30 December 2020

2020 at Tilly and the Buttons

Tilly and the Buttons organic jersey fabric

Well, 2020 is coming to an end, and I know I’m not the only one hoping for a better new year!

This has undoubtedly been the most challenging year we’ve faced since I began this small business. We thought Brexit was the big issue we would have to grapple, and then along came a global pandemic, which was never in the business plan!

It wasn’t all bad though, and we are still standing strong. In this post I’m going to take a trip down memory lane, looking at what we achieved at Tilly and the Buttons in 2020, along with some of the challenges we faced. I’ll also share a sneaky peeky at some of our plans for 2021, so read on…

The challenges

Like other small business owners, it’s been a year of sleepless nights for me (and not just because I have a todder!). Think of a small business like a swan – while all may appear well on the shiny surface, there’s a lot of frantic paddling going on behind the scenes!

The first month of lockdown was incredibly stressful as we had to cease orders of physical products that require posting (the vast majority of our income), and the wholesale, advertising and retails shows aspects of our business all took a big blow too. We gradually reintroduced UK orders, and later international orders, thanks to the dedication of Kate and Frances to the company. Since then we have had some record-breaking months of both shop and wholesale sales, as people get settled into staying home and crafting. While bricks and mortar-only shops and sewing schools have suffered a terrible blow this year, we have been in an incredibly fortunate position to be an online business selling products related to a home-based hobby.

Despite the ups and downs on the balance sheet, I’m proud to say that we kept all our staff on full pay this year. The team have mostly been working from home since March, so we have become well-versed in Zoom meetings and Whatsapping for the smaller queries. On a personal level, I became even more focused and efficient than usual as I had no childcare for a few months so was squeezing running a company into even smaller pockets of time.

Our product releases had to shuffle around quite a bit this year, particularly while we had limited (or no) shipping capacity and when our stockists were shut. The Jaimie pyjamas came out a few months later than planned, and we had to cancel the printing of the Alexa jumpsuit and release it as PDF only – which was a shame, but at least we could get it out there in some form.

Stevie add-on sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Another process that had to change was how we conduct photo shoots! Fortunately we already had lots of photos banked, since we work a few months ahead of release. The Stevie add-on pattern was the first time we had to face a remote photo shoot. In the end we did a virtual fitting on Zoom, and then our real-gal model Kathy of Sew Dainty made some adjustments to the garments herself (just one of the benefits of hiring a sewist as your model!). Her husband took the photos of her in her sitting room, and our freelance graphic designer Fanni edited them to feature our familiar colourful backdrops. Smoke and mirrors, guys!

23 December 2020

Ten Favourite Posts of 2020

Safiya dungarees from Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes

2020 has been quite the year. With us all experiencing the effects of a global pandemic, we have been united in changing our routines and habits, as well as spending more time indoors. If there is any positive to take from this, it's meant that many of us had more time to dedicate to our favourite hobby - sewing. 

We have seen a big surge in Tilly and the Buttons blog readers, with plenty more hits on our resource library on the blog and lots more views on the beginner sewing posts.

As a team, we have poured our hearts into creating content, patterns and general cheer, hoping that we would be able to make a small, positive difference to someone's day. As most of the team have been working remotely since March, we have plotted and planned everything on Zoom - something we'd never done before! 

Despite everything 2020 has presented, and our plans having to chop and change all over the place, we've managed to release new sewing patterns, including add-on patterns to make the most of your existing styles, we've updated reprints of older patterns with additional sizes, we've shared videos to our YouTube channel thanks to our whizzy video editor, Jenny, added two new online sewing workshops and lots more hard work going on behind the scenes! Tilly has a blog post coming next week all about what happened at TATB in 2020, so don't miss it...

The Tilly and the Buttons 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 : )

How to make a DIY face mask with video

How to Make a DIY Face Mask - With Video

A face mask is something we would have never imagined ourselves stitching, but it became a way to use our wonderful sewing skills to make something useful for our loved ones, neighbours and colleagues. Tilly created instructions and a video tutorial for sewing a face mask which fastens with ties since elastic was in short supply at the time of making it. It also has a pocket for a disposable filter and optional nose wire for a closer fit. 

PLEASE NOTE: This is NOT designed to be a medical grade mask, it is for personal use.

Six free sewing projects

Six Free Sewing Projects    

We all love a freebie, and this post with six free sewing projects proved to be mighty popular. These mini-projects can be completed in an hour or so, and could even make use of the fabric scraps you have lying around - winning! 

