If you’re joining me from the UK or the EU, I hope you’ve survived the absolutely savage weather we’ve had this week. Thursday’s high of 39 degrees was especially enjoyable to cycle home from work in, and the poor doggos have been lying around doing a melt.
This week has reminded me why I prefer the autumn and the winter to summer – you can always add another blanket or pair of socks, but what do you do when the sweat is legit running down all your limbs and your kidneys are shrivelling from lack of fluid? Nothing, that’s what. You have to sit and fester in your misery.
At 2:30am on Friday morning, when I woke up in our sauna of a bedroom with a sweat-soaked pillow and a mouth drier than the Sahara, I saw no other option for continued survival than to head outside where it was cooler. I trundled down the stairs, naked, and sat on the back doorstep with the doggo in the cool air (he was suffering too, bless him – he’s floofy). As Fry lay himself down on the patio, I realised that he was the smart one – the ground was cooler. So I got my sweaty ass off the doorstep and laid down on the patio with the dog ? I was THAT hot. It was at this very moment that the Police helicopter flew over the house, and I briefly wondered whether they could see me laying naked on the ground with the dog – but then decided that I really didn’t care ??♀️ It was horrible. I hate summer. Roll on Autumn.
Oh – and to top off this wonderful summer weather that I hate so much, guess what? We have a wasps nest in the garage ?Possibly the only thing I hate more than the summer weather is the DAMN WASPS THAT COME ALONG WITH IT. But the ‘wasp guy’ is coming to ‘deal with it‘, and I’ll be eagerly awaiting his arrival.
So weather wise we basically have hell this week, but what do we have sewing-wise? Well, the Handsome Husbeast is here for your viewing pleasure, wearing his second Folkwear Patterns Frontier Shirt made with Versace cotton bought from Darrell Thomas Textiles in Canada ??
I know, I know – this doesn’t look like a Western shirt. And that’s the beauty of it – the envelope styling is very western, and it can be hard to see past that. But I realised, after the success of the suede-slash-cowboy affair that was my first Folkwear shirt, that it would make a fabulous ‘regular’ shirt too, and so the husbeast requested that I use this same pattern for his regular work shirts.
Previously, I’d been making him the Vogue V8759, which I’d made many short sleeve versions of but not so many long sleeve ones – the sleeve placket was such that you couldn’t french seam the insides of the sleeve – and I wasn’t really cool with that – but hadn’t yet found another shirt pattern to try instead. Admittedly I was looking at ‘proper’ (corporate) shirt patterns – which let’s face it, all look a bit dull and boring on the envelopes – and I had only really got as far as looking through the bigger brands like Vogue and McCalls.
There’s a couple of indie patterns that have been in the back of my mind for a while – the Negroni by Colette, and the Fairfield by Thread Theory. I’ll probably still give these a go in the future, just to see how they turn out – but I might (*might*) just have found THE ONE, guys.
Me and the husbeast are often sending each other posts we see on Instagram – usually a dog video, or something jewelled or sequinned (usually by Alexander McQueen), or a ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if we could live here’ house. I follow Darrell Thomas Textiles, and they posted some Versace cotton that they had for sale. It was black and gold and similar to another Versace print I knew he liked – so I sent it on to him, with the message: you wants?
Yes, he wanted. It wasn’t for sale on the website, and enquires were requested to go through Instagram so I messaged and said I was interested in two metres and shipping to London. Darrell was super friendly and helpful and even had a lady from the store call me to take my card details when I realised that it would cost me £3 a minute to call Canada from my mobile ? (note to self, seriously, get skype or similar). The whole process was super easy and both people I dealt with at the store were genuinely lovely, helpful people. The fabric arrived pretty quickly, and the delivery charge was extremely reasonable (they even packaged it up small so that it went for the cheaper postage rate and they could charge me less). I’d 100% recommend this company, their customer service was ????
Once the fabric was washed and pressed, a couple of changes were requested from the first make:
- Make the sleeves longer
- Fill out the curve of the seam at the hip so that it’s not so extreme
- Make the shirt body shorter
Making sleeves longer is something I’ve never had to do for the husband – he’s quite petite, so regular store-bought shirts usually drown him on every measurement. When I cut the first shirt from this pattern, I automatically cut the shortest sleeve length (there are three? Four? Can’t remember exactly). Turns out, this was just a smidge too short – I think it might have been the ladies sleeve cut line, perhaps – so for this Versace one I went for the next longest length. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I thought. A little at a time.
The hip curve on the first shirt is, granted, quite a bit of a steep one. To make it a bit less extreme, I retraced the front and back pieces and filled in a bit of the gap (In fact, I ran out of tracing paper and so just stuck a bit on to the bottom to fill in the gap ?)
