1 April 2020

Tilly's Gold Potato-Printed Safiya Dungarees

Tilly's Gold Potato-Printed Safiya Dungarees - sewing pattern in Make It Simple
[post contains gifted product]

What do you get if you cross a crafter with linen fabric, gold paint and a potato?

Gold potato-printed linen Safiya dungarees, that's what!

Harking back to more carefree times, I made these Safiya dungarees to wear to the launch of my new book Make It Simple. The pattern, which is included in the book, is a variation on the Safiya wide-legged trousers. For this version, I lengthened them slightly from cropped-above-the-ankle to full-length, partly because it was cold when I made them, and partly because I thought they looked nice like that when I tried them on mid-make.

25 March 2020

Six Free Sewing Projects

Six free mini projects
  
If you are looking for a quick and easy mini project to keep you busy, then we've got you covered.

These projects can be completed in an hour or so and could even make use of the fabric scraps you have lying around. We've got six free projects to have a go at and three of them will spruce up your sewing tools - winning!

Six free mini projects

If you're looking for a small pick-me-up project, we have three free projects in mind that will pep you up when you pop them on!
 
Six free mini projects

18 March 2020

Seven Steps to Perfect Thread Tension (with video!)

Seven steps to perfect thread tension - Tilly and the Buttons

Thread tension giving you neck tension? Ever thrown a wobbly because of wobbled stitches?

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 fact, it’s surprisingly often that I hear someone saying the reason they don’t sew is that they can’t get the tension right on their machine.

Needle thread tension
Bobbin thread tension

What you’re aiming for is stitches that look evenly balanced on both sides of the fabric, with no loose loops, tight knots or thread bunching.

If the tension is too tight, the fabric can pucker and the bobbin thread may be visible on the top side of the fabric.

If the tension is too loose, you may see visible loops on the top side of the fabric and the spool thread might be visible on the underside.

The good news is that, more often than not, it’s a very simple fix to get your stitching back on track. And very often it doesn’t even involve adjusting the tension dials! So before you spend this month’s fabric budget on getting your machine serviced, work your way through the following steps, in the following order. And some of these steps may surprise you…

Plus there's a video at the end if you'd like to see these steps in action!

11 March 2020

Tilly's vintage blue Indigo

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

I know I say this every time, but this is my new favourite outfit. This is my fourth Indigo dress now and certainly not my last.

The fabric is a vintage brushed cotton from Olive Road, who specialise in sourcing beautiful fabrics from the 1950s to the 1990s (yes, 90s is vintage now!). Sarah, who runs Olive Road, was our neighbour when exhibiting at the Knitting and Stitching Show last Autumn and I became a little bit obsessed with this one-of-a-kind piece of fabric. When she suggested swapping it for some patterns, of course I couldn't say no!

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

The material is a brushed cotton. It's lovely and soft but still has a bit of structure, so holds the shape of the dress nicely without feeling at all stiff. I bought some delicate laundry detergent especially and have been surprised at how well this dress has washed (I have worn it loads).

One thing to bear in mind when buying vintage fabric is that it can be very narrow, so you may need lots of it, as I did, and to play around with the cutting layout to make get the most out of it.

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

For this version of Indigo, I went with "all the trimmings", in other words, the fluted sleeve variation with exposed frill seams. I made the hem halfway between the top and dress version, which is perfect for wearing with thick tights or leggings (I've been living in thermal M&S leggings with Indigo smocks this winter).

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

Have you fallen for Indigo yet?

*****
Photos: Jane Looker
Sewing pattern: Indigo
Fabric: one of a kind piece from Olive Road

4 March 2020

Five Shortcut Features on Your Sewing Machine

Five Shortcut Features on Your Sewing Machine that You Might Not Know About - Tilly and the Buttons

You read your sewing machine manual from cover to cover, right? Me neither. But it is worth taking another look as it may be hiding some time-saving buttons or attachments that you don’t know about…

Automatic thread cutter

1) Automatic thread cutter

Is there a little scissors button on your sewing machine? This is likely to be for the automatic thread cutter which, when pressed, will snip both spool and bobbin threads close to the fabric when you come to the end of a line of stitching.

Sure, it only saves a few seconds after each seam, but it all adds up, and makes the sewing process seem smoother once you get into the swing of using it. I resisted using this button on my machine for ages because it felt like cheating, but it changed my life once I’d surrendered to its charms.

