Try, try, and try shirts again.

Startling news from the department of the blindingly obvious: it transpires that one can, in fact, become better at something by doing it a lot. Take, for example,  making shirts. Shirts seem quite complicated an alarming at first glance, as they have collars and cuffs and pointy bits and in my case if you want it to even slightly fit you need to put darts in for your aggressively large rack.

But a false start here and a lot of swearing (a mandatory part of sewing) and choosing of the right fabric later, and you find yourself earnestly telling someone at work that “they’re not really all that difficult”, and discovering that, sans buttons and button-holes, you can make one in about three hours.

The first attempt

At first not a great success: I lost the yoke piece here, which is why the shirt sleeves are hideously puffy at the shoulder (even if that does look deliberate). Also I couldn’t find the buttonholing function on my sewing machine at the time so I threw in a zip. The shirt is made out of a recycled red bedsheet for a single bed, and will probably be recycled again for other purposes in the future as the fabric’s soft.

Second attempt

Looks much better. I’m strongly in favour of patterned shirts. The button holes are a little large (getting the size of them right continues to be my stumbling block) but overall the fit is good and the shirt itself is pretty sturdy. Made out of an old duvet case. There’s plenty more material where that came from so expect to see the same pattern cropping up again in future. Apart from anything else, I rather like that busy floral repeat.

The third attempt.

Using much thinner, purpose-purchased fabric for a lighter weight shirt. Again the fit it is good but it’s let down by the buttonholes, and the fact that I salvaged those tiny buttons from the back of a charity-shop wedding dress.

On to the most recent attempt:

The breeches also make their way through several stages
The much-trumpeted William Morris shirt

Here I’ve actually gone back a step and used home furnishing fabric with a William Morris pattern, but this time I also used fabric-covered buttons – which are a lot easier to make than I realised – to camouflage the failings of my buttonholes.

If you look closely, in fact, you’ll see it’s the same pattern as on the red duvet shirt, but in green and cream:

Which I didn’t actually do on purpose.

The other major change from previous shirts is this: the pattern did not actually come with cuffs, because apparently fat ladies don’t wear full sleeve shirts. However, the end of the sleeves provided with the pattern has a slit, and thanks to adapting a pattern for 1940s women’s trousers in to cuffed breeches, I’ve become passable at making my own cuffs from scratch:

Not that you can REALLY see it here

This shirt then is as complete a women’s shirt from pattern as I am likely to make… until the next one.


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