Thursday, April 19, 2018

Inspired by Carolina Herrera

This is one of the shirts I took to Sew Camp and finished most of the construction there. However, I still needed to do a little bit of work to it when I got home. I was inspired by this ad I saw on Instagram. Now while the ad is actually featuring the purse, I was drawn to the shirt the model is wearing, and added it to my "shirt sewing" list.

I love the detail of sewing shirts. The many components, how the silhouette can be changed, how fabric can alter the look and especially how I can add my own touches to make each one individually mine. Cause seriously there are tons of shirt patterns out there but what makes each shirt yours?  The details you add to it of course.

Fabric & Findings ~
The fabric for the shirt is from Fabric Mart and was also purchased during one of the 60% off shirting sales. The accents are white shirting from the 10 yards I purchased from Metro Textiles.  Buttons are from Pacific Trimmings. I checked the collection and had some that would work. However, I needed to get some for a shirt I'm currently working on and stumbled upon these which I liked better. Since they were just 25 cents a piece (12 for $3) and it's the only expense I'm incurring for the shirt, I bought them. 

Construction and Design ~
  • This is the third shirt in the series where I've changed the front bands, collars and cuffs. It's a detail I really like playing with. 
  • Originally I wanted a chevron stripe on the back yoke but when I sewed it together it didn't work. 
  • So I went with the horizontal striped yoke I'd cut for the inside of the shirt and switched the mismatched yoke to the inside. 
  • When I went to put my label on the yoke, it disappeared. As I looked down into the trash box under the ironing board, I saw a scrap of Kisha's mustard stripe fabric
  • I really like the dichotomy of the black 'n white stripe and the mustard stripe together so I sewed my label to it. 
  • Then I sewed that to the yoke. It's the kind of interesting detail I really like to add to my garments and it also adds a little Kisha to the shirt!

After this one hung for awhile, I realized that I used such a conservative fabric for it that I wanted some of the "shirt" details I curved the hemline to make it more shirt-like. ALL of my other versions have a straight hemline but for this one I wanted something different.

Since I'd cut the shirt originally with the straight hemline, I needed to make a change to the shirt get the new curved hem I desired. I used the original shirt pattern piece to mark the curved hemline. 

The other change to this shirt is a back pleat again to give it a more conservative look. Otherwise the shirt is sewn exactly as it's predecessors were.

A few photos of the shirt ~

Sewing Tip ~
When sewing the sleeve in I add a second row of stitching from underarm notch to underarm notch over the original stitching. I usually have the most stress on my underarm seam and by adding another row of stitching I reduce the possibility of a seam popping.

Wearability Factor ~
While this shirt looks good in photos and in person, the fabric is a little suspect. It doesn't feel or handle like a typical shirting. It actually feels a little plastic-y.  (not a word I know) Now while I like the white collar and cuffs, the pleat doesn't work in the back of this shirt because it emphasizes my backside. The gathered back doesn't do this, so I won't be using this design detail going forward. While the shirt isn't a fail, it is a disappointing wear for all of the work that went into it.

Conclusion ~
This is the fifth shirt in my shirt sewing extravangza. I have a few more to share and make before the month is over. Hopefully you are enjoying the series, if not come back in May where there will be a bunch of other garment posts! always more later!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Dot...Dot...Dot in Reverse

The next shirt is a journey in details. This shirt is loaded with special things I did to it. I didn't start out to sew a shirt where the details could possibly overtake the actual shirt design. My original intent was just to use the front and back sides of the fabric.

Here is how the shirt became a project...

First the Supplies ~
1. This fabric is from Fabric Mart and was purchased during one of their 60% off shirting sales. So this one is $5.20 per yard and I used 3 yards or $15.60 for the fabric. 

2. The buttons I chose for this shirt are from SIL and I think I paid $3-4 a pack and I bought 3 packages. 

3.  Interfacing is from Fashion Sewing Supply and is the Light Crisp fusible interfacing.

Design Changes & Construction ~
I went all in on this shirt. I added some interest to it by using the reverse side of the fabric for the button band, collar and cuffs. I used my "Coralee" method for the shirt front band and I added white topstitching to the collar, cuffs and button band.

I also added a box pleat to the back of the shirt instead of the gathering that I typically use. This one was inspired by the Talbot shirts in the "Shirt Inspiration" post.

I wanted to stitch the seams down since I don't flat fell the seams. But when I went to topstitch the seams with black thread they just got lost in the fabric's design. After pondering it for a minute, I realized that handstitching the seams would make them noticeable especially if I mimicked the dashes in the fabric.

