16 November 2022

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

4 November 2022

How to Apply Heat Transfers to Clothing (with video!)

How to Apply Heat Transfers to Clothing (with video!)

Are you looking for an easy way to customise your garments and your latest sewing projects to make them even more unique to you? Heat transfers are a fun way to update your clothing with motifs, names, graphics prints, quotes and more! But be warned, they can be seriously addictive once you know how to apply them!

For our recently released Billie sweatshirt sewing kits, we included the cutest heat transfer drawn by award-winning graphic designer and colour queen Liz Harry. Whether you're looking for extra help applying these transfers or are using something different to embellish your garments, keep reading for a step-by-step guide and video...

What is a heat or iron-on transfer?

Iron-on or heat transfers are ink-printed designs that can be applied to clothing and fabric with the application of heat. Think motifs on sweatshirts, quotes on t-shirts and much more! This can take your simple me-made clothing or RTW styles from plain and simple to totally unique. 

Unlike iron-on vinyl, the soft finish of the transfer makes it feel like part of the garment, and it stretches and rebounds without cracking!

How to apply a heat transfer

Heat transfers can easily be applied at home - yay! You don't need any fancy equipment, just an iron, an ironing board and some baking (parchment) paper or release paper.

26 October 2022

Team Button's Marnie Makes!

Team Button's Marnie Makes!

You may have guessed that this blog post was in the pipeline after all the Marnie love we've been showering on our socials, with makes from Team Buttons popping up here and there since we launched the sewing pattern in September. 

It's time to get the gang together and share our Marnie blouses and mini-dresses (so far) all in one place...

Tilly's Liberty print Marnie blouse
Team Button's Marnie Makes!

"There's a bit of a story behind this one. In early 2020, Team Buttons gave me a Liberty gift voucher for my birthday (I know!). Then along came a global pandemic and a new baby, which put an end to any opportunities for leisurely in-store browsing. 2.5 years later, over the summer I finally got the chance to go into town, the planner that I am having already chosen the print I wanted (also knowing I had to be quick in store as my 4yo son was with me).

They didn't have that print in stock (doh!) so, on a whim and inspired by the cottage-core trend, I picked out three different colourways of the Betsy print. This is a bit of a style departure for me and isn't a print I would have ordinarily picked, but I LOVE the result!" - Tilly

Frances' gingham Marnie dress
Team Button's Marnie Makes!

"I stitched up this gingham seersucker version of the Marnie dress whilst we were developing the pattern and perfecting the instructions. As soon as I put it on I was obsessed! I love the tuck detail on the front yoke - it's so pretty and surprisingly easy to sew! 

Marnie's easy fit means my dress is super comfy and I'm especially enjoying wearing it now the weather's getting cooler with tights and boots. I've got plans for another gingham Marnie dress in the works, this time in a gorgeous rust-coloured fabric from Fabric Godmother that I treated myself to at the Knitting and Stitching show." - Frances

19 October 2022

Behind the Scenes at The Knitting and Stitching Show

Behind the Scenes at The Knitting and Stitching Show
Tilly wearing a Marnie blouse

What a wonderful time we had at our first in-person sewing show since 2020! 

During the first week of October 2022, we had a stand displaying our sewing patterns and books at The Knitting and Stitching Show at the beautiful Alexandra Palace in London.

Fancy a walk around our colourful stand? Of course you do...

Behind the Scenes at The Knitting and Stitching Show

After a couple of eventless years, to go out and interact with our lovely customers again was so much fun. We got to meet lots of crafty folks (old and new) and chat about all things sewing, swoon over your handmade outfits and see which TATB sewing pattern you're adding to your collection next!

12 October 2022

Ten Tips for Sewing with Ankara Fabric (AKA African Wax Print)

Ten Tips for Sewing with Ankara Fabric (AKA African Wax Print)

Continuing our posts on tips for sewing with different types of fabrics, we’re showcasing the vibrant, the bold, and the - yes! - easy-to-sew wonder that is Ankara fabric, AKA African wax print. Who better to ask to talk us through how to use this material than Lena King, one of our favourite sewing bloggers and co-host of #SewAnkaraFabric and #AnkaraFabricAppreciationWeek on Insta.

