Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fabric Makes All of the Difference

I have a lot of button down shirt patterns in the pattern stash. Each one purchased for a different reason, idea and/or dream. Lately I've wanted to make a couple of them. I found an out-of-print (OOP) Vogue 7700 in the stash recently...and I loved it...until I looked at the line drawings closely and realized it had dropped shoulders. I don't really like dropped shoulders on anything but I loved the yoke and gathered back on the pattern.

Butterick 5678

So I decided that I would mash up my tried 'n true (TNT) blouse pattern - Butterick 5678 and Vogue 7700. This gives me the fitted princess seam look on the front and the flowy artist type smock look on the back that I wanted. I'm always looking for comfortable, flowy types of button up shirts and/or tunics to wear alone or with a cardigan.

OOP Vogue 7700

At first I really wanted a couple of white blouses but I decided that I have so many colored and patterned shirtings in my fabric collection, that I would go with one of them. I chose these two shirtings from Fabric Mart (really did you have to ask where they came from? LOL!)

One is a cotton shirting I bought from Fabric Mart years ago when they were running a sale on shirtings.  The sticker says I bought 3 yards for $4 a yard. My second choice is a Cotton & Steel cotton I bought during my Christmas vacay, directly from Fabric Mart's brick 'n mortar store. It's one of the pre-cuts, 4 yards for $1 a yard.

Pattern Alterations ~
The biggest change was to the back of the shirt because I love the full gathered back of Vogue 7700. It was what I wanted to incorporate into Butterick 5678. The princess seams on the front will give it a tailored look and the swingy back will give the button down a more casual look.

So I made a pattern sandwich (original back, yoke back from V7700 and a new piece of tracing paper) and I made a yoke back that would match the neckline and shoulders of B5678. 

Then I altered the gathered back piece. The original had a dip which I filled in because I wanted a seam straight across my back. I also changed the armhole so it would match the B5678 one. Especially since I'm still using the B5678 sleeve.

Construction Deets ~
Seeing that I was mashing the patterns I used the Butterick directions for the front. This was my sewing process:

Button down Body:
1. Serge finish the cut out pieces.
2. Sew the back yoke to the back piece and set aside.
3. Sew the princess seams of the front.
4. Stitch the front pieces to the back pieces at the shoulder seams.

Collar and Collar Stand:
For the Cotton & Steel one, I made the collar and collar stand as the pattern suggests, just topstitching everything before adding it to the body of the shirt.

Sleeves and Finishing the Button down:
a. When I cut the sleeves out I added a little extra to the side seams (without messing with the sleeve cap) to give the sleeve a little more room.

b. Then I changed the cuffs from regular cuffs with a button to a solid cuff that you slip your hand through. I took pictures of the process they will be in the next blog post.

c. The cotton button down has a double hem and buttons & button holes.

A few pictures of the Cotton & Steel Mashup ~

After making the first version, I realized the shirt would work better in a flowy type fabric. The cotton version is okay but it lacks the drape that I wanted. So I chose another one of my pre-cuts to make a second version.

I used a polyester crepe pre-cut from Fabric Mart for this one because I'm in love with the pre-cuts from Fabric Mart. I may have bought a few more when they were on sale for 60% off! LOL!

Things I changed for the second one ~

1. I lengthened the back yoke piece by 1". It seemed short on the original version. 
2. I added 5/8" to the cuff because I added piping to the cuff.
3. I added piping to the collar of this version to break up some of the pattern.
4. In the first version the back was longer than the front piece. So I cut 3" off the back to make it work.
5. For this one, I lengthened the front pieces by 3" so the finished top would be tunic length and match the unaltered back piece.
6. I also took in 1/2" on each front princess seam from the waistline down to make the bottom front a little more fitted. While the loose fit worked with the sturdier fabric, it was a little too much drape with the drapier fabric.
7. The sleeves were widened to give them a little more flare before gathering them into the cuff.

8. Piping was added to both ends of the cuff and then gathered into the sleeve.
9. The shirt was hemmed by turning it up 1/2" and topstitching. Then buttonholes and white buttons from the collection were added.

The button down in action ~

A picture of the two shirts side by side ~ 

Conclusion ~
I know that I used out of print patterns for these makes.  However, both of these patterns are readily available on the internet for purchase. I don't know if there are any patterns with these features currently in the pattern books, though. 

I have to admit that I love the blue and white one more. It has the length and drape that I want. Also the piping takes the design up a notch. I loved it so much that I immediately pulled out more fabric to make a couple more button downs.  

Another like is how the mash-up looks on me. Tailored in the front with some flare in the back which really works for my body type. And since I've been sewing multiples lately, why not three or four instead of just two! always more later!


