Learning how to sew + Tilly & the Buttons Dominique Skirt review

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A little background 

I often feel as though I’m part of an ‘unskilled’ generation. When I look at my grandparents they can sew, knit, crochet and complete some hardcore DIY projects. I’m not saying everyone is unskilled, heck there are some seriously talented people out there. However, on the whole, I would say my generation are very unskilled.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to learn to sew with the intention of learning from my Nan. Sadly, she became seriously ill very quickly and passed away. My sewing machine has sat unused in the cupboard for years… Fast forward to now and Coronavirus struck and suddenly I have all of this extra time on my hands so I thought now would be the perfect time to start.

Where to start 

I had no idea where to even begin with sewing. I already had a sewing machine and some fabric but that was about it. For anyone interested, the sewing machine I have is the ** Janome 4400 **. After doing a lot of research I decided this seemed like a good one for beginners.

Next, I began trawling through the internet and trying to look for sewing classes. I watched YouTube videos and read lots of blog posts. I stumbled across Tilly and the Buttons and thought it seemed like a good match for me. We’re all stuck inside at the moment because of coronavirus so I can’t go anywhere. With this in mind, an online class was perfect.

Tilly and the buttons 2-course bundle 

I signed up for the 2-course bundle. This includes ‘Level 1 – Make friends with a sewing machine’ and Level 2 – Learn to sew skirts’. The 2-course bundle costs £60 and includes the Dominique Skirt PDF pattern to download and print at home.

Please note I did also separately order the Dominique skirt pattern in a hard copy. As a beginner, I didn’t want the hassle of trying to print and assemble a pattern so I made the decision to order the hard copy and get it posted to me.

Level 1 – Make friends with a sewing machine 

As a complete beginner, this course was an absolute lifesaver for me. I had no idea how to wind a bobbin, thread a machine or even do a basic stitch. I honestly knew nothing! The course is taught with video tutorial by Tilly. Tilly is wonderful to watch, she has a very calming nature and makes you realise that it is possible to start from knowing nothing and learn some amazing skills. This course covers areas such as:

  • Setting up your machine
  • How to change a needle and use the presser foot
  • Learn about stitch length and type
  • Find out how to wind a bobbin
  • Learn to thread a machine (It’s much easier than it looks!)
  • How to thread a needle
  • Practice basic stitches such as straight and curved and use the seam allowance
  • Learn the basics of solving common issues that you might get with your machine.

In this course, you’ll also sew a simple scarf. This uses the various skills that you have picked up and allows you to practice.

My thoughts 

I honestly can’t praise this course highly enough. It’s simple and easy to understand. I love the video aspect of the teaching, I find it much easier to learn when I can visually see something being done. Learning to sew is very daunting, I see what other people make and think ‘I’ll never be able to do that’. I feel so proud of myself for learning the basics of the machine and starting my sewing journey.

Learn to sew a Dominique Skirt 

As mentioned above I’m a complete beginner. The thought of making my own skirt was daunting and scary. But Tilly did it again and made the experience fun and enjoyable. By the end of the workshop, I had made my very own skirt that I’m very proud of.

There are 2 skirts to pick from – A straight skirt or a flared skirt. I opted for the straight skirt as it was the easier of the two. I also didn’t bother putting the pockets on as I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.

The course is set out with step by step instructions and there are videos where Tilly shows you exactly what you need to be doing. These videos are so helpful. Without the videos, I think I would have struggled a lot.

The process 

I found measuring myself a little challenging. I was getting really confused as to what was classed as my hips and waist. Eventually, I ended up watching some YouTube videos to make sure I was measuring myself correctly. The sizing is very odd. I usually wear a UK size 12-14 but my measurements were saying I was a UK size 16. I read a few comments and other people had said similar so I decided to just roll with it. The skirt fits amazingly around my hips, but it was a little large around the waist. I ended up just cutting the elastic a little smaller and it solved the problem.

I was very scared about cutting the fabric out as I thought I was going to mess it up. Tilly explains it so well and it was actually relatively easy to follow along with. My best advice is to take it slow and don’t rush it. In total it took me about 6 hours to make the skirt which is quite a long time, but I’m sure I’ll get quicker with more practice.

I really enjoyed sewing all of the pieces together and I was surprised at how easy I found it. I had visions of completely wonky lines and a complete mess. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sewing part isn’t really that hard. I think I found it more challenging trying to trace the pattern and cut the fabric out.

Tilly teaches everything step by step so you don’t need to worry about finishing the seams, inserting the elastic and hemming the skirt. The course covers every step that you’ll need to know.

Below is my skirt that I made which I’m super proud of! It’s not perfect but for a first attempt, I think I did well.

A photograph of a woman wearing a handmade skirt.

My overall thoughts 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this course. I’ll be the first to preach that learning to sew is completely daunting and scary. But it’s the same as starting anything new in life, once you take the first step you realise it isn’t so bad. The tuition given by Tilly is professional and easy to understand. She explains all the terminology and everything is explained for a complete beginner. So many ‘beginner’ courses just assume you know all the basics, but Tilly doesn’t and that is why I really loved this course.

If you want to start your sewing journey then I 100% recommend signing up to the Tilly and the Buttons workshop. Trust me, you won’t regret it. I’m excited to continue my sewing journey and learn a new skill. I’ve now ordered the ** Love at First Stitch ** book by Tilly and can’t wait to continue learning.



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