Sunday 12 October 2014

Selfless Sewing: A Men's Shirt

A while ago I made this shirt for Lescha. It was my second attempt. The first one was a slight disaster which escalated when I stitched and opened the buttonholes on the wrong side of the button band. As I don't want to relive this nightmare, I'm not going to show you version 1 (which is wearable - and Lescha does - after I closed the buttonholes and stitched them on the right side).

May I proudly present Lescha's purple shirt:


Fabric: Black/purple oxford shirting bought in Goldhawk Road. It frayed a bit, but was otherwise a breeze to sew. I interfaced the collar, collar stand and cuffs with fusible canvas which I bought from English Couture. The plackets are interfaced with fine cotton. I got these two interfacing plus Bondaweb (which I didn't use) in a Shirt Interfacing Starter Pack. 

I had the hardest time ever to fuse the canvas to the fabric. Although I used loads of steam and pressed with my whole weight on the iron there are patches on the collar and cuffs where the interfacing came off after washing the shirt. It's so annoying. So if you have any tips, please share.

Pattern: It's Burda style pattern 7045 which comes in three versions - aka three different collar types. Lescha wanted version A which has the classic collar.

Alterations: I made four muslins (if counting shirt No1) before I got the fit right. Leschas main problem with RTW shirts is that he always has a massive fabric fold at the back joke right under the neck. I quickly figured out that this was due to his square shoulders. So I made a square shoulder adjustment on the yoke following the instructions of "Fit for real people". It essentially involves the addition of a triangle of fabric to the yoke at the shoulder points.

To make the shirt more tailored I took it in a lot at the side seams. Here I just took a tailored shirt he owns and likes as a guideline to have an idea how fitted the shirt should be. As shirt No1 was to tight over the chest and in the back I added 1/4'' on the back, front and yoke pattern (that was after I attempted a FBA on a MEN's shirt, haha, didn't work well). I know that on the photos it still looks like the shirt is too tight but Lescha said it isn't. I think the shine caught by the camera makes it look worse on the photos than it actually is.

I raised the sleeve cap as well a couple of centimeters. Because I had done the square shoulder adjustment, I didn't had to worry about the added circumference of the cap. I just kept measuring and changing the sleeve cap until it fit into the armhole. (The massive crease you are seeing here is not my doing. Lescha always irons it in.)

You can see that he has plenty of space at the back now. Thus his forward arm movements are not restrained.

I also changed the sleeves. I made them a bit tighter at the wrist and 1" wider at the underarm. I couldn't find instructions how to widen the underarm only (and not the wrist and biceps area). Thus I cut off the wrist and biceps on the pattern leaving me with the underarm. I spread the underarm by 0.5" left and right to the center and then attached the now to small wrist and biceps pattern. I then tapered the seam lines so that they fit. Leaving me with a sleeve pattern that had a bulge in the underarm area :)

Construction: I didn't follow the instructions - except for the placket. Lescha had lovingly gifted me with the Craftsy class "The classic tailored shirt" a year and a half ago. So I followed the instructions of the instructor which are great and very detailed. Thanks To the class I didn't have to handstitch the yoke but could use my sewing machine. I handstitched however the under-collar and the cuffs to the shirt. Which was not too bad and didn't take long.

The only time I used the instructions were for attaching the placket because this type of placket is not covered in the Craftsy class. My second attempt turned out much better.

So how about you? Have you attempted the "art" of shirt making? I will be making another one soonish - Christmas present :)

Sunday 5 October 2014

A Parfait in Corduroy, please

You might remember that I sewed the Parfait twice already, once in linen and once in cotton voile. I have worn both versions loads in the summer and decided to make a autumn/winter version as well. To add warmth and to prevent sticking of the dress to tights, I lined the dress.

Fabric: I used a soft baby rib corduroy for the shell. The color is fuchsia red (thus very difficult to photograph) and I brought it from Ukraine when visiting Leschas family over Easter. The dress is lined with a super slippery acetate lining. It was a nightmare to sew. A fraying nightmare. But it looks pretty with these massive red flowers and I could well imagine it as a bathrobe :) The facing fabric is some cotton lawn leftover I had in my stash - liberty copy cotton lawn. I used it for lining the pockets as well.

Embellishments: The buttons are made from coconut shells and I bought them a year ago in Canterbury. That brings me to the question: Can I put coconut buttons in the washing machine?


SHELL: I didn't follow the instructions and decided to press all seams open to reduce bulk as much as possible. To do so, I first finished all the raw edges with my overlocker before stitching the seams. I also trimmed the seams in the interfaced straps and pockets super small to avoid any problems with stitching the buttonholes. There weren't any :)

LINING:  I cut the whole dress pattern (minus the straps) in lining fabric as well. I used french seams to enclose the raw edges fully because these were fraying a lot. I couldn't overlock or zig-zag because the sewing machine ate my fabric. To say the acetate didn't press well would be understated. It didn't press at all, so putting in nice french seams was a challenge.

I finally understood how very very important it is to use the right needle size when sewing. I tried to sew lining with a big needle - it got stuck in the machine. Then lazy me tried to sew corduroy with a small needle which lead to skipped stitches.

I finished the hem of the lining with my rolled hem food. Which turned out ok but not great. Any tips about how to stitch a nicely rolled hem over side seams? 

coconut buttons!

Facing: I didn't plan to use a facing. I thought it would be alright to just use a lining. The lining would have been enough to give the neckline a nice finish, but it wouldn't have been stable enough to stabilise it. I realised this when trying on the dress. The neckline was out of shape and the whole bodice looked saggy. So I cut a facing, interfaced it and sewed it to the shell. I was planning to hide it below the lining, but sewed lining and facing in the wrong order, ups.

I've sewn the side seams with an 1/2" seam allowance only so that I can wear a jumper or blouse underneath the dress. Styled with black tights and boots, I think the dress is a great autumn/winter outfit.

Now have a look at this nice zipper: The only zipper I had on hand was a white one.

But I managed to make it completely invisible, phew.

invisible zip

Now I'm leaving you with another pic that's look like I was in an enchanted forest :) You will see this fabric soon again, because I had enough to cut out an EXTRA Kelly Skirt. Ah, I just love it when you can squeeze an extra garment out. And I had only 1.50 meter. And as it was end of roll, there were also some stains on it - stains that you can hide on the insides of waistbands :) 

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