It feels like I haven’t made myself a shirt for a while… Oh except for This One early June… Erm, and This Other One I made in mid July for a couple of weddings… Whatever, it feels like it’s been a while. So, I made myself a shirt.
MrA came home the other day before I had a chance to hide put away the fabric I’d bought earlier from McCullough & Wallis. He said “Ooh, that’s nice… More dresses for the girls?” I said “No, I thought it would make a nice shirt for me”. He said (… Long pause…) “… If you say so… Mint Choc Chip…?” Then went into the kitchen.
Often, the things I’m making that MrA-dislikes-most turn out to be the things he likes-the-most once I’ve finished. Perhaps this will be the case again. Either way, I’m still waiting for my new girls-dress patterns to arrive, so, onwards…
I think the pattern would look really good as a short sleeve, but the weather’s turning, and I’ve got a really nice brown jumper it’ll look great under in the winter. Long sleeve it is, they can always be turned up if we get another ‘heatwave’ (by the way, IMHO that hot spell in July/ August in the UK was not a heatwave… It WAS summer).
Using my faithful, tweaked & pimped Burda 6931 I chose my pieces and cut them out: I’ve made a sturdy version of all the pattern pieces out of leftover lining-wallpaper. It’s fantastic. I lay it on the fabric, draw round it with my Crayola washable pens, pin the folded fabric within the markings and cut out. I love my Swedish tracing paper, but I use this pattern so much, I noticed it was getting slightly smaller every few shirts. If you’ve got a favourite pattern you use over and over again I recommend making a sturdy one, if you haven’t already. I couldn’t find the pocket so I just measured out a square and as it goes through a dart, I only tried to match it at the top and inside. I’ll try to keep it brief, but here’s how I put it all together…
I marked the folds for the front button plackets and pressed & pinned them. Then marked pressed & pinned the darts (front & back) then took them all to the sewing machine. I sew the right front placket using the edgestitch foot, from the inside with the needle shifted over six beeps (which I think is 3mm). The left front, I sew twice, from the front, catching the folded edge underneath, and again along the edge (6 beeps).
I cheat a bit with my darts… I start at the top, being very careful to insert the needle just into the crease by a thread or two. Using the built in lock stitch on my faithful Janome DKS30, I sew from the top to the bottom in one go, slowing down at the end to finish just a few threads in with another lock stitch. I don’t get any puckering and I’ve never again had to fumble around trying to tie off loose threads. Don’t shoot me, I’m just saying! Next I zigzagged the pocket & sewed the top 2cm right-sides-together down the sides. Folded and pressed the seams in & turned right-side-out (like Wendy Ward does in her video clip). Then I pressed the seams in around the three sides, mitring the corners, stitched the top down then lined up the pocket and sewed it on.
The darts go into the back, then as I’ve chosen the no-yoke version, it’s time to put the shoulders together. I match them up RST, pin & stitch them, a quick press to the back, zig zag (standard 3mm width 1.5mm length) and sew them down from the right side (edgestitch foot & 6 beeps again).
Sometimes I do the collar next, but I was feeling reckless, I just staystitched the neckline and went on to the sleeves. I’d decided to only placket on the top side and do a little ‘rolled-hem’ on the underlap side. I lined up the placket near the mark to make sure I didn’t cut the slit too long. Then I’ll explain the next pic. You might have to zoom in to see the drawings over it…
- Fold and press a narrow double hem on the short side of the slit. Sew it down.
- Sew the placket Right Side Down onto the Wrong Side of the larger side of the slit. (I’ve dotted round it in green as its hard to see, and coloured the stitching in red)
- Turn the placket to the right side of the sleeve. Press the seams onto the placket. Turn a small hem over and fold it over to cover the stitches.
- I use washable glue to hold it down while I sew across the placket, up and along the top, then down the long side.
I didn’t fold a pointy tip to the placket. I always intend to, right up until I’m stood at the ironing board, looking down at them, glue in hand and the iron impatiently steaming beside me, and I just think, if I’m not going to the trouble of doing French seams, then I can not go to the trouble of making two matching pointy plackets also. In fact, I think I prefer a square placket, I like the simplicity of it.
