Heart Print Rosa Shirt Dress – Tilly and the Buttons

For the Love of French Fabric

I started making this shirt last year and it sat half finished, waiting for buttonholes and sleeve tabs for five months. When I saw that @stitch_make_bake and @patsypoomakes were organising a Rosa sewalong, it gave me the motivation I needed to complete it in time for Spring.

Claire wearing a navy heart print shirt dress
Claire wearing a navy heart print shirt dress

I used 2.5 metres of heart print stretch cotton from Pretty Mercerie because I wanted to make a shirt dress that was similar to this one from Sézane:

Pretty Mercerie sell some beautiful fabrics but they sell out so quickly! If you find something you like that's sold out, sign up for stock alerts and you'll receive an email if the fabric is ever re-stocked.

Another great French fabric shop is Make My Lemonade. They sell lots of brightly coloured prints, their delivery to the UK is reasonably priced and their site can be viewed in English if you don't know any French.

Back to the Rosa shirt!

I cut out a size 4 (UK size 12) and shortened the bodice by 1¾″. I usually add this back on to the length of the skirt but I forgot this time so the finished length is a little shorter than it should be. I often have to do broad shoulder and large bicep adjustments with most pattern companies but I've never needed to do that with Tilly and the Buttons patterns.

Shirt dress collar pieces and rose gold scissors

Because I wanted a clean look, I skipped the topstitching on the princess seams and yoke pieces and only topstitched the collar and button band. I also decided to use plain navy buttons since the print is already quite busy. For the buttonholes, I used the stabiliser plate attachment that came with my buttonhole foot (previously mentioned in my button front Cleo post).

Tilly Buttons Rosa shirt made with navy heart print fabric
Close-up of the collar of a navy shirt with a red and white heart print

I had a few issues sewing the collar:

  • The points of the collar kept getting stuck in my machine despite using a wedge of fabric to level the presser foot (see more on this below if you don't know what I'm talking about). I think I may have needed to adjust the presser foot pressure so I'll try that next time.
  • I kept unpicking the edge stitching because of this and now there's a little hole and some overlapped stitches where I tried to fix it. I asked for some advice on Instagram and a few people suggested visible mending - one person suggested embroidering hearts to match the fabric. I love this idea so I'll try it if the hole gets any bigger!
  • I had trouble topstitching the collar stand so it was the correct distance from the edge on both the inside and outside. In the end, I focused on sewing it neatly on the inside since I'll be wearing the collar unbuttoned.

Tips for Sewing Rosa

How to Edge Stitch Evenly

If you have trouble edge stitching evenly, I recommend using a ditch quilting foot. Just set the needle to the left and line the edge of your fabric up with the guide. I use it for nearly every sewing project and, as the name suggests, it can also be used for stitching in the ditch.

How to Level the Presser Foot

Fabric not moving through the machine when you're stitching from the edge? This usually happens when you're sewing thick fabrics or through lots of layers at once. All you need to do is level the presser foot. Here are some ways to do it:

  • Fold some scrap fabric over until it's the same thickness as your sewing project and wedge it underneath the back of the presser foot to level it out (pictured here)
  • Use the little black button at the back of your presser foot which is actually a leveling button that's made exactly for this purpose - I always wondered what this was for!
  • You can also use a button shank plate, a bulky seam aid or a jean-a-ma-jig if you're sewing thick fabric

Tilly Buttons Rosa shirt made with navy heart print fabric

Although I'm happy with this dress, I prefer the drape of the softer viscose version I made first but assembling the collar with such a fluid fabric was very fiddly! I think I'll try making it again with a lightweight fabric using some spray starch on the collar pieces to make them easier to work with.

If you're a beginner and want to move on to some trickier projects, I highly recommend this pattern. The instructions are clear and detailed and there's also a workshop available which gives you loads of information on adjusting the pattern to your body shape and extra tips for sewing the collar and buttonholes. I signed up for it back in 2016 when I'd only completed a handful of sewing projects and it gave me the confidence to move on to more advanced patterns.

Looking for ideas for your Rosa shirt? You can find lots of pretty shirts and shirt dresses on my sewing inspiration board on Pinterest.

Project Summary

Pattern

Rosa shirt dress by Tilly and the Buttons (available in UK sizes 6-20)

Size

4 (UK size 12) based on the following measurements:

  • Chest: 36″
  • Waist: 30″
  • Hips: 38″

Adjustments

Shortened bodice by 1¾″

Fabric

2.5 metres of heart print stretch cotton from Pretty Mercerie

Mistakes Made

Forgot to add the length I took off the bodice back on to the skirt, collar got stuck in the machine, had trouble getting stitching even on the inside and outside of collar stand

Additional Info

Pattern instructions are clear and detailed but you can also sign up to the online workshop for extra tips on fitting the shirt to your body, getting a neat collar, and marking and sewing the buttonholes.