A History of Tilly & The Buttons in 10 Patterns
Our Sewing Designer of the Month for July 2021 is Tilly Walnes, so to celebrate we're taking a look back at some of our favourite Tilly & The Buttons patterns!
Tilly has blogged her whole journey, so we can look back over the years of patterns and relive the key moments as they happened!
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This button-back blouse was the first pattern Tilly released. She debuted a version of it when she appeared in the first season of the Great British Sewing Bee, but the final pattern is more refined and it became an instant classic.
Arguably, the first truly iconic Tilly pattern was Coco. With customisable options, easy-to-follow instructions and a classic design, it was easy to see why Tilly's following was growing.
This dress makes the list for one main reason - these photos! Working on a sewing magazine, these photos were the ones we used for a very long time every time we featured an interview or column from Tilly, so it holds a special place in our hearts.
In 2014, Tilly's first book - Love at First Stitch - was published, and this super-cute skirt graced the cover. The book helps sewists of any level build their skills and includes six patterns, each one graded in eight sizes.
I think you can start to see the evolution of Tilly & the Buttons as a brand with the Cleo dungaree dress. It was shown on different models and was launched with fabric kits and with workshops at the brand's London studio.
One of the things we love about this pattern brand is that the patterns are designed to be worn and to make you feel happy and comfortable, no matter what. Tilly's blog post on maternity sewing tips is a must-read for any expectant sewist and she used her experience of pregnancy to develop some fantastic maternity sewing patterns.
2018 saw the launch of Tilly's second book, Stretch. This book was directly credited with a rise in the popularity of sewing with stretch fabric, because Tilly did such a fantastic job of demystifying the process and creating some fantastically versatile patterns. My personal favourite is Freya - and I've always loved how happy all the models looked in it in the book!
This one makes the list not only because it's a beautiful pattern but also because the choice of model always makes me smile! Rumana aka The Little Pomegranate is another ex-sewing-bee contestent and she absolutely rocks this top. This was the first time I'd seen a sewing pattern brand feature a model wearing a headscarf, and I know this was a really important moment for my Muslim sewing pals.
Tilly's third book was released in 2020, just in time for a huge influx of new sewists to join the community! My favourite pattern from this book is Safiya. In true Tilly style, there are lots of options to mix and match to make your perfect garment.
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The latest big development for Tilly & the Buttons is that they're working on extending their size range. Tilly's patterns have always included a decent range, up to about a UK 20 - which is better than some of the "big four" pattern brands, which sometimes only go up to a 14 or 16. But there are sewists in our community of all shapes and sizes, who all deserve gorgeous handmade clothes, so it's fantastic to see this development.