Thread tension troubleshooting

Seven Steps to Perfect Thread Tension (With Video!)

When the thread tension is off on your sewing machine, it can really throw you. Stitches that are too tight, too loose, or uneven can be particularly disheartening for sewing newbies who aren’t yet comfortable with their sewing machine – but, let’s be honest, thread tension troubles can plague more experienced stitchers too. In this blog post and video, Tilly takes you through seven tips to getting your thread tension spot on. You might want to bookmark this page for those argh! moments :)

If you enjoyed this, you might like Five Shortcut Features on your Sewing Machine

Safiya trousers from Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes

Make It Simple: Meet the Safiya Trousers, Dungarees and Playsuit

One of the most exciting moments of 2020 was the release of Tilly's third book, Make It Simple. It's packed with projects that you can whip up in afternoon, and the firm favourite pattern seems to be the Safiya trousers, dungarees and playsuit. Safiya will fit into any modern wardrobe, is suitable for work and play, and is quick and simple to make - what more could you want?

Want to meet all the patterns from Make It Simple? Check out these posts to learn much more!

Say Hello to the Tabitha T-shirt and Dress

Introducing the Suki Dress

It's the Bertha (lovely Bertha) Cardigan

The Juno Pyjamas have Landed

Oh La La... It's Olive!

Tips for sewing with double gauze

Tips for Sewing with Double Gauze Fabric (With Video!)

One of Tilly's all-time favourite fabrics to sew with is double gauze. Not only does it make for the most scrumptiously soft and lovely-to-wear clothing, it is also pretty simple to sew once you get your head round how to handle its unique properties. We get a lot of questions about how to sew with double gauze, so Tilly shared her top tips. If you haven't worked with this wonderful fabric yet, maybe 2021 is the year to go for it!

If you enjoyed this, you might like Tips for Sewing with Sweatshirt Fabric

10 Sewing videos to up your skills

10 Sewing Videos to Up Your Skills

If you're new to sewing or are a frequent stitcher, you might find that new techniques pop up with your sewing projects that can be a little baffling the first time around. We have a whole host of sewing tutorials on our YouTube channel, because sometimes you need to see a technique in action. 

We pulled together ten of our most-popular sewing videos to check out and bookmark. 

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss a thing?

How to do a full bust adjustment for knit fabrics

How to do a Full Bust Adjustment for Knit Fabrics

Do you ever find that your clothes either fit or are tight across the full bust, but you have excess fabric pooling above? If so, you may benefit from doing a full bust adjustment when you make your own clothes. Our lovely Product Manager, Nikki, wrote a blog post covering how to do a bust adjustment on a dartless bodice, showing you how to add shaping, without having to change the design of the garment by inserting a dart.

If you enjoyed this, you might like How to Make Common Trouser Fitting Adjustments

Team Buttons Sewing Stories

Team Buttons Sewing Stories

At TATB HQ, we talk of little else than sewing, so we thought it might be nice to share the team's sewing stories. We chat about how we got into sewing, what inspires us, our top tips for beginner sewists and much more! Grab a cuppa, and get to know what makes us stitch.

Tilly's double gauze Stevie smock

Three Double Gauze Stevie Smocks

Tilly's sew-jo was set alight during the first UK lockdown of 2020, and she's shared her makes on the blog. The most popular post was her trio of stunning double gauze Stevie smocks. They are just dreamy!

If you enjoyed this, you might like Tilly's Indigo Midi Dress of Dreams

How to sew a jersey neckband

How to Sew a Jersey Neckband (With Video!)

Want to know how to successfully sew a jersey neckband? It is probably the fiddliest part of making a T-shirt so Tilly walks you through how to get it in perfectly every time. Plus, there's a video so you can see the steps in action.

We hope you enjoyed that little round-up :) You can subscribe to our blog (see right) so you never miss a post. We have lots of exciting things in store for 2021 that we cannot wait to share with you! xxx


Author: Louise Carmichael

Make It Simple is published by Quadrille (Hardie Grant), the model images are by Ellie Smith with styling by Clare Nicolson and the step pictures are by Jane Looker.

16 December 2020

Make Friends with an Overlocker or Serger!

Make Friends with an Overlocker or Serger - online sewing class
Are you thinking of investing in an overlocker or serger to professionalise your seams?