Over to Lena...

*****

I was thrilled when Tilly reached out to me to ask if I’d like to write a guest blog on my favourite fabric, Ankara – also known as Dutch or African wax print. Yes, please!

I’m going to give you an introduction to what Ankara is and where it came from, where you can buy it, and my top tips for sewing with this wonderful material. Spoiler alert: it’s easy to cut, handle and sew – hooray!

Ten Tips for Sewing with Ankara Fabric (AKA African Wax Print)

What is Ankara fabric? 

Ankara, or African wax print, or Dutch wax print, is a cloth manufactured by machine to resemble the effect of wax resist. 

Do you remember doing a bit of wax-resist painting or fabric dying back in school? You took your paper or piece of cloth and drew a design on it with crayon or hot wax and then painted over it or plunged it into a bucket of dye. When dry, you would have just ironed off the wax. That’s the basic process.

It is cotton, a natural fibre which makes it breathable and not sweaty or sticky next to the skin.

It’s a great fabric for beginners. Imagine something between a cotton poplin and quilting-weight cotton often with the softness of a cotton lawn. It’s strong and can withstand the heavy use of a seam ripper! It is stable so stays put when cutting and sewing and it doesn’t stretch out of shape. 

Ten Tips for Sewing with Ankara Fabric (AKA African Wax Print)


My own relationship with Ankara

I’m from Ghana in West Africa and I came to live in the UK when I was two years old. Growing up, I knew that my people and others like them would often wear bright coloured patterned fabric to parties, weddings and funerals. I knew that the fabric was usually just called “cloth” and occasionally “kente”. 

I didn’t see anyone but Africans wear this fabric back then, and I learned to be a bit embarrassed by it because it further signalled us out as different. Sadly, back then racial attitudes abounded and went largely unchecked – black people and Africans in particular, suffered many racial slurs and ignorant comments. 

As I grew older and more comfortable with my heritage, I began seeing the beauty of this cloth and how the beautiful women in my life would wear it in gorgeous, fitted garments; but my body issues and low self-esteem meant that I didn’t want to wear such a fabric that demanded to be noticed.

It has only been in more recent years when my love for sewing collided with my need to feel more connected to my culture that I have fallen in love with this cloth commonly known as Ankara or wax print. Sewing my own clothes has also boosted my self-esteem and I love to wear fabric that screams to be noticed!

5 October 2022

How to Choose a Sewing Machine

Buying a sewing machine

“Which sewing machine should I buy?” is one of the most frequently posed questions I get in our inbox and social media DMs... so here's a guide to how to choose a sewing machine, no matter what budget or skill level you have.

Whether you’re buying your first sewing machine, upgrading to a mid-range model, or looking to splash some cash on something flash, there are tons of options to choose from. I’ve only tested a fraction of the sewing machines that are out there in the world, so I can't tell you which are “the best”. Besides, choosing a sewing machine does come down to personal preference, so there isn’t really such a thing as “best” anyway :) 

But what I can tell you are the models I use most regularly and why I love them, and - perhaps more useful - some things you might want to bear in mind when choosing which machine to go for, depending on whether you’re a novice, improver or advanced stitcher.



Buying a sewing machine - Janome J3-18

Buying your first sewing machine

If you’re just getting started sewing and aren’t sure how much use you’re going to get out of a sewing machine, you probably won’t want to spend too much money on it. In which case, you might want to go for a mechanical model – with knobs as opposed to a digital display - as they are usually cheaper than their computerised counterparts.

The first sewing machine I bought was a J3-18* [if you're in the US, a similar model is Janome 2212], a great value machine that served me well for my first three years sewing.

Mechanical sewing machines tend to have a limited number of functions, but that’s fine because you really don’t three million different types of stitches for most dressmaking projects – as long as you’ve got a straight stitch, zigzag stitch and a buttonhole function, you’re doing well.

