When I picked up sewing again as an adult, Tilly and the Buttons was one of the first sewing blogs I came across.

It is certainly a household name in the sewing community, and Tilly Walnes has a reputation of providing the most thoughtfully designed artwork and crystal clear instructions, making her blog, her books and her sewing patterns some of the best there is out there for sewists, especially beginners.

I recently got my hands on her latest book, “Make it Simple: Easy, speedy sewing projects to stitch up in an afternoon”. I was convinced I needed this book after seeing an interview on The Foldline youtube channel.

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch
“Make It Simple” by Tilly Walnes

“Make it Simple” is Tilly’s third instalment after publishing award-winning “Love At First Stitch: Demystifying Dressmaking” and “Stretch! Make yourself comfortable sewing with knit fabrics”.

I have the #StretchSewingBook already, but I have yet to get my hands on “Love At First Stitch”. I’m going to review “Make It Simple” for you and perhaps in the future I’ll do more book reviews.

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Even though I feel Tilly’s work speaks for itself and doesn’t need a review, you know you’re going to get a quality product that is worth every penny. However, I still feel that supporting each other on this sewing journey is super important, and since Tilly’s blog was the first sewing blog I came across, I felt it fitting to write this review.

What is the book about?

The book is filled with tips and tricks for speedy sewing, batching tasks, common sewing terms and an explanation of what they are, the tools you will need for the projects in the book, little nuggets of sewing inspiration in various intervals of the book (which kind of feels like breath of fresh air), 24 easy-peasy sewing projects with step by step instructions, as well as six full sized patterns.

If you’re a beginner sewist, then this book is absolutely for you, but even seasoned sewists can get some use out of this book because it’s written with our busy schedules in mind. I love the idea of making simple projects I believe are called “palette cleansers” in between the more complex and time-consuming ones, or perhaps even serve as a little pick-me-up when your sew-jo is at a low.

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Sewing Terms

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

The book is filled with inspirational snippets like this

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Quick Tips

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Shortcut steps serve as a refresher or quick reference when you’ve made a project before

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Each pattern has variations that allow you to make it your own

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

I appreciate that Tilly included approximate time frames for how long a project may take, which is very useful when you’re trying to plan your schedule and make the most of the time you have, especially for those with babies and young children. I don’t have young children running around, but I do have a time-consuming day job, so I do need to plan for my sewing time.

In South Africa, we are experiencing load shedding, where we have power cuts in various areas at a time, and this means we have to seriously plan when we are going to do some sewing. Since I have an electronic machine, I cannot sew too close before and after these power cuts because it may affect the current flowing through, which can potentially damage the machine. It’s frustrating, but what can we do, except to make sure we are planning for it.

What patterns are included with the book?

The patterns included with the book come come in sizes UK 6-24, which is relatively size inclusive, in my opinion, and are printed double-sided and overlap to save paper, which means you need to trace them. However, Tilly has included links for owners of the book to download the digital PDF patterns (A4 print-at-home and A0 copy shop versions) to make things a lot easier.

This is something I haven’t personally come across yet in the sewing book world, so kudos to Tilly for taking the initiative.

The patterns included with the book are:

  1. Safiya Trousers, Playsuit and Dungarees
  2. Tabitha T-shirt and Dress
  3. Suki Dress and Belt
  4. Bertha Cardigan
  5. Juno Pyjamas and Eye Mask
  6. Olive Pinafore
Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Safiya Trousers, Playsuit and Dungarees

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Tabitha T-shirt and Dress

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Suki Dress and Belt

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Bertha Cardigan

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Juno Pyjamas and Eye Mask

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

Olive Pinafore

What about the quality of the book itself?

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

The book is printed on thick paper (to me it feels like 120gsm compared to normal paper which is usually 80gsm), and is full colour (of course), and the print quality of the artwork, photographs, illustrations and text is top notch. The patterns are also printed on thicker pattern paper than the usual tissue paper we’re used to when it comes to commercial patterns, which means they will last a long time without tearing if we look after it well.

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

The book has a little pocket at the back that serves as a home for the original patterns

Tilly has a very unique aesthetic when it comes to her brand and is easily identifiable by the vibrant and bright colours she uses. This book is no exception! I have said it before and I’ll say it again, Tilly’s artwork is thoughtfully designed, and her book includes stunning, clear photographs and illustrations that is sure to delight your eyes. It is certainly a book I am proud to slot into my growing sewing book arsenal.

How are the project instructions formatted?

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

The projects are organized in a consistent way, so it’s very easy to follow along and use as a reference. Tilly outlines all the supplies needed for the project or variation, fabric suggestions, quick tips, pattern sizing (body measurements, finished garment measurements and waistline sizing where applicable) and details on cutting your fabric (along with layout suggestions).

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

The instructions for putting together your garment are outlined as detailed step by step directions, along with accompanying full-colour photographs (and line drawings) to illustrate the step. At the end of each main project, Tilly outlines the shortcut steps to serve as a refresher or quick reference when you’ve made a project before.

What am I going to make first?

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

The Safiya Dungarees Tilly is rocking on the cover of the book is what initially drew me to the book. I am keen to give it go as my first project from this book. I think I’m going to make mine out of a lightweight drapy fabric like a viscose. I think it could work well if I simply interface the parts that will have the most stress. I’m most likely going to opt for a plain fabric, but we’ll see! I’ll be sure to share the results of my project in a future blog post.

Where to buy?

If you’re based in South Africa, this book is available on Takealot. I ordered this book on 21 February and it was a bit of a wait, but it arrived on my doorstep on 10 March. It’s totally worth the wait, though! For International readers, here’s the link on Amazon. Or you can purchase the book directly from the Tilly and the Buttons website.

The verdict?

This is the kind of book I believe I will be referring to over and over in the future. The patterns included with the book are so simple, they serve as basic blocks to help you build your capsule wardrobe in bite-sized chunks of time.

The beauty of simple patterns like these leaves you room to play around with various hacking techniques to take your garments to the next level. If you think about it, you’re getting six full-sized patterns, 24 sewing projects, as well as stunning book to display on your bookshelf. For the price of the book, the amount of value for money information included is definitely worth it, especially if you are a beginner sewist.

I hope you enjoyed my very first book review! Are you thinking of getting your hands on Tilly’s “Make it Simple” book? If so, let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.

Book Review: Make It Simple by Tilly Walnes | Scarlet Stitch

If you aren’t already, please connect with me on Instagram @scarletstitchonline, I’d love to hear from you.

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