Joy's Tilly and the Buttons Romy Top with back bow detail tutorial

I think this might be the first time I’ve made a garment and then immediately cut into and made it again from scratch. I was tugging awkwardly at the dress in almost all of the original photos, which I think speaks volumes!

I’d been eagerly awaiting the release of Romy having spotted a few sneak peeks in Tilly’s Instagram stories over the last couple of months. I’m always on the lookout for basic top patterns as it’s one of my favourite things to sew and wear. I’d chosen the Queen of Hearts jersey with the intention of making another Stella hoodie-hack dress but as soon as I saw that Romy was out this month I knew I had to make her instead. Queen of Hearts is a wonderfully soft jersey and the colours are so vibrant. Cotton jersey is great for year-round wear too as it’s cool in summer and cosy in winter. 

I’ve always been very fortunate with Tilly and the Buttons patterns. Their size three (UK 10) fits me perfectly and I rarely have to make adjustments. A couple of people had mentioned that Romy came up large, but I’m a fan of an oversized top so I went ahead with my usual size.

I chose a rainbow stripe jersey from my stash for the binding. It’s now sold out, but Harriet has a similar one here. The plain back dress came together very quickly and I was pleased I’d chosen a small-scale design which didn’t require any pattern matching. I love a stripe but sometimes I just can’t be bothered, you know? Some other great fabrics that wouldn’t need matching are:

As recommended in the pattern, I pinned the sides seams and tried it on after I’d attached the sleeves. Romy is described as having a “modern loose fit” but it didn’t have that oversized boxy look on me at all! It just looked too big - and let’s be honest - a little bit like a hospital gown. The binding strips were also bunching all of the excess fabric into my armpits.

I’ve never had to make adjustments to jersey garments and wasn’t sure what to do. I removed the sleeves, took 12mm off the shoulders, and re-attached them. There was a definite improvement but it still wasn’t quite right.

I thought it might be less obvious once the dress was assembled, so I sewed the side seams and cut 10cm off the hem. The fit wasn’t amazing but it was comfy and the fabric was gorgeous so I took my photos and figured I’d find a few nice things to say about it and be done with it. Only, I couldn’t do it! I didn’t want to give a falsely positive review of a garment I wasn’t happy with. I was determined to save it and the good news is: I did! Well, you know what they say: Romy wasn’t built in a day. 

I referred to the finished garment measurements, and noticed that the size one (UK 6) was very close to my actual measurements. It felt a little risky going down two whole sizes but as stretch garments often have negative ease, I figured it would be fine. I couldn’t face unpicking the original dress but I couldn’t quite fit the plain back top pieces on. I loved the look of the tie-back didn’t want a lump under my cardigans, so I improvised. I used the back tie piece, but put the “centre back line” on the fold to cut a symmetrical bow shape instead. I had to take it in slightly at a later point, so would suggest reducing the “centre back line” by about 12mm. I sewed the top and bottom edges right sides together, trimmed the seam allowances, flipped it inside out then topstitched with a twin needle. 


To make the bow centre:

  1. Cut a 10cm x 10cm square from your jersey*
  2. Fold right sides together, sew with your preferred stretch stitch or an overlocker with a 12-15mm seam allowance
  3. Turn inside out, press flat with the seams open and down the centre
  4. Fold right sides together - the “wrong” side being the one with the seam you’ve just sewn - and sew the two ends together as above
  5. Turn it inside out. You should now have a nice neat loop of fabric
  6. Make sure you put this on to your bow back before you assemble the rest of the top!

*The size piece you need will vary with different fabric weights. This worked perfectly for my 200gsm cotton jersey.

The only other changes I made were to use knit interfacing instead of clear elastic on the back piece , I straightened off the cap sleeves and I used a 15mm hem instead of the suggested 25mm. I tried it on and it fitted perfectly! I’m keen to see more Romys (Romies?) made up to see if this is just me and my body shape, or whether the sizing runs rather large on this pattern.

I’m really happy with my bow back hack and I think it will be more practical than the knotted back. If you make one after seeing mine, I’d love to see a photo! Please tag me on Instagram at @pinkcoatclub

I’m so glad that I persevered with this pattern as I think the design is gorgeous. Hopefully if you’re reading this before making your Romy, I’ve saved you some heartache. With that said, this does come with the caveat that I am not an expert! I suggest referring to the finished garment measurements and your own experience before making any changes to a pattern. I also recommend tracing your pattern pieces (I didn’t on this occasion – argh!) and doing a trial run before you cut into your favourite jersey. Harriet has some great value plain cotton jerseys which would work well for this, I like the idea of making the bow from a different colour, or combining all of these cute pastel shades.

I have a pair of lightweight Tilly and the Buttons Stella joggers in the pink cotton jersey and can confirm that it’s super soft and comfy, and washes really well. They’ve been on constant wear/wash rotation for a year and are showing no signs of fade or bobbling.

Brooch available from Pink Coat Club.

Thank you for reading and happy sewing!

You can follow me on Instagram at and read my blog and shop my sewing-themed gifts at

The Queen of Hearts fabric was provided free of charge in exchange for this blog post. I chose the design and which pattern I wanted to make. I purchased the pattern from Sew Me Sunshine. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.



  • Hi,
    I’ve recently made the Romy with a tie back and it came up huge! I had to make lots of adjustments and I’m still not entirely happy. Think I’ll try making the smaller size next time as the back still gapes.

  • Thank you for this review, I am thinking of buying the pattern but I really like the way that you adjusted the back. Something for me to defiantly consider if I buy the pattern.

    chrstine juckes
  • This was very useful info as I don’t mind over sized except when it just looks too big ! The size 1 finished measurements are very close to mine but not the bust. Thank you as I will probably trace size 2/1 now.

    Ruth Lanwarne

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