Flared sleeve shirt refashion

I’ve always been a bit partial to a statement sleeve. And right now, flared sleeves, bell sleeves, and even gathered sleeves are just about everywhere.

I want to share with you a quick way to update an existing collared shirt, or any shirt for that matter. I started with a a basic white button up. Mine was purchased from Target for a grand total of $22, specifically with this project in mind. I toyed with the idea of sewing myself a shirt from scratch for all of five seconds. But as you should all know by now,  I’m not so in love with sewing basics.

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I started by cutting the cuffs off a basic shirt and with them, about six inches of sleeve. I then measured the circumference of the cut portion of the sleeve and used that as a guide to draft the new cuff.

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I drafted a new cuff (just a big rectangle) that measured 8.5 inches in width and 12 inches in length (including a 5/8″ seam allowance). The cuff width allowed for a three inch overlap, to line it up with the underarm sleeve seam when sewn in place. I then slashed and spread the cuff to turn it into a flared design. See the picture of the new pattern piece (below) to get an idea of the amount of flare. The pattern piece is cut on the fold and two cuffs need to be cut (one for lining, one for outer fabric).

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Because of the size of these new cuffs, I chose not to interface them, which turned out to be the best decision. I also played around with the position of the overlap/slit of the cuff and found it worked best (appearance and practicality) when it was positioned on the underside, with the back overlapping the front. This positioning suits the natural movement of the arm better.

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I’m delighted with my modified white shirt. I’m currently considering which other shirts in my wardrobe might need a similar update.

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A silk button up and DIY distressed jeans

Once upon a time, this shirt pattern was an Archer. I’ve adjusted it quite a bit to fit, as well as switched out the cuff plackets for a more polished look. I also removed the back pleat. In this version, I introduced a covered front placket, lengthened the back hem, and left off the collar.

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The fabric is silk crepe de chine. I was immediately drawn to the colour of it. I love silk CDC. It’s not difficult to sew, but it does take time and patience, especially when you start adding extra design features like cuffs, plackets and collars. I couldn’t use my standard shirt interfacings on a silk shirt like this, which was lightweight and slightly translucent. I needed an interfacing that wouldn’t be too stiff or visible through the fabric. I used beige silk organza (hand-basted in place) to interface the placket, cuffs, and collar band and it worked beautifully.

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The white jeans were thrifted from an estate sale. They were too big around the waist but fit fine on the derriere (my standard issue with RTW jeans). The legs were also a looser, straight leg style, which unless I wanted to dive headfirst into a BH90210 episode, needed to be corrected immediately. I narrowed the waistband and the leg inseams. I also shortened the crotch a smidgen. I didn’t touch the outer leg seam because that would have twisted it around too far towards the front (and I was being lazy by skipping seam-ripping with this seam).

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Lastly, I attacked the knees with a cheese grater. I went conservative on the DIY distressing because I’ve learnt from past experience that dressing quickly (which one always does if they have kids under eight) results in one’s feet being pushed through the distressed sections of jeans. These jeans will no doubt become more distressed as time progresses, which is kind of what I want anyway.

 

 

Leather wrap skirt

Remember the last wrap skirt I made? Well, not long after I made it, I spotted this Tibi skirt on Instagram. And as fortune would have it, I had just the right amount of (Perfection fused) leather leftover in my stash. I’m not exactly sure how this leather is made. It looks convincing but it definitely doesn’t compare to genuine lambskin. It is very affordable and easy to sew. The underside is fabric and the outer is leather. I find it doesn’t press/glue quite as neatly as the real stuff, but it is lightweight, quite fluid, and without flaws, which makes sewing with it very economical.

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I used the same basic pattern as my last wrap skirt. It is a very simple modification on a pencil skirt (details here). However, this time I created a facing instead of a waistband and added a strap to wrap around my waist and tie secure at a silver ring. I didn’t line this skirt because the fabric backed leather didn’t require it.

This is a fun skirt. I’ll enjoy wearing it before the weather gets too cold. And later, I might have a go at layering it with jeans or skinny pants.

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Grainline Archer // vintage sheet shirt

So, I loved Miss Seven’s vintage sheet shirt so much that I just had to make my own. Here it is.

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My Grainline Archer has been modified to accommodate my standard broad back/long arm/height requirements. I also added a classic, tailored sleeve placket, and two fish eye darts in the back.

 

 

 

Vintage McCall’s 6497 // A shirt for Miss Seven

My original plan was to make Miss Seven a pair of pink cigarette pants to go with her new coat. However, I fell in love with every view on the front of this pattern cover and I thought I’d try out the shirt first.

I used more of my vintage sheet set to make this shirt. The print looks so lovely in a shirt that I’m planning to make myself one now too.

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The pattern went together beautifully. My only complaint was to do with the sleeve cap ease, but I find excessive sleeve cap ease a fairly common feature of old patterns. Next time I’ll shave some height of the sleeve cap so it can be set in a lot easier.