Or maybe you already own this wonder machine but find yourself flummoxed by the thread tension and differential feed settings?

My latest online workshop will be right up your street! In MAKE FRIENDS WITH AN OVERLOCKER OR SERGER, I'll get you feeling confident using your machine. The workshop goes live on Monday 28th December 2020, and is open for pre-sale right now!

Make Friends with an Overlocker or Serger - online sewing class

This is the workshop I wish I'd had in those early days of owning an overlocker. I will take you through all the essentials, including:
  • Threading your overlocker – both from scratch and the fast way
  • Finishing seams on woven fabrics
  • Joining seams on knit fabrics
  • Navigating curves, corners and loops
  • Getting to grips with the thread tension and other settings
  • Sewing a rolled hem and lettuce edge
  • Troubleshooting common issues and fixing mistakes
  • Caring for your overlocker
Plus lots more! 

9 December 2020

Tilly's Stay Home Billie Dress (and Some Nice News!)

Tilly's Stay Home and Sew Billie Sweatshirt Dress - sewing pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

When the second UK lockdown kicked in last month (thanks, Covid), I decided to make a Billie sweatshirt dress to mark the occasion. A call to arms for us to do our part to stop the spread, as well as lifting our spirits through creativity. A souvenir for a point in time, perhaps, but actually I am a bit of a homebody anyway so this sentiment will still apply to me in years to come!

Tilly's Stay Home and Sew Billie Sweatshirt Dress - sewing pattern from Tilly and the Buttons

As my vision for this sweatshirt was multicoloured letters, I went with a simple black fabric to make them pop. I chose a fleece-backed sweatshirt fabric from Minerva, along with a black ribbing I found in my stash for the neckband, cuffs and hem band.

To make the letters, I wrote the text in Montserrat (one of TATB's brand fonts, as it happens) in extra large size in an Adobe Illustrator file and printed them out on paper. After cutting around them with paper scissors, I placed them face down on the back of some Happy Fabric iron-on vinyl, drew around them, then carefully cut out the vinyl (again, with paper scissors). Finally, I pressed them onto the finished sweatshirt and peeled off the backing following Happy Fabric's instructions, with a sheet of baking paper acting as a cover sheet.

2 December 2020

Team Buttons’ Secret Santa Christmas Jumpers

Billie Secret Santa Christmas Jumper

Is it just us, or has Christmas started early this year? Here at Tilly Towers, one of our favourite festive events is our annual staff Secret Santa gift swap, but this year (in true 2020 style) we decided to do things a little differently.

To celebrate the launch of our latest sewing pattern, the Billie sweatshirt and sweater dress, we decided to make Christmas sweatshirts for each other using the Billie pattern.

The rules were simple – each of us was randomly allocated another member of the team for whom we made a Billie sweatshirt featuring a personalised, festive design. We also submitted a wish list, which included our size, favourite colours and Christmas styles, to give our Secret Santa some clues to help her out.

Now we all know fabric shopping is one of the best bits of a project, but fabric shopping for someone else can be a whole different ball game! Luckily, Minerva came to our rescue and supplied us with all the fabrics we needed. From snuggly fleece-back sweatshirting to smart French terry and glittery ribbing – Minerva had it all, so a huge thank you to them!

Almost all of us used Happy Fabric’s iron-on vinyls to decorate our Billie sweatshirts too. They come in a huge range of colours and finishes, they’re super easy to use and produce such amazing results!

As most of the team are working from home at the moment, once the sweatshirts were finished Santa’s elves sent them by express delivery to their lucky recipients and we organised a Billie sweatshirt swap over video call. It was so fun to get together (if only virtually) and open our gifts with one another. And of course, we filmed it all so you could join in on the fun too!

27 November 2020

Team Makes - The Billie Sweatshirt Edition

Billie Sweatshirt Team Makes - Tilly and the Buttons

Our latest sewing pattern release, the Billie sweatshirt and sweater dress, has been super popular with our lovely customers. And it's been highly coveted by Team Buttons too! 

The Billie sweatshirt is the perfect thing to wear when you want to look on-trend and feel comfortable at the same time. Better yet, Billie is endlessly versatile, with loads of different design details and opportunities to add your unique twist. Choose between making a sweatshirt or sweater dress, add regular or balloon sleeves, and if you fancy it, go wild by adding with pre-made patterned cuffs and vinyl motifs. Suffice to say, the Buttons have opted for all of these options for their Billies :)

Kate, Frances and I (Nikki) have each stitched up a very different Billie and want to show them off to the world. Carry on reading to see what we've been making...

