Adventures with the Rosa Shirtdress Part 1 (or Cord? Oh Gawd!)

Paper Pieced Star

I have been very remiss with my dressmaking endeavours over the last couple of years.  I have taken to knit fabrics mainly due to the fact that there is no need for buttons or zips and I can whizz through those seams with my overlocker like a dervish.  I would say I have no patience but, with other projects (see above for instance), I show that I do so it’s not that.  Partly, I think it’s because I have far too many clothes already and don’t need any more – although that doesn’t stop me when I’m in Zara  – one of my daughters is now making her own clothes and the other isn’t overly interested in clothes per se.

So, when Tilly and the Buttons released the new Rosa shirtdress pattern with a separate online workshop I thought it would be an opportunity for me to go back to basics, take it slowly and try to produce something to be proud of again.  This was a leap for me as I usually try to avoid anything with buttonholes and this has 12 of them.  The pattern also has button stands, a separate collar stand, mock felled seams and a pointed yoke at the back  – none of which I had tackled before.  I figured that if I paid money for a workshop it would force me to sit still and concentrate.

Tilly & the Buttons Rosa Shirt Dress

I originally intended to make the dress for my daughter who, at 21, already appears far too old for it judging by the lovely model on the pattern who is surely about 14 years old.  Despite this, I thought it would be a versatile enough garment for both her and me.  I know, from past makes with Tilly patterns that I am a size 3 or 4 – which doesn’t mean I am a 15 year old eastern European catwalk model – only that Tilly’s sizes are numbered differently.  I’ve never made anything in the range for Mlle. Tialys the younger however so thought I’d first make a toile.  Not being a lover of ‘wasting time’ I thought I’d make a size 4 toile in a stash fabric and we could both try it on and, like Cinderella, whoever it fit would have the handsome prince  shirtdress.

To save fabric, I thought I’d make the shirt rather than the dress and I used a black needlecord fabric I’d found in the local charity shop some time before.  I made the toile – which fit me like the proverbial glove – and made a good job of the pointed yoke until I realised – holding it up to admire my handiwork – that you could see daylight through the fabric.  On closer inspection, the needlecord had some wear and tear in certain areas and, unfortunately, it was one of those areas that I had used for the yoke construction.  It had to be redone and, as so often happens, I couldn’t quite get it as good as the first time.

Cord Dust

Meanwhile, the cutting of the cord – so to speak – had resulted in a black dust that had settled over every single surface in my workroom.  It was under my fingernails and on my skin – in the evening when I used a cleanser on my face, the resulting cotton pad gave me a shock until I remembered I hadn’t been toiling up chimney stacks like a female version of Bert in Mary Poppins (although more authentically cockney) but just chancing my arm with black corduroy in my workroom.

So, I re-cut another toile in a cloud of black fibres and it was at this stage, laying the pattern pieces on for a second time, I forgot about ‘nap’ which has resulted in a couple of variations in the shade of black which may or may not be noticeable enough to bother me although Mr. Tialys picked me up on it straight away as men tend to do.

Serging up the unfinished edges was a trial as my overlocker – a Pfaff model bought cheaply in Lidl three years ago so that I could see if I would actually use one or not – is on it’s last knockings.  It chews up the edge instead of slicing through it neatly, one of the needle threads keeps coming unthreaded and little ‘nests’ of thread keep forming under the foot which all inevitably lead to the dreaded ‘overlocker re-threading nightmare’ which generally has me running screaming to the wine rack instead of just casually walking over to it as I usually do.

(New overlocker now on order – with jet air threading – hoorah!)

The only good thing I have to say about the cord fabric is that there is a lot of topstitching involved with this pattern and, as I opted not to use a contrasting thread, any less than perfect stitches are neatly hidden in the pile of the fabric.  My next version will be in chambray so there’ll be no place to hide.

The option of a contrasting inside collar stand and button stand makes for a nice feature which is mostly hidden but I know it’s there and it makes me feel good.  Having said that, I don’t think I’ve done up  a top button on any piece of clothing since I’ve been able to do buttons up by myself.

I’ve half throttled my mannequin – who feels no pain – in order to prove that I can do it if I want to though.