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I made this pattern up in a size 8, which corresponded quite well with Miss Seven and a half’s chest measurement. I expected it to be a little bigger on her than it is though. However, it would stand to reason that she has lovely broad shoulders like her mother. The torso fit is lovely and it looks comfortable. I suspect the pants and skirt in the pattern will swim on her tiny hips so I may have to grade them down first.

And before I sign off on this post, I just want to share a quick peek of the best leotard ever. It’s a birthday present for Miss Five. My beautiful, gentle Miss Seven is modelling it. The tiger poses will come later with the fierce Miss Five. I even added tiger eyes to the back of the suit so she could terrorise people behind her too. The pattern is Jalie 3136, which I’ve now made more times than I can remember.

I made the fabric myself on Spoonflower. I used the sport lycra, which is a nice weight and completely opaque.  In fact, this fabric generated so much interest that I ended up purchasing the license for the photo so the design could be made available to others. It will only be available on Spoonflower for a limited time though.

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Pattern tested // Sew DIY Baseball skirt

I had a reasonably uncluttered week recently, so I put up my hand to do a little pattern testing. You’ve already seen the Tie back boots I tested. This time round, I tested the Sew DIY Baseball skirt.

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I’ll confess up front that this is not the kind of skirt I would normally sew for myself. I chose to pattern test this because I wanted to support the designer and because the skirt looked like such a quick and easy make. It is an elastic waist skirt. It IS quick and easy. Now I’m not sure how many beginners follow my blog, but if that is you, this skirt is a winner.

The pattern is clear and concise, as I would expect from Sew DIY. It’s also very professionally put together. I like the curved hem shape. I also like the idea of the other hem options that are described in the pattern.

I used a little leftover silk twill with the intention of making an everyday-version of this pencil skirt. However, when I paired it with the silk cami, it wasn’t really the vision I’d hoped for (see below).

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From a styling perspective, this one initially had me stumped. It’s designed to sit at the natural waist, which isn’t really my style right now, so I dropped it to my hips. As you’d expect, anything with an elastic waist is going to carry a little more bulk than a fitted waistband. However, I suspect some of the volume in my photos is coming from the way the pockets are hanging internally. My skirt was made to the tester version and I think Beth may have improved the pocket design for the final pattern.

In any case, to balance out the silhouette of an elastic waist skirt, I prefer it paired with a top that is similar in volume and that has a little more coverage through the shoulders (like the Lou Box top or the Branson top). To me, a spaghetti strap cami looks a little off kilter in terms of proportion and silhouette.

Please excuse the bare feet and wrinkly linen. I’d been wearing this outfit all day and was in the middle of chasing my little monsters in a game of tag (or tip…or whatever it’s called this week) when I suddenly thought to photograph the skirt again.

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P.S. It has now been several weeks now since I made this skirt. Paired with my white linen Branson top, this outfit has become one of my favourites this Summer. Cool, loosely fitted linen and silk is an absolute dream in the Midwest heat and humidity. I don’t feel too scruffy either.

Long sleeves in linen

I started sewing clothes for myself in 2012. Before that, my sewing was all about kiddie stuff and quilting cotton. It was also the year I discovered that I could sew with ponte knits and linen. I quite simply overdosed that year. Lucky for you guys, this was also before I started blogging.

I’ve always loved linen, but it’s one of those fabrics that I rarely, if ever, saw in the RTW shops I frequented back then. So it was mindblowing to me that I could suddenly make everything in linen. So did I? Yes. I. Did.

I’ve since had a few years without a lot of linen in my wardrobe. There’s been the odd thing, but nothing like it was in 2012. However, I feel the season changing. I am so in love with it right now. It’s like my long lost friend has returned.

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The thing about linen though, is that it is one of the fabrics I am most pickiest about in terms of quality. I loath buying it online. I’ve been disappointed a few times when I’ve opted for the cheaper option. I recently purchased a length of European white linen from Fabric dot com. In the description it was recommended for making dresses, pants, anything. Let’s just say, I’m ditching the idea of using it for a Summer top and might simply hem it for use as a pretty table cloth instead. I think I’m a linen snob.

The linen I used for this top came all the way from Tessuti Fabrics in Sydney, one of the few places I trust implicitly in buying linen from without ordering a swatch first (online shopping is sadly my only way to purchase quality fabric in the Midwest). This linen is truly delicious. I could iron it better, but I really, really love linen crinkles.

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This top is the long sleeve variation of a pattern I’m working on right now. I paired it with my long leather shorts.

If everything goes to plan, I might be ready for testers in a few weeks. It takes time because I want to make sure that even my testers get a good experience.  If you are interested in testing this or anything else in the future, please head over to my Facebook page, Lily Sage & Co. To avoid driving non-tester inclined blog readers batty,  I will only be putting the tester call out there from now on.