I took the husbeast to McCullough and Wallis on Poland Street (just off Oxford Street in central London), along with a scrap of fabric, to find buttons. Of course, he went straight for the gold metal ones – he loves a bit of the shiny-shiny. The first ones he chose they didn’t have enough of, so he carried on looking. Wondering if gold was perhaps a bit extra, he also picked out some yellow plastic shirt buttons but these looked cheap and nasssty so I told him to put ’em back.
In the end, we went with a gold version of the same buttons I used on my Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt, with a slight tarnished effect.
Pro tip: you get a discount if you buy 10 buttons or more in that store, so if you’re buying say, seven buttons, it can often be cheaper to buy 10. Always ask the assistant how much ten would be ? Finance PSA over ?
The shirt actually went together really well. Too well, you might say. I got a little nervous that I’d hashed it up somewhere and just hadn’t realised yet – and my spidey sense was right. (More on that later ?)
I remember the first few shirts that I made early on in my sewing life, and they were terrible. Well, maybe not terrible – they looked like shirts at least, and the husbeast still wore them bless him (in fact, I think he only let me chuck them away earlier this year) – but technically, they were awful. The stitching was all over the show, the collar didn’t line up, and the hem was shocking. I think I may have made maybe ten men’s shirts to date, and my gawd have I got better. SO MUCH better. The one thing that’ll still get me is those damn collar edges meeting centrally over the placket (MARKINGS! MARK THE MARKINGS THEY’RE THERE FOR A REASON SARAH), but I’m gonna blow my own trumpet here and say that this shirt is DA BOMB.
It used to be the finer details that let me down when making shirts – the folding of the inside of the collar stand, and the corners on the inside of the cuffs where it joins the sleeve. These areas feel like a bloody origami art to get them exactly where you want them, but I think I might have finally cracked it. I’m not even sure how – practice, perhaps? Experience?
Usually, the husbeast gets the nervous sweats on when things aren’t pattern matched, and much to his shock (and horror) I didn’t even bother to attempt pattern matching on the shirt front across the placket. There’s a reason though (and it ain’t laziness ?) – this pattern has a separate placket piece that’s sewn on to the front of the shirt, whereas the Vogue pattern was a fold-and-stitch number. It’s much easier to match the fold-y ones. We’ll leave that challenge to another day. I guess I’ve only got to match the placket half that’s on top, I suppose, but it seems like such a drama to cut that strip – and the fronts – so perfectly on point that they seamlessly match ? I mean, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, so I’ll guess I’ll have to attempt it at some point (if only to stop the husbeast from twitching anxiously at the thought of another non-pattern-matched shirt in his wardrobe).
I took 3 inches off of the body on this one (the husbeast is 5’5″, for reference) and it turned out just the right length. I’ll confess that I made up the shirt almost completely before I made him try it on and decide how much he wanted it shortened by – and I took the very rookie approach of measuring the required distance up the side seam and just cutting around the pattern piece ?
As per usual, I sewed half-inch bias tape on the hem rather than double turning. Yes, I’m sure this is probably more time consuming, but I enjoy doing it and it gives me a neater finish so I don’t mind the extra time investment ? (Plus, sometimes I get to use totally cray-cray bias tape on the inside which makes me happy ☺️)
The husbeast prefers the fit of this shirt to the Vogue one that I’ve made so many of for him – and the pattern is actually simpler because there are fewer pieces (one piece sleeves vs two-piece, and two-piece back vs four-piece), so it wins for me too. The only thing to watch out for with this is the variations in seam allowances – they’re included, but not a consistent 5/8″ – some places (like on the collar/neck area) it’s half an inch. So watch out for that ?
I don’t actually mind a bit of hand sewing, so usually, I sew the shoulder seams of the inside yoke by hand. I kept reading about the ‘burrito method’ on t’internet, and thought I’d give it a try to see what it’s all about. Basically, you line up the seam between the outer yoke and the shoulders, but then roll up the shirt body in order to bring up the inner yoke to meet this same seam. This sews everything in one pass and saves the hand sewing.
I gave it a try, and although it gives a neater – and quicker – finish, it doesn’t allow for any variance at all in the placement of your seam lines. If I sew the inner yoke by hand, I can flatten it on the ironing board and adjust for any bagginess vs the outer yoke by increasing or decreasing the amount of seam allowance that’s turned under, to ensure that both yokes lie flat against each other. With this new method though, I had like a millimetre or two of ease on the inner yoke which I only discovered when I unrolled the burrito and then couldn’t do anything about because I’d already stitched the seam. I mean sure, I could have unpicked it… but nah. The (very slight, admittedly) bagginess is on the inside, and nobody’s going to see it, and I doubt it’s even noticeable in the slightest to anyone but me. It’s just a little frustrating and I think I’d rather have taken the time to hand stitch and got the two yokes perfectly even. I dunno. Maybe. I’ll see what mood takes me the next time I come to that point of making a shirt ??♀️
The inside is finished with French seams – obvs – because is there really any other way?
Here’s a particularly fine looking enclosed sleeve/shoulder seam ?
