Category Archives: shirt

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.

 

McCalls 8082: a denim shirt

So, this shirt is another version of the oversized white man-shirt I made last year. I made it in an attempt to replace my beloved Anna Sui Chambray shirt, that has now been retired, but it opened my eyes to the fact that chambray and denim literally goes with everything.
 

I’ve been loving the look of oversized, drop shoulder shirts this season. I’ve also been craving the look of denim on denim. Since my complete denim on denim outfit is still in the design stages, I had to content with my much loved leather trousers for these photos. 

 
The fabric I used for this shirt is a very soft and lightweight denim. It is blue, but so very dark that it almost looks black. I was hoping for a paler denim colour when I purchased it online, but I’ve grown to love the darker hue.

The pattern I used was McCalls 8082, with just one modification. I took a small step away from the very 80’s look of this pattern by narrowing the top of the sleeves and raising the armscye each by just over an inch. This helps to slim down some of the excess fabric under the arm and through the bust for me.



I love how this shirt turned out. Denim really does go with everything, so you’ll probably also see me pairing it with my maxi skirt when the weather warms.
 
 

 
 


TNT Simplicity 6138 for hubby

So here is the original version of the shirt you saw in my last post. The birthday boy was extremely happy with his new shirt, and very amused with my copycat version. Catching him for a photograph is near impossible, but I promise to try and get a shot of us both together in out matching shirts at some point in the future. Although I suspect that photo is going to require a great deal of stealth on my part.

Otherwise, there isn’t much more to say on this shirt. White collar, white cuffs and some nice clean stripes. You really don’t get much better than that for business attire. This pattern is a TNT for hubby with makes my life easy. If you are after some more details, be sure to check out my earlier makes (here and here).

 

 


A Grainline Archer

Sometimes I sew things just to elicit a reaction. This shirt is one of those things. As much as I really do love the style, and the way this shirt has turned out, I don’t work in a job that requires corporate dressing, so it’s likely to sit unworn in my wardrobe for the time being. Thankfully, it’s not a style that will ever go out of fashion.

I made it using the leftover fabric from husband’s birthday business shirt (which is coming up this week, and so yet to be blogged). He chose the fabric himself on a work trip to New York several months ago. I’m still not sure why he came home with so much of it when I gave him a very specific length to purchase. I suspect he made a few yard to meter conversions back and forth and somehow ended up with about 4.5 yds. I also suspect he was hoping that I’d make him two shirts. Well, the length didn’t quite stretch to two man-size shirts, but it was the perfect yardage for one man shirt and a little lady one to match.

I should probably also talk a little about the pattern. It’s a Grainline Archer, if you haven’t already guessed. It’s also the first time that I’ve sewn this pattern. I know I should have done a muslin first, but I entered into this project hoping for an easy sew, as a break after several intensive, brian squeezing makes that I’ve only just recently finished (my Dior jacket, Pilotti-ish jacket, denim skirt, challenge dress yet to be revealed).

I‘ve sewn so many shirts over the past few years that I have, through the trial and error of following different patterns, discovered my favourite ways to do collars, cuffs and the like. It just so happens that this pattern instructs on those exact ways. The only thing I wasn’t completely sold on was the cuff placket. Even so, I think it works very well for this shirt, and has a nice faux French cuff look to it.



This fit is not too bad on me, especially for a first go at this pattern. When the shirt was halfway complete, I had the feeling that it would be unbearably tight across the shoulders and too small to wear. My problem is that my bust measure correlates very well to the 35″ but my shoulders then broaden a lot above that measurement. I know this. It’s something I’ve encountered in shirt patterns and RTW for the past twenty years so it’s quite remarkable that I didn’t think to adjust for it beforehand. Next time, I definitely need to widen the shoulder seams and perhaps the change the front armscye shape a little, but with the buttons undone, it’s still a very comfortable and passable shirt. 

The main modifications I made were my standard ones of lengthening the arms and the torso by 1″. I also ditched the back pleat in version A and flicked the grainline around for a more traditional crossways stripe on the yoke.


Simpicity 6138 and fabric envy

I’ve made this shirt so many times now that it’s getting ridiculous. I love that I’ve got a TNT business shirt pattern for husband. It certainly makes birthdays and Christmas easy. The fit is very good on him, even if he looks quite rumpled and uncomfortable in the photos. I did try to straighten him up a bit, but I have to call it a plus if I can simply get him in front of the camera.

 
 
Like in my last versions, my only modification was to add back darts. I still need to press them better, but somebody hastily donned his new shirt, literally before I could finish it. 
 

This was the fabric I’d originally chosen for his shirt, but it sold out in lightning speed. I might have been a day too late but my disappointment didn’t last long because because I discovered an equally gorgeous and unique shirt fabric that I think I like even more now. It’s call Blue Striped Unknown from Tessuti Fabrics. I’m wondering if I should get myself some more before it sells out. Or I could just steal the shirt for myself.