Rosa Shirt Top Button and Collar

(some sort of optical illusion is going on here as both sides of the collar are definitely the same length in ‘real life’)

Here’s how it will more often be worn

Rosa Shirt/Shirtdress CollarDetail

Of course, having shed its fibres in every possible nook and cranny while being constructed, the dreaded cord is now attracting every microscopic piece of fluff, thread, hair and dust and displaying it proudly to the world.  Have I said ‘never again’?

I didn’t take any photos as I went along – too busy concentrating and anyway I probably would have got cord dust in my camera lens.

More on the pattern and a full size ‘reveal’ in Part Two.

By the way, the top patchwork block was one of the three I sent to Kate for our F2F block swap and I can’t resist showing you this one which is from the Elizabeth Hartman Fancy Forest quilt pattern.

Fancy Fox Block

Have you ever had cause to pledge never to use a certain fabric, yarn or other craft accoutrement ever again?






, , , , , , , , , ,

  1. #1 by nanacathy2 on November 1, 2016 - 16:08

    I really love the fox block!

    • #2 by tialys on November 1, 2016 - 16:25

      Cute isn’t it. I’m planning on working my way through all the animals in the forest.

  2. #3 by claire93 on November 1, 2016 - 16:39

    well done on your sewing endeavors . . . I do love the way you write ^^
    I don’t even wear black to funerals, the darkest I’ll go is charcoal grey with a pair of my “best” trousers and even then, I put them on 5 minutes before I leave the house and take them off as soon as I get home because they attract Blackjack hair like a magnet.

    • #4 by tialys on November 2, 2016 - 09:42

      I know just what you mean. When my eldest daughter left to go to University and lived in a flat with no animals she couldn’t get over how she could put on a pair of black tights and reach the end of the day without a pet hair in sight.

      • #5 by claire93 on November 2, 2016 - 11:04

        yep, our daughter said the same thing ^^

  3. #6 by mandymunroe on November 1, 2016 - 21:23

    Lovely finish on the shirt! – I’m not brave enough for clothes

    • #7 by tialys on November 2, 2016 - 09:45

      Thank you – with your talents, I don’t believe you couldn’t tackle clothes for one minute. However, I know what you mean – when you need to leave the house actually wearing something you’ve made and expose it to the ‘viewing public’ the stakes are a little different.

  4. #8 by katechiconi on November 1, 2016 - 23:07

    Lovely job on the shirt, despite your tribulations! My never again fabric is white satin. I’ve made a whole lot of wedding dresses in my time, and that’s one fabric that shall never pass my door again. It sucks up dirt, slides around under the shears, slips like crazy when you’re pinning and sewing and frays appallingly. Having said that, I’m not deeply keen on knit fabrics either, mainly because I don’t have my overlocker set up and ready to go, it has to be hauled out, threaded with the right colour and liberated from a thick coating of felted fibre dust… And just so everyone knows, the third block you sent me is also gorgeous!

    • #9 by tialys on November 2, 2016 - 09:50

      Wedding dresses! Now, that is brave. They weren’t all yours were they 😉 Overlockers are a little like kitchen equipment – once you put them away you probably won’t get them out again. If you have the room, why don’t you keep it set up and threaded with a neutral grey which goes with most things. Then, if you fancy a quick project, you can run up a t-shirt, tunic or dress in a very short time (although maybe not an hour – as mentioned in a previous post of mine!). I like the third block too but I try to balance dressmaking posts with quilting posts and the quilting has been winning lately so I restricted myself to just the two photos.

      • #10 by katechiconi on November 2, 2016 - 11:50

        No, the wedding dresses were all made back when I was in my 20s and 3os, and friends, family and siblings were all tying the knot. The satin number was my Jamaican landlady! You’re probably right about the overlocker. I must simply get up the nerve, dust it off, and make something quickly in fabric I don’t care about too much, for practice. I have just the stuff, for a pair of wide legged pants in a chocolate and white large floral print… And no, I won’t be modelling them for everyone’s hilarity/edification!

      • #11 by tialys on November 2, 2016 - 13:15


      • #12 by katechiconi on November 2, 2016 - 14:38


  5. #13 by Thimberlina on November 1, 2016 - 23:13

    I’m impressed and gobsmacked in equal amounts! Impressed at your skill and gobsmacked you’ve finally got back on the horse! Cutting the cord in real like is not quite so messy, thank goodness, I’ve cut a few in my time! This really is lovely and glad to hear there will be more! 🙂

    • #14 by tialys on November 2, 2016 - 09:51

      Thanks Ali – I haven’t even showed you the whole thing yet! I don’t know anything about the other sort of cord cutting – I’ve always been up the other end when it happened. 😉

  6. #15 by sew2pro on November 1, 2016 - 23:53

    That’s a pretty shirtdress and the chambray will look great too.

