29 March 2023

Meet Mabel! Our Dreamy Shirred Dress & Blouse Sewing Pattern

Tilly and the Buttons Mabel dress and blouse sewing pattern in sizes UK 6-34

Get ready for all the compliments with our Mabel shirred dress and blouse sewing pattern

If you fancy giving shirring a whirl, we're here for you. Our award-winning photo instructions clearly explain how to sew with elasticated shirring thread, with the extra help of a free video tutorial by Tilly, with thanks to the support of our friends at Janome UK. Check out our Mabel sewing pattern page for helpful tutorials that will make sewing your Mabel dress and blouse a breeze!


Plus size model wearing a floral shirred dress, made using Tilly and the Buttons Mabel sewing patternModel wearing a magenta shirred dress, made using Tilly and the Buttons Mabel sewing patternPlus size model wearing a shirred gingham blouse, made using Tilly and the Buttons Mabel sewing pattern

Technical drawings of Tilly and the Buttons Mabel shirred dress and blouse sewing pattern showing midi dress with full length sleeves and peplum blouse with cropped sleeves


Shirring has become a popular sewing detail that we're loving at Buttons HQ! Mabel is the perfect introduction to this gorgeous technique. What's more, the on-trend design of this head-turning blouse and dress is absolutely stunning! Fall head over heels for these details:
  • Flirty, square-shaped elasticated neckline
  • Full-length or elbow-length sleeves, with deep shirred cuff or narrow shirred cuff with frill hem
  • Voluminous raglan sleeves elasticated around the shoulders
  • Front neckline has a pretty frill, keyhole opening and faux drawstring ties
  • Blousy bodice and floaty skirt cinched in with shirred waistline
  • Make it as a midi-length dress or peplum blouse


22 March 2023

Tilly's Makes

Tilly wears floral Lyra shirt with black jeans

Looking back at what I've made over the last six months, I must say I'm surprised at how productive I've been because I don't actually remember sewing this much! 

And this isn't even all of it - as usual I'm making secret projects that I can't show you yet - patterns in development, because you want a surprise, don't you?

If you fancy a peek at what I've been making, take a look at my video talking you through recent me-made projects. (The details of patterns and where I got the fabrics are listed below.) Lots of florals, knits, and Marnies!

Close up shot of Tilly wearing floral Lyra shirt

Sewing pattern: Lyra shirt dress - hacked by leaving off the skirt and extending the front bodice, back bodice and button stand

Fabric: Floral viscose from Sew Me Sunshine

8 March 2023

Cutting and Sewing with Stripes

Tilly and the Buttons - Cutting and sewing with stripes so they match up

It's no secret that I love a good stripe. But making clothing with striped fabric adds the challenge of matching up the lines when you sew the pieces together. So I thought I'd share some tips on how to get your stripes matching up at the seams - this is the process that I go through when making a stripey top or dress using the Coco, Romy or Agnes sewing patterns.

But first, I'd just like to point out the obvious fact that this process is totally optional. Ready-to-wear clothing is sold all the time with unmatched stripes. If the stripes on your dress don't join at the seams, the world isn't going to end. If anyone points out that the stripes on your top are a bit wonky, well, they're probably not the kind of people you want to be hanging out with. If you just wanna get on and sew without taking these additional steps, go for it - life's too short!

Still here? Okay, so on to the tips. My stripe matching strategy begins before I've even cut the fabric...

Finger pointing to lengthen/shorten waist  line on the bodice pattern pieces of Agnes

Draw a horizontal line around the centre of the front bodice and back bodice pattern pieces, at right angles to the grainline arrow or centre front/back line. The pattern I’m using has a lengthen/shorten line in the middle of the pattern, so I’m going to use this.

22 February 2023

How to Sew with a Twin Needle

Tilly and the Buttons - How to Sew with a Twin Needle

Sewing with a twin needle can be a great way of creating professional-looking hems and other finishes on your me-mades. It's one of those techniques that can seem tricky at first, so I'm here to show you how it's done!

Examples of twin needes

What is a twin needle used for?

A twin needle (sometimes called a double needle) is composed of two needles connected by one shank at the top.