Billie Sweatshirt Team Makes - Tilly and the Buttons

I don't know about you but when I saw Frances's Billie sweatshirt I was blown away! Our Office and Wholesale Assistant had the initial idea for it over a year ago, long before Billie came into being. 

Billie Sweatshirt Team Makes - Tilly and the Buttons

She was inspired by the sweatshirts worn by the dancers in a scene from the film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and couldn’t get the sweatshirts out of her head! She became obsessed and, with the help of Hayley from Happy Fabric, hunted down the perfect shade of orange iron-on vinyl for the “Hullabaloo” slogan. She also found the snuggliest fleece-back sweatshirting with matching ribbing from Etsy. Isn't it so satisfying when a great sewing plan comes together?

The only change Frances made to the pattern was to shorten the bodice by 5cm (2in) for a more cropped length. This was the first time she'd used iron-on vinyl and, although hand-cutting the lettering took a bit of time and patience, she's so pleased with the result! Her sweatshirt has quickly become one of her most worn makes and she loves pairing it with high-waisted, flared jeans for a full 70s look. It also looks super cute worn with her black cord Bobbi skirt.

24 November 2020

Black Friday Sewing Pattern Sale

Black Friday sewing pattern sale

Get your me-made wardrobe ready for some new arrivals as our Black Friday sale is here, and we are taking 25% off sewing patterns* - yippee!

This very special offer applies to printed and digital sewing patterns* (exclusions apply, see the bottom of this post for all the deets) so you can build your stash, or give the gift of sewing to somebody else this Christmas - you decide :)

Whether you want to sew up a comfy pair of PJs, gorgeous button up skirt, or snuggly knit dress, you'll find the pattern you need to slot into your stylish handmade wardrobe. The discount is automatic, so just add your faves to your basket, check out and watch the price drop down - yesssss!

The Black Friday sewing pattern sale must end Sunday 29th November midnight GMT, so don't miss out! 

If you need a little help choosing the right pattern for you, here are a few of our top picks...

Bobbi pinafore and skirt sewing pattern

Got a thing for pretty buttons? Well, the Bobbi skirt and pinafore sewing pattern gives you plenty of opportunities to make buttons star of the handmade show and maybe make a dent in that tin of buttons you've been hoarding! 

Bobbi is a gorgeous button down skirt or pinafore with a choice of three styles of pockets, so you get to play designer when plotting your make. It features a curved waistband, princess seams and a slim-look bib if you are making the pinafore. You will make Bobbi again and again as it's so versatile and will look different every time you stitch it up.

Is Bobbi the one? You can grab the printed pattern here or the digital version here. These blog posts come might in handy when you are making it up :)

Lotta sewing pattern

18 November 2020

Tips for Sewing with Sweatshirt Fabrics

Tips for Sewing with Sweatshirt Fabrics - Tilly and the Buttons

When the weather gets cooler, sweatshirt fabric is one of my favourite materials to sew with. Not only does it make for the comfiest clothes, it’s also pretty easy to sew – woohoo! Sweatshirt fabrics – by which I mean sweatshirt fleece, loopback or French terry – generally have a low stretch percentage so, unlike many other knit fabrics, they are easy to cut, handle and stitch without stretching out of shape or creating rippled seams.

If you’re tempted to dive into the wonderful world of sweatshirt fabrics, I’m going to share my top tips for sewing with them. We also made a video summary of the main tips if you’d like a quickie version ;)

Tips for Sewing with Sweatshirt Fabrics - Tilly and the Buttons
1) Choose an appropriate project and type of fabric

Sweatshirt fabrics are ideal for making casual clothes, loungewear and activewear. They trap warm air, so will keep you toasty in the winter, plus they are moisture-wicking, so perfect for your workout.

They usually have little stretch (although the amount does vary), so match them with a looser-fitting garment pattern that you can get on and off easily – maybe it has a zip opening, or you could make the neckband in a stretchier jersey ribbing.

There are a few different types of sweatshirt fabrics available. When shopping for them, it’s common to find fabric labelled as one of the following:

Stella hoodie and joggers - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

17 November 2020

Black Friday Early Offer - 25% Off Online Workshops

Tilly and the Buttons Black Friday Online Workshop SaleLearn a new sewing skill with online video workshops


Use code: GIMME25 for 25% off online workshops from Tuesday 17th November until Friday 20th November 2020 Midnight GMT. 

