24 December 2019

Tilly and the Buttons Turns Ten! The Story So Far...

Tilly and the Buttons turns ten! The story so far...

On 1st January 2010, my ex-boyfriend dared me to start a sewing blog.

And then he double-dared me, and of course no one can resist a double-dare so I opened up Blogger and typed in the first blog name I thought of. “Tilly” as it’s my name, and “the Buttons” as it gave a nod to both sewing and typing a blog – plus it sounded like they could be my sixties girl group backing band.

That blog is now turning the ripe old age of ten years old next week and, a decade on, I’m typing this from my studio in London, surrounded by a team of awesome women, with our own line of sewing patterns up on the shelves, our third book currently at the printers and our first fabric collection about to hit the shops :)

Back to ten years ago, I really had no idea that any of this was on the cards. Least of all because I was hungover after a new year’s eve party the night before. I had a career I loved in the world of indie cinemas, and never imagined I would ever want to own my own business, let alone leave the film industry. I thought this blogging thing could be a bit of fun but in all honesty didn’t know how long it would last and didn’t think anyone would read it apart from my mum.

So why did I start? I’d recently got into dressmaking in my spare time and had stumbled upon a few blogs written by other women around the world who made their own clothes. As none of my IRL friends shared my hobby, I thought it could be fun to chat to people who understood my interest in seam techniques and love of fabric, and document my own makes to keep me motivated to carry on sewing.

Tilly's first dress - Tilly and the Buttons

For my debut post, I shared some photos of the first thing I’d made, a shift dress from a McCalls pattern in a yellow floral cotton bought from The Cloth House. Back then, there wasn’t the thriving indie pattern scene which we are lucky to have now, and I wouldn’t have known where to find fabric online. On the plus side, the sewing bloggers I “met” online were so kind, creative and resourceful, and we banded together to navigate the sewing scene and help each other to keep making stuff.

18 December 2019

Five Sewing Resolutions for 2020

Five sewing resolutions for 2020

Can you believe we are nearly in the year 2020? Nope? We can't either! As the year draws to a close, your mind naturally wanders over the one that has past and the brand spanking new year that's creeping ever closer to you. A new year signifies fresh beginnings and of course, more sewing projects - hurrah! 

As a DIY dressmaker, you might want to start 2020 off with a focus that helps you achieve your sewing goals and stay productive with the little time you have available. Whether you like setting resolutions or not, you could find setting a small goal for the year very satisfying. We have a few ideas for the kind of resolutions you could set for yourself. Even ticking off teeny-tiny challenges can feel so good. 

So, before this year runs away, here are five ideas for sewing resolutions!

Five sewing resolutions for 2020
If you've found yourself staying away from bigger projects that feel a little too challenging, why not bite the bullet and make that your goal for 2020? Whether you've been daydreaming about sewing your first pair of jeans, a gorgeous coat that you made yourself or getting stuck into jersey and making your own t-shirt, a big project is a great goal to have.

If tackling it all in one go feels a little overwhelming, you could work up to the final garment. Maybe starting by breaking the goal down and doing one small thing each week or month, such as researching the sewing techniques you will be using or shopping for the fabric and notions? Before you know it you will be ticking off the smaller jobs and a whole lot closer to the big project. Think of the pride when you manage to sew something you have never sewn before. It will totally be worth all the effort in slowing down and taking your time.

We have some great big projects to tackle:
Eden - make a coat or raincoat
Jessa - sew your own wide-leg jeans (if trousers aren't your thing you could go for the Ness skirt which is packed with denim-inspired details that will challenge you in a similar way)
Nora - become totally obsessed with t-shirt making
Rosa - make your own collared shirt or shirt dress

Five sewing resolutions for 2020

11 December 2019

Ten favourite Posts of 2019

Ten favourite posts of 2019 at Tilly and the Buttons

In just a few weeks this blog is celebrating TEN, yes TEN years since it was released into the blogosphere. Can you believe it? There will be more on that soon, but now is 2019's time to shine!