    I love sewing cord but direction is pretty important (remember this!? and although the creamy Blogstalker does his best to lie on all my black things as a sign of affection, my biggest bugbear when it comes to black cord is my evil children putting their stuff in the wash with bits of tissue/bogroll left in pockets!

    • #16 by tialys on November 2, 2016 - 10:06

      It’s been so long since I’ve sewn anything with a nap that I completely forgot about it until my husband asked why the bit above the yoke was lighter than the bit below. I think, if I hadn’t needed to recut it, I probably would have got away with it but, when I placed the pattern on again I was more concerned with avoiding the worn bits of fabric. It was only supposed to be a toile though so the fact it’s vaguely wearable is a bonus and, after my adventures with the buttonholes (post to follow) it can only get easier when I switch to more forgiving fabric – although of course I’ll have to pay more attention to the topstitching. Anyway, I went back to your corduroy trick post and had another laugh at the ‘friction fires in the groin’ but, sadly, when I went to the website to have another look. they appear to have changed it to ‘crotch combustion’ which doesn’t sound quite as poetic. I did like the fact that they had some lounge pants called ‘vajamas’ but was disappointed to see them being modelled by a man.

  7. #17 by Oh Sew Tempting on November 2, 2016 - 16:36

    Your blocks are totally gorgeous! and the colours WOW! I love your collar. It looks incredibly neat. On the overlocker,reading the troubleshooting for my friend’s machine, you may have a blunt knife or knives. It mentions it again in the bit where it explains how to change them. Apparently, if you put a thread up to the knife and it doesn’t cut easily, it is blunt…their words not mine. Replacement knives only cost about £10 on Ebay so it might be worth a try and then you’ll have a spare machine.

    • #18 by tialys on November 3, 2016 - 08:43

      Thanks Avis. I did think about the blade but somebody had a look at it for me and thought it was still sharp. I had one week to go of the three year guarantee! I sent it back – free of charge – and will wait to see if they offer me a refund or replacement. If they offer me a refund I’ll take it as it will cover a fraction of the new one I’ve just bought! If they offer me a replacement, I’ll take it for a spare. Let’s hope they offer me one or the other.

  8. #19 by Kim on November 2, 2016 - 22:11

    Lovely Madame Tialys! I get your pain over the nap problem, cord dust, and pet hair problems though. The chambray will be beautiful.
    Your blocks are breathtakingly gorgeous. I adore the animal s in that quilt – I’m very tempted to invest in the pattern even though I’m not a quilter 😉

    • #20 by tialys on November 3, 2016 - 08:44

      Not yet you’re not!

  9. #21 by jendavismiller on November 3, 2016 - 14:19

    I love the pink and orange together in your blocks! And of course, the little fox is adorable. Methinks you need to sew garments more often, your work is fabulous! I remember sewing cord – it isn’t all as bad yours seemed to be. But oh yes, that nap business can be tricky. As for fabric no-go? I promised myself I’d never sew anything “shifty” again….yet, here I am toiling away with another darned shifty, slippery material and wickedly awful stitches. grrrr.

    • #22 by tialys on November 4, 2016 - 19:48

      Thanks Jen – I only have so much room in my wardrobe though. Must convince daughter no. 2 that she needs more clothes.

  10. #23 by Hila on November 4, 2016 - 13:05

    I cant believe how perfectly you got those collar point given the thickness of cord fabric. It looks a very lovely shirtdress that will get a lot of wear. Incidentally I have needle cord I want to make some skirts with and your tip about the fuzz has me thinking about how to minimise that impact. I have loads of respect for quilter – the patience required for making such intricate blocks as you have made there is something I do not have.

    • #24 by tialys on November 4, 2016 - 19:51

      Thanks Hila, that means a lot coming from you. As for patience, I think you must have an endless supply – turning out all those lovely clothes while wrangling your gorgeous kidlets – it’s just a matter of where you apply it and, at the moment, making clothes is your ‘thing’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: