My Handmade Style – Tilly and the Buttons

Welcome everyone to an exciting new series, looking at how some of our favourite sewing bloggers curate their handmade wardrobes. From vintage chic to clean modern shapes, how do these seamstresses create and communicate their own unique style in their projects? What and who inspires them, from film and music to everyday life. And what’s their dream outfit?

Today we have the most exciting guest to kick off My HandMade Style – Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons! Most of you will know Tilly and her unique style by now (how many of you have a bow belt or a picnic blanket skirt already or plans to make one?) and if not, then prepare for a treat…

Tilly in her Picnic Blanket skirt

You have a very unique style. A little preppy, a little vintage, but very classic and dare I say… quite Gallic? Would you agree or have I summed you up all wrong?!

Right on the money! I would use all those words in describing my style. I love Breton tops, neckscarves, red and navy blue, full skirts, pencil skirts, capri pants, beads, buttons and bows. The Gallic influence stems from a year I spent living, studying and working in Paris. Not that many French women dress like that, but I resolved to channel the classic Brit-abroad-pretending-she’s-French look!

Where do you find your style inspiration and how do you channel that into your me-made wardrobe?

I work in and have studied film – my greatest source of inspiration is 1960s movies, mainly French, but also Italian and American. Godard, Varda, Resnais, Antonioni movies… endless sources of inspiration. I’m not sure if my style preferences are always obvious in the clothes I sew, as I often get so overexcited by the possibilities that sewing opens up and use it as a chance to experiment. But I’m trying to get better at making things that are “me”.

Who are your style icons and why?

My style mantra is “What would Anna Karina wear?” Or when I remember, at least! It’s a total cliché but I also love Audrey Hepburn’s style. Both have a great sense of silhouette, are chic yet playful, cute but a little uptight… in a good way.

Are there any particular designers that you use for inspiration?

As much as I’ve always loved clothes and design, I’m not really into fashion so don’t follow the catwalks or read magazines or anything. For me, sewing is a way of expressing my love of clothes without relying on fashion designers to tell me what to wear.

Having said that, I can’t deny that designers haven’t influenced my style. I adore the Dior new look, Chanel classics make me swoon, and occasionally I discover a designer that I get obsessed with, such as Lena Hoschek.

If you had to select one self-stitched garment that really encapsulates your style, what would it be and why?

Hmm… good question! Maybe my Dazzlingly Red Beignet. It’s red, it has lots of fabric covered buttons, it has a bow belt. It’s casual and chic at the same time. And it looks great with Breton tops!

Tilly's Red Beignet

Do you ever take risks and experiment with your look? What’s worked and what hasn’t?

When I first started sewing I used to experiment a lot more but I’m trying to stick to my “signature style” these days. What has worked is 1970s style clothing – I’m surprised by how into it I’ve got in the last few years (see for example my 1970s Feel Beignet and 1970s Summer Dress). What hasn’t worked so well is full-skirted 1950s style dresses like the ones out of Douglas Sirk movies – they swamp my small frame and don’t quite suit my lifestyle! I still wear full skirts but I shorten them to the top of my knee and wear them more casually with tops.

1970s style Beignet and dress

Is there anything you wish you could wear but can’t? For example, I love the rock chick skinny jeans and studded vest look but can never quite pull it off…

Lots of things! If I were taller I would wear high waisted flared trousers a lot more. And if I had slim, tanned thighs and dainty knees I would wear 1940s tap pants and playsuits!

What would be your dream outfit, existing or otherwise?

There are loads of outfits from the movies that I would love to wear… but one should be grateful for what one has, and I nearly died and went to sartorial heaven the other day when I teamed my Handpainted Breton Top (red and white stripes, buttons, a deliberate homemade aesthetic) with my Life’s Too Short Skirt (red and white gorgeous printed full skirt). All that’s missing was a bow. 🙂

Tilly's hand-painted Breton top and Life's Too Short skirt

What other sewing bloggers would you recommend for great individual style?

One of the many wonderful things about sewing is being able to create your own individual style (you’ve really hit the nail on the head with this new series). So there are LOADS of sewing bloggers I could mention, as individual style is what they do best. There’s Zoe’s nautical chic, Nette’s dainty style, Marie’s ladylike makes, Jane’s gingham and polka dots, Angie’s cotton dresses… Ooh I’m really looking forward to reading these posts!

Thank you so much Tilly for sharing your style inspiration. Tap pants and playsuits – oh my – you may have just spawned a craze…

Let me know what you think about the new series and if you have any fantastic nominees for My Handmade Style, let me know!


26 thoughts on “My Handmade Style – Tilly and the Buttons

  1. What a fab idea for a series – I always say the simple ideas are the best ones. It’s great for those of us who are totally nosey too! Looking forward to future posts, I’d love to see Lauren from Lladybird spill the beans! x

  2. Fab new series. I\’m really going to enjoy reading through everyones interviews. Like Helen, I am super nosey so this will be great! lol. I nominate Roisin (Dolly Clackett) and also Suzy (SuzySewing) as they both have really fantastic individual siganture styles!

  3. I loved reading this! Its such a great series – and who doesn’t want to pry open Tilly’s head and see whats going on in there?? Can’t wait to read the rest!!

  4. Great idea, I’m already hooked! What a great first interview, I’m such a fan of Tilly’s style…and I can’t believe she mentioned me…thanks so much!

    I would love to see so many bloggers interviewed – Lladybird (Lauren), Handmade Jane, Roisin (Dolly Clackett), Scruffy Badger Time (Winnie), Closet Case Files (Heather Lou), paunnet (Anna) – to name but a very few!

  5. Aw thanks Joanne for interviewing me – I’m so honoured to be featured, it’s such a great idea for a series. And thanks y’all for your sweet comments – I’m blushing 🙂

  6. Great idea for a series of posts! For a nomination, I’d pick Handmade by Carolyn – she has a really unique style amongst sewing bloggers, sort of high-fashion meets casual chic. I love everything she makes.

  7. I’ll repeat what everyone else is saying – what a great series. And I think the nosey-ness is also what makes following me-made challenges so interesting. You get to see what other sewists actually wear (not just what they sew)

  8. You are a genius! This is SUCH an ace idea for a blog series. I’ll be following with baited, umm, breath? You know what I mean! You should respond to your own questions too, we’d love to read about your personal style too. xxx

  9. Pingback: My Handmade Style: Over to you | Stitch and Witter

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