It has been a wonderful, jam-packed year at Tilly HQ, with lots of behind-the-scenes work going on with the third book, Make It Simple, in the works, as well as pattern launches and our first fabric line being developed. Phew, we have been busy! The blog continues to be our special place to share sewing tips, inspo and anything we think you might enjoy. Here are some of the most popular blog posts from the last 12 months in case you've missed them or just want to take another look : )

Six steps to start sewing by Tilly and the Buttons

Six steps to starting sewing

Always wanting to make things easier and turn more people into DIY dressmakers, Tilly shares her tips on getting your sewing journey off to a good start. This is a must-read for anybody who wants to give this wonderful hobby a go and doesn't want to sift through mountains of information before you can get stitching! 

Five design hacks for the Coco pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

Five design hacks for the Coco pattern

Coco is one of our most-loved patterns and has been made over and over again by those that adore it. We pulled together some wonderful design hack ideas to get Coco fans inspired, courtesy of our super-talented customers.

Five ways to use up your scraps by Tilly and the Buttons

Five ways to use up your scraps

6 December 2019

Introducing the Nora Cardigan Add-On Pattern!

Nora cardigan sewing pattern add-on - Tilly and the Buttons

We're thrilled to launch something a bit different for you today - meet the Nora cardigan add-on pattern!

The Nora cardigan add-on is a digital download of bonus pattern pieces and instructions to turn our Nora top pattern into a cosy, casual cardigan. The Nora top is already one of our most popular and versatile patterns so we're delighted to breathe some new life into it to make it go even further.

Tilly shared a post earlier this year showing how she hacked the Nora top pattern into a snuggly cardigan. Lots of people got in touch to say they'd love to make it but didn't feel confident hacking the pattern themselves, so we thought we'd do the hard work so you don't have to :)

Team Tilly were already addicted to the Nora top and now they are absolutely in love with the cardigan version. It's a lovely me-made that you can throw on when it gets chilly. Plus it's so quick to make you can go from cutting out the fabric to wearing your brand new cardi within a couple of hours. What's better than that?!

As this is an add-on pattern,  you'll also need the original Nora top pattern to make the cardigan. If you don't have it yet, grab the Nora top and cardigan bundle.

Nora cardigan sewing pattern add-on - Tilly and the ButtonsNora cardigan sewing pattern add-on - Tilly and the Buttons
Nora cardigan sewing pattern add-on - Tilly and the Buttons
Nora cardigan sewing pattern add-on - Tilly and the Buttons


2 December 2019

Show Your Me-Mades Some Love With A Nominette Woven Label (AD)

Have you fallen in love with the sew-on label trend that's everywhere in the sewing community right now? I have! One of my favourite things is to add a secret message on the inside of my me-mades to make them feel even more unique. It makes me smile every time I put them on.

I've been searching for the perfect label manufacturer to design some myself, so when the lovely people from Nominette got in touch I was really excited to try them out and create something bespoke for my cherished handmade clothes. If you're interested in creating your own, keep reading for a special discount code from them too :)

Nominette Sew in Labels - Tilly and the Buttons

27 November 2019

Black Friday Sale 2019

Tilly and the Buttons Black Friday 2019 sale!

Get ready to squeal... our biggest sale of the year is here, with up to 40% off sewing goodies!

We have discounts on patterns, books and kits make sure you check out these very special offers. You can build your stash, or give the gift of sewing to somebody else this Christmas - you decide : )

The Black Friday sewing goodies sale must end Monday 2 December midnight GMT, so don't miss out!

Tilly and the Buttons Black Friday 2019 sale!
Tilly and the Buttons Black Friday 2019 sale!

Happy Shopping!

Author: Louise Carmichael
Photos: Jane Looker

20 November 2019

Our First Fabric Collection is Coming Soon!

I’m pinching myself as I’m writing this… We are excited to tell you that we are launching our first fabric collection in a few weeks’ time!

You may have already seen an announcement about this on Instagram a while back, and today I’m here to share with you all the details about these gorgeous fabrics - and let you know that pre-orders are officially open :)

Get ready to be excited – not only are they cotton jerseys, but they are organic – yasss!

This all started in February of this year when we were approached by the Craft Cotton Company (part of Viscount Textiles) and asked if we would be interested in working on a fabric line together. The idea of doing Tilly and the Buttons fabrics had been a “someday” dream project for me… until that day when it suddenly jumped up the “to do” list.

