Category Archives: shirting

A blue cotton top

I’m putting this top to bed. I like it from some angles and not from others. I might still wear it, or I might cut it up and modify it, but I don’t think I want to make another.

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The fabric that I’ve used does it no favours. It’s a denim-look cotton shirting with just enough stretch to keep the bound armscye and neckline permanently wrinkled, despite a good pressing.

Perhaps I could lower the neckline and change the shape of the front armscye, or add darts, but I’m just not loving it either way. And I need to love it if I’m going to spend any more time on it. Sometimes you just have to let things go.

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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!

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?