Carolyn Pyjamas in Art Gallery and silk organza

I don’t buy that many new patterns but as soon as I saw this one, I knew it was meant for me. It was time for me to address the sad state of assorted past makes and retired daywear that I usually call sleepwear. Of course, that’s what I should have been doing. Sadly for my family, these pyjamas are not going to replace my current motley crew. As soon as I started sewing them, I realised that they were actually meant for somebody else, whose birthday is just around the corner. Maybe the next pair will be for me! 


It’s nearly Spring here, so the short version was the obvious choice for me to make. I thought long and hard about what fabric I wanted to use. If I was going to take the time to make a pair of pyjamas, there’s a good argument for making them in something special. I toyed with the idea of silk CDC polka dots and even Nani Iro, but in the end, I shopped from my stash and came up with a lovely Art Gallery cotton voile, leftover from some wrap pants I made last Summer. I also found some beige silk organza that matched perfectly for contrast in the cuffs and hem edge.

 

The pattern itself is great. I am so impressed with the design and the fit. The pants/shorts sit on the hips, without looking baggy around the bum, and the shirt fits more slim and comfortably than I was expecting.


I chose my size based entirely on the pattern packet and it worked out perfectly. I’d normally expect most shirts (of my bust measure) to be a bit tight through the shoulders. The shoulders are a perfect fit for my broad build. Others with narrower shoulders might find the shoulder seams to fit a little wider, which I suspect is what the pattern was intended to look like anyway.

 
 
 

I made no modifications to the pattern, apart from the organza panel at the bottom of the hem. This was a pretty simple modification, but it did involve a bit of craftiness around the seams. I will confess that I did not use French seams throughout the majority of this shirt. However, French seams in the organza were essential, so I made sure to finish the cuffs in this manner too. The side seams are half serged, half Frenched, in the same way you would do a French seam beneath an invisible zipper.

Simplicity 1327: Plaid on request

I’ve noticed something about my husband’s wardrobe and it has a lot to do with who he sees each day and where we live. When he first started working with veterinarians and farmers in Australia, I noticed plaid shirts creep into his wardrobe for the first time ever. Rodd and Gunn took over from Hugo Boss and Ermenegildo Zegna as his brand of choice. 

 
 
So it stands to reason that there would also be some wardrobe updates after moving to the Midwest. It began with cowboy boots. Not just ordinary cowboy boots. They had to be the real deal, genuine caiman.
 
 
They go surprisingly well with the Drizabone he’s been wearing for the past 18mths. So why would I be surprised that he would put in an order in for a “western-style” plaid shirt. He was quite specific on this one. Plaid was not enough. It needed to have the Western yokes and pockets too. *Sigh*. I’m really not into sewing costumes or matching plaid.

 

 

I wasn’t planning on rushing into this make, but I somehow managed to stumble across the most amazing brushed cotton, Italian shirting  during a recent trip away, when I was lucky enough to visit Britex Fabrics in San Fransisco, in person. The fabric is beautifully smooth on one side and brushed soft on the underside. I wasn’t very excited about sewing a “Western” shirt until I found this fabric. Fabric makes all the difference.

 
 

The pattern I used was Simplicity 1327. The sizing on this pattern is more general than other shirt patterns, which makes for less precise sizing. I cut this shirt in a size L, which was specified for a 42-44″ chest. My husband is a 42″ (or possibly a smidgen more after Christmas) which made me wary of ending up with an unattractively oversized shirt. To accomodate my laziness in lack of muslin making, I made the shirt up according to the instructions but only basted the side seams together initially. This enabled me to check the fit around the torso. It was a little roomy to begin with so I graded the seam allowance from 5/8″ at the cuff (which was already a good fit) to 1″ at the shirt hem. This brought the side and underarm seams in by just the right amount.

All the yokes, placket, cuffs, and pockets were cut on the bias. Apart from the yokes, which were stitched on the shirt as overlays, I fused interfacing to all of the other bias cut pieces to avoid them stretching out of shape while I worked with them. I used very light interfacing for the pockets and prepared them in the same way as this tutorial. I also used a little bit of Liberty of London as contrast in the collar band. And I came so close to matching up those bias stripes on the cuffs.


Despite my extreme lack of excitement in this project, I quite like the outcome. The bias cut plaid made for lovely contrast details in the shirt and I’m pleased with how the sizing worked out in the end. But more importantly, the shirt looks great with those cowboy boots!

A different kind of maxi skirt

So this skirt is the final chapter of my denim on denim story. My denim shirt is blogged about here. The skirt itself, is a very simple, self-drafted number. I used my pencil skirt block (seen here as a neoprene and faux leather mini) and simply shaped the bottom hemline to be high at the front and low at the back. I then gathered a large rectangle of beautiful
Tessuti linen into a skirt. The effect is a drop waist in a skirt. I love the subtle hi-lo hem, and my love of a good drop waist needs no further explanation.