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Saturday, 1 October 2016

How to make a women's classic shirt


In my opinion. There is nothing quite as elegant and timeless as a white shirt. Dressed up or down it is perfect for business or for wearing with your jeans.  Are you daunted by the idea of making yourself one? Don't be, I have chosen a very simple pattern and will talk you through the important bits.

First the pattern. It is from Butterick and is available on this link Butterick ladies shirt pattern Do measure yourself before buying so that you purchase the correct size. There are two basic shapes,  one with princess seams and one with no seams or darts. For our purposes I chose the latter to make the process simpler. I chose size 12 and it was true to size.

It seems to take forever to cut the pattern pieces out, I often leave that job until I have a program I want to watch on TV - which is actually not that often! I think that's one reason why I sew so much!

Now I know I am always telling you that I NEVER use marker pens,  well I have had a change of sent me two air erasable pens and two water disappearing  pens and I put them through rigorous testing before I dared to use them. I watched how long it took the air disappearing pens to vanish,  and they do - in about a day. I confess to having an accident with my son's duvet cover and a water erasable pen and guess what? A quick dab with a damp cloth and it was gone., so yes, I am impressed with these new pens and will be using them frequently now. Just to prove my confidence I am using them on this white shirt.
Of course there are occasions when tailors tacks will be needed but I am pleased to find a new product which I love.  See the range here  Marker pens

I like to get things such as attaching interfacing out of the way next. I find that on shirts it is better to interface both collar pieces and cuffs rather than just one piece as the pattern suggests,  in my opinion it gives a better finish to use a lightweight interfacing in this way. On a man's shirt I would use a much firmer interfacing for a stiffer collar. sell a lot of interfacing in various weights, so take a look, I chose a lightweight iron on interfacing Interfacings
Please note that you need a cooler iron to apply interfacing or it will curl up and stick to your iron. And press it, don't iron it. A handy tip is to use a piece of oven lining on top of your ironing board to stop it sticking to and ruining your ironing board. Yes, it does work - brilliantly!

I found the pattern true to size. the size 12 is a perfect fit. but do measure yourself properly wearing the correct undergarments as this is a close fit pattern.
I cut out the very simple view  B as it has attached facings and no darts to worry about.
I prefer shorter sleeves and so I chose the option for mid-length sleeves.
The fabric is a white mens shirting with a woven square design in dark and light grey.
When cutting out do try to match the squares as far as possible.

The first step is to fold the self facings along the marked lines, press and pin in place.Stitch along the top and bottom inside the seam allowance to hold them in place

Pin, stitch and overlock or zigzag the shoulder seams. Remember our mantra? "Press every seam every time" It really does make a difference

The instructions on the  pattern sheet advise you to use a lapped placket on the sleeve. These are easy to do once you master it but I am going to show you an easy finish suitable for a ladies shirt so that you have a choice.

Here is a short video showing you how to make the sleeve opening.

and this is the finished result. The top right shows the inside and the bottom left the right side. As I said I would not use this on a mans shirt but for a beginner to shirt making it is a really good alternative.

I find it easier to insert sleeves before stitching the side seam so that you can lay it flat.Run a gathering thread along the sleeve head to help ease the sleeve into place. Pin,adjusting the gathers to get a smooth seam. the seam and press again.
then you can join the side seams and finish the hem. I overlocked the hem,turned it up by 5\8" and machined it in place. You will  probably want to add a gathering stitch inside the seam allowance aaaaas we did  with the sleeve  to help ease the curved edge in place

This is the shirt so far with the sleeves in place.

These are the cuffs. Notice I cut them on the bias? This has two advantages- a design feature which cleverly reduces the need for a lot of pattern matching! The interfacing will stabilise the fabric. Prepare the cuffs exactly as in the very easy to follow instructions

You will need something to push the corners out both on the collar and the cuffs.I recommend this little blue tool Prym Point turner  It is very inexpensive , strong and is an essential part of your sewing kit.

You need to do a bit of hand sewing on the back of the cuff to finish it off. A slip stitch will be fine

Do not be daunted by the collar. It is easy I promise! Stitch the collar itself together right sides together and turn and press.Turn under one long edge of the neckband by the seam allowance and press.  cut the neckband on the bias too for interest.

sandwich the collar between the neckband pieces and stitch together as shown.

Fold the neckband out and press. It could not be simpler!
Attach it to the neckline of the shirt leaving the pressed under side edge free just as we did with the cuff

This is the neckband and collar in place with the inside pinned ready to be sewn down.
Do your top stitching next.Top stitching  both sides of the neckband

Try the shirt on and pin the front together. Notice if it gapes or pulls anywhere because you will need to make sure that a button goes there.
I always recommend using more buttons for a women's shirt that for a mans as it avoids unsightly gapes at the front. I used 8 in all.

Remember the marker pens I mentioned at the beginning? I  took a leap of faith and used one to mark the position of my buttonholes. And yes, it came off easily!

On my machine, which is the Bernina 350PE Bernina 350PE the buttonhole feature remembers the buttonhole setting you chose until the machine is turned off. On this machine you measure the button and set the guide to the length required. (experience tells me that I should make the buttonhole slightly larger) Once you have manually set the buttonhole the memory makes each one exactly the same

The settings on this machine are very easy to select and there is a choice of buttonholes too.

Do a test buttonhole before you go anywhere near your garment. remembering to mimic your garment by interfacing your test fabric.
I like unusual  buttons, but this  is totally your preference. Jaycotts have a fabulous selection, just look! Buttons galore!

A final press and you have made your first shirt!  Don't you think it was easy? This is a really fabulous pattern with lots of options to make it uniquely yours, so do make one, it will be forever being worn and not just stuck in your wardrobe.

The shaped back and front makes it flattering to be worn both tucked in and left loose.

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Happy sewing


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