A denim midi skirt

Here’s a little self-drafted number that I’ve been working on for a few weeks now. You might have seen some of my sketches on Instagram as a part of Bimble and Pimble’s #bpsewvember, which by the way, is the best idea ever. I’m really loving everybody’s sewing pictures.

In addition to taking part in Sewvember, I’ve also been trying to challenge myself a bit more with my sewing. To me, this means planning, drafting and draping more of my own designs, and reading up more on construction and design. I’ve made it my goal to slowly work my way though a pattern-making textbook I own. However, I’m not moving very fast because I keep getting distracted with makes like this instead of learning the fundamentals! But I’m still discovering new tricks and flexing my brain, so I’ll let myself off the hook.

 
This is the midi skirt in denim that I’ve been dreaming about lately. I’m really proud of the way it turned out. The side pockets with the white denim and faux leather detail are small but still functional. I like the way they are shaped down the side of the body. I used a white zipper to match the panels and recycled an old brass belt buckle to make the waistband fastener out of faux leather.
 
 
 
 
 

There are two small box pleats in the front of the skirt and two larger pleats in the back. I wanted a pencil-ish shape to the skirt, but with enough ease and volume to look casual and feel comfortable. The hem is asymmetrical and the addition of the front white panel was last minute. Sometimes I need to visualise how garments are turning out (when they are half made already) to figure out what extra little touches are needed. I block fused the front panel of white denim with some lightweight woven interfacing to give it a bit more body. The white denim isn’t as heavy as the blue denim and I wanted it’s drape to match the rest of the skirt. I’ve been discovering the almost limitless potential of good quality interfacing recently which I’ll probably be talking about more in a coming post.

 

 




Denim culottes

No wardrobe can possibly be complete without culottes. So here, my friends, is yet another pair. I’m determined to persuade you!

 
 

This time, I made them up in heavy denim, with pocket details in white denim and contrast panels in dark green corduroy. I picked up the denim for a steal at Jo-Ann. It’s the kind of denim that would make good work-wear. It’s quite heavy, in a blah blue colour that will fade, and with no stretch to speak of. It’s exactly what I was looking for.

 

 

Once again, I used my trusty Esther shorts pattern. The basic shape of this pair of culottes is the same as my last pair, but with a few additional modifications:
  • I put a fly zipper in the front instead of the back invisible zip. I wanted these culottes to have a more jeans feel about them. I toyed with adding a button at the waistband, but I just didn’t like the casual feel of it. I stuck with a hidden hook and bar, and I bound the waistband (my new favourite thing!).  

 I also:

  • shortened the hem by several inches

  • added decorative patch pockets and panels to the sides of my culottes. I was inspired by the detailing in the skirt in this picture. It was posted on Instagram by a friend of mine so I have no idea who designed the skirt, or who is wearing it. Any ideas people?

 
I love the way the silhouette of culottes change depending on which angle you look at them from. I also love that I can walk, run and bend after children without losing my modesty. I think it’s going to be a culottes kind of winter for me. I’m wearing them with my 80’s man-shirt here, but in a few months time I’ll be layering them with fleece lined tights and weatherproof boots. That’s something you can’t do with skinny jeans! Are you sold…yet?
  


Kwik Sew 3883: GANRYU COMME des GARCON vs Charlie Harper

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard me say this before, but I don’t particularly love sewing men’s shirts. I think it’s the degree of perfection required with those collars and cuffs. It could also be because it’s selfless sewing and the kind of sewing that doesn’t really allow me to experiment much. I’m not allowed to deviate much from a standard pattern. Well, in hubby’s case I do. He’s a fan of classic.

So after doing my nice-wifely duty of sewing him a proper business shirt for his birthday (that post will come later), I decided to experiment with a casual ,short sleeve shirt. I was inspired by a GANRYU COMME des GARCON shirt that I saw on Pinterest. My plan was to keep the pleats but colour block the bottom instead of the curved pocket details. I chose some Anna Sui chambray for the top and some white linen for the bottom.

GANRYU COMME des GARCONS 2015 Spring/Summer Collection | Hypebeast

The patten I used was Kwik Sew 3883. I’ve sewn this pattern before (here and here). It’s taken me until now to finally admit that it isn’t a great fit. The shirt is just too wide in the torso, and perhaps a little wide on the shoulders too. The seam allowance of 6mm is also impractical. I usually start out sewing the shirt with the wrong seam allowance. But even when I get it right, 6mm is way to fiddly for nice felled seams.


Overall, I don’t mind how this shirt turned out. I wanted to bring the sides in by about an inch to slim down the fit for hubby, but he opted to forgo my alterations and send it to his Dad (who is a little bigger than him) instead. His initial reasoning was that it was a Summer shirt and we were headed into Winter. But I delved a little deeper and the truth came out. The fact of the matter is that the chambray reminds him of his old school uniform and the colour blocking makes him feel like Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. I guess colour blocked shirts are off the cards for hubby in the future then. What do you think? Have I made a Charlie Harper shirt?