Another consideration is whether you have a dedicated sewing space or whether you’re sewing on the kitchen table and need to pack away at dinner time. If you’re just getting into sewing, the latter scenario is more likely, in which case a lighter machine such as the J3-18 will be easier to manage. Models like this certainly aren't the snazziest, but they're relatively low cost and great for getting started - you can always upgrade later...

28 September 2022

Ten Design Ideas for Marnie

Tilly and the Buttons - Ten Design Ideas for Marnie

You've seen our Marnie sewing inspiration and fabric picks, you've learned all about how to get a great fit and you've even seen how to sew those striking tucks... well, now it's time to make Marnie your own!

Tilly and the Buttons Marnie Sewing Pattern cover

We love a pattern hack here at Tilly and the Buttons and our latest sewing pattern Marnie has had our heads buzzing with ideas for weeks! We quickly realised there are sooo many small tweaks you can make to your pattern that will make it even more unique, so we've compiled them into a blog post for you! 

Here's how to make Marnie your own…

Tilly and the Buttons - Ten Design Ideas for Marnie - Embellishments

1 / 2 / 3 

1. Attach a playful pompom trim or pretty crocheted lace trim to the ruffle edges. The hemmed edge of the ruffle is cut straight, so it’s easy to stitch on a trim – yay!

2. Hand-embroider a pretty design on the front yoke and/or sleeves. Need some inspiration? Don't miss Tilly's embroidered Indigo dress

21 September 2022

How to Sew Undulating Tucks (with video!)


Tucks add a beautiful touch to garments and can make your me-mades truly stand out from the crowd.

The optional undulating tucks on the front yoke and upper sleeves of our Marnie blouse and dress pattern are a particularly striking feature. Whether you’re looking for extra guidance for sewing Marnie, want help sewing tucks on another pattern, or are just curious about how the undulating ripple feature is formed, read on for more help and take a look at our step-by-step video.

But first…

A close up of undulating tucks on a lilac Marnie blouse.

What are tucks?

Tucks are folds of fabric that are pressed and stitched in place so they stand away from the rest of the fabric. They’re a bit like pleats, but with stitching running parallel to the folds.

What are undulating tucks?

Also known as cross-stitched tucks, undulating tucks are tucks that are then pressed and stitched in different directions to create a wave-like effect. The ripples create a pretty detail that looks complex to achieve but is actually surprisingly simple once you know how!



What fabric should I use to sew tucks?

Tucks are easiest to sew on crisp, cotton-based fabrics that press well – think cotton poplin, lawn, voile, chambray…

They show up particularly well on solid colour semi-sheer fabric, such as cotton voile, lawn, Swiss dot or dobby.

That’s not to say you can’t use a different fabric though. If you’re a more confident stitcher, try a more slippery substrate if you like, such as viscose (rayon), Tencel, silk or poly crepe de chine. You could try stabilising the fabric first with spray starch (do check it washes out before spraying though!), and pin close to each fold when pressing to help hold the tucks in place.

Read more tips for sewing with slippery fabrics

14 September 2022

Fitting the Marnie Blouse and Mini Dress

Fitting the Marnie Blouse and Mini Dress

Fallen head over heels for our Marnie blouse and mini dress pattern and want a helping hand on how to get a great fit? You’ve come to the right place 😊

The Marnie blouse and mini dress is suitable for improver sewers and is available in both printed and PDF formats in sizes UK 6-34 (US 2-30 / EUR 34-62 / AUS 6-34). The easy-breezy, swishy design makes for a finished garment with lots of ease, which means not only is Marnie great for twirling in, it's also pretty simple to fit - yay!

Here, I'll talk you through the most common fitting adjustments you might want to consider for your Marnie blouse or dress. However, please bear in mind that Marnie is designed to be easy-fitting and floaty, so you might find you only need to make a couple of our suggested adjustments, or perhaps none at all!