Here’s another admission: I don’t ease stitch the shoulders on this pattern 😱. There’s such a small amount of fabric to ease in, I just use millions of pins… Millions.
Jeez, that looks terrible! But, I match the notches, work my way in a bit, centre the excess and align the edges. If I get a big bubble, I just go back a pin or two and redistribute. I sew it really slowly with the shirt uppermost and the sleeve underneath, keeping everything nice and smooth. I loved ease-stitching-in the sleeves on AuntieE’s Wool Jacket, but in cotton, easing gets lumpy & puckery on me. I get a much better result with my millions-of-pins method. Honestly.
I press them up, away from the sleeve, zigzag the edges then topstitch it down… You know it…. ‘6 Beeps’.
Now it’s the sides and sleeves. I could have French seamed it. It’s easy: wrong sides together and sew at 5mm, turn, press, then sew again at 1cm. But I didn’t. I went at my 1.5cm seam allowance, pressed to the back, zigzagged, then topstitched the sides upto the armpit. Next, I finished the hem. I cut it straight, so layed the shirt down, in half. Hems matching. And drew in a gentle curve. I pinned it, cut it out, turned a narrow double hem and stitched it down from the right side.
Now I know, this is turning into another mammoth-blog-post like when I Made My Jeans, but it’s really just the collar, cuffs & buttons to go. Never forget about the buttons. Sometimes I do, and I think I’ve almost finished, then I remember the button holes. There’s something to be said for doing them at the start with the plackets, it gets some of them out of the way. I might do that on the next one.
- Sew the collar. Clip and press the seams. Turn and topstitch.
- Press up 1.3cm on the inner collar stand.
- Attach the outer collar stand, RS together with the back of the shirt.
- Press up the seams..
- Pin on the collar (outer collar stand RS up. Under-collar facing down)
- Pin the inner collar stand (RS down) on top.
- Clip, snip, grade & turn.
- Pin from the right side, catching the inner collar stand on the other side.
- Stitch in the ditch from the right side.
- Then edgestitch around the collar stand.
I suppose it’d be nice to save the edgestitching on the button plackets until now, do it all in one go with the collar stand. It’d save a few thread knots on the collar and give a nice continuous stitch. I must remember to do that next time.
I fold the cuffs in half, press up 1.3cm hem on the underside. Sew the sides down then press over the seams before turning without trimming. I pin them to the sleeve edge RS together and pleat the excess about an inch from the cuff placket. Sew them down, press the seams up, then pin and stitch in the ditch just like the collar. Then I edgestitch round… All together now… ‘SIX BEEPS‘!
Generally, I go to bed at this point. Or stop and get on with the evening. It’s a pretty intense day if I’ve got this far in one go. I’m probably unwashed, malnourished and dehydrated (much like you may feel now, just reading about it). How we suffer for our art.
Having gone through nothing near as harrowing as Scarlett O’Hara, and probably having slept a bit better, I tackle the button holes. I pin the fronts together over the ironing board and mark the button holes. First at the collar then 9.5 cm down, then 8 cm down to the bottom. This seems to be the spacing that works best for me. I can have the top button undone and not feel too 70’s. Marked with the Frixion pen, I use my one step button hole foot to get them in the front left placket and the cuffs.
I use a bit of fray-check before opening them up with a pin and a sharp unpicker.
Then it’s back to the ironing board to line everything up and mark for the buttons. I make a cross, big enough to be seen with the button on top. That way, I can line up the buttons’ holes with the cross. Held in place with washable glue, I sew them on with a zigzag stitch, button foot, ‘0’ stitch length and the lock stitch to secure.
And that’s it! We made it! It needs a wash to get all the pen off, but I’m too impatient for that. The Frixion has ironed of but the Crayola needs washing. Still, I wore it out to a pub lunch within an hour of finishing it.
Thankfully, now it’s finished, MrA says he loves it. I’m not 100% convinced he does, but I do. Thanks for your time!
- Sort out pocket pattern (make bigger, add a box pleat &/or flap option).
- Put the buttonholes in the front placket earlier.
- Save edgestitching the front plackets until the collar is on.
- Keep the hem curve nice and shallow.