I knew right away at that meeting that this was a great company to partner with. They had so much enthusiasm for our brand and were just really nice and genuine. I love working with people who are authentic and passionate about what they do – not just going through the motions. The Craft Cotton Company pride themselves on creating high quality fabrics at great value prices. They were keen to get a TATB collection just right, and embraced my perfectionist tendencies throughout the development process :)

13 November 2019

Ten Tips For Sewing A Wool Coat

What do we want? Coats! When do we want them? Now!

Personally, I find one of the only consolations of the weather getting a bit chilly is wearing - and making - a lovely, snuggly coat. However, making a coat usually involves sewing with some kind of wool, or wool-type coating, which is a material lots of sewists will be unfamiliar with, and can therefore seem a little bit intimidating. The good news is it's so much easier to work with a coating fabric than you'd think - yay!

Before we get started, let's talk a bit about coating fabric. Coating refers to fabric suitable for coat or jacket making. There are loads of different coating options available - you can buy a 100% wool coating or a blend with one or more different materials, such as viscose (rayon) or polyester. You also can also buy coating fabrics without any wool content whatsoever. Our Eden coat kits come with a super soft wool type fabric which also makes them vegan friendly :)

There are quite a few different coating options out there so if you're ordering online I'd advise to order a swatch of fabric so you can have a closer look before purchasing.  If you want a bit more info on the different types of coatings available, such as boiled wool, cashmere or boucle, check out our fabric suggestions blog post for our fave coat pattern ever, the Eden coat and jacket.

Whilst sewing a winter coat is quite time consuming it's totally worth it for the amount of wear you'll get out of it, as you can wear it all autumn and winter long. Actually, if cared for properly (and not nibbled at by hungry moths!) a good coat can last for many years. That's a lot of opportunites for you to proudly say "why yes, I made it myself".

So, are you ready to learn some top tips about sewing with wool coating? Let's get cracking.

6 November 2019

Make It Simple: The inspiration behind my forthcoming book

Make It Simple: Easy, Speedy Sewing Projects to Stitch Up in an Afternoon - Tilly and the Buttons

Have you ever caught yourself saying, “I’d love to sew, but I don’t have time”?

Me too. As a business owner and mum to a toddler, I don’t have big chunks of free time to sew. My week is divided between being in the office and being at home playing with my energetic little boy, and, once he’s in bed, quite frankly I’m wiped out! After he was born, I went through a spell of not sewing at all. But I soon missed my hobby and passion, so I decided to question the story I was telling myself about not having time to sew and reframe my thinking to make it achievable.

This was the inspiration behind my new book. I’m excited to be able to share the cover with you today!

Make It Simple will be out in February 2020, published by Quadrille (Hardie Grant). You can order it now from Amazon or pre-order a signed copy from our online shop. As you may know, pre-orders are so important for a book as they show potential stockists that the demand is there – and, in turn, help keep the book in stock so it’s available to more people. If you are able to pre-order my book, I’d be extremely grateful :)

Pitch over, let’s talk about what the book is all about and what you’re going to get out of it…

Make It Simple: Easy, Speedy Sewing Projects to Stitch Up in an Afternoon - Tilly and the Buttons

My goal in writing Make It Simple was to help you fit more creativity into your life, no matter what you’ve got going on.

The book is jam-packed full of my trusted time-saving tactics and secret shortcuts to make it easier for you to get your sewing fix.

Moreover, it features 24 gorgeous garment projects that you can whip up in a few hours, from a classic T shirt to a pretty playsuit, a cosy cardigan to an office-ready shift dress, comfy PJs to a stylish pinafore. They’re all easy to make, simple to fit, with no fiddly bits, and extremely wearable. I am obsessed with these patterns and hope you’ll love them too! I can't wait to share some sneaks of the patterns with you a bit nearer the launch.

30 October 2019

Ten Tips for Sewing Gathers - With Video!