Thread-cutting blade

27 February 2020

How to Sew an All-in-One Facing

How to sew an all-in-one facing on a sleeveless garment - Tilly and the Buttons

If you’re making a piece of clothing that’s sleeveless, you may find that the pattern replaces separate neckline and armhole facings with an all-in-one facing. This creates a lovely neat finish on the inside of your garment. But it can be a little bit of a head-scratcher to sew if you haven’t attached one before. So I thought I’d show you step-by-step how to do it - with a video as well as step photos!

The tricky aspect is that, if you sewed the facing to the neckline and armholes right sides together in one go, you wouldn't be able to turn it right sides out again. So we’re going to get a bit clever and sew each armhole in two stages.

You may have heard of an alternative way of doing this called the “burrito method”, which involves rolling the dress up. It’s worth giving that method a go too, but personally I think this technique below is clearer to demonstrate – so here goes!

Olive pinafore sewing pattern - from Tilly and the Buttons: Make It Simple

This is an extract from my book Make It Simple, demonstrated on the Olive pinafore pattern from that book - beautifully modelled here by Phoebe.



25 February 2020

Make It Simple: Oh La La... It's Olive!

Olive pinafore sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

We have come to the final post introducing the sewing patterns from my new book Make It Simple. Thank you so much for reading these posts - do scroll back through the blog if you missed the deets on the other patterns!

Last but not least is the gorgeous Olive pinafore, a Mary Quant-inspired design that's a great layering piece. Olive has a gently curved V-neckline, mini hemline and double-pointed waist darts at the front and back for a flattering shape. Wear it over your Freya sweaters, Agnes or Tabitha t-shirts, or even a pretty collared blouse.

Olive pinafore sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons
Olive pinafore sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

The Olive pinafore is the most involved project in the book. Yet you should still be able to cut and stitch this up in an afternoon (around 3 1/2 hours, I reckon), as I've tweaked the design to make it simple for the style. The fit is designed to be on the looser side - think mod shift dress, rather than closely-fitting wiggle dress. Plus it has press-on snaps down the front replacing buttons for those of you who dread sewing buttonholes :)

Olive pinafore sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

The pinafore is finished on the inside with an all-in-one facing, which cleverly combines the neckline and armhole facing. If you've ever struggled with attaching an all-in-one facing, check our YouTube channel now (or come back to the blog this Thursday) for a how-to video!

The Olive sewing pattern includes ten sizes, from UK 6-24 / US 2-20. Paper patterns are included in the back of the book ready to trace off, or you can download them following a link in the book and print them on either A4/Letter or A0 paper.

23 February 2020

Make It Simple: The Juno Pyjamas have landed!

Juno pyjamas sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

One of my favourite patterns from my new book Make It Simple has to be the Juno pyjamas. These fitted jersey PJs are oh so cute and snuggly, you won't want to take them off!

And even though they include two pieces - the top and bottoms - they'll still only take you an afternoon to make. Like the other patterns in the book (go through the previous few posts to see more of them), they are simple to sew, easy to fit and overall a pleasure to make - whether you have a lazy few hours to yourself or are squeezing in some sewing in little pockets of time through your week.

Juno pyjamas sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons
Juno pyjamas sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

The Juno pyjama top is made from the same pattern as the Tabitha T-shirt, with added slim-fitting ribbed cuffs. The leggings-style bottoms also have a cuff at the ankle, with narrow elastic holding them up at the waist.

One of the best things about making pyjamas is that you can really go to town with your fabric choice as you're only going to wear them behind closed doors, hehe.

Designed for light- to medium-weight jersey, you can make them on either a regular sewing machine or overlocker (serger).

Like the other patterns in Make It Simple, Juno comes in ten sizes, from UK 6-24 / US 2-20. Paper patterns are included in the back of the book ready to trace off, or you can download them following a link in the book and print them on either A4/Letter or A0 paper.

21 February 2020

Make It Simple: It's the Bertha (Lovely Bertha) Cardigan!

Bertha cardigan - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

Bertha, lovely Bertha, sometimes I think you're a dream...

The fourth sewing pattern in my new book Make It Simple is this cosy cardigan, perfect for layering over your me-made tops and dresses. (If you've missed the other patterns, check the previous three posts for the low down!)
Bertha cardigan - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons
Bertha cardigan - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

Bertha is a slouchy, open cardigan with dramatically deep batwing sleeves. It's cropped at the waist and the sleeves are finished with narrow cuffs to balance out the silhouette.