I ignore ANY shirt pattern that tells me to close the sleeve seam before attaching it to the body – not only is it harder to get rid of those damn easing ripples and tucks, its near on impossible to French seam a circle. And believe me, I’ve tried. Just don’t go down that road – attach the sleeve before you close the sleeve seam. That way, you can do one continuous French seam all the way from the hem of the body to the cuff of the sleeve.
The one thing that let me down with the construction of this shirt (see: heightened spidey-sense earlier on in the post) is something that almost never happens – the sides of the collar actually overlap each other at centre front. Usually, my problem is that they are too far apart and don’t meet each other – I don’t think I’ve ever had an occasion when they overlap ? I need to see if there’s a marking on the collar stand for the end of the collar (if there is, I haven’t transferred that marking to my traced piece) because when I actually pay attention to that marking, funnily enough, the whole thing turns out how it should ? The husbeast never wears that top button closed anyway, so it doesn’t reallllly matter I guess – but it bothers me! He also says that because he doesn’t ever close that top button, that I don’t need to install the button and buttonhole – but I tried that once and just went NOPE. It looked weird.
I usually prefer a square cuff edge – I’m all about the sharp pointy corners, me – but decided to stay with the rounded corners that I used for the previous version of the shirt as I thought they looked a bit fancier (and we were going for MORE IS MORE with the fanciness on this shirt).
Clip yo curves!
Overall, I’m pretty happy. And the husbeast is pretty happy too, because he has a nice shirt that fits him well which goes with his black and gold trainers (did I mention that he is ALL ABOUT THE BLING?) The little things, the small details like the pointiness and symmetry of the triangle at the top of the tower placket, went well. Those plackets look damn fine on the inside too – my best ever.
To finish it off, the buttonhole gauge came out ? Honestly, if you haven’t yet invested in one of these, you need to. I don’t tend to buy many sewing ‘tools’ but this thing is amazing! No longer do you have to use the markings that come with the pattern or faff about with a calculator working out spacing (well that’s what I used to do, anyway ?).
The fabric was really nice to work with, and it’s a nice print. The Frontier Shirt is a bit more of a casual fit compared to the Vogue pattern, and the back isn’t broken up into panels so you don’t have to worry about hashing up any larger print patterned fabrics. I think this is my new go-to shirt pattern for the husbeast now – the Vogue pattern can jog on ??
Yep, these photos were taken on a very sunny day, and there’s a lot of squint-y face-ness going on… but you gotta take what you can get with British weather – if it’s not raining and/or gale-force winds, you have to consider it a win.
I usually have a good laugh looking at all the outtakes from blog shoots, so I decided that just for the lolz, I’d share a few with you guys (at the husbeast’s expense, obvs).
Here we have ‘I would stop squinting but the sun is in my eyes’:
Followed by ‘gust of wind’:
Which was followed by the inevitable ‘diva hair flick’:
And finally, ‘please can you stop squinting and looking miserable, and smile?’
Bless him. ?
So you knew it wouldn’t take me long… but I’m already ordering samples of coat fabrics ??
These two beauties arrived from Minerva Crafts last week – I’m actually really loving the turquoise mohair, and although the colour of the orange one (‘ginger’) is ??, I’m not sure I like the slightly Boucle texture. I’ve got another sample coming of a similar colour but (hopefully) a smoother texture, so we’ll see what that’s like. I’ve still got the two pieces of cashmere that I picked up in Paris last year, which I’m saving for patterns that have been tested and confirmed worthy (one for me, one for the husbeast) but I haven’t yet got round to making the ‘trial runs’ of any potential candidates. I will, however, get round to that soon… I’ll be sharing all my winter coat making plans on the blog in a few weeks so keep your eyes peeled for all the deets! ?
I’m a bit behind with my social media atm (so if you’ve commented/messaged and I haven’t got back to you, SOZ!) but promise to catch up soon – the reason is that last weekend I gave up my Sewing Sunday to run a stall at a fete in our local park! It went well – we sold a few items, received lots of compliments and gave out quite a few business cards ?? (I even had one lady ask if I sold the dress that I was wearing because she loved it so much ? – it’s my Alexander Henry Belladonne) It was suuuuuper hot though (and sporadically really windy) and we got a little sunburned ?
(this photo was taken early on in the day before most people arrived – it did get busier!)
So this weekend I’m gonna catch up on the messages from all you lovely people, and hopefully, make some progress on my next pair of Dawn Jeans! If you didn’t see the photo of the fabric on my Instagram, feast your eyes on this hot pink beauty ?
Pretty cool, huh?
I’ll leave you with some more pictures of the Handsome Husbeast in his new shirt… you’re welcome ?
Next week on the blog is something you’re reallllly not gonna want to miss – the Alexander Henry gym bags I made for us! There’s girls in latex, plus zombies. What more could you want from a sewing blog?!
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