If you're getting into sewing or are looking to expand your skills, you might be looking for a fairy stitch-mother to show you the way! Enter Tilly - your sewing guru, who is here to guide you through techniques, tricks and head-scratching moments.

We have a range of online video workshops that cater to every skill level and can be taken at your own pace with 24/7 access. You can take the classes from the comfort of your own home (PJs are optional), and Tilly will be there to break things down every step of the way, with clear instructions. The courses are split into modules, making it easy to revisit useful sections in later projects.

Beginner friendly online sewing workshops
Make Friends with a Sewing Machine

12 November 2020

Fitting the Billie Sweatshirt and Sweater Dress

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Billie sweatshirt and sweater dress and want some extra tips on fitting? Then this post is for you! In it, you'll find some shiny pearls of wisdom regarding fitting your sweatshirt or dress :)

Billie is available in printed and PDF formats sizes UK 6-34 / US 2-30 / EUR 34-62 / AUS 6-34.

The great news is Billie is relatively simple to fit - wahoo! The combination of the casual shape and knit fabric means that there's a lot more room to manoeuvre when it comes to fitting than a closer-fit woven garment. This post will cover the most common fitting adjustments you may need when sewing Billie. However, don't think you have to try all of them, or even any at all! We think sharing is caring, so the information is here for you just in case you need it. 

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

We sometimes recommend that you make a "toile" (or "muslin") before you cut into your main fabric - a practice garment in cheap or spare fabric in a similar weight to the fabric you're going to use for the final garment to test the fit. As it's an easy-fitting top and dress, it's not necessary to do this with Billie. Sure, if you have some jaw-droppingly stunning and unique fabric that you're a bit nervous about using, or want to check if you need a full bust adjutsment, then by all means make a quick practice garment first to see how it fits on you. Otherwise, go for it! 

 In this post we're going to cover:

  • Choosing your size
  • Lengthening or shortening the bodice or sleeve
  • Lengthening or shortening the dress
  • How to combine different bust, waist and/or hip sizes
  • How to adjust the pocket to match graded side seams

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Choosing your size 

Using a flexible tape measure, find the circumference of your: 
  • Bust - take the measurement at the fullest point i.e. around your nipples 
  • Waist - where you bend at the side 
  • Hips - the fullest part - it helps to turn to the side and look in a mirror to see where this is 
Check the tape measure is sitting level with the floor all the way around. It can help to turn to the side and look in a mirror to check.

Circle your measurements on the ‘Body Measurements’ chart in the pattern instructions. If a measurement falls between two sizes (for example, if your bust is 37in rather than 36in or 38in), it’s usually better to choose the larger size as you can take it in more easily than you can let it out. 

If your bust, waist and hip measurements all fall into one size on the body measurements chart, that is your size. Take a look at the size key on the pattern sheets and find the corresponding size line. Each size has its own solid or dashed line to make it easy to spot and help you follow it easily.

If your bust, waist and/or hip measurements fall into different sizes, you can combine pattern sizes to create tailored pattern pieces that will fit your unique measurements - yay! This is super easy to do - see 'How to combine pattern sizes' below for more details. But, before you excitedly jump in and do this, you might want to consider...

Lengthening or shortening the bodice or sleeve

The best thing about sewing (aside from matching the perfect pattern with the dreamiest fabric) is that you can lengthen or shorten your garments so that they're the perfect length for your height, body and limbs. Our patterns are drafted for a height of around 5"5 (165cm), so if you're particularly taller or shorter than this, or if you have particularly long or short arms, legs or torso, then you might want to adjust your pattern pieces.

We have a dedicated blog post dedicated to explaining how to lengthen or shorten pattern pieces. It talks you through the process, step by step, so go check it out.

If you're lengthening or shortening the bodice pattern pieces, remember to adjust both the front and back bodices. 

We have included the following sets of lengthen or shorten lines on the Billie pattern pieces:

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

1) Bodice

If you often find that tops and dresses  are a bit too long or short for you in the bodice, you can lengthen or shorten the front and back bodice pattern pieces using the lengthen or shorten lines. We've included the nape (nobbly bit at the bottom of your neck) to hem measurements for the top and dress in the finished garment measurements section of the booklet so you can compare them against your own measurements. 