  1. Carolyn, I love the blue one as well (I don't think it is just because blue is my favorite color). The side by side is a great way to see the contrasts. The added length, I believe, made a difference. In person I bet that piping adds an expensive flair. Thank you for the close up. We don't see piping that much right now and it always adds a richness. Love your blog!

  2. While on a good thing stick to it!

  3. Very nice -- really like the added length of the blue. Such a good feeling to knock out 'tried & true' patterns with design changes that give each a distinctive look.

  4. You are so right about fabric choice!! It definitely makes a difference. I think both versions are great, but agree that the blue and white version suits your want for drapiness a lot better than the C&S.

  5. I love both and do like the added length.

  6. Nice job!! I love the piping on the blue. They both look very nice on you! Thanks for the detailed information!!

  7. Oh Ms. Carolyn, you made two lovely shirts! You look absolutely darling in both! I agree with you, the blue one is truly exceptional!! (BTW...I love your sneakers too!!)

  8. I'm biased because I adore asymetrical Deco-type prints with great visual interest, as well as crisp white-white with perfect royal blue. That longer blouse is spectacular on you, and the scale of the print suits you beautifully. The first blouse is very nice, but this second one is a home run with bases loaded, IMO. Cindy (Creative Hormone Rush)

  9. I agree with the opinions posted here, while both button downs are beautiful, the blue wins--piping, longer length, softer fabric, color just pops on you, puffier sleeves. On tops/tunics/blouses that I wear with leggings and closer fitting pants, I prefer a longer length, usually 32" to 33" back length(due to big booty/thunder thigh issues-lol). I'm 5'5". Keep it up Carolyn! See there, you can make a casual wardrobe work and do it well. Can't wait to see more!

    1. Robin - In three months I will be at this job two years so it would be sad if I hadn't figured it out by now! *LOL* Although honestly, I'm just feeling like I'm hitting my stride. I know who I want to be, have accepted that fact that pumps no longer reside in my world, and have learned to stop looking longingly at dresses in the colder weather. I am still trying to figure out what length works for me tunic-wise so am in awe that you know that. Thanks for the compliment!

  10. I love hearing about your thinking process as you come up with a pattern combination that works for you--very helpful!

  11. Both shirts are really cute. I love how you mashed up these patterns to suit your shape. Karen

  12. Do you watch the Fold Line from London? She shops the high end fashion shops and then finds patterns to match the trends. And last week she posted a long button down shirt as a hot trend. So you are stylin' girlfriend! ;) I also have button downs on my to do list. I love a crisp collar. And a loose men's shirt over a t or tank is a flattering look. I steal my sons' shirts for this when I don't have what I want in my stash.

    1. Patricia - I do watch The Fold Line - I like their vlogs. And yes, gf I know that button downs are hot right now though I think I stole my inspiration ideas from Talbots more than anyone else! *LOL*

  13. You look so snappy and comfy in both of them. Gr8 job.

  14. I love both shirts Carolyn! You really made them your own.

  15. Great shirts but I am biased because sewing button front shirts are my favourite thing to sew. You are going to get three totally different looking shirts.

  16. Carolyn you look awesome in both!

  17. Carolyn, you hit it out of the park with these shirts. They both look remarkable on you. The blue and white one with the piping details . . . gorgeous!

  18. Inspiring as always... off to look for a button-down pattern in my stash. I love these kinds of tops over tanks but really want to perfect one to wear on its own. Yours look fabulous!

  19. I'm having a thing now with button shirts too...your looks are great!

  20. Fun fabrics and the tops are so perfect for spring. So many mixing and matching possibilities too!

  21. You did a wonderful job combining the two. I love the Butterick pattern and almost bought it, because I thought it was a "Y" neck opening, but it is not. Still on a quest for that perfect blouse with the yoked, gathered blouse and forward shoulder. I will find it some day, or get up the nerve to try to enlarge an Evan Picone pattern I have. I like both blouses but prefer the drape of the blue and white one. The piping says "expensive". Great job!

  22. I love the blue and white one more. The fabric really does make a difference. Plus the piping makes it look quite expensive.

  23. I love them both! I have some pre-cut fabric from FM also. This has given me some inspiration!

  24. Looove the blue one and looks great against your complexion.

  25. Love this look you've chosen, very flattering, and those bright colors are awesome on you. Congrats on finding your style groove.

  26. Two wonderful shirts! Once again you've proved that sewing gives you exactly what you want.

  27. I'm loving the blue one also, the piping pops! I just so happen to have both in my stash too, so I'm saving this article for reference!! 😙

  28. I really like both of these shirts! You did a great job. Can't wait to sew with you at the end of the month, rather than just hang and chat - although that's always fabulous too! g


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