Team Buttons Sewing Stories

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories

 
How did you first learn to sew? What’s your favourite make? Any tips for beginners?

When you meet someone who sews you may well find you have a million questions to ask them. If you’re just getting into sewing, it’s inspiring to chat to someone who has been there before. Or, if you’re more experienced, it’s thrilling to be able to chat at length to somebody who understands that there is more than one kind of thread and that fabric scissors should ONLY be used for fabric!

At TATB HQ, we talk of little else than sewing, so we thought it might be nice to share the team’s sewing stories. Grab a cuppa, and get to know what makes us stitch…

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories
Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories


How long have you been sewing and what got you into it? 

I’ve been sewing for over 10 years now. I started sewing as I wanted a creative hobby to do in my free time outside work. I couldn’t decide what to do until I saw the film Bright Star by Jane Campion, which is about John Keats’ muse Fanny Brawne, who was a talented seamstress. As soon as I saw the opening close up shot of a needle going through fabric, a lightbulb went on and I knew I had to give sewing a try.

What’s your background? Do you think any of your skills have helped you with your sewing? 

Before I set up Tilly and the Buttons, I designed national and international training schemes for arthouse cinemas and film festivals. On paper it sounds very different to what I do now, but this educational mindset and experience helps me to create sewing resources that teach new skills and are accessible to beginners.

Top tip for beginners?

Pick a project that is quick and simple to make, without any fiddly bits like zips, buttonholes, set-in sleeves or gathering, which can be intimidating when you’re starting out. And don’t worry about making mistakes – it’s part of the process, no matter how much experience you have!

What do you enjoy making the most? Do you have particular garments or fabrics you like working with?

I love sewing with jersey, as garments made from stretch knit fabrics like this generally come together quickly and easily, without fitting issues. Our online workshop Learn to Sew Jersey Tops and my second book Stretch! offer lots of help with sewing jersey if it’s something you are yet to get to grips with. You’ll never look back!

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories
Do you have a favourite make and why do you love it so much? 

At the moment my favourite make is an Indigo dress I made in vintage fabric. I made the version with all the trimmings – flounce sleeves, exposed frill seams… – which I LOVE, and the smock shape makes it so comfy to wear.

Who inspires you?

Our customers never cease to inspire me with the creativity and design ideas that they infuse into their makes. I love seeing how people take the templates we provide in our patterns and create something truly unique and tailored to their style.

A bout de souffle
Source: LadyWe

 
If you could recreate one look (think from the movies, TV, books or music stars), what would It be?

I’ve always wanted to make Jean Seberg’s stripe shirtwaist dress from A Bout de souffle.

What is it about sewing that you love so much? 

I love being able to come up with an idea for a garment in my head, then make it with my own hands. It’s so satisfying.

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories
Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories

How long have you been sewing and what got you into it?

I first became interested in sewing when I was watching The Great British Sewing Bee with my Mum when it first aired in 2013. I then attended sewing workshops in London and bought myself a sewing machine. But I would probably class myself as completely obsessed with sewing from around 2015.


What’s your background? Do you think any of your skills have helped you with your sewing?

Before sewing I was (and still am!) crochet obsessed, I went on to write patterns and create tutorials. I think the experience of teaching myself to crochet and then creating tutorials helped me to understand sewing instructions. As a visual learner, I’ve always appreciated images and videos.


Top tip for beginners?

This is a common tip that I heard early on – sew the types of clothes that you already know you like to wear.

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing StoriesWhat’s your fave TATB pattern and how many times have you made it?!

My fave TATB pattern is Nora. It really is SO versatile, I’ve made it in velvet jersey, T-shirt jersey, double knit, cotton jersey, French Terry… I think I probably have around twelve Noras – it’s my go-to T-shirt pattern! I’ve even hacked it to have a gathered skirt.

Are there any resources you find particularly helpful?

As the filmmaker and editor of the videos for TATB, it would be hard not to give them a shout-out! I’ve recently used the How to Bag Out a Coat Lining video when sewing my Eden raincoat. That’s a goodie!