The lengthen or shorten lines on the Billie sweatshirt are located between the bust and waist notch. You can adjust your pattern here if you feel like you need a bit more length, or conversely a bit less length - in the torso. If you'd like to alter the length of the dress (i.e. where it sits on the legs), check out the 'How to adjust the dress length' section below. 

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

2) Sleeves (both versions)

Whether you're keeping it classic with the regular sleeves or adding some drama with the balloon sleeves, the process for altering the length is exactly the same. Both long sleeves are designed to sit just past the wrist, between the bottom of the hand and base of the thumb, and the three-quarter length sleeve sits midway between the elbow and wrist.  

We've included the arm length (from tip of the shoulder to the wrist) in the body measurements chart in the instructions booklet. You can compare this length to your own shoulder to wrist measurement to see whether you think the sleeve will need adjusting.  

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

How to adjust the dress length

The dress is designed to sit 10cm (4in) above the knee. As the side seams at the bottom of the dress are straight, if you want to lengthen or shorten the dress to better suit your height or personal style, you can simply remove or add length to/from the bottom - it's as easy as that! We've included the nape the hem measurement for each size in the finished measurements chart in the instructions booklet so you can compare to your own measurements. 

If you want to shorten the dress, work out how much you'd like to remove and draw a horizontal line parallel to the hem, then fold it under or tuck it away. If you'd like to add length, stick the bottom of the bodice pattern pieces to a piece of paper and draw a new hemline. Easy peasy :)

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

How to combine different bust, waist and/or hip sizes

If your bust, waist and/or hip measurements fall into different pattern sizes, you can draw a new line ("grade") between pattern sizes to get a bespoke fit for your exact body measurements. We have a blog post with step-by-step instructions and diagrams to show you how to do this is more detail, but keep on reading for some info specific to Billie.

As the Billie sweatshirt has a casual shape, there is a bit of leeway when it comes to fitting, especially at the waist. For example, if you're a size 7 at the bust and hips and a size 6 at the waist, it'd be simplest to cut a straight size 7. If you did want to take it in at the waist later, you could do that at the sewing stage.

If you feel like you need to do a full bust adjustment and are a little unsure how to do it, then check out our blog post that's just landed all about how to do a full bust adjustment on knit fabric sewing patterns

If you're making the dress with pockets and combine sizes at the side seams, you'll also need to adjust the pocket side seams to match. Scroll down a teensy bit to find out how...

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

How to adjust the pocket to match adjusted side seams

As the cutaway pockets sit at the side seam, if you're changing the shape of the side seams then the pocket shape will need to change too. 

Let's pick up from where we left off above, after you've drawn a new side seam line. The green line in the above picture shows a grade from a size 7 at the bust and waist to a size 9 at the hips. 

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Stick a bit of transparent-ish paper to the bottom left-hand corner of the pocket facing - we're going to draw new side seams on the pocket and need to be able to see the shape of the bodice to do this. 

Lay the pocket facing piece over the front bodice, with the side seams above the waist notch lining up with the size that corresponds to your waist size. Line up the pocket opening on the pocket facing with the red line on the front bodice, matching notches, and pin it in place. 

You'll see that the edge of the pocket bag lines up with original size 7 side seam in this example, and not the new size 9 line in green. 

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Draw two new lines to extend the pocket bag side seam to meet the new side seam on your bodice. You'll see in the above example that I didn't quite follow the pocket opening seam and created a new line, as following this line until the side seam would make the pocket quite low. If you make any adjustments to the pocket opening seam on the pocket bag, transfer the new line to the front bodice piece so they'll match up. 

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

Fitting the Billie sweatshirt and dress sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

We're on to the last stretch! Stick another bit of paper to the left side of the pocket bag piece. Lay the pocket bag over the bodice and pocket facing, lining up the waist notch and the original outside edge. 

Following the new side seam on the bodice and bottom left outside edge on the pocket bag, draw a new pocket bag shape to match the adjustments you've made.

Trim away the excess from your new pocket pattern pieces, and you're good to go :)

And that's it! I hope you've found this post useful and feel confident about fitting your Billie sweatshirt and sweater dress. We love seeing your finished makes and progress shots. Tag us on Insta @TillyButtons using the hashtag #SewingBillie. 