Tilly and the Buttons - Ten tips for sewing gathers

Want some top tips on how to sew beautiful, even gathers? Well, look no further, we've got you covered. This post is jam-packed with hints and tricks on how to create and sew gathers which can be used for tonnes of sewing projects. We've also made a step-by-step tutorial video to show you how it's done :)

Gathering is a sewing technique that pops up in loads of different sewing projects. Put simply, gathering involves reducing the width of one piece of fabric so it can be joined to another piece. You'll often see this in skirts and dresses where flowy skirts are gathered to join a waistband or bodice. In the case of our Indigo smock pattern, you can also use gathers to attach the flounce sleeve option. 

Before we get stuck into the tips, if you want to learn the basics of sewing gathers, check out our how-to video to see how it's done:

Onto Team Tilly's ten tips for sewing gathers...

23 October 2019

Team Buttons' Indigo Smock Obsession

Team Buttons Indigo Smock Top and Dress Sewing Pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Smock lovers unite! Since we released the Indigo smock top and dress pattern, it has become a firm favourite here at TATB HQ. We heart this pattern!

You’ll see here why our team loves this pattern so much - it's pretty, comfortable, and versatile. With a wide range of fabric options, Indigo looks different depending on which one you choose. What's not to love?

Team Buttons Indigo Smock Top and Dress Sewing Pattern - Tilly and the ButtonsTeam Buttons Indigo Smock Top and Dress Sewing Pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Kate's first Indigo dress is made in soft drapey viscose from Pin and Sew. She lengthened the skirt pattern piece by 5cm (2in), keeping the dipped hem, and shortened the bracelet sleeves to elbow length.

The icing on the cake was the extra gathered tier she added to the bottom of the skirt for that seventies swooshy dream dress - it reminds us of THAT Zara dress. We've seen a few versions like this - and longer - popping up on Insta. If you make your own, do share with us :)

16 October 2019

How to Stitch in the Ditch - With Video!

Tilly and the Buttons - How to Stitch in the Ditch

Do you ever find that your facings pop out of your clothes and you wished you knew of a way to keep them in place? It's Nikki here, and I'm going to talk you through a sewing technique which will help with just that - stitching in the ditch.

"Stitching in the ditch" is a technique which involves sewing down the channel of an existing seam (the "ditch") to secure pieces of a garment in place without the stitches being seen on the outside. By sewing down the seam line in matching thread to your fabric, the stitches are hidden and invisible to the outside. It really is sewing wizardry!

Tilly and the Buttons - How to Stitch in the Ditch

This technique is usually used to secure facings to the inside of garments, although you can sometimes do it to keep an outside piece in place, like a cuff. There are a few different places on a garment you can do this; securing a neckline facing through the shoulder seams or stitching a waistband facing to a waistband instead of topstitching are common examples.

For those of you that prefer to learn visually, we've made a short video showing how you stitch in the ditch. Hooray! The example in the video shows stitching in the ditch to secure a facing to a shoulder seam, however you can apply this method to any project which requires this technique.

So, we've covered what the "ditch" is, but how do you "stitch" it?

9 October 2019

10 Design Hack Ideas for Nora

10 Design Hack Ideas for the Nora Sewing Pattern

Are you nutty about Nora and want some ideas for creating more? It's Louise here, the Sales and Communications Manager at Tilly and the Buttons, and I am a serial Nora-maker! Ever since we launched the Nora sweater or top pattern, the team have racked up quite a lot of Nora makes between us. The more you make something or see it being made, the more it gets you thinking of what else you could add to make the next.

So I got my thinking cap on and came up with an idea for a super cute Nora dress with cuffs and tie-waist and it was just love-at-first-wear! I've also made a pom pom cuffed Nora that filled the position of sewing-inspired Christmas jumper, an edible parma violet Nora cardigan hack inspired by Tilly, and a polka dot ruffle hem t shirt that I need to replicate 100 times.

I've pulled together 10 design hack ideas for this gorgeous pattern that will help you get even more use out of it. Most of them would be fairly simple to do and you could combine a few of the ideas to create a super hack. So grab a notebook and pen and let the Nora hack planning commence!

10 Design Hack Ideas for the Nora Sewing Pattern
Clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

I have tried, tested, and worn this hack a lot so I can vouch for how brilliant it is. When Tilly came into the office wearing her Nora cardigan hack, I thought she'd developed a new pattern. My only question was, "When can I make one?"!