Like the other patterns in Make It Simple, it can be whipped up in an afternoon, or in a few short sittings squeezed in around your work, childcare or other commitments. The instructions are broken down into chunks, with timings given for each part so you can easily see if you've got time to assemble the bodice before breakfast or attach the hem band while dinner is in the oven. I've estimated (based on tester feedback) that this will take you around 2 hours 15 in total to cut and sew together. (That is, if you hide your phone away!)

Bertha is one of six main sewing patterns, each with multiple variations, which are included in the back of the book ready to trace off, or which you can download and print on either A4/Letter or A0 paper - the choice is yours. The patterns come in ten sizes, from UK 6-24 / US 2-20.

Bertha cardigan - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

19 February 2020

Make It Simple: Introducing the Suki Dress!

Suki dress sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

Everyone needs a fuss-free dress in their lives - the kind that you can throw on with a statement necklace and be out the door.

The third pattern in my new book Make It Simple is the Suki dress. This is one of six main patterns, each with multiple variations, which are included in the back of the book ready to trace off, or which you can download and print on either A4/Letter or A0 paper - the choice is yours. The Suki dress pattern comes in ten sizes, from UK 6-24 / US 2-20.

Suki dress sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons
Suki dress sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

As with all the patterns in my book, it's speedy to make, simple to fit, and easy to wear. It has a simple shape with minimal seams, a modern loose fit with cocoon silhouette, and drop-shoulder narrow bracelet length sleeves. And the best bit? No zips, no buttonholes - just throw it over your head!

I would estimate that this dress takes just over 2 hours total to cut and sew - the construction is that simple :) As it doesn't have fiddly fastenings or set-in sleeves, it would make a great first project for a newbie sewist, or a satisfyingly speedy make for a more experienced stitcher.

17 February 2020

Make It Simple: Say Hello to the Tabitha T-Shirt and Dress!

Tabitha T-shirt sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

A classic t-shirt is the kind of sewing pattern you'll return to again and again. It's speedy to make, easy to wear and oh-so versatile.

Over the next few days I'm taking you through the patterns in my new book Make It Simple (see the previous post for the Safiya trousers if you missed it). The second pattern is the Tabitha T-shirt, which you can also make as a drawstring dress. If you're familiar with my previous book Stretch!, I reckon this pattern is going to be the Freya of Make It Simple - in other words, the one that people will make over and over again :)

Tabitha T-shirt sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

Tabitha has a classic straight shape, not too tight, not too loose. Some of our testers said they had finally found the perfect shaped t-shirt. As you can see in the technical drawing above, you can make Tabitha in multiple versions - with a choice of three sleeve lengths, as a drawstring dress, as a ringer T... so many options!

Like the other patterns in the book, the Tabitha T-shirt comes in ten sizes, from UK 6-24 / US 2-20. The patterns are included in the back of the book ready to trace off, or there's a link in the book to where to download them, as either A4/Letter or A0 files, if you prefer to print them at home or at a copyshop.

15 February 2020

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

Safiya trousers, dungarees + playsuit sewing pattern - Make It Simple book - Tilly and the Buttons

I have been positively itching to share all the deets about the sewing patterns in my new book Make It Simple - and with the book now officially published and out in the world, I finally can - woohoo!

The book features six main patterns, each with four variations. The subtitle of the book is Easy, Speedy Sewing Projects to Stitch up in an Afternoon, so you can rest assured that all the patterns all quick and simple to make. The patterns come in ten sizes, from UK 6-24 / US 2-20. They're included in the back of the book ready to trace off, or there's a link in the book to where to download them, as either A4/Letter or A0 files, if you prefer to print them at home or at a copyshop.

Safiya trousers, dungarees + playsuit sewing pattern - Make It Simple book - Tilly and the Buttons

Today I'm going to introduce you to the first pattern in the book, the Safiya trousers, which you can also make as dungarees, a playsuit or jumpsuit using the variations and extra pattern pieces provided in the book. The variations are great for if you have some more time and want to maximise the use of the pattern - you can make it again and again in completely different styles.

Safiya trousers, dungarees + playsuit sewing pattern - Make It Simple book - Tilly and the Buttons

13 February 2020

My new book Make It Simple is out today!

Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

It's here! After many months of planning, writing, scheming, drafting, truing, cutting, stitching, photographing, proofing and (ahem) fabric shopping, my new book Make It Simple is out today.

