Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Birthday Shirt

Well, I have finally made my partner a proper men's shirt. (I have been promising this for a while now), just in time for his birthday.

In preparation to make this shirt, I purchased Pam Howard's "The Classic Tailored Shirt" from Craftsy. This class was fantastic. Pam is such a great teacher. She explained every step of making a classic tailored shirt very clearly and demonstrated every step in great detail. She even made a couple of mistakes herself, but then explained and showed how to fix those mistakes. I learnt so much from this class and it certainly gave me the confidence to make my own classic tailored shirt.

I used McCalls 6044 in a large with a few alterations.

I eliminated the separate front band, by cutting the front band and the shirt front as one piece. I also eliminated the seam in the two piece sleeve, so that the sleeve was only one piece. I redrafted the back of the shirt to create a proper yoke and yoke facing. I made these changes simply to make the shirt pattern more like the Kwik Sew pattern that Pam was using in the class. I also made a tower placket. The Craftsy class did not cover a tower placket, only a continuous placket was demonstrated. However, Pam did provide a pattern for a tower placket in the class notes and a link to her Tower Placket Tutorial.

The fabric I used was 100% cotton shirting purchased online from The Remnant Warehouse and I see it is still available. It was a lovely soft cotton and easy to work with. Although the stripes gave me a headache during the cutting out process. It took a lot of time and thought to get the stripes placed to look their best on the pattern pieces. I was quite pleased with the result. In fact, I matched the stripes so well on the pocket that it is almost invisible.


Here are some photos during construction:

Pam's Yoke Trick (aka Burrito method)
After joining shirt fronts to shirt back outer yoke at the shoulder seams, the shirt fronts and shirt back are rolled up exposing the yoke facing, which is then wrapped around the rolls (like a burrito) and pinned to the shoulder seams. After sewing these seams, the rolls are gently pulled through the neck opening revealing a lovely neat fully enclosed yoke.
Yoke facing offset slightly to avoid pulling before stitching shoulder seams.
Setting the sleeve in flat with the "Flat Felled" seam pinned and ready to sew.
Collar and Collar Band ready to attach to neckline. 
Inside: Intersection of  Flat Felled side seams and armhole seam.
Inside of shirt tail hem.
Tower placket and cuff.

I really enjoyed the construction of this shirt. Everything was finished off so neatly. As Pam Howard said "You could wear this shirt inside out if you wanted to". There was some hand stitching involved. The collar band and the cuff facings were hand stitched using a fell stitch, and the buttons were sewed on by hand. This was a nice touch and as Pam Howard said " it makes it a handmade shirt. You can sew a shirt entirely by machine, but you can go to the shops and buy one of those." I have to agree that the little bit of hand sewing made the construction of the shirt more personal and I felt that I was putting a lot of love into it.


Back yoke and collar
Cuff and sleeve pleats
Overall I am really pleased with how this shirt turned out. My partner even wore it out in public when we went out for dinner to celebrate his birthday. There are a couple of changes I will make for the next one ( and yes, there will be a next one or two or maybe even three). I will add about 6cm to the sleeve length and also increase the length of the tower placket. My partner is very tall (6' 4") and slim and he has extra long arms.

And to finish appropriate was this birthday card?

Happy Sewing 

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Three Easy Tops

Top No. 1

I have made another Sewaholic Renfrew. This time I made view B with the V Neck.

Fabric used was a grey cotton jersey. This was quite a stable knit and sewed well. The neckline is pulling a bit in this photo because of the way I have my arm positioned.

You can see how well the neckline sits when my arms are by my side.

And here is the back view. I am quite happy with the fit. The sleeves are a bit long but being cotton there may be some shrinkage, so I was allowing for this.

I was very happy with the V Neck. The instructions were very clear and made this quite easy. I finished the neckline with a twin needle rather than zigzag as the instructions suggest. I think this gives it a more RTW finish and stops it looking home made.

I have finally parted with my overlocker and sent it off for a well needed service. Therefore, I sewed this top entirely on my sewing machine, finishing the seams with a zigzag stitch.

This will be a great casual top for the weekend.

Top No. 2

Dolman Sleeve Top from Cation Designs which is a free pattern.

This a great little pattern that has been popping up quite a bit lately. I have made this previously (Pattern Review) but the neckline was a complete disaster.

For this one I changed the dimensions of the neck band from 24" x 1.25" (61cm x 3.2cm) to 21" x 2"(53.3cm x 5cm) This worked out much better. I also used the length and the hem band from the Sewaholic Renfrew. Fabric used was a jersey left over from my Wrap Dress

I finished off the neckline using a zigzag stitch which I thought suited the fabric design better than a twin needle finish.

This is a great addition to my weekend wardrobe and a great way to use up some leftover fabric.

Top No.3

This one is a combination of the Cation Design Dolman Sleeve Top and the Sewaholic Renfrew V Neck Top.

Fabric choice can make a huge difference. The fabric I used for this top was a very fine knit (unknown content) that had a lot of drape and not a very good recovery. This had sat in my stash for a while. I didn't quite know what to do with it so I thought it would do, to try out this pattern combination.

See all that fabric pooling at the back? This is exactly the same back pattern piece I used for Top No. 2 (except for the neckline), and I didn't have any fabric pooling problem with that one. Also the sleeve bands are too loose. You might notice that the hem band is a little narrower too. I cut the original one off and removed nearly 7 inches before reattaching it.

This fabric is really tissue thin. I purchased it online, thinking it looked like a sweater knit from the online photo...I was bitterly disappointed. I guess that's the risk you take when ordering online.

You can see how thin it is in the shot above where the flash has picked up my bra through the fabric.

One thing I was really pleased with was the V Neck on this top. It turned out really neat, so I guess I will be making a few more of these easy tops in the future. (Just have to be quite careful choosing the fabric).

Happy Sewing