Author: Nikki Hoar
Photography: Jane Looker
Makeup: Laura Anne
Model: Marcela Solarte (UK 6-24 range) and Sarah Baillie (UK 16-34 range)
Pink grid See You at Six French terry: Lamazi Fabrics (gifted)
Colourblock sweatshirt dress fleece back sweatshirt fabric (colours melange light blue, rose pink and yellow) and mint ribbing for the cuffs and neckband from Minerva Crafts (gifted) 
Striped balloon sleeve ponte roma fabric from Minerva Crafts (gifted)

9 November 2020

How to do a Full Bust Adjustment For Knit Fabrics

How to do Full Bust Adjustments on Knit Fabrics - Tilly and the Buttons

Garments made in jersey and other knit fabrics generally don't require many fit adjustments, thanks to the stretch in the fabric. Having said that, if you find that your me-mades feel tight across the bust, with excess fabric pooling above, you may benefit from doing a full bust adjustment. 

In this blog post I'm going to talk you through how to do a full bust adjustment on a dartless bodice sewing pattern designed for knit fabrics - such as our Billie sweatshirt, Agnes topCoco top and dress, Romy top and dress, Tabitha t-shirt and more. We've previously published tutorials on how to do bust adjustments on darted bodices and dartless bodices for woven fabrics - these both have step-by-step instructions and some nifty diagrams to show you exactly what to do, and you should deffo bookmark them to check them out at a later date if you haven't already! 

How to do Full Bust Adjustments on Knit Fabrics - Tilly and the Buttons

How do I know if I need a full bust adjustment? 

Generally speaking, knit garments are much more forgiving than woven garments when it comes to fitting. The stretchy fabric means we often don't need to worry if things are a little bit tight, and stretch garments are also often relatively casual in style and fit, meaning fitting is usually relatively simple overall. Because of this, you might not need to do a bust adjustment on these types of garments, even if you often do a full bust adjustment for woven garments - yay!

However, if your boobs are on the larger side and you usually find that even easy-fitting t-shirts and sweatshirts are either too tight in the bust area, or fit across the bust but have a lot of excess fabric pooling above, then you probably need to make a full bust adjustment. Luckily the adjustment I'm going to show you today is super easy and you'll be done in no time :)

Help! How much do I have to add to the bust? 

6 November 2020

Inspiration and Styling Ideas for Billie

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons

It's sweater weather! And luckily for you, we have just released a sewing pattern you can use to fill your wardrobe with snugglies. It's like we planned it (wink, wink)! Billie is the ultimate working from home outfit - stylish enough to look put together and oh-so-comfortable. 

Billie is a sweatshirt or sweater dress that you can whip up in an afternoon, with a relaxed shape, crew neckline and classic trim details. Keep it effortless with cuffed, straight sleeves, or add some drama with on-trend balloon sleeves and deep cuffs. You can dress it up or down, whether you’re wearing Billie for a meeting, dinner date or Sunday on the sofa.

Everybody needs a sweatshirt in their wardrobe. It's modern, cool and comfortable. A classic sweatshirt will go so with so many things in your handmade closet and will definitely be a key player in your weekly wardrobe. And the dress version is your comfy new BFF - chic enough to wear for work, cool enough for brunch with friends, and practical enough for chasing the kiddos around the playground. What's more, it has (deep) cutaway pockets!

As there is sooooo much you can do with this blank canvas, this post is going to focus on ideas for how you could make and style your handmade Billie sweatshirts and dresses. So, let's get onto the fun bit - all the dreamy inspo!

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

There are so many colour options for Billie, so the first bit of this inspo post is going to cover some palettes you might want to consider. You can figure out which one reflects your style - candy crush, nicely neutral or rainbow bright!

Candy colours are definitely a favourite at TATB. Sweet hues that make even sweeter me-mades are always one of our top choices. Pastel shades are perfect for Billie, especially for lounging around at home. If you want to make a candy-coloured Billie for daywear, try pairing with a solid colour neutral, such as black, white or denim. If you can't choose your favourite shade, why not make a sweatshirt with a few colours like the centre right image? That's got to be first on my list!

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12

Making your own clothes means you get to choose the fabrics and trimmings, but occasionally means you can end up with lots of pieces that don't go together - doh! Why not make a Billie that is so nicely neutral, it teams with all the prints in your wardrobe and gets maximum wear?

I have a ready-to-wear black sweatshirt that I wear all the time in spring, autumn and winter, so that might have to move over for a black Billie sweater with balloon sleeves! We cannot talk about neutrals without acknowledging the ultimate sweatshirt colour - grey marl. As a dress or sweatshirt, it will be casual, smart and understated, and allow your accessories to do the talking.