Tilly shared how to hack nora into a cardi so you can sew your own. Tilly made hers in a low stretch knit, I chose a snuggly sweatshirt fabric, and Kate, our Office Manager, made one in a lovely contrast back sweatshirting.

10 Design Hack Ideas for the Nora Sewing Pattern
Clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

2 October 2019

How to Understitch Like a Pro

How to understitch - Tilly and the Buttons

Do you feel like you need a helping hand with understitching? Well never fear as help is here. It's Nikki here, Product Manager at Team Tilly and in this post I'll be talking you through how to understitch like a pro.

Understitching is a technique used to stop a facing or lining from peeking out from the inside of garments. When attaching a facing or lining to your garment, you can stitch the seam allowances to the facing or lining, close to the seam line, and this will help it stay on the inside where it belongs.

Understitching is one of those nifty sewing techniques that may seem small but makes all the difference to your me-made garments.

If you're the type of person who prefers to learn by watching rather than reading, then you're in luck as we've also made a video to help bring the words in this post to life. Hooray! Tilly has also written a brilliant post where she shares her five tips for neat understitching if you want to get even more tricks and tips, which I thoroughly recommend you check out.

So, how do you understitch?

To prepare for understitching, you need to sew the two fabric pieces together in question, for example the facing or lining and neckline. Sew them together at the seam allowance stipulated in the instructions.

How to understitch - Tilly and the Buttons

25 September 2019

Tilly's Blue Tencel Indigo Smock

Tilly's blue Tencel Indigo smock - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons
Tilly's blue Tencel Indigo smock - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

When we were developing the Indigo smock pattern, the version I knew I had to make first was a classic chambray-blue top with all the trimmings, i.e. I said a big fat yasss to the flounce sleeves and exposed frill seams :)

Tilly's blue Tencel Indigo smock - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

20 September 2019

How to Do Narrow and Wide Shoulder Adjustments

How to do wide narrow shoulder adjustment - Tilly and the Buttons

Do you usually find that your garments are too small or too big across the shoulder? If so, you might want to consider doing a narrow or wide shoulder adjustment. It's Nikki here, Product Manager at Tilly Towers, and I'm here to show you two ways to adjust the shoulders on your pattern pieces to help you get a good fit - one "quick and dirty" method, and one more involved and more accurate method.

How do I know if I need a shoulder adjustment?

But first, if you want to know whether you need a narrow shoulder adjustment you'll have to know where the shoulder should actually sit. 

As with most things when it comes to sewing, the answer to this depends on the style and fit of the garment you're making. Some patterns are designed with a drop shoulder seam, like the Nora top, whilst others intend for the shoulder seam to sit directly on the shoulder socket, like the Indigo top and dress. If you're unsure, have a good look at the pattern technical drawings - this should tell you what you need to know. 

If the pattern is intended to sit on the shoulder socket, you'll need to know how to find out where this is on you. Luckily this is really easy to do. Bend your arm at the elbow and lift it up and down to the side (I like to imagine I'm playing the bagpipes if that helps!) and feel with the fingers on your other hand for where the "hinge" is, where the arm meets the shoulder socket. As you move your arm up and down you'll be able to feel where the socket moving. This point is where the shoulder seam should sit. 

To find out whether the shoulder seam will sit in an optimum spot for you personally, I thoroughly recommend making a toile (a muslin) first, or at least a wearable toile. Mark the armhole seam allowances on the toile and take a look in the mirror to see if the seam (the seam allowance line) is sitting roughly on your shoulder socket. 

If it's sitting beyond the socket and is migrating down your arm, this indicates that there is too much length in the shoulder seam and you need a narrow shoulder adjustment. If it's sitting further back towards your neck, and most likely feeling a bit tight, then this indicates that the shoulder seam on the pattern is too short for your shoulders and you need a wide shoulder adjustment.

Measure the distance between the seam line and the shoulder socket - that's the amount you either have to add or subtract from your shoulder seam. You can use the below methods to adjust the shoulder seam up to around 2cm (3/4in). If you want to add or subtract any more than this amount, you'll have to also adjust the sleeve head to make it bigger or smaller so it matches the new armhole shape.