The twin needle creates two parallel lines of straight stitches on the top side, with a small zigzag stitch connecting them on the underside.

You can use it to topstitch the hems on garments made in stretch fabrics, like the Agnes jersey top or Billie sweatshirt, as well as topstitching on non-stretch garments such as the Jessa jeans or Rosa shirt.

Here's how to sew with your twin needle...

Twin needle sewing supplies laid out.

What supplies do I need to sew with a twin needle?

To sew with a twin needle, you will need:

  • Twin needle (see below)
  • Second spool pin if your machine came with one (don't worry if it doesn't have one)
  • Presser foot with a hole wide enough to fit the twin needle (if your regular presser foot isn't wide enough, try a zigzag or walking foot)
  • Two spools of good quality thread in the same colour, with one bobbin
  • Scrap of your garment fabric to test your stitches on

8 February 2023

Ten Years of Tilly and the Buttons sewing patterns!

Tilly a white woman with cropped hair, a lilac blouse and tape measure around her neck places a sewing pattern on a shelf

In 2013, I took the plunge and shared a self-drafted sewing pattern to this blog, unsure whether anyone would buy it. Little did I know that I'd still be making sewing patterns ten years later - now as my actual job, with a team of people helping me! 

43 patterns, 3 books, 9 online workshops, 2 babies, 1 global pandemic and 57,000 cups of coffee later, Tilly and the Buttons is still going strong.

A red haired model wears a teal polka dot Mathilde blouse with puffed sleeves and tucks down the bodice

That first pattern was the Mathilde blouse. Originally it was a PDF file to print at home, with simple text instructions supported by an in-depth sewalong on the blog. I did almost everything myself, from drafting the pattern, creating technical drawings, "modelling" in my kitchen with the camera on timer, to customer service... The only thing I outsourced was grading the pattern into different sizes, for which I have always hired a professional fashion industry grader.

A range of colourful Tilly and the Buttons sewing patterns are shown on a turquoise background with sewing tools around them

Our patterns have evolved - and improved - a lot over the years. They now include our signature full colour photo instructions. Many are available in print as well as PDF version. Lots of our patterns now have a much more inclusive size range, from UK 6-34. And it's no longer just me working from my kitchen table - we have a team of amazing people working on the patterns, from drafting through to answering your emails.

Throughout these changes, the intention has remained the same. To inspire more people to sew, with gorgeous designs, refreshingly clear instructions, and an encouraging attitude.

Tilly smiles while sewing a floral blouse

To celebrate ten years of Tilly and the Buttons sewing patterns, we thought it would be fun to give you a peek inside my sewing box, which may just contain a few memorable items from the last ten years...

3 February 2023

Fitting the Agnes sewing pattern

Fitting the Agnes Jersey Top - Tilly and the Buttons

Making the Agnes top and want some extra tips on fitting? This post will cover the most common fitting adjustments you may need when sewing Agnes.

Agnes is now available in printed and PDF formats sizes UK 6-34 / US 2-30 / EUR 34-62 / AUS 6-34. As it's designed to be made in stretchy jersey, it's relatively simple to fit. 

In this post we're going to cover:
  • Choosing your size
  • Lengthening or shortening the bodice or sleeve
  • Combining sizes or resizing the bust
  • Widening or narrowing the shoulder
  • Changing the neckline
  • Narrowing or widening the sleeve
However, don't think you have to make all of these adjustments - you may need one or two, or maybe none at all!

Model wearing a blue and withe striped Agnes top, with ruched sleeve details

1 February 2023

Reintroducing Agnes! Back in print in sizes UK 6-34

Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top sewing pattern

Exciting news, sewists! By popular demand, our Agnes jersey top sewing pattern is back in print, with our new-and-improved size range which includes 15 sizes, from UK 6 to 34 (US 2-30 / EUR 34-62 / AUS 6-34), and with the addition of sewist and disability advocate Samantha (@PurpleSewingCloud) modelling (yes, you may have previously spied her in Tilly's Make It Simple book too!).

Originally launched in 2015, we thought it was high time we brought this popular design back into print. Why? 

Because it's a wardrobe staple that you will wear again and again - whether layered or solo. 

