Anyone that knows me will know of my love for travel – even though I only took my first EVER flight in 2005 when I was 20 years old. It was our honeymoon, and we flew from the UK to Malaysia. Not one to do things by halves, I bypassed the easy option of testing the waters by just going to France and back (or even Scotland and back, heck even to BIRMINGHAM and back) for my first flight, but booked a 15-hour, two-leg trip halfway around the world. “What if you really hate it though?” people said as the take-off date approached. Well, I’m not getting off am I, so once I’m in my seat I’m staying there until we arrive, obvs. Needless to say I survived the trip, and it was only the beginning of what was to be an obsession with travelling and seeing the world, especially around Asia. My tattoo sleeve contains some of the actual passport stamps that I’ve collected – from my first trip to NYC, to the time we moved overseas, to the birthday I spent in South Korea when Aaron bought me what I can only assume was a birthday card – it had a picture of a cake on it and a lot of Korean writing that I couldn’t read. It’s the thought that counts.
The Liberty fabric that this shirt is made from reminded me of Hong Kong and Tokyo – cities that I love for the hustle, bustle, and crammed little streets with neon signs going 10 floors above your head. They are visual chaos, but something about these types of places draws me in… which probably explains why I’m drawn to colourful, crazy fabrics too.
I originally bought a few metres of this city-inspired fabric for our 12th wedding anniversary earlier this year – 12 years is silk, and the husband wanted to sew me something with silk fabric as a present and asked me to choose some fabric and a pattern. As soon as he said it, I knew it had to be this fabric. Thankfully, he wasn’t put off by the fact I’d chosen something hideously luxurious when he’d only ever sewn really simple things! Rather than let him go steaming in on the good stuff, we had a practice run with some less expensive fabric – and it turned out pretty well!
It was then time for him to have a bash at the real thing… check it out! I’m a lucky lady 🙂 (soz for the dodgy iPhone pic…)
The pattern he made for me is the Sewaholic Belcarra blouse, with bias bound neck and armholes. No darts or fastenings so nice and easy for a beginner 🙂 He did so well with it, and I was really excited to use up the rest on a shirt for me.
This awesome fabric is a Liberty silk, called ‘Mirako’ – but I think the original print run was many years ago now because it’s really hard to find. I got mine from Shaukat, but when I looked the other day (I was hoping to snaffle a couple more metres) they only now have it in the denim blue colour and not this lovely pink. Sad face. **EDIT*** I’ve just been lurking on their website again and it seems they DO have some in stock – YAYYYY! You can buy it here if you’re interested, I want to buy a couple of metres of the pink for me (Ogden Cami you will be mine next summer) and also a couple of metres of the blue colourway for a shirt for the husband, because men deserve to have nice touchy-feely clothes too.
It’s a silk satin fabric, not too heavy and not *too* shiny-shiny (though it does have a little bit of a sheen). So pretty. But oh-so-shifty around the cutting board. To help keep it under control, I cut each piece out single layer – so there was no cutting on the fold. I generally dislike cutting stuff on the fold anyway, as I prefer to see the pattern placement on the fabric across the whole piece and also check for wonkiness! I’ve cut out at least one shirt yoke on the fold only to discover that it’s lovely and straight on one half and then the pattern veers downwards or upwards on the other half… yep. Not cool. Now I cut everything flat, just in case.
The pattern is so crazy on this print, it’s hard to even tell whether it’s straight or not. I was worried that the pieces were shifting about as I was cutting them (I use pattern weights rather than pins), and that collectively when sewn together they would make for a *really* misshapen shirt. Thankfully I seem to have dodged that bullet and it does actually resemble a proper shirt shape!
The shirt is Vogue/DKNY V1462, my go-to shirt pattern – I’ve made it so many times. It’s a pretty quick make now, I don’t even need to read the instructions any more! I love the fact that it has proper sleeve plackets rather than the cheat-y fake plackets I’ve seen on some patterns to make it less complicated to sew. It’s a bit nerve wracking cutting a massive line into your sleeve to insert the placket, and even now I double and TRIPLE check that I’m in the right place before I snip, but (touch wood) I haven’t yet hashed it up.