I'm going to show you two different ways of doing a narrow and wide shoulder adjustment. The first method is super speedy, but may slightly alter the length of the armhole. Because of this, I'd recommend using this method for small adjustments made on knit garments, or for patterns that have ease or gathering in the sleeve head - you can ease in any excess fabric where needed.

For a more accurate technique, use the more involved "slash and spread" method outlined further down the page, which will keep the armhole seam the same length. This is best for sleeves in woven garments with little to no ease.

Narrow shoulder adjustment - the quick and dirty way

18 September 2019

Five Tips for Sewing a Smooth Dart - With Video!

Tips for sewing a smooth dart - Tilly and the Buttons

Show of hands - who's sewn a dart before? Whether you've sewn loads or are still to take that first step, there's always a new hint or tip to learn when it comes to sewing. It's Nikki here, Product Manager at Tilly and the Buttons and I'm here to share our favourite tricks on how to sew a smooth dart.

In addition to the info in this post, Jenny and I have also made a great video (if we do say so ourselves), included below, which shows you how to sew a single, straight dart - the same principles apply to most darts. The video shows these tips in action so make sure you check it out :)

So, what is a dart?

Tips for sewing a smooth dart - Tilly and the Buttons

Darts are shapes of fabric (often triangle) sewn together to make a flat piece of fabric three-dimensional. They are one way of creating shape in a garment, and are often found near the bust, shoulder and waist on dresses, tops, skirts and more.

9 September 2019

Fitting the Indigo top and dress

Fitting the Indigo smock top and dress

Making the Indigo smock and want some tips on how to get a great fit? The good news is that Indigo is relatively easy to fit thanks to the loose-fitting smock style. It does have a fitted bodice though, so you may want to make some tweaks to the pattern to create a bespoke-fitting garment especially for you.

It's Nikki here, Product Manager at Tilly and the Buttons. In the next few blog posts, I'm going to talk you through some of the most common pattern adjustments you may want to make for your Indigo. You'll also be able to use these techniques for lots of other sewing patterns in the future, so make sure you bookmark these posts to help you on your future sewing escapades.

In this post we're going to cover:
  • Making a toile
  • Choosing your size

The posts coming over the next weeks will cover:
Ready? Ok, on with the show.

6 September 2019

Inspiration and Fabrics For Making Your Indigo Smock

Inspiration for making the Indigo smock by Tilly and the Buttons

Do you suffer from wardrobe woes, with a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear? We think we have solved this conundrum with a wear-it-all-week piece that you can throw on and go! You won't give your outfit another thought (apart from, 'I look great!'), and can get on with your busy day in handmade style.

If you haven't already been introduced to our latest pattern, the Indigo smock top or dress, then make sure you read all the juicy deets in our previous post.

It's Louise here from team Buttons, a smock lover who is happiest when floating around in me-made style. I am going to take you through a little inspo for making your Indigo along with some dreamy fabric suggestions. One of my favourite things about Indigo is how it transforms with the choice of fabric. You can sew up an everyday top to chuck on with jeans, a smart dress that is office-appropriate or go for a swishy, party dress. Indigo just does it all!

I've broken things down by fabric type so you can think about what is best going to suit the vibe you want to go for. I guarantee you won't stop at one and will tick these off your list in no time and have an Indigo for every occasion!

Inspiration for making the Indigo smock by Tilly and the Buttons
Clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

First up, we have cotton lawn which something most of us probably already have sitting in our stash waiting to be made. Enter Indigo! Cotton lawn has just enough drape and feels silky soft to the touch down to its fine and high thread count. It's perfect for creating a smock with little more fullness to it as the cotton lawn will hold the shape beautifully.

Inspiration for making the Indigo smock by Tilly and the Buttons
Top: Fabric - Lamazi Fabrics / Dress  / Bottom: Dress / Fabric - Minerva Crafts

Recreate these floral beauties that would work as well with tights and a cosy cardigan in the autumn as they would with a pair of tan sandals in the summer.

Inspiration for making the Indigo smock by Tilly and the Buttons
Top Row: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 Middle Row: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 Bottom Row: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4