These Sundays roll around quick, don’tcha think?! We’re already at the last blog post of January. I mean, OH. MY. GAAAAAD.
It felt like I spent so long counting down to Christmas and the awesome long break I was going to have, and now all of a sudden BOOM it’s almost Feb. WTF? Since I’ve been back at work, Christmas feels like a million years ago. We’ve had a bit of a cold snap here in London the last few days, which means that I get lovely crisp bright mornings to cycle to the office in – and I’m not actually joking that they’re nice. It’s a tough call for which I prefer out of the two – cold and bright, or warm and sweaty 🤷🏻♀️ Winter sun has a certain… quality that you just don’t get with summer sun – but I can’t articulate it in any more detail than that 😂 You know what I mean, though, right?! Crisp, and fressssshhhh 👌🏻
My days worked in the office this week are at 2/2 for me-mades: my Linden got an outing, as did my first crack at the Itch To Stitch Montana shirt, which I’ll have a LOT to say about when the time comes!
Talking of shirts – and my epic journey of fails so far – for your viewing pleasure this week I present to you my long sleeve Deer and Doe Melilot 💁🏻♀️
My shirtmaking has been a little bit hit and miss so far, with the short sleeve Deer and Doe Melilot being the best fit to date. It has a bust dart, which probably helps, but also – most importantly – a reasonable armscye. And I mean ‘reasonable’ as in resembles the proportions of an actual human armpit. So many patterns I tried had unnaturally MASSIVE armscyes which prevented me from actually lifting my arms, because the seam was halfway to my elbow rather than in my armpit.
I’d had success with the Bruyere from Deer and Doe too, so I guess it figured that their Melilot would be a good shout – I’d previously made a short sleeve version a couple of years back from a cat print viscose, which I hated, but I decided to give it another shot and won. I’d made that very first one too small (I was a bit optimistic with my measurements, I think) and the fabric just wasn’t me. I liked the fabric to look at – and maybe as clothing on someone else – but it just didn’t suit me. Over the years I’ve got better at dodging those fabrics, but it didn’t come easily. There was a fair bit of trial and error!
You might remember the test run I made of the long sleeve version last year – you might not, in which case go check it out here – and it’s a good example of a ‘meh’ fabric choice.
It was fairly successful fit-wise though, so I thought it deserved a ‘for realsies’ effort.
I bought two yards of this awesome toadstool print rayon fabric a little while back, and I was hanging on to it until I found a good shirt pattern to make with it. It’s called ‘Front Yard’ by Cotton and Steel – I got mine from fabric.com as it’s proper hard to get hold of in the UK for some reason 🤷🏻♀️ (Is it a toadstool? Is it a mushroom? Is there even a difference?! Asking for a friend lol)
The ‘tester’ version of the long-sleeved view used some silk twill I got from the Cloth House warehouse store, graded up a size at the hip to try and fix the fit problems from that hideous short sleeve version, and it was pretty successful. I felt I could do with just a *smidge* more room at the bust, so for this second attempt I decided to stick with the larger size all over, rather than just at the hips. There was, however, a weird little bubble of fabric at the back of the armpit on that tester version, which I didn’t bother to try and fix with the next attempt.
The fabric is quite a substantial rayon, as in it’s not too flimsy or see-through, which is good because anything too lightweight is a bastard to sew with. I pre-washed it and was slightly concerned to see that it came out of the wash kind of stiff 😨 Thankfully, when it dried and I’d ironed it, it softened back up nicely, but this didn’t bode well for having an easy-care garment. And by ‘easy-care’, I actually mean ‘lazy owner’. Well, maybe ‘time-pressured’ owner is better?! It sounds better, so let’s go with that 😂
Once the fabric was dried and ironed, I was super excited to finally cut into it.
It wasn’t until I’d finished cutting, and put all the tiny leftover scraps to one side, that I had that feeling of dread. You know, like when you’re on your way to work and you think you might have left the gas hob on. Had I…? Surely not. I. HOPE. NOT.
Yep, I’d done it.
I’d cut the two sleeves the same way around, instead of mirroring them, and there was no more fabric to cut another sleeve from.
To rub salt into the wound, I placed my fronts together and realised that my stab at pattern matching was a bit of fail – it was about a centimetre out. Which to me, looks worse than if I’d just not bothered at all – it clearly looked like I’ve tried to pattern-match and missed. (Which, is actually the case).
There was no way I could cut another sleeve. I tried ALL options, believe me. The sleeves aren’t symmetrical, they have more of a curve at the top on one side than the other. I couldn’t fudge it. I would either have to make the shirt a short-sleeved shirt or buy more fabric.
I didn’t want to make a short sleeve one. I wanted a long sleeve shirt. Which meant my only option was to buy more fabric.
I ended up buying another two yards (yes, I know that’s a lot – bear with me here) from fabric.com, bundled in with some other fabrics to lessen the pain of the delivery fee from the US to the UK (obvs that makes totes financial sense because the delivery fee per yard is now much less 🤑). Two yards is obviously way more than I need to just cut a sleeve, but I figured that I could make my summer staple – the Scout Tee – from the remainder. That way I get to wear the cute mushrooms in both the winter and the summer. YAS! I licked my wounds and waited for the extra fabric to arrive.
I cut the new sleeve (double and TRIPLE checking that I did indeed have that bastard of a template the correct way up on the fabric), and cut the Scout as well while I was there because I figured I may as well 🤷🏻♀️ (That Scout is still not made, though – given that it’s suuuuuuper quick to make, I’m saving it for a day when I need a quick win to perk me up).
The Melilot is quite an easy sew. What I love about it is that the insides are entirely French seamed – and this is written in the instructions, you’re not left to figure it out yourself. This was one of the things I HATED as a beginner sewist – patterns would assume that you just knew to do these things. NEWSFLASH: We don’t, unless someone tells us. That someone should be YOU, pattern-instructions-writers. Rant over ✌🏻
The sleeve cuffs and the collar of the Melilot have rounded corners, which isn’t really my jam – I prefer a sharp-edged collar. So, I took the pattern pieces and just extended the sides to eliminate the curves 🤓
(and yes, I had to stick my pieces onto white paper because I’M A CUTTER ✂️)
The Melilot has a ‘grown-on’ placket (as in, you just fold the main front pieces rather than sewing on a separate strip, which makes pattern matching easier (ha! She says, after hashing up her attempt 😂) and one-piece sleeves, so it’s a good shout for someone new to shirt making. Because of the dropped shoulders, there are no yoke pieces – I’m not sure whether this is the cause of the weird fabric-bubble on the back of the armpit 🤔
I made this shirt in the days before I discovered fray check, and the little pointy bit of the placket has somehow started fraying… I had this issue on my Bruyere as well, so I don’t know whether it’s me or if it’s the fabric – perhaps the seam allowance is a bit stingy, or the fold isn’t quite in the right place – I dunno. Both fabrics were quite fray-prone, but I can’t help feeling that it shouldn’t happen if I fold it properly 🤔 Edges of packets get well and truly fray-checked now.
I bought some totally lairy orange glitter buttons from MacCullough and Wallis in Soho, which I actually think set the shirt off perfectly despite my reservations that in the button tube in the shop they looked like something that you might put on a clown outfit 👀 (Pro tip: you get a pretty hefty discount on the button price if you buy ten – if you’re getting six or more it will be the same price (or less) to get ten. The discount is given automatically at the till 👍🏻)
They coordinate perfectly with the orange bits on the underside of the ‘shrooms 🍄
The hem got the usual bias tape finish, and I don’t know who needs to hear this but if you’re still double folding a hem then you *NEED* to try it this way!
Yes, I realise it takes longer, but you’re not working in a Primark factory – I PROMISE it will be worth it! I haven’t got my own tutorial, but this one here will set you on the right path 👌🏻
Obvs, the rayon is a bastard to wash and iron because it creases up if you so much as breathe on it. The reason I probably don’t reach for this shirt as much as I should is that I need to iron it before I wear it, which really is just pure laziness on my part if I’m honest. I could totally get the shirt out while I’m sewing or pressing other things and get it ironed and it wouldn’t be too much drama… though I do now 100% understand the appeal of easy-care fabrics 😂 In my defence (yes, I do actually have a semi-legit defence) I need clothing that’s not going to look a total state when I pull it out of my bag having just carried it all the way to the office on my bike rolled up in my backpack. I really should just quit whining and iron the thing, though 🤔 My Mum – who ironed socks, SOCKS GOD DAMMIT – would probably be turning in her grave if she knew what an abomination she’d raised 😂
Even though this pattern isn’t the perfect shirt I was looking for, it’s still a good pattern. Certainly better than the Vogue ones I’ve tried. But, I don’t think I’ll make any more – it might have just been pipped by the Itch to Stitch Montana shirt that I finished last week. I need to make some changes and sew another test run, but if that works out then I got three pieces of silk that I’ve been wanting to use for shirts (but was waiting until I’d found the right pattern) and it could finally be their time to leave the fabric shelf and start livin’!
Expect to get the next instalment in my quest for the perfect shirt sometime soon!
The Montana shirt is my first experience of Itch To Stitch – anyone used them and got opinions you’d like to share?
Happy Sunday guys ✌🏻
On the blog next week – the Handsome Husbeast makes his first appearance with the Thread Theory Quadra Jeans 👖 Subscribe below to have it drop straight into your inbox 🙌🏻