In case you missed our announcement to our email list members and on social media, this is earlier than previously advertised after the warehouse got a little bit over-excited and started sending books out to bookshops early - oopsie! After discussing with the publisher, we decided to bring the official launch date forward to make it fair to those of you who pre-ordered from our online shop (if this was you, check your letterbox!).

As you can imagine, it's made us a little frantic over here signing books (me), packing orders and getting them out in time (Frances and Kate), as well as bringing forward the schedule of extra content and pattern downloads that we've been working on behind the scenes (me, Louise, Jenny, Nikki and Kate). But it's a good problem to have as for you guys it means you get to start sewing earlier - hooray!

Safiya playsuit sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

I set out writing Make It Simple with the aim of helping you fit more creativity into your life, no matter how busy you are with work, family and other life commitments.

With time being one of the biggest barriers to sewing, I want to share with you my approach to fitting sewing into the smallest windows of time, as well as time-saving tips and shortcuts to speed up your sewing without compromising the quality of your creations.

It's this approach that has helped me get my sew-jo (sewing mojo) back - nay, set it on fire! - since having my son and juggling being a mum with running a business.

Juno pyjamas sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons
Juno pyjamas sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

The book includes six main sewing patterns, each with multiple variations totalling 24 projects. They're all easy to make, speedy to sew, simple to fit, with no fiddly fastenings or complex supplies lists.

The patterns come in ten sizes from a UK 6-24 (US 2-20) - having a wide range of sizes like this is unusual for a book, so something we're particularly proud to have pulled off with the support of our publishers. The patterns are included on printed sheets in the back ready to be traced off, or you can download them to print at home or at a copy shop if you prefer.

Bertha cardigan sewing pattern - Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to take you through each pattern in the book, the variations and supplies needed - so watch this space!

I am super proud of this book - in fact, I think it's the best thing I've done to date - so I really hope you enjoy reading and sewing with it :)

We would absolutely LOVE to see the book in your hands as well as your sewing plans, works in progress and finished makes, so please share with us on Instagram @TillyButtons with the hashtag #MakeItSimpleBook (and, if you make one of the patterns, #SewingSafiya or whatever the hashtag is for that pattern).

Happy simple sewing, everyone!

Make It Simple - Tilly and the Buttons

*****
Author: Tilly Walnes
Make It Simple is published by Quadrille (Hardie Grant)
Model photography: © Ellie Smith
Model shoot props and styling: Clare Nicolson
Models: Karen Arthur, Samantha Waude, Paige Joanna, Kristabel Plummer, Phoebe Nickalls

5 February 2020

Team Bobbi Makes

Bobbi skirt and pinafore sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

There’s nothing we love more in the Tilly and the Buttons office than a new pattern release. After months of behind the scenes pattern development, we finally get to unleash our sewing plans that we’ve been dreaming about for so long.

Nikki here today. It’s safe to say we’ve gone truly wild for our latest sewing pattern, the Bobbi skirt and pinafore. On the last count, we’ve got ten Bobbis between us, with even more planned. We decided to have a Team Bobbi Day where we wore our makes in the office and snapped some pics... read on to see how different this pattern looks in different fabrics!

Kate's Bobbi pinafore - Tilly and the Buttons
Kate's Bobbi pinafore - Tilly and the ButtonsKate's Bobbi pinafore - Tilly and the Buttons

You can always depend on Kate to bring the colour. Seriously, her wardrobe is like a golden ray of sunshine, and her Bobbi is no exception! Kate made a pinafore in a sensational Rifle Paper Company canvas that she picked up from Sister Mintaka.

30 January 2020

Tilly's Classic Denim Bobbi Pinafore

Tilly's classic denim Bobbi pinafore - sewing pattern by Tilly and the ButtonsTilly's classic denim Bobbi pinafore - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

Introducing my new favourite garment! 

For my first version of our new sewing pattern, the Bobbi pinafore, I pulled out a classic indigo blue denim in my stash - and I'm so happy with how it's turned out. I went with plain silver jeans buttons, and used one of our dungaree buckles sets. I made the pinafore version with hip pockets and flap bib pocket.

Since making it, I've worn it two to three times a week, layered over Agnes tops, shirts and jumpers. It's nice enough to feel put together at work, and practical enough for hanging out with my son at playgroup - that flap bib pocket is the perfect size for keeping cash and cards safe ready to buy him raisins and me coffee!

Tilly's classic denim Bobbi pinafore - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons