Get up and sew!
Hotcourses Editor

Get up and sew!

Learning to sew

First published date August 16 2012 Amended date April 17 2013

Sewing courses are some of the most popular here on Hotcourses, whether you fancy sewing a ‘50s swing skirt or learning to tailor suits, there are plenty of courses you can book right here. Many people are reluctant to start this hobby though, fearing the sewing machine and the possibility of stitching their new creation to the clothes they’re wearing.


It doesn’t need to be like this though! Sewing classes are not reserved for an elite group who know what a bobbin is or how a backstitch differs from a running stitch. They are in fact fun, sociable and a great place to experiment with your wardrobe or soft furnishings.  


Tilly Walnes began her first project after taking a sewing class at Oh Sew Brixton and started a sewing blog to track her progress as she learnt to sew a dress. Two and a half years later and Tilly and the Buttons is a hub for anyone who needs sewing tips and inspiration. Tilly Walnes has been hailed as one of the best fashion bloggers out there by Channel 4 so we thought she’d be a great person to chat to about getting into sewing.


What made you start sewing?

Two and a half years ago I felt a sudden and overwhelming urge to take up a craft – I wanted to make something with my hands as a way of winding down after typing on a computer at work all day. So I took a course at Oh Sew Brixton and it was love at first stitch!


What was the first thing you made?

The very first thing I stitched together was a simple tote bag (our reviewer, Helen, made one too – also at Oh Sew Brixton!), followed by a shift dress using a commercial sewing pattern. I couldn’t believe it when it turned out to be a wearable dress! I still wear it a lot now.


What is it you love about sewing?

It combines technical skills, problem solving and playing around with pretty fabrics – you get such a sense of satisfaction from having an idea for a garment design in your head and then seeing a piece of fabric gradually transforming itself into that garment for real. I also like the fact that I don’t have to rely on the fashion industry to dictate what I wear. Plus, I know that my clothes weren’t made in some sweatshop somewhere under appalling working conditions. I also just love being able to create pretty things!


What is your favourite thing to sew?

I only really sew clothing – I love the fact that you can wear things that you’ve made out into the world.


Tell us about the sewing project you’re most proud of…

The sewing project I’m most proud of is my Betty Draper jacket, so-called because it’s exactly the same design as an outfit worn by Betty in the Rome episode of Mad Men. I’m proud of it because I’d only been sewing for a few months but managed to make a jacket from a vintage pattern with tricky details such as scalloped front edge and a self-drafted lining.


If you could sew an outfit for anyone in the world (dead or alive!) who would it be?

It would have to be for one of my style icons - Anna Karina or Audrey Hepburn.


What is the most popular tutorial on your site?

How to Make a Bow Belt is the most popular and How to Make a Picnic Blanket Skirt (pictured here) is a newer one which is becoming increasingly popular.


What advice would you give to people who haven’t tried sewing before and might be a bit nervous about it?

Forget that scary textiles teacher you had at school, ignore the people who say sewing is best left to the experts, and just do it! Sewing really isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Once you grasp the basics of threading a sewing machine and putting fabric together, you’ll be creating lovely things in no time. And if you make a mistake, in most cases, it can be easily rectified.


Do you have a secret sewing tip you can share with our readers?

Draping a tape measure around your neck and pretending to be Coco Chanel definitely makes it a more enjoyable process. Sssshh!


Great idea! We're all for channeling Chanel as we try to stitch our own clothes! If Tilly Walnes has inspired you to dust off that old sewing machine and head to a class, have a look at the sewing courses that you can book right here. 

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