So I hand stitched the shoulder seams, the back yoke, the side seams and each of the princess seams, as well as the hem. I doubled the thread in the needle so that I had four strands for each pass through and I tried to keep my stitches small. I know I wasn't always successful but to me it adds to the charm of the handstitches.

The sleeves were cut fuller and gathered into the button on cuffs. After much deliberation and a couple of choices I went with a white shank button down the front of the shirt to emphasis the lighter side of the shirt that was used for the button band.

A few pics of the shirt ~

Almost didn't include this shot cause seriously I look like a wide
load trailer in this shot! But honesty rules the day!

Sewing Tip ~
I always add an extra button to the shirt by sewing it into the side seam of the garment. That way I never have to worry about a button if one falls off. I know this isn't a fitting or construction tip but it's something that no one thinks about because we're sewists and we always have buttons, right? But sometimes we don't always have the button we need and this insures that you don't have to worry about it.

Wearability Factor ~
While I'm not sure about the pleat in the lower back of this shirt, it didn't bother me when wearing the shirt. It was comfortable to wear, fits my lifestyle and feels age appropriate but not stodgy. Though between this shirt and an upcoming one that also has a pleat detail, I'm thinking that the pleat is not working with the pattern piece. Or that maybe a pleat is not the way to go for me. I won't be adding a pleat to future makes because the gathered back is what really works for me.

Conclusion ~
Since I'm now approaching double digits with shirt makes, I want to use design details to make them different from each other and also so the unsuspecting non-sewing public won't realize that I'm basically wearing the same shirt. LOL! The buttons are a mother of pearl shank button also from the collection. So again another shirt made totally from items from the collection.

As I was photographing this group of shirts and writing up the blog posts, I've started to wonder if anyone even cares about seeing shirt after shirt. Some of these blog posts are for me ~ I like having a record of the garments I've made and the notes of what I've done. My blog has become an archive of garments I've sewn over the last 12 years but this is my benefit. I'm wondering if any of this benefits you the reader? 

Or if your eyes have glazed over and you've tuned out...cause honestly I have more shirts to share. I'm halfway through a sewing tear and I have more to document. So do you have any questions? Is there anything I'm not sharing that you need more info on? Ask and I will answer the best I can or throw it out to others, some who have way more experience than I do, so a discussion can occur. While I'm not writing a question of the day for this month - let this post be that about shirts, sewing them, choosing fabric, buttons or trims.

Of course up on the blog next is another shirt! LOL! This one is an inspired by... always more later!

Friday, April 13, 2018

Dot...Dot..Dot in Chambray

After making my black shirt with the gingham accents, I really wanted a few more shirts which is what started me down this rabbit hole and ultimately ended up as April being "Shirt Month." 

This shirt is made from fabric that was part of my first order from LA Finch Fabrics. I purchased it during their Black Friday sales in November 2017. While it's not a long time occupant of the collection, I consider this a collection sew, nonetheless.
Construction ~
This shirt is sewn as is with no design details added to it. I wanted a chambray shirt with character and the small dot of this fabric provided that. It's a medium weight fabric that will work with a tank top under it or worn alone. Since I want to be able to wear this one in the spring/early summer, I used the button cuff and continuous lap. I noticed that the sewn on cuffs don't work well in the summer heat. 

I use a lot of buttons when I make a shirt with a buttoned cuff. This shirt took 12.  Thankfully there were loads of white/cream buttons in the stash with 12 or more buttons. I also cut this one a little fuller than normal. I think I was feeling "fat" at the time I was cutting it out but it's cool that it has a more relaxed fit.

Lastly, this is a total collection sew. Fabric, buttons and interfacing all from the collection ~ nothing purchased to make this shirt!

A few pics of the shirt ~

...and yes, I'm wearing velvet slip-on sneakers...

Sewing Tip ~
To me button placement is so important on a shirt to prevent gaping.  As I said before I use a lot of buttons on my shirts. The first button I place on the shirt, is in the valley between my breasts. Then one is placed above and below that one. This is to guarantee that there's no gaping. I also use more buttons than suggested and place them closer together ~ typically 3.5" apart. 

This is the beauty of making your own shirt. You can use as many buttons as you like. I also used a larger button than most RTW shirts have. I hate trying to button those tiny shirt buttons so I've sized up. As a plus size woman I find that good button placement and a great fit add up to a well-fitted shirt. I highly suggest that you use the size button and a placement that works for your body, not just what the pattern suggests!

Wearability Factor ~
This shirt was comfortable to wear and worked. It just worked for my everyday life! It was the perfect marriage of fabric and design details. While I was wearing denim on denim, it didn't matter in my work environment. I even got a compliment on this shirt! It was a total winning sew!

