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.

16 September 2019

How to Do Bust Adjustments for a Bust Darted Bodice

Bust adjustments bust darted bodice bodice pattern fitting - Tilly and the Buttons

Do you ever wish your me-mades fit better across the bust? Do you find that excess fabric seems to pool around your bust, or that it's too tight? Ever think that the bust darts point in the wrong place on your garments? If you're finding yourself nodding enthusiastically in agreement to any of these statements, then you probably need to do a bust adjustment to your bodice pattern pieces.

It's Nikki here, Product Manager and fitting geek at Tilly and the Buttons, and I'm going to to talk you through how to do a full bust adjustment, a small bust adjustment and how to move the dart on a bust darted bodice.

Now, before we go any further I'd like to give you a little positive pattern pep talk. There are a few diagrams in this post, but whilst they might look quite daunting, they are relatively simple if you follow them step by step :)

How do I know if I need a bust adjustment?

There's a technical and a not-so-technical answer here! The answer depends on your own unique shape and the fit of the garment - you may not need to do a bust adjustment to a loose top or dress, but might have to do one on something more fitted. If you find that things are generally either too tight or too loose in the bust area, then I'd recommend making a quick toile of the bodice, or wearable toile of the whole garment to test the fit around the bust and take it from there. I'm going to briefly cover how you would work out how much to add or subtract from your bust in the adjustment, but do remember this is just a rough framework, and you might not need to do it at all.

Measure your high bust (your upper chest, just under your armpits). If you're making a pattern in our sizes UK 6-24 size band, add 5cm (2in). If you're making a pattern in our sizes 16-34 size band, add 10cm (4in). Choose the pattern size with that bust measurement – this is the size you’ll do your bust adjustment on.

Now measure your full bust (fullest part, around the nipples) and compare it to the bust measurement on the pattern size you just selected.

If your full bust is 5cm (2in) smaller than the pattern, you’ll be subtracting 5cm (2in) from the pattern; if it’s 7.5cm (3in) bigger, you’ll be adding 7.5cm (3in) and so on. If you need to make the bust bigger, you'll need to do a full bust adjustment (FBA) and if you need to make it smaller, you'll need to do a small bust adjustment (SBA).

Since the front bodice pattern represents one half of the top, as the fabric is cut on the fold - or one boob - you'll be adding or subtracting half of that difference. So, if you want to do a 5cm (2in) full bust adjustment, you'll need to add 2.5cm (1in) to the pattern piece.

There are a few ways in which you can do a bust adjustment, but the method I'm going to show you today is the "slash and spread" method. It sounds a bit aggressive but this just means that you do the adjustment by cutting into your pattern piece and either spread it apart to create more space at the bust, or overlap it to make it smaller.

To do a bust adjustment you will need:
  • a ruler (or pattern master if you have one)
  • glue stick and/or sticky tape
  • pencil
  • paper scissors
  • extra paper

As you'll be merrily snipping into your pattern piece with wild abandon for these adjustments, I thoroughly suggest tracing off the front bodice pattern piece so you can keep the original one intact in case you need to make any further adjustments. Make sure you trace all the notches, the dart and 'lengthen or shorten here' lines onto the new pattern piece.

Got your scissors and ruler at the ready? Ok, let's go. And remember, you've got this!

Full bust and small bust adjustments

13 September 2019

How to Combine Pattern Sizes

Do your bust, waist or hip measurements fall across different sizes? If so, you can "grade" between sizes to get a perfect fit. Hooray! It's Nikki here, Product Manager and self-confessed fitting nerd here at Tilly and the Buttons, and in this post I'm going to cover how to combine sizes on pattern pieces.

One of the best things about sewing is that you can create clothes that fit your unique body shape. If you have bust, waist and hip measurements that are different sizes, like me, you'll probably have stood in a clothes shop fitting room before, surrounded by a pile of clothes that are too loose on top and too tight across your hips, or vice-versa. Luckily, when it comes to making your own clothes, you can combine pattern sizes to make parts of the garment bigger or smaller to give you a truly bespoke fit. 

When should I combine pattern sizes? 

Now, it might be tempting to combine sizes for the bust, waist and hips on all your patterns, but depending on the fit of the garment you don't always need to do this. 

If you're making a looser fitting garment or a garment that is looser fitting in some areas, you might not need to combine sizes at all. A looser fitting garment will have a lot of "positive ease", meaning the garment (or parts of it) will be much bigger than your body, so a few inches difference in that area won't make much difference to the overall fit. 

So for example, if you're making something with a fitted bust and loose waist and hips, like the Indigo top and dress pattern, and your waist measurement is 2 or 3 sizes different to your bust, then you probably won't need to make any alterations here. The same applies to the hip measurement - the skirt is loose and flowy so a few sizes difference between your body measurements won't affect the fit of the garment. However, if your bust and waist span across more than 3 sizes you might want to consider grading between sizes.