Because THAT statement ruched sleeve option (swoon).

And because it's a perfect introduction to sewing with stretchy jersey fabrics. You don't even need an overlocker or serger - the instructions will take you step-by-step through sewing the whole thing on a regular sewing machine. And, if you fancy extra help, you can follow Tilly's video lessons in the accompanying online workshop, Learn to Sew Jersey Tops.



Model with sunglasses wears blue stripe jersey top with ruched sleevesModel with brunette curly hair holding mobility aid walker wears purple long sleeve jersey top with sweetheart necklineModel with curly brunette hair wears short sleeve rainbow stripe Agnes top

Tilly and the Buttons Agnes jersey top sewing pattern in sizes UK 6-34
Tilly and the Buttons Agnes jersey top sewing pattern in sizes UK 6-34


Irresistibly wearable all year round, Agnes is a versatile addition to your wardrobe that you'll want to sew again and again. But don't just take our word for it - check out the 5000+ makers who have tagged their gorgeous #SewingAgnes makes on Instagram. 

  • Close fitting silhouette
  • Choice of scoop neckline or ruched sweetheart neckline, both finished with a narrow neckband
  • Choice of sleeve lengths - full length or cropped above the elbow
  • Optional on-trend ruching at the shoulders
  • Can be sewn on a regular sewing machine - no overlocker or serger needed!


25 January 2023

How to Combine Pattern Sizes

Do your bust, waist or hip measurements fall across different sizes? If so, you can "grade" between sizes to get a perfect fit. Hooray! It's Nikki here, Product Manager and self-confessed fitting nerd here at Tilly and the Buttons, and in this post I'm going to cover how to combine sizes on pattern pieces.

One of the best things about sewing is that you can create clothes that fit your unique body shape. If you have bust, waist and hip measurements that are different sizes, like me, you'll probably have stood in a clothes shop fitting room before, surrounded by a pile of clothes that are too loose on top and too tight across your hips, or vice-versa. Luckily, when it comes to making your own clothes, you can combine pattern sizes to make parts of the garment bigger or smaller to give you a truly bespoke fit. 

When should I combine pattern sizes? 

Now, it might be tempting to combine sizes for the bust, waist and hips on all your patterns, but depending on the fit of the garment you don't always need to do this. 

If you're making a looser fitting garment or a garment that is looser fitting in some areas, you might not need to combine sizes at all. A looser fitting garment will have a lot of "positive ease", meaning the garment (or parts of it) will be much bigger than your body, so a few inches difference in that area won't make much difference to the overall fit. 

So for example, if you're making something with a fitted bust and loose waist and hips, like the Indigo top and dress pattern, and your waist measurement is 2 or 3 sizes different to your bust, then you probably won't need to make any alterations here. The same applies to the hip measurement - the skirt is loose and flowy so a few sizes difference between your body measurements won't affect the fit of the garment. However, if your bust and waist span across more than 3 sizes you might want to consider grading between sizes.

On the other hand, if you're making a garment that is designed to have a closer fit, like the Ness skirt or Etta dress, you will want to grade between sizes at the bust, waist and hip, where applicable, as there is much less ease in these areas.

Please do bear in mind though, if your bust measurement is particularly smaller or larger than the body measurement of the size you have picked, then you might need to do a bust adjustment, as well as combine sizes. Check out our bust adjustments post (coming soon!) for more info!

Most sewing patterns will list the finished garment measurements in their instructions, so if you're a bit unsure whether you need to combine sizes, comparing them against your body measurements will help you decide :) 

11 January 2023

Abi's Recent Makes and Sewing Plans

Abi's Recent Makes & Sewing Plans

This time last year I was writing a blog post sharing my 1960s-inspired handmade Martha wedding dress with you - how time flies! It's Abi here, the content producer and social media Button. I don't know about you but at the start of the year, I'm always fired up and ready to sew some new projects. I find it easier to sew when the days are longer and there's more daylight in my sewing space. So with lighter days on the horizon, I'm ready to rejuvenate my sew-jo!

Grab a cuppa and let me share my recent makes and some* of my upcoming sewing plans with you:

*The rest is top secret until spring!