Tag Archives: Tilly and the Buttons

Agnes top and Me Made May 2019

29 Apr

I recently attended a workshop, at Sewing Belle, several friends had attending classes recently I told me how good they were and, for me importantly, very affordable (something that Elaine who runs the classes wanted to ensure when starting up). I signed up for a Tilly & the Buttons workshop, I chose the Agnes top as I wanted more practice with jersey fabric. The pattern and workshop was £30 (fantastic). I found nice but not too expensive jersey from The Little Fabric Bazaar (£11/pm), I always worry what the quality of the fabric will be like when buying online and more to the point, if I messed up my top I didn’t want to have wasted very expensive fabric.

Agnes Sewing pattern - Tilly and the Buttons

I needn’t have worried about the fabric, it was lovely quality and recieved many compliment. I also remembered to wash it before the workshop.

Using the sizing chart on the pattern I knew I’d have to do some grading (as I usually do). I started at the shoulders with a size 2, then to a size 3 at the underarm and bust, size 4 at the waist and out to a size 5 on the hips. I also shortened the pattern by 3cm at the waist (again which I usually do on all patterns) I have a short torso.  I learnt a great couple of tips for speeding up cutting out a PDF pattern, we used rotary cutter on just 2 side of the paper and used a glue stick to attach to the next page – much easier to match up all the lines and re-adjust if needs be (I used to cut them all out and use tape on the back – very fiddly & tidious).

One of the main reasons I signed up for this class in particular was to get to grips with an over locker, I’d not used one since I was at school. I was concerned I’d go wrong, and cut into the fabric. However I just took a deep breath and got on with it, and it went really well (I did do a little test on some scrap fabric first). It made the process so much easier. I also learnt how to use the cover stitch machine for my hems. Both machines made sewing up so much easier, and have given my garment a much more professional finish!

Agnes Top - neckline - Nettytnot Creates

I’m incredibly pleased with the result of this top, I will definitely be making more! I was also impressed that I did the whole process, from cutting out paper pattern to completed garment with ends sewn in, in just one day, 10am – 5pm (with a half hour-ish break to eat lunch). I think that in itself is quite an achievement, and something that I think I could only acomplish at a workshop, away from distractions and with the use of the wonderful over locker! I will definitely be returning for more workshops and to utilising the machines at their drop in sewing sessions.

Finished Agnes top in black and white - Nettynot Createslooking awkward in my agnes top - Nettynot Creates

This has also lead me to join in with Me Made May 2019! (You can find out more about this over on the So Zo blog here) and maybe even get on board yourself…

Me Made May 2019 - So Zo Blog

The whole reason I wanted to get back into sewing several years ago was so that I could make clothes that actually fit me. Clothes shopping is not an enjoyable experience for me, rarely is anything a good fit for my body shape. I don’t actually mind my body, it is what it is and I have accepted that is is mine, which was made much easier by just simply giving up on clothes shopping and substituted it for sewing pattern perusing and making my own clothes! My sewing journey has been rocky, I have made several things that I probably won’t ever wear again, due to the fit not being quite right, or uncomfortable. That said I have learnt a lot from the process!

I really enjoyed Me Made May when I joined in back in 2016, I had less handmade clothes than I do now. However I enjoyed the challenge and it did inspire the makes I went onto create and reignited some love for past makes…

My pledge

I, Steph Gibbs, sign up as a participant of Me Made May 2019. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade garment everyone day in May, with the intention of putting together new combinations from my existing handmade wardrobe and to use this to form a “to be created” list of staple items missing from my wardrobe.

I’ll do a round up on the blog, maybe during, but definately afterwards. I’ll post photos over on my instagram feed @nettynot if you’re interested in what I’ve made wearing.

Thanks for reading.

Lilou Dress

16 Aug

I have recently got into what I would call ‘proper’ dressmaking, actually following a pattern and making considered decisions, rather than just making things up and keeping my fingers crossed. I think my problem was I was getting a bit over whelmed and found the idea of adjusting a pattern very daunting. However with the wealth of information on the internet from blog and helpful hints on Pinterest it’s far less intimidating.