In this post, we're going to cover:
  • Making a toile 
  • Choosing your size 
  • Lengthening or shortening pattern pieces 
  • How to combine pattern sizes 
  • Fitting the bust area
  • How to do wide and narrow shoulder adjustment
Fitting the Marnie blouse and mini dress - Tilly and the Buttons

12 September 2022

Inspiration and Fabric Picks for Sewing Marnie

Inspiration and Fabric Picks for Sewing Marnie

Are you as obsessed with our new Marnie blouse and dress sewing pattern as we are?

Aside from the dreamy design, one of the great things about this pattern is that it pairs well with many of the fabrics you probably already have in your stash - hooray! Think cotton lawn, poplin, double gauze, seersucker, viscose (rayon), and more.

If you're after some style inspiration and fabric ideas to create your Marnie, read on...

Mad about floral minis

Inspiration and Fabric Picks for Sewing Marnie


Everybody needs a ditsy floral mini dress in their lives and they are HOT this season. With so much inspiration on the high street for this style right now, as I'm writing this I'm itching to finish my own floral Marnie mini dress that's watching me from the corner of the office...

Inspiration and Fabric Picks for Sewing Marnie

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

Ditsy florals in lightweight fabrics with drape are ideal for Marnie. Think viscose, crepe and rayon types. Let your fabric do the talking with simple style lines, or opt for contrasting but complimentary prints to make a statement of the gorgeous features with one print for the main body but the shoulder and neck ruffles in a different print - swoon!

Inspiration and Fabric Picks for Sewing Marnie

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

7 September 2022

Meet Marnie! Our Romantic Blouse & Mini Dress Sewing Pattern

Meet Marnie! Our Romantic Blouse & Mini Dress Sewing Pattern

Every so often, a sewing pattern comes along that you just can’t stop thinking about. For us, this pattern is the Marnie blouse and mini dress – with its gorgeous design and clever details, we immediately fell head over heels and we're so excited it's finally here. 

ORDER MARNIE HERE


Excited to learn more about Marnie? Let's get to it...


Model wearing a lilac and pink gingham blouse, made using the Marnie sewing pattern in cotton.
Model wearing a lilac blouse with tuck details, made using the Marnie sewing pattern in cotton lawn.
Model wearing a floral mini dress, made using the Marnie sewing pattern in viscose crepe.
Tilly and the Buttons Marnie sewing pattern technical drawing

THE PATTERN DESIGN


Marnie is a statement outfit with the option to add extraordinarily pretty details including a frill collar and dramatic shoulder ruffles, and dreamy undulating tucks. 

Can we talk about those sleeves too?! The two-piece bishop sleeves are oh so elegant and will take your sleeve obsession to another level.
  • Breezy smock-style bodice with princess seams and gentle gathering under the yokes
  • Dreamy optional undulating tucks on front yoke and sleeves
  • Round neckline finished with bias binding, with optional ruffle collar
  • Optional shoulder ruffles for extra drama
  • Two-piece full-length bishop sleeves with elasticated hem
  • Keyhole back opening with button and loop
  • Choice of blouse or mini dress hem lengths
The whole TATB office is obsessed with Marnie. We’ve made a fair few already between us and have so many gorgeous fabrics lined up for more! 

31 August 2022

Our PRINTED Size UK 6-34 Sewing Patterns So Far!

Our PRINTED Size UK 6-34 Sewing Patterns So Far!

What a busy year it's been for the Buttons so far! In March, we announced on the blog that we were going to be combining our two size bands into one to allow us to print them in the full 15 sizes from UK 6-34 (US 2-30 / EUR 34-62). Behind the scenes, working on these updates has been our biggest focus this year... so let's have a catch-up on where we are a few months later and what's coming next...

Previously, printed Tilly and the Buttons patterns have been available in either UK 6-20 or 6-24 size bands, with patterns that come in sizes UK 16-34 (US 22-30 / EUR 54-62 / AUS 26-34) being available in PDF format only. But we've now combined our sizing to be able to offer PRINTED and PDF sewing patterns in a simplified UK 6-34 size range - yay! 

Our PRINTED Size UK 6-34 Sewing Patterns So Far!

