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...