Is it just us, or has Christmas started early this year? Here at Tilly Towers, one of our favourite festive events is our annual staff Secret Santa gift swap, but this year (in true 2020 style) we decided to do things a little differently.
To celebrate the launch of our latest sewing pattern, the Billie sweatshirt and sweater dress, we decided to make Christmas sweatshirts for each other using the Billie pattern.
The rules were simple – each of us was randomly allocated another member of the team for whom we made a Billie sweatshirt featuring a personalised, festive design. We also submitted a wish list, which included our size, favourite colours and Christmas styles, to give our Secret Santa some clues to help her out.
Now we all know fabric shopping is one of the best bits of a project, but fabric shopping for someone else can be a whole different ball game! Luckily, Minerva came to our rescue and supplied us with all the fabrics we needed. From snuggly fleece-back sweatshirting to smart French terry and glittery ribbing – Minerva had it all, so a huge thank you to them!
Almost all of us used Happy Fabric’s iron-on vinyls to decorate our Billie sweatshirts too. They come in a huge range of colours and finishes, they’re super easy to use and produce such amazing results!
As most of the team are working from home at the moment, once the sweatshirts were finished Santa’s elves sent them by express delivery to their lucky recipients and we organised a Billie sweatshirt swap over video call. It was so fun to get together (if only virtually) and open our gifts with one another. And of course, we filmed it all so you could join in on the fun too!
Jenny’s sweatshirt made by Tilly
“As a founding member of #lilacloversclub, there was only one possible colour choice for our Communications Coordinator, Jenny! I went with a snuggly fleece-back sweatshirting from Minerva to keep her cosy during December.
Jenny is a proud vegan, so I wanted to reference that in her Christmas jumper. I’ve been getting into kawaii drawing and thought brussels sprouts with different facial expressions and festive hats would be cute. Originally, I was going to add some HAPPY VEGMAS text, but once I saw the finished sprouts, I thought they looked cuter on their own!” – Tilly
Tilly’s sweatshirt made by Kate
“Tilly doesn’t make much of a secret of her love for sky blue and mint, so choosing fabric from Minerva was easy peasy. I went for their fleece-back sweatshirting as I wanted to create a snuggly Billie in wintery tones.
Decoration design ideas went through many scraps of paper – I mean, I’m making the boss’s sweater, so you know, pressure. Helpfully, Tilly had added to her list of likes which included sewing, cats, Christmas food and, you know, the usual but she also said that she would quite like a Hanukkah sweater. Ding ding! Happy to oblige.
I’ve recently been doing some embroidery and thought this would make a nice touch to the sweater, so set about hand embroidering the letters in bright, jewel-toned, glittery thread and arranging them on the sweater as if they were bunting. I added mint velvet ribbon with pretty tied bows at the ends and then some Happy Fabric glitter vinyl confetti for some extra zhuzh. It is party season!
Billie is a super quick make, so it gave me all the time for the decoration and I’m pleased as punch with the result.” – Kate
Kate’s sweatshirt made by Nikki
“Our nickname for our Office Manager Kate is ‘Coral Kate’, because of her love of the colour coral. And I don’t just mean she kinda likes it as an accent colour on something, I mean she loves all things orange and is decked in vivid sunshine hues all year round. So, as soon as I found out I had Kate in the Billie Secret Santa swap, I knew coral had to feature heavily on her Christmas jumper. She’s also recently knitted a gorgeous pair of coral and mint socks, so I thought a light mint would be the perfect complementary colour. And, I knew she’d have lots of bright skirts and trousers to wear with it! Granted, it’s not very Christmassy, but I wanted to make something she could wear all year round.
I knew I wanted to make a colour block sweatshirt straight away, mostly because I’ve been dreaming about making a colour block Billie since we started developing the pattern, and I thought Kate would love it too. I drew about a million different designs (OK fine, it was about six) and settled on vertical and horizontal lines as I was a bit worried about cutting on the bias and stretching the fabric. As the mint fabric is quite light I pressed all the seam allowances towards the coral sections and it hid them perfectly.
I was really torn about whether to add some vinyl to the finished sweatshirt but I resisted as I didn’t want to make it too busy, and I’m really pleased with the result. I love how the back is completely different to the front, and the contrast sleeves. I hope Kate likes it, and I can’t wait to make one for myself!