This means that we now have a wider range of sizes in print as well as PDF with a more diverse range of bodies on the covers AND, consequentially, you should be able to see a wider range of pattern sizes available to buy from fabric shops and department stores around the world. 

The body measurements go up to 152.5cm (60in) bust, 134.5cm (53in) waist and 155cm (61in) hip.

Our PRINTED Size UK 6-34 Sewing Patterns So Far!


SHOP THE COLLECTION SO FAR

24 August 2022

Ten Things to Try if You Don't Have Enough Fabric for Your Sewing Project

Ten Things to Try if You Don't Have Enough Fabric for Your Sewing Project

You’ve got your heart set on a particular pattern and fabric combination… but then you check the pattern envelope and disaster strikes! You don’t have quite enough material to make it.

What do you do if you don’t have enough fabric for your sewing project?

Don’t ditch your dreams just yet – Tilly’s here with ten suggestions to try which may just help you make your me-made dreams come to life after all…


    1. Take the cutting layout with a pinch of salt


When sewing pattern companies create cutting layout diagrams, we can’t include absolutely every scenario. For the sake of clarity and ease of use, as well as space limitations in instruction booklets, we usually bracket together a few pattern sizes, and include two common widths of fabric. 

On Tilly and the Buttons sewing patterns, we also include a small amount of contingency for fabric shrinkage or distorted grainlines.

Depending on which size you’re making, how wide your fabric is, how much or how little it’s shrunk when you pre-washed it, and which variation of the pattern you’re making, you may well be able to cut your pattern pieces out of less fabric than the envelope suggests. So it’s worth laying your pattern pieces out on the fabric to see if you can fit them on – perhaps by shuffling them around a little and squishing them together a little more.

You could also try folding the fabric a different way – for example, rather than creating one fold by bringing the selvedges together, you may be able to squeeze more pieces on by creating two folds that bring the selvedges towards the centre, or closer to one side.

You’ll feel like a boss if you do manage to squeeze the pattern pieces on after all!

17 August 2022

Abi's Chic and Simple Lyra Shirt Hack

Tilly and the Buttons - Abi's Chic & Simple Lyra Shirt HackTilly and the Buttons - Abi's Chic & Simple Lyra Shirt Hack

If we haven't met yet, I'm Abi - Tilly and the Button's Content Producer. I've never been much of a separates kinda gal. But sometimes your wardrobe calls for a chic and stylish shirt you can throw on and go, that makes you feel instantly put together. Recently I've been wearing the same smart-ish blousy tops on rotation. So it's time to add more to my weekly roster!  

One morning at Buttons HQ I spied our fabulous office manager Kate wearing a dreamy spotty shirt with a peplum, which turned out to be our Lyra shirt dress sewing pattern - simply chopped at the hip. So, feeling inspired by Kate's Lyra shirt (which I need to take a picture of!), I had to make my own. But I'm skipping the peplum to make a more classic shirt shape - perfect for all the layering I have planned for it.

Here's how I made it if you fancy having a go too...

Tilly and the Buttons - Abi's Chic & Simple Lyra Shirt Hack

What you'll need to make your simple Lyra shirt:

  • Lyra shirt dress sewing pattern
  • Some extra paper (I have some spot and cross pattern paper, but you can use any large paper)
  • The usual tools; ruler, pencil, scissors, tape measure
  • (Optional) Piping - ready-made or make your own 

10 August 2022

Six Steps to Starting Sewing

Six Steps to Starting Sewing - How to get into making your own clothes

Fancy sewing your own clothes but don't know where to start?

If you've stumbled upon this site while researching how to get into sewing - in which case, welcome! - you may have spotted that we offer lots of resources aimed at stitchers, including complete novices, from step-by-step patterns and award-winning books through online video workshops and free tutorials.

It can all still be a bit of a maze of information though when you're just starting out and don't know what you don't know. So I thought I'd break it down into six simple steps to get started sewing. You're welcome!



