Sunday, April 29, 2018

Everyone needs a white shirt, right?

I always knew that I was going to add a white shirt to this collection of shirts. I just couldn't decide if I wanted a classic white shirt or my TNT version with the gathered back. After some thought I went with both...I mean why not? I have the fabric and notions to create both shirts!

Materials ~
White cotton poly/lycra blend purchased from Metro Textiles 
(I bought 10 yards of this so I could make a couple of white shirts)

7 - 1/2" shell buttons from the collection for the sleeveless shirt

10 - 1/2" novelty buttons from the collection for Poet's Blouse/Shirt

A Classic White Sleeveless Shirt ~
I used the same pattern pieces that I used to make the Orange Mizrahi inspired shirt for this one. I was happy sewing it and spent all day working on it. Topstitching all the seams and getting all the details right. 

(Like adding lace to my label before adding to the back yoke)

Then I hung it up for the evening vowing to finish it during the week. When I went back and looked at it, I realized that I really liked it sleeveless. That it would work well under cardigans and jackets for spring cause spring is finally here. So my classic white shirt turned into a sleeveless white shirt.

Construction Techniques ~
- I hemmed it using a 5/8" hem allowance. 
- I bound the armholes with a 1" twill tape I had in the notions stash. 
- Then added buttonholes and some shell buttons again from the stash.

Pictures of the finished top ~
The first pictures are of me wearing the shirt with a jacket that I made in 2011. This is how I will most likely wear the shirt. The jacket is from a floral cotton sateen and you can read all about it's construction here.

Some pictures of the shirt alone ~

A White Poet's Blouse/Shirt ~ 
I really wanted this one to be more of an artiste's type shirt with a looser fit.

Construction & Design ~
a. I cut the sleeves larger than normal by 4-5" - I freestyled this alteration.
b. A longer cuff was made by not folding the cuff in half. The edge was finished by topstitching it flat. 
c. The back was cut a little wider to give the shirt a looser fit.
d. I used these funky novelty buttons for the front of the shirt to add to the artiste flair!
e. An eyelet fabric was used for the inside yoke to add interest to it.

Otherwise this shirt was constructed exactly as I made my other back yoked shirts with the looser fit. With my first shirts I pulled the gathering threads by hand. For this one I used my new gathering foot which you can see in action here. If you can buy a gathering foot for your sewing machine, I highly recommend it!

A few pictures of the shirt:

Conclusion ~
I now have two wonderful white blouses with two separate personalities to add to my wardrobe. But what thrills me most is that everything to make these shirts came from my collection. With these last two, I've made 15 shirts in the last couple of years and highlighted 8 new makes for Shirt Month. 

Now that the weather is finally warming up this is a good place to stop and move onto other garments. That's not to say you might now see another shirt or two made during this spring/summer since I have loads of shirting fabrics still in the collection. There will definitely be more shirts made come fall since this is a silhouette that I really enjoy wearing and making.

I know that in my last post I said that I would share a shirt making tips post and that will be up in the next couple of days followed by a wrap up post for Shirt Month. always more later!


Sunday, April 22, 2018

An Orange Isaac Mizrahi Shirt

I bought this fabric years ago from around the time they had the Vera Wang fabrics. It was purchased because I liked it not because I had specific plans for it. So it sat on the shelf waiting it's turn to be used. I went looking for it because I wanted to make a different type of shirt ~ something a little fun and funky!

What I forgot was that all of those little orange shamrocks had to be matched up. Which resulted in some very #slowsewing to get those shamrocks to match across the fronts and at the yoke and back seams.

Supply List ~
  • 3 yards of a midweight cotton stretch shirting by designer Isaac Mizrahi purchased from also from the collection
  • 1/2 yard of gray/orange print batik from the collection
  • 12 1/2" 4-hole orange buttons from Pacific Trimmings
  • 2 pkgs of 1/2 foldover bias binding from Pacific Trimmings
  • Light Crisp Shirt Fusible Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply

Construction & Design ~
Most of the shirts I've sewn use the silhouette of yoke & gathered/pleated back with a straight hem. I was weary of that shirt type. It prompted me to make some changes to my existing pattern pieces. I thought I would add the back princess seams into the mix yet keep the back yoke. I also wanted the curved hemline typical of button down shirts.

After some pattern alterations, I had new pattern pieces to use for this new version of my TNT shirt pattern.

Adding space to the lower side back piece

Added space to the center back piece

Putting all the pieces together to insure they work

I know the question is, why not just use a new pattern with the features I want, because I do own quite a few shirt patterns. However, I would have to start the fitting process all over again using a new pattern. I know where to make changes for my body using these pattern pieces. I'm not starting new...I'm just adding to the pattern that's already working for me.  Plus I really don't like to fit new's one of the reasons that I use TNT patterns over and over and over again.

After sewing the shirt together, there was excess fabric in the back seams. So I took it all out...everything that I added to the pattern pieces was taken out...*sigh!* I need to adjust the pattern pieces because I really want to make this shirt silhouette type again.

The other challenge was to get the print to match across all of these seams, as well as from the yoke back to the back princess seams. So I single cut the back pattern pieces. It took a lot pins, some slow sewing and a good layout to get it to work. It matches across all of the seams except one under arm seam and I'm good with that.

Binding ~
The design change to this shirt is that I added bias binding to the collar, cuffs and hemline. I wanted to use the binding to enhance the shirt's print. Adding it to the collar and the hemline were pretty standard. But I had to stop sewing for the night and sleep on it to come up with an idea for the application to the cuffs.

I photographed the process so when I want to use it for a future shirt, I can refer back to it. Readers if you want to incorporate this into one of your shirts, please feel free to borrow it.

Apply the band to the sleeve, then press it in half
up towards the sleeve

Align the binding next to the creased line of the cuff.
Stitch the binding down with a row of stitching on each side of the binding.

Finish and apply the cuff following the pattern instructions

I really like how the binding is applied but the cuff has a clean finished look. Which is what I wanted more than anything.

A few pictures of the shirt ~

Conclusion ~
Honestly I never thought about the logo print on the fabric when I dreamed up this shirt. I'm not sure I would have used it if I'd realized I would be matching all those stripes and the print beforehand. I just wanted to make some pretty shirts. Thankfully, I did use the fabric because this shirt is different from the previous ones I've made...though I used my seam ripper ALOT...this was slow sewing...really slow sewing!  Also, this shirt has a slimmer fit with more button down shirt features. 

This is shirt number 6 for the month and I have 2-3 more to make before I'm done. Since the weather is cooperating by just starting to warm up, I think I will get those last couple of shirts completed before it gets hot.

My next post is about my shirtmaking tips. I felt like including one tip per blog post wasn't enough. Having one blog post with all the information seemed more appropriate so that's what's coming up. always more later!

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!


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