Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Tilly & the Buttons Rosa Shirt dress in Liberty Needlecord

I was so excited when I saw the Rosa shirt dress by Tilly & the Buttons.  It had my name all over it - love the suggestion to use piping and contrasting neck band etc and I m a sucker for a princess seam!

I had this Liberty needlecord in my stash for quite some time and had been waiting for the perfect project- and decided this was it.

The trickiest bit of the make was the cutting out.  My own fault- I thought I had 2 metres of the fabric but it turns out, I only had 1.5.  Doh.  but I m a stubborn type so I was going to make it work.  I had one hell of a jigsaw going on to make it work.  Outside of the main dress body pieces I was rather flexible on using the grain and just made things fit.

First sewing step is to stitch the front & back pieces together.  It suggests 3 steps - sew& trim, over lock, then top stitch.  I followed this but not exactly - as I wanted to do some fitting fine tuning before overlocking & topstitching.  So I sewed the pieces that make up front & back together down the princes seams, then tacked the other seams together on the largest setting on my machine so I could check the fit.    I have to admit that when I sew princess seams I don't pin- I just pin at the notches, sew with the most curved fabric on top and ease it into position between the pins as I go.  I then put it on my dress form and played around with it.

 I was seriously happy about the fit at the back without any alterations, but the front looked a bit loose, so on the reverse I pinned the seams further in and on the front from the bust to the hip.  I noted the side seams also looked like they needed some alterations, but I ll fine tune that later.

I made my adjustments to the fit, then I overlocked & topstitched.  I would highly recommend not diving into finalising those seams until you refine the fit.  The reason I love princess seams so much is you can get such a great fit with them, so I would definitely allow yourself the opportunity to do that. For topstitching I used Gutermann top stitch thread in navy.  I sewed closer in than the 10mm suggested, probably more like 6mm.

My adjustments to fit...

And topstitching.

I was quite happy how my top stitching was looking! I only went for 1 row as I felt the fabric was quite busy enough!

I decided to add some piping too- I decided down the front, at the cuffs and across the back 'v' shape of the yoke.  I've never done piping before so I read a few tutorials on line and had a go.  I discovered my 'stitch in the ditch' foot as I call it was perfect.

For the button band down the front, I did this differently to the pattern,. I put the facing pieces on the front, not the back of the main fabric so I could do the piping and have the contrast button band showing.  For the piping, I sewed piping on the top of one piece first, using this foot:
 I then pinned the other piece on top, turned it over so the previous stitch line was visible and sewed using the foot, on top/just inside the previous stitch line so I knew I was close to the piping.
 I then ironed it the right way and stitched in the ditch to keep the insides folded in the right way.

 The V was a challenge- I really didn't know how to do that- to be honest my only criticism of the pattern is that it doesn't given any tips at all on piping, which is shown on the cover and therefore I assumed that would be included.   I did the same on the V but cutting into the piping to make it go round the curve.  I know this looks a bit of a mess.
 Overall it is ok.  Its a bit puckered right below the V (really don't think my technique was right) and the  inside of that bit looks terrible.  Would love some tips on how to do this better.
Really happy with the neck and front binding though...  I used scrap denim from my refashioners project and love the contrast.  I had a small issue with the neck- the collar was smaller than my neckline- I clearly either cut the collar small or the neckline stretched, which I think is the likely reason. I added in 2 small darts to overcome it and actually I quite like them as they give a nice fit on the back (but look awful on the hanger)

I put binding on the cuffs and used a bit of scrap fabric to go on the inside, as per pictures below.

 And then I sewed the sleeve down to the hem seam, capturing in the cuff lining I had made.

The finished sleeve with piping on the edge.

 Last job, buttons - or in my case snaps.  I love these Prym jeans snaps and I hate sewing buttons so easy choice!! I used the Prym 15mm Antique Brass Anorak snaps with the Prym vario pliers which I highly recommend.  This is how I use them for perfect results.

First up you use this little piece of metal in my fingers  and give it a hammer in the right spot to cut out a hole for the snap to go through.

Put the snap piece in the pliers.  One side holds firmly in place so put that one on top.
 Push it through the hole you made in the fabric, and squeeze the pliers really tight.  And repeat!

 And there they are!!

I finished off the hem and I was all done, Rosa was ready.  Some pictures of the finished dress  below.  I'd highly recommend this pattern.  I wore my dress yesterday and its super comfy but feels very stylish too.  I love the fit-  there will be more of these for sure!  Top tips would be to ensure you plan in fitting of the princess seams and I'd also double check length in case you want it longer - I really wouldn't want it any shorter, I only did a hem of about 5mm, next time I may cut it fractionally longer to give myself a little more room for hemming.

Thanks for reading,  Any tips on getting my piping better are most welcome
Messy Essy Makes


  1. Love this version, you've done just the right amount of piping and the fabric is lovely. I've just about finished my version out of some scrap chambray & liberty cotton (apart from the buttons, as my buttonhole stitch is playing up & don't get me started on snaps)! I would agree that the dress does come up a little short but will probably wear mine with thick tights. Tilly has just done a blog post on fit for the dress, maybe she has got one planned for the piping too. Did you make your own piping or buy it? It looks fine in the photo's btw, we have very critical eyes as sewers and always fell the need to point out flaws that no-one would notice!

    1. Thankyou Sam! I m looking forward to seeing your version- do you have a blog? I think chambray and Liberty cotton will be wonderful! I bought piping I have to admit, maybe I ll try making some next time.

  2. Super dress, it looks fantastic. I love the idea of Liberty needlecord, it looks lovely, is it soft? I'm so tempted by this pattern and have been waiting to see some versions pop up with some info and yours is very helpful, thank you. The piping looks fab and I hope Tilly makes a how to for the v as it really shows off the details. The snaps are great, I had a plier set for Christmas and this could be its first use.

    1. Thankyou Lynsey Jane. Liberty Needlecord is just wonderful, so soft- I could stroke it all day long- sorry that sounds a bit wrong!! Glad you found the post useful & I m sure you would like the pattern. Give the pliers a go!! I was a little scared at first but they are great once you get the hang of it!

  3. I love your dress. You have tempted me to buy this pattern, and give it a go in a Liberty fabric myself. You mentioned that you do not make your own piping. It is SOOO easy to do, and opens up a whole new world of possibilities, not to mention that the piping you make will be of much higher quality than anything you can buy. This is the best tutorial I have seen for making bias tape and piping. I bought the foot recommended on Amazon, and highly recommend it, as it enables you to get much closer. Here are two more tutorials by the same designer with tips on how to install piping. I found them very helpful, when I made the Carolyn Pajamas, and now feel qualified to sew piping around just about anything. I had done it a few times before this, but never with such confidence or professional results: and

    1. thanks Ann- did you buy it in the end, I d love to see your version. I am inspired by your suggestion to make my own pipping. I only made my on bias for the first time a few weeks ago, but I will definitely tie that a go- thanks for the link, I will use that next time for sure!

  4. I enjoy going on your sewing journeys with you! You have a wonderful enthusiasm. Can I just make one suggestion, this is a professional sewing tip I got from Janet Pray on Craftsy - when stitching a curved or longer piece of fabric which has to be 'eased' into a shorter piece, put the curved or longer piece on the bottom so that the feed dogs do the majority of the work for you. Also Janet doesn't recommend the use of pins. It was a leap in the dark for me, but it works, I now get much more accurate seams and stitching by just matching the edges as I sew. Hope this helps

    1. thankyou for your lovely comments & taking the time to read, I really appreciate it. Great tip on sewing a curve!! I never thought of that, I would always do the longer piece on top but I ll definitely give that a go next time.