Tilly and the Buttons - Love at First Stitch - Lilou Dress - Nettynot Blog

The pattern I choose was the Lilou Dress from Tilly and Buttons – Love at first Stitch book, I thought the style should suit me and having previously sewn a Coco top, the Megan dress and the Margot pyjamas, steadily building up my confidence I thought I’d be alright having a go at the most complex pattern (though not actually too difficult) from the book.

Not knowing how well the bodice would fit I very sensibly made a toile (something I’ve never really bothered with before – rookie error I know). I measured myself, in case I’d changed since my last project, my measurements came out as bust 34’’, waist 29.5’’ and Hips 39.5’’, not quite fitting a single size (as usual). So I initially made one adjustment on the bodice and made the side seams go from size 3 under the arms out to a size 4 on the waist. The skirt pattern I cut out at a size 4 (closest size for my hip measurement).

I completed the bodice, including adding a lining (I wanted the practice), in some floral fabric I inherited from my Gran in a similar weight to my dress fabric. The first bodice was a terrible fit – well it just didn’t fit. I was determined not to get put off even though I was a little frustrated as I’d checked the measurements and everything seemed to go well. It was a little loose on the waist, the back was baggy, there was way too much space across my bust, the straps stuck out and it was too long. I started thinking about how to address each issue. I’ve read about FBA (full bust adjustment) and SBA (small bust adjustment) when I first attempted the hawthorn dress (which I got too overwhelmed by and couldn’t face tackling at the time – it is currently hibernating). So I took a deep breath and starting googling SBA. I came across this great blog post Hungry Zombie Couture – My Cup Does Not Runneth Over I was relieved to find these wonderfully wise words, as I believe the lack of information and “just reverse a FBA” is what put me off tackling previous patterns. So taking on the advice of Shannon before getting too involved in my adjustment, I tried decreasing the depth of my bust dart; I traced off another bodice pattern this time all at size 3, making the waist smaller, then decreased the bust darts by 2cm but kept them the same length, I also shortened it by 2cm and tapered the straps towards the shoulders by 5mm. I also trimmed a little fabric off the bottom of the arm holes as they’d been a little sung. I tried it on at this point without the lining and found the fit on the waist and bust much better, there was still extra space in the back so I just added an extra 5cm in the length of the back darts and that did the job, I then made the lining and attached it so that I could make sure it all worked together and it did – phew!

Lilou toile - nettynot blog

I hadn’t done a toile of the skirt, I knew I’d easily be able to adjust it if necessary, however I did have to retrace the pattern as I’d changed the waist size to a 3, so I needed the top of the skirt to also be a size 3. I also lengthened the skirt by about 5cm so it hit my knee and I’d feel comfortable wearing it without tights in the summer.

Invisible zipper foot - Nettynot BlogI decided to treat myself to an invisible Zipper foot – it’s amazing! It made adding the zip so easy, I don’t know why I haven’t bought one sooner (well actually I do it was £19.95 – it made a nice Birthday present to myself).
Once I fitted the zip (before I finished attaching the lining) I tried the dress on and discovered that it was overall a bit big *huge Sigh*! I unpicked the zip and trimmed 1cm off each side of the back edge (including the edge of the lining) and reattached the zip – it did the job and fitted *relaxed sigh*! I hastily finished everything off, including leaving a raw seam in the back and a crude hem as it got to 10pm the evening before I needed to wear it to a friend’s wedding. No one noticed and I can now sort that out while not having a deadline looming over me.

Finished Lilou Dress - Nettynot BlogEek – looking at this makes me realise just how pasty I am, I’m almost blending into the white pebble dash here, I’d also like to point out that these were not the shoes I wore to the wedding, I wore posh navy shoes. The brown summer flats were all I had with me when I got my Mum to take the photo.
Front darts and pleats on Lilou dress - Nettynot BlogI was impressed with how neatly the darts and pleats met at the waist and having never lined a garment before I quite enjoyed discovering how easily it all went together. Overall it has definitely been a great learning curve, as frustrated as I got at points I kept my cool and persevered (including the point when I got the lining stuck in the zip at the final trying on stage – eek). Even though I now have a pattern I could re-use I’m sure about the idea of making this dress again, there’s still a few, minor, fit issues. Although having said that I have decided to make the toile (which isn’t too bad really) into a finished dress with a gathered skirt, I might as well, especially given how much time I’d have spent working on it.