Any projects or skills you would like to work on?

I’ve recently bought myself an overlocker (serger) after using the ones at work. So I’m currently learning all about overlocking and the tips to really utilise it. It’s also sped up my sewing progress like crazy! Although I will always love a French seam finish : )

Who inspires you?

Mostly my friends. I love bouncing ideas off of them and seeing what they’re working on.
Also, the Instagram community. I love keeping lists of sewing ideas and my favourite list is my saved board on Instagram full of other sewists’ outfits that have inspired me.
And of course, Pinterest! There’s an abundance of inspiration on there it’s like having a visual of the inside of my brain.

Who is your favourite GBSB contestant and why?

Does Joe Lycett count? Love him.


What is it about sewing that you love so much?

I really love fabric! And turning that fabric into an outfit that will be cherished.


Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories
Do you have a #SewingSidekick and can we see them?

This is Cookie! 

Where can we find you?

You can find me on my joint sewing account with Louise @cutonepair and my personal account is @knittedyogurt.

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories
Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories



How long have you been sewing and what got you into it?

I have always liked to be crafty. My Mum and Gran made clothes, knitted and crocheted, so I was always surrounded by making. My Gran gave me her sewing machine and, until I got into dressmaking, I would only use it to make things like gift bags. Making clothes that I could wear started back in 2013 to help mend a broken heart 😭



What’s your background? Do you think any of your skills have helped you with your sewing?

I have worked for organisations where budgets are non-existent so have used my handy, DIY attitude and sewing machine skills to fix, upgrade and even make blinds for the office.


Cast your mind back to being a newbie sewer – how did you learn to sew and what did you find most useful when you were a beginner?

YouTube fo sho’! I started with patternless patterns like circle skirts and used existing garments to trace around. I then moved on to a sewing class that the local council ran, followed by a big birthday treat – Tilly’s first weekend sewing workshop where I made a headscarf and the Margot pyjamas.

Top tip for beginners?

Throw yourself in and don’t worry about getting it wrong. You are always learning when it comes to dressmaking. Take your time.
Invest in a decent seam ripper.
Get some sewing friends : )

What’s your fave TATB pattern and how many times have you made it?!



Nora, Nora, Nora. She is my go-to. There’s so much versatility in this pattern – T-Shirt, cropped top, dress, sweater, long sleeve, short sleeve, high neck…  All the possibilities. It is without a shadow of a doubt the pattern I have made the most and I don’t think I could possibly say how many – twelve at least!
 
What do you enjoy making the most? Do you have particular garments or fabrics you like working with?

I’m still learning so each new project is a challenge and 80% of the time it’s a success. Currently, I’m all about buttons! In the past, I would shy away from anything with buttons and buttonholes, but recently sewing the Bobbi pinafore made me comfortable sewing these. Since making Bobbi, I have made a button-down skirt from the Seren pattern, the Cocowawa Marshmallow dress with buttons down the back and the Indigo add-on pack button back version. Turns out they’re really not that difficult once you know how!


Do you have a favourite make and why do you love it so much?

Ach, so hard to choose. I would have to say my pink leopard print Nora. This one has long sleeves with long cuffs just how we use to like it in the 80s, and the high neck. It goes with everything I can layer it, wear over jeans, tuck it in a skirt. It’s an easy one to throw on and is super comfy.

Who inspires you?

Team Buttons, every day. Whatever they make, I want to make. Whatever fabric they buy, I want to buy. They help me see patterns and fabrics in a different light and it’s blown my universe apart. 😍



Who is your favourite GBSB contestant and why? (any fave garments they made?) 

Juliet! I loved the jumpsuit she made on the show and love the elasticated waisted skirts she has shared since.


Grace Kelly in High Society
Source: Reddit

If you could recreate one look (think from the movies, TV, books or music stars), what would It be?