Conclusion ~
This fills that spot in my shirt wardrobe of an interesting denim-y type shirt. It was a simple sew since I didn't make any changes to the pattern or add any design elements. Sometimes a shirt just needs to be a shirt!

Oh and one more pic of the shirt with my denim jacket that I think I will finally be able to wear later this week! Cause denim, on top of denim, on top of for me! 

Continuing on with "Shirt Month" the next shirt has everything but the kitchen sink thrown into it's construction and YET it works!  So look for it next on the blog! always more later!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Do you own a Black Shirt?

I know all of the fashion pundits tell you that you should own a good white shirt. It appears on all of the Top Ten lists. However, if you think about it, you could use a good black shirt too. It would work with a black skirt (denim or otherwise), a pair of trousers, jeans or leggings.

So do you own one?  I didn't. It came up last summer when I wanted to make a jumper/sleeveless dress for fall. I had a pattern, the fabric ~ a black/brown wool blend check, tights and shoes but no shirt to go under the jumper. So it didn't get made because I was missing a vital element to make the look work.

Then I started to think on it and realized I didn't even own any black shirting fabric...which started it's own search. I didn't even ask myself the question of why didn't I have any with such a large fabric collection...because the answer was simple...I'd never needed it before.

Supply List ~
I found some at Fabric Mart of course. It's a 100% cotton, 57" wide fabric that was the deal of the day for $2.99 per yard. At that price I bought 10 yards. This was purchased last fall and was on the website until recently when it sold out.

The black 'n white gingham is from the collection and I've had it for over 10 years. I bought it to be accents on a white corduroy denim type jacket that still hasn't been made...*sigh.*  Even though I used it for accents on this shirt there is still plenty left for the corduroy jacket, some day. The buttons are from the button collection. That makes the shirt a total "from collection" sew. Yes!!!

Construction ~
Imma be honest. When I sew shirts I don't flat fell the seams. I guess I should care about using the technique but I don't...I just want a shirt to wear. So my seams on this version are serged finished first, stitched together and then topstitched down.

My TNT shirt pattern has the button band included on the front of the pattern. It also has front princess seams. The back has a yoke and a gathered one piece lower back. The set in sleeves have a band that can have an opening with a button and buttonhole or a band that's just added to the bottom of the shirt. I've made this shirt eight times with a variety of changes, most of them detailed in this blog post.

However, if I want to have a different fabric for the back of the button band, which is what I wanted in this version, I had to make a change to the pattern to achieve that look. It was a simple alteration. I redrew the front pattern piece leaving the 1/2" past the center front on the pattern.  

Then I drew the button band piece with 1/2" seam allowance and the rest of the band from the front pattern piece.

For this shirt, besides the front band in black 'n white gingham, I added a fold up cuff using the gingham for one side of the cuff, inside the collar stand and the back yoke.

Since I usually add a label to the back yoke of my shirts, when I went to add this one, it kind of melted into the background. So I sewed the label to a piece of the black shirting and finished the piece by using my pinking shears. It was then stitched to the yoke. 

It's not a huge detail but I love how it's just one more thing that adds to the fabulousness of this shirt.

The inner band and sleeves with cuffs

A few pictures ~
...taken with casual shoes which I thought were black 'n white gingham...Surprise! They're blue!!!


 ...taken with red velvet wear out with friends.


Conclusion ~
I've worked out all of the issues with my pattern and have the perfect shirt pattern now. This look is becoming my daily uniform. Its so comfortable to wear that I've decided to use different details for future shirts to make them distinguishable. I've been inspired by changes Cennetta made to several of her versions, as well as this Instagram post. Her post has really challenged me to think outside the box when adding fabric details to my shirts.

As you know, this will not be my last shirt this month or this year. I counted. I have enough fabric to make another two dozen shirts and that's only including one from each of the 10 yards of white & black shirting I own. *sigh* Yeah I kinda went for it when I started buying shirting fabric but I blame Fabric Mart and those amazing sales for that - TOTALLY! LOL!

Lastly, lest you think I've forgotten about the Crazy 8 Wardrobe ~ this is item number 4 from the wardrobe. It's also the first shirt I made when I decided to make a bunch of them. 

The next shirt on the blog to celebrate "April is Shirt Month" is a chambray dotted shirt... always more later!

Saturday, April 07, 2018

The Hurrying Spring Along Shirt!

This is what I woke up to on April 2nd...

It was supposed to be spring like 3 weeks ago! So continuing to sew shirts is appropriate for April. Especially since I'm thinking it's gonna be a minute before it gets really warm in my neck of the woods, especially since more snow is forecasted for today.  Oh spring, where art thou?

