Filling a wardrobe gap with McCalls’s 8082

For those familiar with my blog, it may be hard to believe that I have gaps in my wardrobe, but it is true, I do. With the exception of lingerie (and one sneaky pair of jeans) I never buy RTW clothes anymore, for myself or for my three girls. And trust me, keeping my girls clothed in line with seasonal changes and the odd growth spurt is a full time job on it’s own! I also make most of my husband’s business shirts. 

I try to plan what I’m making to replace items that are getting old or starting to wear out. Obviously, I also try to update these items in line with my current fashion obsessions. The fabrics I use are generally great quality and I’m sure they last a lot longer than RTW, but I am still quite tough on my clothes. They get thrown in the washing machine on all kinds of cycles, put in the dryer, and often soaked to remove small hand prints (among other less savoury stains). They get pulled and tugged by little people, torn where small knees hit the ground, and abraded where one particular small person frequently sits on my hip. Life is too short to keep pretty clothes hidden in wardrobes or to worry about getting them dirty!

I’ve long since moved beyond the point of keeping my ‘special’ clothes for ‘special’ occasions. And let’s face it, when you make your own clothes, everything is at least a little bit special. I do have a few dresses that only come out for a night on the town, but generally, the frosting in my wardrobe cops the brunt of day to day wear.

I have one small wardrobe and I like it this way. I don’t like waste and I don’t like excess. I get good value out of my clothes. I wear them to death or recycle them into other styles or kids clothes when I get bored of them. I do make a lot of clothes, but no more than the average person would purchase from a retail shop. I sometimes think it seems like more because every piece is a bit of a production, whereas in my past life, the dribble of ‘staples’ I purchased (tights, tops, sweaters, t-shirts) were the invisible aspect of my wardrobe. They were bought, wore out, and were replaced by similar if not identical items.

I’m happy to say that I have finally reached a point in my sewing where I can confidently purchase beautiful European and designer fabrics, pretty silks, and the odd bit of Liberty, knowing that I’m not going to ruin it. I don’t have many sewing fails these days (I did a few years ago though!) and if I do, I know I can always turn it into something else. I think this confidence has made me a lot more adventurous with my sewing, and I love that I can clothe my family in fabulous fabrics. 

I have to admit that in the whole scheme of things, I don’t save much money by sewing. If you consider the quality of the individual garments I make, comparable to their RTW counterparts, my savings are huge. But if you are talking about the cost of filling my wardrobe, I don’t. But then again, I still think I’m a little bit better off. I could save a lot more money, but I compensate by purchasing beautiful fabrics that I would otherwise not ever see used in the range of RTW clothing that formed the basis of my past wardrobe.

But all this aside, the wardrobe gap I was filling with this make was that of a simple white shirt. I made myself a man-shirt. I think I last owned such a shirt in the early 90’s (I also owned one in plaid flannel to pair with my 501’s for my ‘grunge’ look back then). I like this one much better!


I toyed with the idea of trying out an Archer, but it wasn’t quite the look I was after. I wanted a more oversize, loose fitting shirt. In the end, I hunted down the perfect vintage pattern, McCall’s 8082. And let me tell you, I’m feeling my age when I start calling 1996 a ‘vintage’ year! 
It is a unisex pattern, which bore appeal for me because of the look I was after. This also meant it included sizing for longer man-arms and man-torso. I made the man-length version. It appears that my arms are man-length.

The pattern itself was very straight forward to sew. I’ve sewn several different shirt patterns now as I search for the perfect business shirt for hubby. It claimed to be a 3-hour shirt. Who can sew a business shirt in 3hrs? I can’t. It takes time to fuse interfacing, stitch corners carefully and sew on buttons, or perhaps it just takes me more time because I am busy watching Game of Thrones as I sew…

The only thing I didn’t like about this pattern was the collar and stand. It was a single piece. I enjoyed learning a different, albeit very simple, technique, but I wouldn’t do it this way again. I would make my own separate pieces. I don’t think this is something others would notice, but I do. I just feel that proper shirts should have a collar stand and a collar.

Check out the lovely length of those man-arms! I paired my new man-shirt with my favourite pair of Esther shorts.


13 thoughts on “Filling a wardrobe gap with McCalls’s 8082

  1. I am so with you in all of this. I definitely don’t save much money through sewing my own wardrobe, but the joy that I get from the creative process more than makes up for it in my books. Plus, in what other aspect of life is it justifiable to buy lots and lots of your favourite thing (fabric) without guilt? I just love sewing! I also love your shirt. It looks so crip and chic with those funky Esther shorts. Good job!

  2. i love this post and completely concur with your sentiments. i definitely make more clothes than i ever would have bought, but most of my rtw is nearing 10 years old, so i’m completely justified in filling my closet! i would like to completely clothe my four kiddos, but i have to break down and buy some things. it hurts me to though.

    great shirt too! a white shirt has been on my list for quite a while (i even have fabric!), need to get on that someday. looks so perfect with those shorts!

    1. Thanks Lisa. It’s heartbreaking for me to have to buy RTW too. But sometimes you just have to do it. I’m in a great spot right now, but realise I’m going to have to plan well and think about winter soon if I’m going to get away without buying RTW in a few months time.

  3. 1992 is vintage now?!?! Geez… But it’s a perfect match with those gorgeous shorts – so very fresh. If my job wasn’t such a time-suck, I would absolutely aim to to doing what you’re doing, and no way would I compromise on fabric! I think what you’re doing is wonderful. The hardest thing for me is admitting that my schedule doesn’t allow for that… and that’s it’s ok to buy a few RTW items to flesh it out. The difference is of course accepting the lower sartorial standard as a result! haha. I’m still crushing heavily on your shorts fabric πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks! I agree it’s tough to find the time! I really only get time to sew in the evenings too (I have a very tolerant hubby!) and I find I have to plan ahead really well for my girls or I just can’t keep up with what they need…ie I realise I have to start thinking about their winter jackets now, or I will have to buy RTW for them. But I can also be a bit slapdash to fit more in…you will notice there hasn’t been any gorgeous couture (like wedding/bridesmaid dresses!!!) in my blog! πŸ˜‰

  4. Great post Debbie! Fantastic job on the shirt. That’s really interesting I have never seen a one piece collar and stand before. It turned out really nice though and in the photos you can’t tell the difference. It looks like your normal collar and stand ; )

  5. What a great post – it’s so interesting to muse on these things, and to read the musings of others πŸ™‚ And of course, I love your new shirt. I’m missing a white shirt in my wardrobe too. I’ve been saying for the longest time that I will make one, but I keep getting distracted by pretty prints!

  6. I think you’re incredibly talented for being able to make such clothes! seriously admire it to bits, I’ve often wanted to as well but never really had the willipower to do so – perhaps seeing more of your blog may inspire me!


    1. Thanks so much Tasnim. I hope you do get inspired to do more sewing. It has been a long process for me but I got there in the end and am still learning so much every day!

  7. Firstly, love the white shirt. I’m sewing up a shirt from a 1981 pattern at the moment and it’s perfect. Secondly, I agree with all your musings at the start of the post. I’m happy to hear you wear ‘special’ clothes everyday and just chuck them in the laundry (I was wondering how you kept your whites when I read your last post). Also loved to hear you keep your wardrobe pretty small and then give the clothes a new life for your girls. I try to do the same for my boys. I’m still working towards being confident with quality fabrics though!

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