re not planning on wearing your handmade raincoat on a mountaineering expedition and just want something cute that will wear well on a short rainy walk, try a fabric that is “water resistant” or “water repellent” rather than “waterproof”. The waxed cotton in our Eden sewing kits is one such fabric – it may not withstand a tropical storm but will keep the rain off you on your commute to work or a gentle country walk.

Knowing what all the different rainwear fabric names mean can certainly feel a little confusing. If you’re buying online and aren’t sure what to get, see if you can order a couple of sample swatches to get a feel for what you like before buying.

Ten Tips for Sewing Rainwear Fabrics - Tilly and the Buttons

14 March 2019

Fitting the Eden Coat or Jacket

Fitting the Eden coat or jacket

Making the Eden coat or jacket and need a helping hand on fitting and choosing a size? It's Nikki here with some hints and tips on what you will need to know.

The good news is Eden's casual, boxy and easy-fitting style means it doesn't require much, well, fitting. Hooray! Having said that, you're probably going to be investing in some lovely fabric, not to mention the time it takes to make it, so it's worth planning a few fitting adjustments if you need them.

When you're choosing your size and fitting the Eden coat or jacket, bear in mind that it's an outerwear garment and is designed to be roomy. Don't over-fit it as you'll most likely be wearing layers underneath, which makes fitting Eden a lot easier (yay!).

Fitting the Eden coat or jacket

We're going to cover:
  • Choosing your size
  • Combining pattern sizes
  • Lengthening the bodice, sleeve or hood
  • Shortening the bodice, sleeve or hood
  • Making a toile

12 March 2019

Fabric shopping for Eden

Fabric Shopping for Eden

Want to make our brand new sewing pattern, the Eden coat or jacket, and need a helping hand deciding on fabrics? It's Nikki here, and I'm bringing you a dose of drool-worthy coat and jacket fabric inspiration from some of our favourite online shops.

What we love most about the Eden coat or jacket is that it's so versatile. Make it in a wool coating for a snuggly winter duffle coat, or in a cotton drill or raincoat fabric for a lighter jacket. When deciding on what fabric you want to buy, have a think about what activities you want to do whilst wearing your Eden, or the climate you live in - or are visiting on holiday, you lucky thing - as this will guide your fabric choices.

Please bear in mind that we haven't handled these gorgeous fabrics ourselves (booooo), so we recommend ordering a swatch to check how they feel and handle in real life.

Fabric Shopping for Eden

7 March 2019

Inspo for making your Eden coat or jacket

Inspo for making your Eden coat or jacket

Have you heard the news? Team Buttons launched our first ever coat pattern - Eden! She's not only gorgeous, she's incredibly versatile too. This will be a me-made garment that you will wear again and again and treasure for many years to come.

It’s Louise here, and I am going to give you a little inspo for making your dream coat. Eden is a chameleon and can look so different depending on what fabric, style, fastenings, and lining you opt for. I have spent many hours lusting over the possibilities on Pinterest, so thought I'd share some ideas for what you can do with this perfectly practical coat.

Inspo for making your Eden coat or jacket
Clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

5 March 2019

Meet the Eden raincoat and coat pattern!

Eden raincoat sewing pattern - Tilly and the ButtonsEden raincoat sewing pattern - Tilly and the ButtonsEden raincoat sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

After months of prepping behind the scenes we are unbelievably excited to share our newest favourite sewing pattern with you – meet Eden!

The Eden raincoat or coat is particularly special for us as it’s our first outerwear pattern. Our lovely customers have been asking for us to release a jacket or coat pattern for a loooong time and we think this raincoat and duffle is the perfect addition to the Tilly and the Buttons family.

We wanted to create a pattern that you'll get a lot of wear out of in different seasons. Make it in a lighter weight fabric to see you through the milder months, or in a cosy coating for chilly weather. Oh, and did we mention it's fully lined? The beauty of the Eden coat is that it’s so versatile and looks totally different depending on the fabric choice and optional features you go for. Raincoats are on trend right now and, let’s face it, these classic designs never go out of style. Whatever the season, you’re going to look (and feel) fab!

Want to find out more? Let’s dive straight in.

27 February 2019

Rifle Paper Co Ness Skirt

Tilly's Rifle Paper Co Ness Skirt - Tilly and the Buttons

Are you more of a prints or solids kinda person? Do you like your fabrics to be one colour or do you think the whole point of sewing your own clothes is to use the brightest, boldest print you can find?

I've definitely become more of a solids gal in recent years, not counting stripes of course, which for me is a neutral, hehe. It's been a long time since I've bought a fabric with a designer print on it, but I just couldn't stop thinking about this Rifle Paper Co design for Cotton + Steel, the Juliet print. 

Tilly's Rifle Paper Co Ness Skirt - Tilly and the Buttons

20 February 2019

Five Design Hacks for the Coco Pattern

Five Design Hacks for Coco - Sewing Pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

We always knew our Coco sewing pattern was versatile but now we've seen all of the personalisations and hacks you've made with it, we may be falling in love all over again!

Four years after its first release, it's still one of our bestselling patterns. Coco is speedy to make, comfy to wear and easy to adapt to your personal style. Here are some ideas for hacking the pattern courtesy of some of our lovely customers...

Five Design Hacks for Coco - Sewing Pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

13 February 2019

Your Makes!

Tilly And The Buttons Your Makes
Ready for a spot of dressmaking inspo? It's Margot here today - I've been interning at Tilly HQ since the beginning of the year and have been loving scrolling through your fabulous makes on Insta and Pinterest. So I thought it would be a good idea to share some of my favourites...

Because of the classic British winter weather we've been having lately, we’ve been living in our Mila dungarees. I love how Sophia spiced up her dungas with some cute iron-on patches - such a simple way to customise your clothes. We’re definitely stealing this idea! And jus look at these bright and bold Milas made by Ari - there's no such thing as too much colour in my eyes.

Tilly And The Buttons Your Makes
As you may have noticed on our Insta Stories, our team is obsessed with the Nora top pattern. Mainly because it’s very comfy and oh so versatile. Juliet made a glamorous version in a shiny sequin fabric - we can't get enough of this! Did you spot her on the Sewing Bee last night? So exciting! And animal print fabrics are all over the high street at the moment - Mel’s Nora is very on-trend.

Tilly And The Buttons Your Makes

6 February 2019

Nora Cardigan Pattern Hack

Nora Cardigan Pattern Hack - Tilly and the ButtonsNora Cardigan Pattern Hack - Tilly and the Buttons

Do you buy fabric with a pattern in mind, or do you figure out what to do with it afterwards? Sometimes working out what to do with a piece of material can set a lightbulb off in your mind.

I came up with the idea of hacking the Nora top pattern into a cardigan came when I was mulling over what to do with an unusual piece of fabric I’d bought from Fabrics Galore. It's a very low stretch knit that is very structured and feels almost like a wool or felt, but softer. I couldn't resist the colour, but didn’t want to make a regular Nora top as the fabric would feel scratchy around my neck, plus it’s such low stretch that I wasn’t sure it’d go over my head. So I decided to take out the neckline and turn it into a slouchy, boxy cardigan instead.

Nora Cardigan Pattern Hack - Tilly and the Buttons
Nora Cardigan Pattern Hack - Tilly and the Buttons

It took me a total of two hours to hack the pattern, cut out the fabric and sew the cardigan together. It seriously is a speedy make – so no excuses for putting it off! If you fancy making a Nora cardigan yourself, here's how I hacked the pattern...