I realise this is yet another lengthy blog post, however when searching for people who’d written about their Lilou dresses I wanted to know more, what exactly they adjusted and why, I decided it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to give a blow by blow account of my journey with this pattern and show that it’s doable for even a relatively novice dressmaker (& if I do ever make it again I’ll have a record of what I did). I’m eager to do more sewing now, I need to practice my button holes, maybe the Mimi blouse would be a good warm up and even give me the confidence to attempt the Hawthorn dress again.

Thanks for reading, I’d welcome any hints & tips to help with my dressmaking adventures!

The Megan Dress

9 Nov

A week or so ago I needed a dress to wear to a wedding, having scanned all items in my wardrobe I came to the conclusion I just didn’t have anything appropriate for an Autumnal wedding, albeit an indoor Autumnal wedding, pale florals and light weight dresses didn’t seem right. So I headed into town and after failing to find anything suitable or that fitted me I decided it was the perfect opportunity to get my sewing machine out.

I already had some mid weight cotton fabric in a lovely green colour, which I had bought to make a Hawthorn dress (then decided it’s not quite right for the pattern), but determined not to buy yet more fabric I decided to check whether the fabric would work for one of the lovely dresses in Tilly and the buttons book Love at First Stitch, I was in luck!

Love at first Stitch - Nettynot Blog The Megan dress.
I do seem to work well under a small amount of pressure; I made the decision to make the dress on a Wednesday to wear for the wedding on the following Monday, not much of an issue if I didn’t have a full time job. By getting stuck in and doing a little each day I got it finished without having to rush.

Megan Dress - Tilly and The Buttons - Nettynot Blog

On the Wednesday (my day off) I bought the only I item I didn’t already have, an invisible zip, I traced and cut of the pattern, made a toile of the bodice, adjusted it and cut the fabric for the main dress .

Thursday evening I sewed and pressed the darts.

Friday is cinema night so no sewing that evening.

Saturday (I work) however I did tack the dress together  so I could try it on, to ensure that I wasn’t going to spend time making something that wasn’t going to fit or look good, but I needn’t have worried, it was a good enough fit to continue.

Sunday – I worked my way through the whole pattern steadily and it took me pretty much all day, but I enjoyed it thoroughly:

I did have to make quite a lot of adjustments to the pattern and my dress. I am one size smaller on the bust to the waist and hip measurements (I usually am with most patterns) so I just drew lines from one size to the next on the bodice pieces and this seemed to work. I have a short torso for my height and therefore a high waist, when I shortened my toile bodice on the shorten/lengthen line it really didn’t work so I stuck to the original shape for the bodice, but still needed the curve of the hips to be slightly higher, so I just applied a little common sense and took 2 cm off the top of the skirt section instead and this did the trick.

When it came to the zip and sewing up the back, I tacked it all together first, including tacking the zip in place so I could actually zip up and see what it was like on before the proper sewing. I was surprised to discover that the dress needed quite a bit of adjusting. It was quite wide, so I pinned and tacked what needed taking in, 1.5cm off each side which I drew on and pined and sewed. I re-tried the dress on with the back still tacked and found it a much better shape on me. However the zip was curving in and out in strange places so I did a bit of adjusting, pinned, tacked and re-tried on before sewing. The majority of the adjustments were fairly minor, just to smooth everything out but I did have to take in the top of the dress, at the back of my neck by almost 7cm on each side, I don’t really know why it was so far out, when the front of the dress was fine. The adjustment worked well and the finished dress fits, even if the neck still gapes at the back slightly.

My invisible invisible zip - very pleased with this, especially since I don't have a zipper foot for my machine.

My invisible invisible zip – very pleased with this, especially since I don’t have a zipper foot for my machine.

I decided due to the fact I used a plain fabric that the dress really needed something decorative on the front. So taking inspiration from Tilly’s variation of an added placket I decided to do my own version, I decided on the shape and size and created a template. I must admit a winged it slightly, I pressed the seam allowance in on my custom shape (I had to do a bit of snipping into the seam allowance to make it lie flat). I found a length of black lace that would fit around the shape and tacked it on, gathering it slightly around the curves. I positioned, pinned and sewed it to the dress with a line of top stitching close to the edge of my shape. I didn’t do the top edge with my sewing machine, I did that afterwards my hand, as I didn’t want to add extra machine stitching to the lovely neckline and neat facing. I then found two lovely vintage buttons from my extensive collection of buttons which I thought finished it off nicely.
Make it your own - Megan Dress - Nettynot BlogMegan dress top - Nettynot BlogMegan Placket - Nettynot BlogThe dress went down very well on its first outing at my friend’s wedding and I thoroughly enjoyed being able to say, “I made it” when friends complimented my dress and I enjoyed even more their reactions of “No! Really!?” and “Oh, wow, I thought you’d bought it”, makes it all worthwhile!

Unfortunately I didn’t get many photo of the dress in progress, mainly because I was in the ‘Sewing Zone’ and got quite focused on what I was doing, I didn’t want to get distracted from the sewing, thought a few snaps here and there wouldn’t particularly of the adjustements I had would have been useful, never mind, I shall remember for next time! I also failed to get any of me in the dress at the wedding. However I did manage get a friend to take some photo’s of the dress’ second outing at my Friend Sarah’s birthday this week.

Excuse the creases, the fabric creases a little too easily. But I love anyway, and another learning curve.

Excuse the creases, the fabric creases a little too easily. But I love anyway, and another learning curve.

I am feeling so much more confident about sewing and making my own garments now. I bought Tilly’s Coco sewing pattern earlier in the year and enjoyed that too, which made me want her book too. It’s such a great collection of patterns, and perfect to build up your sewing confidence. I am a competent sewer, I just get the fear before making an item, if I mess this up or it doesn’t fit I’ve wasted all that fabric, there’s no taking it back. Which I think is one of the reasons I enjoy knitting and I’m a bit more relaxed, if something doesn’t work, you can unravel it and start again an all that’s lost is your time and a sometimes your sanity. So one main thing I’ve learnt from this project is that it always pays to make a toile, tacking and trying an item on as you do will potentially save you a lot of time and stress in the long run. Hopefully I’ll be more fearless with future sewing projects.

Sewing Coco

7 May

Over the bank holiday I eventually got around to sewing Tilly and the Buttons’ Coco pattern, I only bought the pattern nearly 2 months ago – eek. I’ve been challenging myself with a few different sewing techniques recently, mainly making cushions. However sewing my own clothes is a little different. I am quite happy adjusting the odd item of clothing like turning an old dress into a skirt. But sewing an entire garment I’ve not done since my make a dress in a day workshop last year (the dress has sadly never been worn). The workshop was supposed to kick start my garment sewing, but really it was seeing this simple pattern for something I would actually wear that has got back my sewing mojo!

Coco Sewing Pattern - Nettynot Blog
Sewing Coco

The pattern is very clear and has a top and a dress version – I went for the top on my first attempt. It’s a straight forward and easy pattern, perfect for a beginner or someone like me, new to sewing knit fabric. I bought the pattern as a printable PDF, which comes with black and white printed instructions and a clear way of ensuring the pattern prints to the correct size. My first challenge was finding the right kind of knit fabric, unfortunately all my local fabric stores didn’t stock anything suitable. So I resorted to buying online (which can be a little bit of a gamble not seeing or feeling the fabric first), though thankfully Tilly put together a useful guide and some suggested links to where you could buy the right fabric.

Fabric for Coco - nettynot Blog
I must admit I was quite surprised by the price of a lot of fabrics, once you’d bought 2m and included p+p you’re looking at £30-£35 – ouch! Not having made anything like this before and not knowing whether it would fit or even suit me I wasn’t prepared to pay that much. So a bit further searching was required I came across several blog posts of people who’d recently completed a Coco project and followed several links to where the makers had bought their fabric and eventually stumbled across a cheap and cheerful fabric , I paid £12 for 2m, including p+p from Tissu Fabrics which I was much more comfortable paying for a trail run. I went for something bright and fun and when it arrived it really was bright.

Tilly and the button's Coco blog - Nettynot Blog
I started reading all the information on Tilly’s very useful blog posts, I am much more of a visual person I’d always rather follow photos than text, so the combination of both her written instructions and her blog with loads of photos were brilliant, I just set my laptop up next to my sewing machine – perfect!  The blog posts are very easy to follow and broken down to manageable chunks. I did the majority of the project in one go, last Sunday afternoon, from cutting the fabric and sewing most of it together and finished it off on Monday – I do love a Bank Holiday! This is how I got on…

Adjusting the pattern - Nettynot Blog
Cutting the pattern out – I liked being talked through how to alter the pattern, I am very much smaller on top than round my hips and ended up with a size 3 on top and size 4 on the waist and hips. I also shortened the top by 1 inch from the centre.

Cutting the fabric – I found this quite tricky to handle, especially when it came to finding the centre to fold, however I little time and patients got it sorted and I used a rotary cutter to cut the pieces out, something I’d never done before and it works brilliantly.

Sewing Coco – Again things I’ve never done before, stay stitching and stabilising seams – brilliant!  I found reading through each step before I got started was great, I know that sound like a obvious statement, but I’m quite good at thinking I know what I’m doing and jumping ahead, so I took it slow and steady and followed each step carefully – with great results.

Pressing an arm sleeve - Nettynot Blog
It never occurred to me to use a rolled up towel to press sleeve seams open – genius idea and it worked brilliantly!

Neck hole in Coco - Nettynot Blog
I did worry at one point that my neckline didn’t look right – it didn’t match Tilly’s photo, however I continued on and put it down to my fabric being a little stiff, I needn’t have worried as it was fine in the end.

Coco - pinning in the sleeve - Nettynot Blog
I did find pinning the knit fabric a little tricky and having read the advice on the blog I was quite careful not to force the pins through (I did find giving the pins a little twist helped).

Altering the seem - Nettynot Blog
Adjustments – Once my Coco was in one piece (pinned not sewn yet) I tried it on and found it was a little baggy around the arm pits, so I took the seam in an extra 10mm where the sleeve meets the body on each side and it did the job.

Finished Coco top - Nettynot Blog
Something I found quite tricky was actually the last part, sewing the bottom hem. The blog post said you could use a straight stitch or zig-zag. I started with a straight stitch and found it very awkward, the fabric just wanted to pucker and it did not go well. I ended up un-picking the line of stitching, adding lots more pins, then going for a zig-zag stitch and that sorted it! I was finished!

A little tip: If you intend to make the top version of the Coco in a small size you can easily get away with only 1.5m of fabric. I have over half a meter left, plus excess (which would have been enough for the funnel neck, pockets and cuff), my fabric was 1.5m wide.

I’m very pleased with my finished top, it is overall a little large, including on my shoulders, so I may go down a size for the next one, but the style of the top forgives a little excess fabric. My fabric seems a little stiff and I think that is a result of going for a cheap and cheerful fabric, however I have not been put off and I will wear the top. I do intend to make another and I will be much happier to splash out on nicer fabric, possibly with stripes, I’ll probably go for a dress, with short sleeves – perfect for summer!

Me in my Coco Top - Nettynot Blog
I wrote the above part of my post on Monday while it was all fresh in my mind, butI ran out of time to edit images so I have had to wait until today, my day off, to post it – however it gave me the chance to show off my top at work and knit group yesterday – it went down very well. I also enlisted my friend Lynsey’s help in getting a good photo of me wearing my Coco – Ta dah (I’m generally not photogenic – but I like this shot)!

If you’re thinking about sewing the Coco I would recommend checking out Tilly on Pinterest – she has a board dedicated to Coco, full of other peoples finished projects along with her various Coco creations. There’s some fantastic colour combinations and fabric choices – ooh the inspiration!

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