If you want to make a colour block Billie yourself it’s pretty easy to do. Draw where you want the seam lines to be on your pattern pieces and cut. I added 15mm (5/8in) seam allowance to each seam line so they could be stitched together. It helps to label the pieces too with the colours you want to cut them out in so you don’t get confused!” – Nikki
Nikki’s sweatshirt made by Frances
“Our Product Manager, Nikki, is as showbiz as they come – her nickname in the office is ‘Showbiz’ because she’s always entertaining us with a dramatic tale. So it was only right that I gave her the most showbiz sweatshirt I could muster!
I chose a Christmassy green French terry, so that the bright colours of the vinyl design would stand out, but added a touch of sparkle with some glittery gold ribbing for the cuffs, neckband and hem band.
I used red flex vinyl for the ‘tis the season to be’ and then went all out gold glitter for the ‘SHOWBIZ’ block letters. Not content with just gold glitter, I decided to add some fairy lights in a selection of festive coloured, glitter vinyls all joined up with some matt gold vinyl for the string.
But it wouldn’t be a showbiz sweatshirt without a little bit of drama… When giving the vinyl a final press, I peeled back what I thought was greaseproof paper only to reveal a white, waxy film stuck to the red lettering and the fabric! With some deep breaths and frantic scrubbing, I managed to get the sweatshirt looking as good as new and, by some miracle, it was dry in time for it to be collected by the elves later that day – phew!” – Frances
Frances’ sweatshirt made by Louise
“I was so excited to land our Office and Wholesale Assistant Frances for my gift. One colour immediately sprung to mind – rust! I was thrilled when I discovered that she had even put it as her colour of choice on her wish list for the jumper, so then I just had to come up with a design. Frances has a cool style, is cheerful and has a great sense of humour, so I took to Pinterest and found some inspo. I wanted contrast colours for the cuffs, neckband and hem band, so tested out my design on the Billie tech drawing to check I was happy.
I chose a gorgeous rust French terry for the main base of the sweatshirt. I honestly couldn’t have been happier with the colour – it is SO Frances. I knew she’d absolutely love it! I picked a mauve ribbing for the neckband and hem band (I had to squeeze some lilac in there to give a hint of who made it!), and chose a lovely olive green for the cuffs – another colour I have seen Frances in quite a bit 🙂
I have quite a bit of Happy Fabric vinyl in my stash, so I raided it to see what I could use to make the jumper sparkle. Originally, I planned to do a Rudolph red glitter nose for my design, but when I held the multi glitter vinyl up against it I was sold! I used white vinyl for the ‘JOLLY’ writing and smile.
My finishing touch, and the thing that may have blown my cover, was a cute ‘Contains Cat Hair’ sew-in label by Pink Coat Club. It’s actually more of a disclaimer as, when I laid all my bits out ready to start, I discovered my fluffy cat, Maisie, had decided it was the comfiest place to sit! She also had some fun with the thread spools, which were also selected ready to begin – I only found one of the threads the other day that she had chased under the sofa. Sewing with cats is never dull!” – Louise
Louise’s sweatshirt made by Jenny
“Our Sales and Communications Manager Louise is well known for her fashion sense and being a colour lover. From pastel pretties, rainbow brights, mustard and, of course, lilac (being a founding member of the Lilac Lovers Club and all!), it was really fun having such a wide choice of colours to pick from.
I selected two sorbet shades from Minerva Crafts – pastel pink French terry sweatshirt for the body and a pistachio green for the ribbing – two colours that remind me of Louise whenever I see them.
For the design, I bought a miniature snowflake cutter and used Happy Fabric holographic iron-on vinyl. I played around with how to lay them out but decided to go for a random ‘swoosh’ across the middle and had fun placing them without a plan.” – Jenny
We hope you like our Christmas jumpers! If we’ve inspired you to make your own using our Billie sweatshirt and sweater dress pattern you can get the printed pattern here or the digital pattern here.
We’d love to see what you make – share with us on Instagram @TillyButtons with the hashtag #SewingBillie so we can see!
Author: Frances Buddery and Team Buttons
Video: Jenny Lingham-Doe
Fabric: Minerva (gifted)