Six Steps to Starting Sewing - How to get into making your own clothes

1) Get a sewing machine


Whether you buy, thrift, rent or borrow it, you'll obviously need to get your hands on a sewing machine. Shopping for a machine can feel a bit overwhelming, but all you really need is a machine that has a straight stitch (for most stitching) and an adjustable zigzag stitch (for finishing edges and sewing knits). Full-size machines (rather than those cute half-size models) are best for garment sewing. If you want to try before you buy, go to a specialist sewing machine shop or large department store such as John Lewis if you're in the UK. Or keep it easy by buying online. 

I always say that the best machine is the one you have, so don't sweat the decision too much!

Read more about choosing a sewing machine

3 August 2022

Tilly's Embroidered Puff Sleeve Indigo Dress

Tilly wears a black and white gingham midi dress with hand-embroidered flowers on the puff sleevesTilly wears a black and white gingham midi dress with hand-embroidered flowers on the puff sleeves

Do you ever have ideas for DIY dresses come to you in your dreams?

That was the origin of this dress, and it’s lovely to see it now it’s come to life!

I’m not the most skilled embroiderer in the world, but I do enjoy the process of drawing with thread, as well as the beautiful results. It was nice to have a slow, meditative project to work on over a few summer evenings sitting in the garden once the kids were in bed, enjoying some peace as the sun began to set.

Tilly wears a black and white gingham midi dress with hand-embroidered flowers on the puff sleeves

This is, of course, the Indigo dress sewing pattern, with the midi tier from the add-on pattern. The sleeves started life as the puff sleeve pattern, also included in the Indigo add on, but I hacked them to create extra volume. 

To be more specific, I “slashed and spread” the pattern – which basically means slicing it up vertically and widening it at various intervals, patching up the spaces with more paper – and added some extra height to the sleeve head.

27 July 2022

Ten Tips for Cutting Fabric Accurately (with video!)

Ten Tips for Cutting Fabric Accurately

Ready to start your next sewing project? Sure you are! Before you dive into the sewing part, you first need to cut out your fabric. 

This is an important step to ensure the pieces go together perfectly and the shape and fit of your final project turn out fabulously.

So what's the best way to cut your fabric? Here are ten tips to keep in mind so you can make sure you're cutting out your next project as accurately as possible...

prepare your fabric


1) Prepare your fabric

Pre-washing your fabric is an important step that you shouldn't skip. If you're itching to get sewing, you may be tempted to start cutting out as soon as you have your fabric in your hands, but the risk is that your gorgeous finished garment will shrink the first time you wash it. So get any shrinkage out of the way first by laundering it on the settings you're planning to use for the finished garment.

Once it's dry, give it a good press (if the fabric can take it) to smooth out any creases. Ironing your fabric to get it nice and smooth will result in more accurately shapes.

20 July 2022

Handmade Holiday Wardrobe

Tilly and the Buttons - Handmade Holiday Wardrobe

As we're amid a UK heatwave, us Brits won't need to save our most summery makes for our holiday, but can rock them in our own back gardens instead! With our hot-weather sewing plans in full swing, here's some me-made summer sewing inspiration. We'll leave the actual making and the packing to you...

One of the many things we love about sewing is the versatility of patterns. Take a sewing pattern and instead of looking at the ready-made garment sample images (however gorge they may be!), have a look at the simple line technical drawings instead. This can get the old sewing-brain cogs turning and what you thought was just a pair of stay-at-home PJ bottoms could become a lovely pair of linen trousers! It's all in your fabric and styling choices. So here's some handmade holiday sewing inspiration, from the beach to the bar...

Coralie & Dominique

Don't leave for your summer hols without a Coralie swimsuit or two. Sew your swimwear in coordinating prints and colours to make the most out of your holiday wardrobe. You can mix and match your bikini sets and pair them with one sarong all week long! 

Our beginner-friendly Dominique skirt would double up as a fab sarong-style beach skirt - sew in a lightweight fabric like chiffon or voile for a dreamy beach-ready look. 

Sewing patterns: CoralieDominique
Fabric: swimwear fabric from our shop, turquoise chiffon
Style with: cat eye sunglasses, beach bag