At the same time, Macy's is having their Annual Flower Show on the main floor of the Herald Square store. I thought it would be the perfect place to take photos of my latest make but of course being the slub that I am I just couldn't make that work. It's a lot harder than you realize to cart clothing, camera pieces and extra hair from NJ!

So my ever resourceful daughter thought up going to Michaels to take pictures in their floral department. She said that there is a #MichaelsChallenge where the store is encouraging people to take photos in their floral department. So we headed there to take the pictures and no one bothered us. 

Onto the shirt ~
This is my quarterly make for Elliot Berman Textiles.  I saw the fabric on their Instagram feed and walked over to see if I could have some. Now I got this fabric in early February. My plan was to make this shirt over President's Day weekend. Well we all know that didn't happen and why! But I was determined to get this finished, so I took it to Sew Camp with me.

This was from EB's feed on IG

It was also available on Emmaonesock but is long sold out!
I'm sharing this pic because of the amazing shots EOS took of the fabric.

Supply List ~
* Cotton Sateen Border Print from Italy - this fabric was in panels and I used 3 panels.
* Light Crisp Shirting Fusible Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply
* 8 1/2" flower buttons from the collection

Construction & Design Thoughts ~
Now that this pattern's fit issues have been resolved, my shirts are all about the fabric choices. When I saw this on Instagram, I KNEW it would make an amazing shirt if I could get the border print to lay down the front of the shirt. This is challenging because I don't use a flat front on my shirts. My shirts have a shoulder princess layout would be important.

This is what I shared on IG when thinking about my layout:

Then it was how do I make the border print work most effectively for the shirt. 

A few things:

1. The border print ran horizontally, so I made sure that all of the main pieces (fronts, bottom back and sleeves) were cut in the same direction.

2. While I cut the collar, cuffs and back yoke on the straight grain, I've done this before and know that it doesn't affect the hang of the shirt.

3. I cut these pieces to work most effectively with the shirt's design flow.

4. Full cuffs for the sleeves instead of a button cuff was the way I went with this shirt. I just liked it. It was totally my choice - it could have gone either way - this is just the direction I chose.

5. Originally I thought that I would pleat the lower back piece where it joins to the yoke. I did pleat and baste it together but the pleat seemed to diminish the effect of the border print. So I went with gathers because it worked better with the yoke and collar.

6. I've been making shirts for awhile now but I haven't been able to master "the burrito method" from all of the written instructions. However, after a lesson or two cause Imma admit Kisha helped me with the second shirt too, I think I've got it now! 

I used three panels and only had scraps left. Some other design ideas thought of but discarded:
- covered buttons from the floral area of the border print (decided it was too much)
- really full sleeves (wanted them fuller but there wasn't enough white space between the border

One more thing ~ 
I chose sew on button bands instead of the fold on ones due to fabric layout. As I was adding the front button bands on, I realized that I sewed one on folding to the front and one folding to the back. I was kinda upset thinking that I would need to unpick the back one. When Coralee piped up and said you should just leave it alone.

Coralee at Sew Camp looking sassy in her Miyake coat!

She was right! With the band going to the back it leaves a cleaner finish on the button band and I will now be using the "Coralee Method" when sewing on button bands!

Here are a few pictures of the finished shirt ~

Doesn't that pink plant falling forward look like an octopus or sea creature?

I love the back swing of this shirt along with how the 
border print works for the cuffs and back!

Sewing Tip for Sewing Shirts ~
Since it's Shirt Month here on the blog, I've decided to add a sewing tip for all of those sewing or reading along and thinking of making their own shirts. Today's tip would be to use the speciality feet for your sewing machine to make the sewing as easy as possible.

This shirt was sewn on my back up sewing machine - Janome 6600P - during Sew Camp. I own a straight stitch foot for this machine and it made constructing this shirt so much easier than on my main machine. I've since rectified that and purchased a straight stitch foot for my main one. However, look at the stitching line and how close I got to the edge without having to change to the edge stitch foot.

Purchasing extra feet for your machine may seem like an unnecessary expense but believe me it's money well spent!

Conclusion ~
Just a reminder that this fabric was given to me by Elliott Berman since I'm collaborating with them to showcase the awesome fabrics they have in-store and online.  I did a quick search of their online store and here is compilation of border print fabrics if you're interesting in purchasing some of your own! Cause y'all know I love a good border print!

This is the kick-off to Shirt Month and emphasizes that fabric CAN make all the difference in making step outside the box and use a fabric that's not typically thought of for a shirt.

Next up is my black shirt ~ do you own one? always more later!


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