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Wearing bright clothes really can help lift your mood - something we all need right now. Inject some fun rainbow colours into your handmade wardrobe with a bright Billie. Bold colours go really well with monochrome prints, perfect for boosting your spotty dotty makes, like the bottoms right image!

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 

There would be no TATB without stripes, so I can't go without mentioning them, can I? A classic striped Billie sweatshirt or dress would make a lovely addition to any me-made wardrobe. You can find striped sweatshirting in tons of different stripe colour combinations - a particular favourite of mine is anything multicoloured or with rainbow stripes. 

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Prints, prints, gotta love those prints! What about a fun pattern or print for your Billie make? Animal print, spots, dots and checks... there are so many options out there you're sure to find one that speaks to you. I love the idea of doing a contrast neckband, cuffs and hem band with a print.
Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Billie can be a blank canvas for you to express yourself however you want to. You could use your Billie make to say what's on your mind and add a slogan. Whether you are announcing it's your 'Day Off' or letting the world know your favourite food is 'French Toast', you can say it your way!

There are lots of different ways you could do this, with iron-on vinyl, ready-to-use iron-on letters, pre-made patches, embroidery, sewing on fabric scraps... it's just such a fun idea :)
Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9

There are lots of other ways you could customise and embellish your Billie to make it your way! Just a few ideas include tie-dyeing, sewing on pearls or beads, fabric painting, sewing on patches of fabric, colour blocking, adding pompoms, using iron-on or sew-on patches, doing some hand embroidery. The list is endless and once you go down a Pinterest hole with your idea, there's no coming back!

So now onto how to style your Billie sweatshirt in five different ways!

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

First up is my personal favourite way to wear a sweatshirt and currently in heavy rotation as it's perfect for wearing when staying at home - Billie paired with joggers! You could sew a luxurious loungewear suit using the Stella joggers sewing pattern from Tilly's book, Stretch! to team perfectly with the Billie sweatshirt. You could sew the whole suit from the same fabric in a block colour, print or pattern, or make mix and match set! You might find you want to whip up more than one set...

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2 / 3

Workwear has shifted for lots of people, to more comfortable options that can be worn when working from home. Whether your desk is currently your kitchen table or you are travelling into an office, workwear can be comfy and chic! The Safiya trousers tick the smart and comfy boxes and, just like the Billie sweatshirt, are easy and speedy to make. Safiya is just one of six main patterns in Tilly's book Make It Simple, which can be made in multiple different ways. 

You can make Safiya from smart drapey woven fabrics, such as Tencel, crêpe and plissé. Team it with a neutral or subtle print Billie sweatshirt with balloon sleeves for a bit of on-trend interest to your outfit, and you've got a work-appropriate outfit!

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2

Sweatshirts are a great option for the weekend. If you're heading out to meet pals and want something that looks put together but is also comfortable, you could team Billie with the Bobbi skirt

Bobbi is packed full of gorgeous details - adorable patch pockets with optional flaps, pretty topstitching, buttons down the front, and optional belt loops. Billie is a great partner to Bobbi to allow those details to do the talking. Your friends won't believe you made the whole outfit yourself!

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2

We have a long-term love affair with 70s style and with the right outfit combo, the humble sweatshirt can give off serious 70s vibes. Pair the simple Billie sweatshirt with the gently flared Jessa trousers and you will make an outfit that gives a modern twist to the era. 

If like me, you need lots of layers when it gets cold, a Freya roll neck top would be an ideal under the Billie sweatshirt. A 70s rainbow stripe Freya would look very at home with this outfit combo. The Freya roll neck or mock neck is just one of six patterns in Tilly's book Stretch! 

Inspiration and styling ideas for Billie - Tilly and the Buttons
Images clockwise L-R: 1 / 2

Are you a member of the dungarees appreciation society? This combo will make potentially practical dungarees a little bit pretty! Team a pair of our Mila dungarees with the Billie balloon sleeve variation - it's got to be one of the dreamiest pairings there could be! It's just the thing for taking the kids or pooch(es) to the park or taking a leisurely stroll or cycle at the weekend. Practical and pretty in one me-made package!

Are you full to the brim with inspiration for making and wearing your Billie sweatshirt and dress yet? We cannot wait to see what you make or how you style it, so please do share it with us by tagging @TillyButtons and using the #SewingBillie tag.


Author: Louise Carmichael