I love Grace Kelly and when I was in wedding prep mode I had a framed photo of Grace Kelly in her wedding dress to help inspire what look and feel I wanted for my own wedding day photo. However the dress I would LOVE LOVE to recreate and did for a while consider was her wedding dress from High Society. My childhood was very much musical-filled, some I didn’t like (Carousel) and some I did (High Society).

I just loved her look, the dress, her hair… It has stayed with me forever. In fact her entire wardrobe in that movie! In the end, I went a completely different route but I remember on the day having friends say they were surprised I didn’t go with a 1950s-inspired gown, so there you go!

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories
Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories

Do you have a #SewingSidekick and can we see them?

I have two – Poppy and Teddy.

Where can we find you? 

On the sofa under a dog binge-watching Spooks, or on Insta @kins_hughes xx

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories
Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories

How long have you been sewing and what got you into it?

I had the dream to start sewing in 2012 and was given my first machine by my now-husband, and it sat unused… until 2014 (the shame!). I love fashion and really wanted to have a go at making my own stuff. Since getting my machine out of the box, I have been sewing on and off for six years. The last two years have been filled with A LOT of sewing!


What’s your background? Do you think any of your skills have helped you with your sewing?

I have a background in fashion and a life-long love with it so that most definitely influences my sewing. I love details and the historical influences on fashion so that’s something I always look out for. My professional background has always called for problem-solving under pressure so I would say that really helps me with my sewing practice.

Cast your mind back to being a newbie sewer – how did you learn to sew and what did you find most useful when you were a beginner?

I used Tilly’s first book Love At First Stitch a lot when I was starting out. I found gradually progressing through projects with different levels of difficulty really helped me. I also found indie pattern companies were the best at providing great instructions and breaking steps down, as well as having extra tutorials on their blogs that are soooo useful.


Top tip for beginners?

I love having a go at stuff and feeling free from judgment so I think it is really important to find encouraging tools when you start out. It’s not about getting things “just so”, it’s about experimenting and you will find what works and what doesn’t. You won’t win them all, but you will be SO proud for just making a thing!

I also have to say, for me, making the same garment numerous times really helps because I can stop reading the instructions and think about what I am doing. Everything clicks into place as to why you construct in a particular order or use this stitch or that seam finish.

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories

 
What’s your fave TATB pattern and how many times have you made it?!

It is most-definitely the Nora top. I have made this pattern so many times because it’s so versatile and is the perfect base for hacking and altering into something else. I’ve made T-shirts, sweaters, a dress, pyjama tops, a frill- bottom top… it’s a very long list! I have just finished two Nora sweatshirts (one of them tie-dyed!) for snuggly indoors – I LOVE this pattern : )


Are there any resources you find particularly helpful?

I might be biased because I write a lot of them for TATB, but I love fashion and fabric inspiration posts for patterns (such as this one). I really find it inspiring to look at the high street and designers to see how you could create an overall look and translate that into something you make. As I said, I like to sew the same pattern numerous times, so guides and inspiration for hacking the pattern are so helpful!

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories

Do you have a favourite make and why do you love it so much?

It has to be my glittery Eden raincoat! It is the most advanced project I’ve embarked on making, and when I breezed through it (albeit slowly), I felt like I was pretty good at this sewing thing! I got the glittery raincoat fabric on a trip to Tokyo (my fave place in the world) and there couldn’t be a better reminder of the magical time than my treasured me-made Eden : )

Who inspires you?

My Buttons team mates always make me excited and inspired to sew. When I am being hard on myself and think something I made is a bit of a fail, they make me see it in a different light and suddenly it’s my favourite thing I’ve ever made!


If you had to take part in one of the Sewing Bee challenges, which one would you pick and why? 

I would have to pick the made-to-measure challenge (with extra time, pretty please?). For me, the planning is as fun as the making so I would love a challenge where you source the fabric and pattern and can reflect your personality and taste.


Who is your favourite GBSB contestant and why?

Oh, it has to be Juliet! I started following her on Instagram before she was on the Bee and was SO excited when I spotted her in the trailer. I love her because she’s not afraid to push her designs, but is so calm, collected and lovely throughout. Make a coat for a dog? Sure, no problem. I wish I was that unflappable!

Killing Eve
Source: The Independent

If you could recreate one look, what would it be?

I am still utterly obsessed with everything Villanelle wears in Killing Eve. My favourite was a tulle Molly Goddard dress that she pairs with chunky boots – it is EVERYTHING. I would love to make that. If I could choose a second, it would be anything from Cher’s wardrobe in Clueless. The 10-year-old me was so inspired by her wardrobe and catchphrases like “Ugh – as if!”.


What is it about sewing that you love so much?

The possibilities are endless and the fabric isn’t bad either : )


Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories



Do you have a #SewingSidekick and can we see them?

You can indeed! This is my shy ragdoll Maisie who follows me everywhere and slows down my sewing constantly by demanding my lap.



Where can we find you?

I share a sewing and creative blog with my fellow Button Jenny, and share lots of sewing and Maisie on my personal Instagram account @louise_carmichael.

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories
Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories



How long have you been sewing and what got you into it? 

I started sewing five years ago. I was crocheting a lot of blankets at the time and wanted to start dressmaking and got a sewing machine as a Christmas present, but didn’t really know where to start. One day I walked past my colleague’s desk at work and she was looking at none other than the Tilly and the Buttons blog. And the rest is history…

What’s your background? Do you think any of your skills have helped you with your sewing? 

I’ve always been very curious about things. Just because I don’t know how to do something or I’m rubbish doing it doesn’t tend to put me off. I think that’s helped me to push through when I don’t understand something or if a make hasn’t turned out how I wanted it to. I try to put it all down to experience and think the next one will be better. Before I started at TATB, I worked in legal publishing in editorial and coordination roles and I studied law at uni. Sometimes I think if I could get through first-year tort law, I can get through anything.

Cast your mind back to being a newbie sewer, how did you learn to sew and what did you find most useful when you were a beginner? 

When I was first learning sewing, I pretty much inhaled the entirety of the internet sewing blogs. I was insatiable. I would just read and read and practise and practise. Also, I fully recommend asking Google!

Top tip for beginners? 

I can’t emphasise this enough – you have to make mistakes to get better! It’s all part of the learning process. I expected too much of myself in the early days and would feel deflated that things didn’t fit me perfectly or didn’t come out as I expected. It all takes time and I promise everybody will be so impressed you made something they won’t notice that the hem is a little wonky or the darts are slightly uneven. As long as you loved making it, that’s the only thing that matters.

Can you remember your first make and what did you learn from it? 

My first make was a pair of Margot pyjama bottoms from Love at First Stitch made from some very twee and floral cotton I got from eBay. I didn’t know anything about grading between sizes at the time, so ended up with a pair of PJs that fit me on the hips but were way too large on the waist. They were so ill-fitting that during the night they’d migrate down my legs and I’d wake up with them around my ankles. Despite this, I was so proud of myself and remember thinking I’d unlocked access to a secret club – one where you could make anything you wanted – and I was totally hooked.

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories

What’s your fave TATB pattern and how many times have you made it?! 

If I had to choose, the Eden coat is my absolute favourite pattern – it’s the perfect hooded jacket. It was also the first pattern I worked on at TATB which also makes it extra special. I’ve got two versions, a blue cotton twill jacket and a waterproof dry oilskin jacket in green lined with black and white gingham cotton. I’ve probably worn it over a hundred times! I want to make a wool coat version for the winterr in the brightest colour I can find.

Are there any resources you find particularly helpful?

Every time I insert a zip fly, I use the TATB How to Sew a Zip Fly video. It’s saved me countless times!

Who inspires you? 

I get most of my inspiration from Team Buttons, Instagram and the sewing community. I’d be mortified if anybody saw my camera roll as it’s littered with screenshots of other people’s makes. Working in the office is a daily exercise in self-control, as everyone has their own unique and beautiful style and makes their own clothes so I just want to copy everything.

If you had to take part in one of the Sewing Bee challenges, which one would you pick and why?

I can tell you right now I’d be dreadful at the alteration challenge, so I’d have to pick the made-to-measure challenge. High stress, but I enjoy thinking about fitting and alterations. I’d also enjoy seeing my creation walking up and down the studio on a real-life person instead of a mannequin (as long as it fitted!).

LaLa Land

If you could recreate one look, what would it be? 

I don’t usually like musicals but I loved the entire of Emma Stone’s wardrobe in La La Land. I’d obviously pick the yellow dress as my favourite, firstly because of the colour and square neckline and secondly because, well, it’s just lovely.

What is it about sewing that you love so much?

I love that I can fit clothes to my shape instead of trying to find clothes that fit one generic body shape (that isn’t mine). I also love slowing down and focusing my mind on something else. Oh, and fabric shopping. Fabric shopping is just as good as sewing, to be honest.

Do you have a #SewingSidekick and can we see them? 

Do Harry Potter audiobooks count as sidekicks?

Where can we find you? 

I’m @helloyellowclub on Instagram and have a sewing blog too. The blog is a bit neglected at the moment but I’m hoping to publish some more posts soon.

Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories
Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories



How long have you been sewing and what got you into it?

I learnt to sew at school and LOVED it! I then took a ten-year break from sewing but I’m now firmly back at my sewing machine

Cast your mind back to being a newbie sewer – how did you learn to sew and what did you find most useful when you were a beginner?

I was taught the basics at school, but getting back into it properly this year I’ve found the community of inspiring sewists the most encouraging thing.


Top tip for beginners?

You will get it wrong, but you’ll love it anyway.


Can you remember your first make and what did you learn from it?

My first proper make was our Seren dress. Ambitious for a first-timer? Maybe. But in some ways, I think it was better for me to get stuck straight into a more advanced pattern without knowing that buttonholes are supposed to be hard (P.S. they were fine). So it taught me not to have the fear! I was also very lucky to have Team Buttons there to hold my hand every step of the way : )


Tilly and the Buttons Sewing Stories



What’s your fave TATB pattern and how many times have you made it?!

At the moment it’s Indigo – I mean, have you seen all the dreamy versions you can make?! But I change my mind all the time, usually to whatever I’ve made most recently!

What do you enjoy making the most? Do you have particular garments or fabrics you like working with?

I love the precision of wovens – being able to get nice sharp corners and crisp edges (but that’s my inner perfectionist).
I’ve made a few things out of corduroy and I’ve found it surprisingly easy to work with.


Do you have a favourite make and why do you love it so much? 

My favourite make is almost always my most recent one! But I’ve gotten so much wear out of my purple cord Ness skirt and learnt so much in the process of making it, so maybe that one? (But shh, don’t tell the others!)


Do you have any sewing goals at the moment? Any projects or skills you would like to work on?

I’m looking forward to summer and want to have some staple, me-made summer pieces to wear this year – think Ogden camis and all the Indigos!
A longer-term goal is to make a pair of jeans that fit just right.

Who inspires you?

Team Buttons ❤


If you had to take part in one of the Sewing Bee challenges, which one would you pick and why?

Pattern challenge – I like having instructions to follow!

Who is your favourite GBSB contestant and why?

I loved Ricardo from series 5 – he always looked like he was having so much fun! And that origami top was STUNNING.

Megan Mad Men

If you could recreate one look, what would It be?

Something worn by Megan Draper from Mad Men. Can I choose her whole wardrobe?!


What is it about sewing that you love so much?

I really enjoy the practical process of putting something together and sometimes I feel a little bit sad when I’ve finished a project, like when you’ve finished a really good book – you wish you could do it all over again.


Where can we find you?

I’m on Instagram @francesbuddery – more sewing things coming soon!

We hope you have enjoyed reading team Buttons sewing stories and have got to know a little more about us all – #WhatMakesMeStitch : )

PS. If you liked this post, you might also like Six Steps to Start Sewing.

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Author: Louise Carmichael and all of the lovely Buttons xx

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