I’m not sure why, but the buttons on this shirt seem to pull at the bust (more than any other shirts I’ve made from this same pattern, weirrrrrd) so I had to put two tiny snaps in between the buttons at boob-height to stop the gapeage. I think it’s partly to do with the armscye – underneath the armpit the seam is too low, and this in turn restricts arm movement and pulls at the chest. I’m working on modifying the armscye on the latest version of this shirt that I’m currently making, so hopefully some progress will come from that. Either that or it’ll be worse and I’ll be back to the drawing (cutting) board. Kat of Kat Makes did a recent post on sleeve fitting so if you’re also having trouble with sleeves, go check her blog out for some tips as she’s nailed it!
I used bias tape on the hem, and for whatever reason (probably to do with stretching as it’s a curved hem) it’s all gone a bit wibbly and flutey. Not even a good iron (on a low heat, obvs) could sort it out. I’m not particularly bothered though, I’m calling it the ‘light, carefree flowing’ look. I don’t like to iron silk too much anyway, and the fabric hides creases really well so I usually wear it looking a little bit rumpled rather than all nicely pressed and smooth.
I’ve made a lot of shirts previously, but only from cotton. This was the first one I made from silk and was a bit worried about how the fabric would behave. The edges fray a lot more than cotton, so I made sure that I French seamed everywhere to help keep it under control, and used silk pins and the Microtex machine needles so that they didn’t pluck or damage the fabric. The last thing I wanted was to carefully wash, press and cut my fabric only to have my machine eat it on the first stitch.
The bit I sweated over the most was the sleeve placket, as it’s quite a small template and when you couple that with shifty fabric I thought it might all end very, very badly. When pressing in the edges of the placket before sewing, I gave them a good belting with the spray starch to keep the creases nice and sharp and this did help a lot with the construction and keeping everything where it should be. Spray starch is definitely your friend if you’re working with slippery fabric. One of the sleeve plackets is a bit wonky towards the top but it’s really nothing major – if that’s the worst problem I’ve got with a finished item then I consider it a resounding success.
The pattern doesn’t call for interfacing on the front plackets – you fold the fabric over twice and this triple layer acts as the stability for the buttons and buttonholes. I don’t bother with interfacing on the cotton shirts, but putting buttons and buttonholes on this lightweight silk made me a bit nervous so reinforcements were called in. I cut two strips of interfacing just narrower than the width of the placket (they were totally wonky of course, is there anyone on the planet that can eyeball a 3/4″ inch strip accurately? Nope. Should have used a ruler I guess) and just slipped these in before stitching the edges of the placket down. I did NOT want to put all that effort in only to have a button tear a hole in the fabric because I didn’t interface it.
The interfacing has, however, made the placket considerably thicker than the rest of the shirt. We’re talking three layers of silk plus interfacing vs one layer of silk. I used medium weight interfacing because that was all I had – perhaps lightweight would have been a better shout. Live and learn, I suppose.
This shirt pattern template for me is still very much a work in progress – I’m trying to get a boyfriend fit in the body, but I don’t want the massive sleeves to go with it. I have a few RTW shirts that are a good fit, but I wear them so don’t want to go unpicking to trace the pieces!
Despite the fit issues, I’m happy overall with the shirt – the fabric is beautiful, and it goes really lovely with the handbag that the hubbo made for me. YEP! You heard that right, he made me that bag. He wanted to have a bash at making bags, so I bought a nice shiny-shiny piece of leather from Etsy and some basic leatherwork tools and off he went. It’s a bit of a learning curve with the glue and the hand stitching and everything (yep it was all pieced by hand not by machine) but it’s a good first attempt and I’ve put my order in for some more unique pieces. Which are in exchange for all the nice shirts I make him, of course… it’s only fair right?
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a Republique Du Chiffon Charlotte Skirt in a gorgeous green plaid ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!