29 December 2021

Looking Back at 2021 at Tilly and the Buttons!

Looking Back at 2021 at Tilly and the Buttons!

2021 is almost over so it’s time to look back at what we got up to in Tilly and the Buttons, from the exciting new products we launched into the world, to stuff happening behind the scenes. 

Let’s face it, this year has been another bizarre one! While we’ve emerged blinking into the daylight from a series of lockdowns in the UK, at the time of writing the Omicron variant has recently emerged to taunt us. So we may be feeling more optimistic than last year, but we’re certainly not out of the woods yet! 

Looking Back at 2021 at Tilly and the Buttons!

Like many business owners, I (Tilly) usually like to plan everything in meticulous detail. Yet there is still so much uncertainty thanks to the pandemic, so I’ve had to (reluctantly) learn to prepare as much as we can, while knowing that a lot is still unknown and out of our hands. In the last couple of years, we’ve had to pivot and adapt so many times due to logistical challenges presented by Covid (as well as Brexit). Adding to this may have heard other small business owners lament that sales have been so up and down in the past couple of years, which adds an extra layer of insecurity when making business decisions. But we are still here and going strong, more determined than ever to spread the joy of sewing!

Tilly and the Buttons Lyra Shirt Dress
Tilly and the Buttons Lyra Shirt Dress

Our first pattern of the year was the Lyra dress, one of my personal favourite designs in our collection. The floaty shirt dress is both classic and bang on trend, with different sleeve and skirt options to choose from. Plus you can either wear it loose and flowing like a trapeze dress, or cinch in the waist with the little tie depending on your preference.


Tilly and the Buttons Skye Dress
Tilly and the Buttons Skye Dress

In the summer, we launched Skye, an easy-breezy, throw-it-on sundress. While it was initially designed for those sticky-hot days when your other clothes look so unappealing, it also makes a great layering piece for the rest of the year. 

Tilly and the Buttons Iris Knickers
Tilly and the Buttons Iris Knickers

A couple of years ago (pre-pandemic) I went to a sewing dinner and was lucky to sit next to Hannah from Evie la Lùve, a lingerie ready-to-wear and sewing pattern designer who I’d admired from afar for a long time. We got talking and the idea of a collaboration came up, to introduce lingerie sewing to our audience. And so the Iris knickers pattern and Learn to Sew Knickers online workshop were born!

Learn to Sew Knickers online workshop
Learn to Sew Knickers online workshop

If you’ve taken the workshop – or watched her YouTube tutorials – you’ll know what a talent Hannah is. She’s such a fantastic teacher, who presents her wealth of lingerie knowledge in an accessible and inspiring way. Plus she understood the Tilly and the Buttons aesthetic straight away - her styling was on point!

Learn to Sew Knickers online workshop!

Tilly and the Buttons BillieTilly and the Buttons Indigo
Tilly and the Buttons Jaimie

In addition to these three new designs, we released seven – yes, seven! – patterns in our new UK 16-34 size band. Increasing our sizes to allow more sewists to use our patterns has been something we’d been wanting to do for a long time, and something the team worked hard on for months, so it was great to be able to launch the new size range at the beginning of the year. You can now find the Lyra dress, Billie sweatshirt, Jaimie pyjamas, Skye dress, Iris knickers, Indigo dress, and Indigo add-on pattern in the new sizing. Each pattern has been drafted and graded specifically for a curvier figure.


If you read my 2020 round-up post, you may remember that I mentioned we had been working on a collection of patterns for babies and children. While we have made some progress, unfortunately, we have had to postpone this release, as well as what was meant to be our fourth pattern of the year, as our very small team couldn’t manage to fit it in with the rest of the workload we had going on. 

Mini patterns are still on the agenda for the future though, so watch this space!

As ever, we shared a wealth of free tutorials, tips and inspiration on our blog, YouTube channel, Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok! A few highlights to check out if you missed them:

Behind the scenes, there were some changes to Team Buttons as I went on “maternity leave” (of which more in a moment!), Jenny and Louise moved on to pastures new, and we were joined by our new Content Producer Abi, who has been doing such a fantastic job creating engaging stuff for our blog (see above!), social channels and newsletter, and more recently our new Marketing Manager Rhi, who is bursting with ideas and energy to take the business to the next level!

Meet The Team!

For me personally, I have had to take my foot off the gas – or as much as any small business owner can, in any case – since the birth of my second son last spring. Predictably, I wasn’t able to go on full maternity leave, as work issues pulled me back occasionally, but thanks to the amazing Team Buttons I have been able to be very much part-time so I can enjoy looking after my little boys while they’re still young. 

One of my personal highlights of the year was being invited onto the Conversations of Inspiration podcast. It’s one of my favourite podcasts, which I regularly tune into for inspiration from founders of brands I admire such as Lush, Boden, Deliciously Ella and more. It was an honour to get to go on myself and talk about how TATB came to be with host Holly Tucker, the powerhouse behind Not on the High Street and Holly & Co. Real talk: sleep-deprived and very much still in baby brain fuzz territory, I didn’t feel at the time like I was making much sense, but listening back it wasn’t too bad!

Listen Here!

Another achievement of 2021 was raising £1,945 for Refugee Action thanks to our lovely customers. To help support refugees escaping the Afghan crisis, we donated 50% of sewing pattern sales made on our online shop over the course of one week in early September.

And finally, we were delighted to win ‘Best Independent Pattern Brand’ and ‘Favourite Sewing Book 2020-21’ for Make It Simple at the most recent British Sewing Awards. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who voted for us – it means so much to the whole team to have our hard work recognised in this way!

So what’s in store for next year? At the time of writing, we have a new pattern currently at the printers, so keep an eye out for a launch in a few weeks’ time. Without giving too much away, it’s a cute and cosy piece that you can style with lots of different garments in your wardrobe. As always, email subscribers get the first look, so sign up to our newsletter if you're itching to find out what it is!

We also have another pattern almost finished, with a spring launch in sight. It’s a style of garment I have been living in all year – I hope you love it as much as I do! As well as sketches, plotting and planning galore for the rest of the year…

Thank you so much for following along with us this year. Wishing you a wonderful 2022!

P.S. Liked this? You might also be interested in a look back at the first decade of Tilly and the Buttons & our Top Ten Blog Posts of 2021!


Model images: Jane Looker Photography