On the other hand, if you're making a garment that is designed to have a closer fit, like the Ness skirt or Etta dress, you will want to grade between sizes at the bust, waist and hip, where applicable, as there is much less ease in these areas.

Please do bear in mind though, if your bust measurement is particularly smaller or larger than the body measurement of the size you have picked, then you might need to do a bust adjustment, as well as combine sizes. Check out our bust adjustments post (coming soon!) for more info!

Most sewing patterns will list the finished garment measurements in their instructions, so if you're a bit unsure whether you need to combine sizes, comparing them against your body measurements will help you decide :) 

General info about combining pattern sizes

OK, so you've decided that you need to combine pattern sizes, but there are a few things you need to know before you get stuck in! 

Most patterns will have notch markings on them signifying where the bust, waist and hip should sit. If a pattern doesn't have them, you can hold up the pattern piece to your body to get an idea of where they should be. You can use these notches as a start and finish point and grade between them. 

When combining pattern sizes, it's very important that you make sure they will match the pattern pieces that they are joining. So for example, if you are making a dress and have graded between the bust and the waist, make sure the waist size is the same for both the bodice and the skirt! If you are sewing something with a front and back bodice, front and back skirt etc. make sure you have done the same adjustment to both pieces. The same applies to facings - if you have graded a piece that will join it, make sure it matches. 

The first diagram below shows how you combine sizes on a pattern piece that has a straight side seam, and no dart.  If you are combining sizes on a curved seam, it's exactly the same principle but you'll want to use a french curve, pattern master or a steady hand to draw a smooth curved line, instead of a straight one. The Jessa fitting post has more deets on how to do this is you fancy having a look. Later on in the post, I'm also going to cover how you combine sizes on a bodice that has a bust dart.

Ready to get stuck in? let's do this!

Combining sizes for an un-darted seam

Combining and grading pattern sizes fitting - Tilly and the Buttons

If you're combining different bust and waist measurements, on a straight seam, draw a straight line at the side seam joining up your bust size at the top and your waist size at the bottom. The above photo shows a back bodice for a size 6 bust and a size 5 waist in red, and a size 3 bust and size 4 waist in green.

If your pattern piece is more curved, draw a curved line between the sizes using a pattern master, french curve or by hand.

It really is as simple as that :)

Combining sizes on a darted bodice

11 September 2019

How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern

How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Do you have a particularly long or short torso, legs or arms? If this sounds like you, you might want to consider lengthening or shortening your sewing patterns to get a better fit.

It's Nikki here, and today I'm going to talk you through lengthening or shortening pattern pieces. The first set of diagrams below show a bodice, which you can adjust if you have a long or short upper body, but you can use the same technique on loads of pattern pieces - trouser legs or skirts if you have long or short legs, sleeves if you have long or short arms, you name it. I’ll also talk you through how to lengthen or shorten the rise on trouser and shorts patterns. This is one of the great things about sewing - you can adjust just the parts you need to get a garment to fit your unique shape.

If you are lengthening a pattern piece that has a matching pair or facing that will be affected by the length - for example, a front bodice will often join a back bodice and sometimes a front opening facing - make the same adjustment to the matching pattern pieces, else you'll end up with a wonky garment (not cool).

Ready? Let's get stuck in to...

How to lengthen a sewing pattern
How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

If you want to lengthen your pattern piece, cut along the bottom "lengthen or shorten" line, to separate your pattern pieces into two.

How to Lengthen or Shorten a Sewing Pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

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

3 September 2019

Introducing the Indigo smock top or dress pattern!

Indigo smock top and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Hands up who wants to take a closer look at our gorgeous Indigo sewing pattern? Indigo is a smock top or dress that you'll want to put on day after day. With no zips or fiddly fastenings, you can quite literally throw it over your head and swish out the door to whatever you have planned for the day or evening.

See #SewingIndigo for major sewing inspiration from the community!

We love nothing more than making sewing patterns with loads of customisable options, and Indigo is no exception. With multiple hem, sleeve and gathering options, you can make one for every day of the week. And, have you seen that exposed frill seam? Swoon. To make things even better, and because we know you love them just as much as we do, the dress version also has pockets!

The Indigo top and dress sewing pattern is available in sizes UK 6-24 / US 2-20 / EUR 34-52 or UK 16-34 / US 12-30 / EUR 44-62. Want a little more help picking out which size range is best for you? Check out this blog post which guides you through the differences.

Are you excited as we are? We knew you would be, read on to find out more :)

Indigo smock top and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Indigo smock top and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons