It’s World Book Day tomorrow and we’re thinking about our most treasured books. Like loooads of other sewists, I (Louise) used Tilly’s first book, Love at First Stitch, as a tool when I first started sewing. And because of that, it’s a book that will always have a very special place in my heart 🙂
Since releasing her first book in 2014, Tilly has written three titles – all published by Quadrille (Hardie Grant) – that pass on her tips and tricks. They all contain a range of sewing patterns, so you can practise techniques while making gorgeous clothes that you will be proud to say you made yourself!
They’re an excellent way to get into sewing, as you get a number of garment patterns to work with that build in difficulty as you go. You can pick up handy tips and tricks as you progress that will set you up with sewing skills for life. As Tilly holds back on all the confusing sewing jargon, the books are user-friendly and easy to follow. Plus, they are pretty to look at, which is how I pick most of my books!
If you are thinking about getting one of Tilly’s books, you might be wondering which one is the best for you. And, what’s in these gorgeous books I hear so much about? Grab a cuppa, and come on into the sewing library – shhh!
Love at First Stitch – £25
Tilly’s first book captures the spark that is ignited when you first sit at the machine. Everything is so new and exciting, and nothing is off-limits. Love at First Stitch will take you through all the essential things you need to know when you are getting into sewing, and will guide you through projects that will help you build up a handmade wardrobe while learning sewing skills that you will count on later in your sewing life. Basically it’s like taking a dressmaking course, but in book form.
BEST FOR – Absolute beginners
STYLE – A nod to 60s fashion
WHAT CAN I MAKE? – The book includes five main patterns – pyjama bottoms, a skirt, two dresses and a blouse. Also included are two simple patterns you draft yourself, guided by Tilly, for a scarf and skirt. All the patterns have multiple ways you can make them so you can get so much out of the book.
The Megan dress introduces two garment shaping methods that you are sure to see in your sewing future – darts and dart tucks, and you’ll get to practice that invisible zip again!
Next up is the Clemence skirt which is a gentle introduction to pattern drafting – plus, you’ll discover the wonders of gathering and how to finish a garment with beautiful French seams.
You’ll take your new-found sewing skills up a notch with the next project – the super-cute Mimi blouse. Mimi features a stunning Chelsea collar that will have to tick collars off your sewing list, and you’ll get to test your skills with another fastening method – buttonholes!
The final book project will bring some of those skills together and bank some more. The lovely Lilou dress is lined, so will look as beautiful on the inside as the outside. The skirt is pleated so that’s another technique that you can check off your sewing repertoire.
PATTERN SIZES: UK 6-20 (US 2-16 / EUR 34-48)
WHAT WILL I LEARN? – In summary, heaps! Here are a few of the things you will learn…
- How to set up your sewing machine
- Choosing fabric for a project
- Dressmaking basics like pinning, using a sewing pattern, cutting out, transferring pattern markings and understanding clothing construction
- Seam allowance finishes
- Pattern sizing, fitting and grading between sizes
- Key techniques, such as inserting an invisible zip, stay stitching, shaping with darts, setting in sleeves, gathering, French seams, stitch in the ditch, buttonholes, lining a garment, slip stitching and loads more!
Tilly’s second book was born out of her love for sewing with stretchy knit fabrics and all the questions that came up from stitchers who wanted to give it a go themselves. Sewing with knit fabrics (such as jersey) is not tricky and you don’t need a special machine – if you don’t have an overlocker (serger), you can sew everything on a regular sewing machine!
In Stretch!, Tilly takes you through all you need to know about sewing with knit fabrics and how it behaves. The book is the perfect guide for anyone who has never sewn with knit fabrics, or anyone wanting to perfect their stretchy sewing skills while making a set of gorgeous handmade outfits.
BEST FOR – Anyone who loves wearing comfy, stretchy clothes (I mean, who doesn’t?!)
STYLE – Comfy and cute
WHAT CAN I MAKE? – The book includes six main patterns – a skirt, a top/dress, a T-shirt, a hoody, a pair of joggers and a dress. All the patterns have multiple ways you can make them so you can get so much out of each style. The book is brilliant for getting you acquainted with different types of knit fabrics – so you will get comfortable with using and understanding how to work with them.
Stretch! kicks off with the Bibi skirt which is perfect for knit-fabric-newbies as it is designed for low-stretch knits such as ponte. If you love a pinafore, you can transform this pattern into one with the bodice pattern piece included.
Next up is the Frankie baseball T-shirt that is designed for single-knit jersey fabric. You will pick up super-skills such as attaching a neckband and sewing raglan sleeves.
The Freya dress is probably the most popular pattern from the book because you can make it in so many different ways. It’s a close-fitting sweater or A-line dress that has lots of hack potential! Tilly shows you how to create a pleated ruffle detail, roll neck or cowl neck so you will never stop making Freyas! You will master inserting sleeves “on the flat”.
The next project will see you whipping up a gorgeous loungewear set. The Stella hoodie and joggers will introduce drawstrings and elastic casings to your sewing practice. It will also tick off working with heavier-weight knits like sweatshirt fabric and sewing buttonholes on stretch fabrics.
The final project can definitely be described as a show-stopper. The Joni dress features a stunning twist front in the bodice that is surprisingly simple to make. You can test your skills with a stretch velvet and/or a sequined skirt while Tilly guides you through the process.
To read more about each pattern and see all the variations, click on the pattern name below:
PATTERN SIZES – UK 6-20 (US 2-16 / EUR 34-48)
WHAT WILL I LEARN?
Ready to stretch yourself (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)? The book is packed with tips, tricks and techniques, here are just some of the things you will master…
- Everything you need to know about knits – how to test their stretch %, preparing them for cutting out, using a rotary cutter and matching stripes
- How to sew knits on a regular machine or overlocker (serger) if you have one
- Key stretchy techniques, such as attaching a neckband, stabilising seams, inserting sleeves “on the flat”, sewing buttonholes on knits, making an elastic waistband casing, and plenty more…
- Tips for working with stretch velvet and sequins
- How to improve your sewing life and lift your sew-jo, take a slow sewing approach, push yourself out of your comfort zone and loads more!
Tilly’s third book is all about fitting creativity into your busy life, no matter what you’ve got going on. The projects are helpfully broken down into chunks of time, so you can work through a project and check steps off at your own pace. The garments are modern effortlessly stylish, and can all be made in an afternoon or so. The projects are very approachable and build in difficulty as the book goes along, so beginners can have fun building sewing skills – while watching a gorgeous handmade wardrobe coming together.
BEST FOR – Busy sewists and beginners
STYLE – Modern, simple and cool
WHAT CAN I MAKE? – The book includes six main patterns – trousers/dungarees/playsuit, two dresses, a T-shirt, cardigan and pyjama set. All the patterns have multiple ways you can make them – giving you 24 projects in total – them so you can get so much out of the book.
The book starts off with a pattern that can be made in three ways – the Safiya trousers, playsuit or dungarees – which has become a hit with lots of makers.
Next up is the Tabitha T-shirt and dress which is a staple every wardrobe needs. Made from knit fabrics, Tabitha is speedy to make and requires minimal fitting.
The fuss-free Suki dress has a modern cocoon shape and can be made with a belt or without. It’s a perfect project for beginners as you won’t have to navigate any fiddly fastenings or fitting tweaks.
The Bertha cardigan is a me-made essential. The oversized shape and batwing sleeves that are inserted on the flat mean making to wearing time is practically nothing!
The Juno pyjamas are another favourite design from the book because they are oh-so-comfortable. They use the Tabitha top pattern and legging-style bottoms that are as cosy as they look! You can also turn them into adorable shortie PJs for the summer months.
The most involved project in the book is the 60s-inspired Olive pinafore dress. This make will add new techniques to your sewing skills, such as double-pointed darts, an all-in-one facing and press-on snaps as an alternative closure.
To read more about each pattern and see all the variations, click on the pattern name below.
PATTERN SIZES: UK 6-24 (US 2-20 / EUR 34-52)
WHAT WILL I LEARN?
Make It Simple does what it says on the tin. It helps you find ways to make your sewing more approachable so you can fit it into your busy life. The sewing shortcuts, lifestyle tips and sewing techniques include:
- How to make it simple – from selecting easy-to-use fabrics to fast fitting
- Shortcuts for sewing – such as on your machine and when to take your time vs when to whizz through
- Batching sewing with the handy shortcut steps list or projects
- How to make time for creativity
- Fun ways to make a project your own and maximise the use of each pattern
- Sofa-friendly tasks for those evenings you don’t have time to set everything up
- How to fit creativity into each day and lots more!
Now to decide which book is the one for you, or do you need the complete set? Your wardrobe is just about to get an injection of DIY fashion – yippee!
You can get a signed copy of the books from our shop. Happy sewing xx
Author: Louise Carmichael
Sewing books: Published by Quadrille (Hardie Grant)
Book photos by Ellie Smith