The Jolaine Shirt from Republique Du Chiffon is one of the patterns I chose for my 2018 Make Nine. When I first saw the pattern online I fell in love with it – I love shirts ? I love piping ? And I like something a little bit different… So obvs I had to make this beaut of a design.
I’ve made quite a few of the patterns from RDC – the Suzon Shirt, the Charlotte skirt (another one of these currently underway) and the Gerard coat. Out of all of those, this pattern is the only one that’s given me fitting issues – which is a bit of a bummer, but there are worse things in the world.
I literally had this pattern for months and months and months before actually starting it, because I couldn’t decide on the fabric I wanted for the yoke. I didn’t want anything too western-y, as I wanted to wear this shirt to work and not to the rodeo (obvs?♀️). So plaid was most definitely OUT. Then I had a bit of an inspiration spark and decided that I wanted and oriental/Asian theme, more specifically cherry blossoms – I think I’d been up to my usual tricks of daydreaming about places we’ve travelled, and it had obviously been a ‘Japan’ kind of day. These kind of daydreams usually result in me wanting to pack everything up and move our little family to a new country – usually one on completely the other side of the world, because go big or go home right? (You’ll be pleased to hear – or at least the husband will be – that I’m still in London with no immediate plans to quit my job and/or pack a suitcase. For now at least. But who knows what’s around the corner ?)
Anyway, it was this particular photo of mine that sparked off the eventual vibe for this shirt:
(As a side note, I was going to be properly proactive the other day and get my photography Instagram account up and running, but it turns out that the site is giving me some serious technical-difficulty-shiz with regards to logging me in. Which in short, means that it’s not letting me do it until I ‘confirm my email address’ but they don’t send me the link to confirm. Yeah thanks, Instagram. Really helpful. Currently awaiting a probably equally unhelpful response to my support request as well.)
So began the search for the *perfect* cherry blossom print fabric. I didn’t want anything too girly, or too flowery. Yep, I just said I wanted a floral fabric that wasn’t too flowery ? I looked at loads and loads of Sakura fabric, dismissing each one for some tiny little flaw:
(I wanted pink, obvs)
Honestly this is what it’s like to be me and cursed with being too picky ?♀️?
After a while, I found a quilting cotton remnant on ebay – it’s a Kona Bay print (called Tsuki No Hana from 2006), and fell in love. YES I BOUGHT FLOWERS THIS IS SO UNLIKE ME WHAT IS HAPPENING. Of course, I never want anything that’s in print and readily available for a reasonable price – I always want the print that’s no longer produced, that you can only buy remnants of and not yardage. I think It was something extravagant like £15 for the yard, but I knew this was the perfect one so obvs I had to buy it (and I’d looked through SO many prints and hated them all so far).
For the body of the shirt I used cotton poplin from Minerva Crafts – usually I would make a shirt from cotton lawn, but as I’d used a quilting cotton for the yoke I wanted to use a main fabric that was of a similar weight (the lawn would have been too lightweight) – and this cotton poplin fitted the bill perfectly.
The piping I made myself from 2mm piping cord and satin bias tape, as I was very particular over the shade I wanted and I couldn’t find the right one in pre-made piping. (Like I said, I’m proper picky). I always used to buy ready-made piping – it’s only over the last year or so that I’ve actually realised how insanely easy it is to make your own, and as such I’ve stopped buying the ready-made stuff ?
If you haven’t used any Republique Du Chiffon patterns before, I feel like I should warn you – you have to add seam allowances. I know, I know, this can seem like maximum effort when you’re used to using patterns that already have seam allowances added (I speak from experience, here) and it is a bit extra, but honestly I’ve done it for a couple of their patterns now and yes it’s a bit of a faff but it’s really no biggie. Certainly not as bad as cutting and sticking pdf patterns, that’s for sure. I have a little tracing wheel thingy that I used on the tracing paper to go round the pieces after I’ve traced them – and then cut them out with seam allowances included. Some people cut the pieces out as they are, with no seam allowance, and then use this little chalk wheel on the actual fabric to add the allowances to the fabric only. If you do it that way though, you have to add the seam allowances on every subsequent project too. If I add it onto the traced pieces, I only have to add those bad boys once and then going forwards I can just use the templates which already have the allowances added and I don’t have to use the chalk wheel on every single project. (I’m ‘efficient’, not lazy ?)
fabric bought? Check.
Pattern traced? Check.
Piping piped? Check.
LETS DO THIS ?
So the instructions have you start out by sewing the collar – this went well. I was a bit nervous about not getting the piping evenly along the seam and having it look a bit wibbly and crap, but I’d actually managed to do a good job of lining it up. Yas. Good start. WINNING.
Turns out they were just easing you in gently. It got a bit worse from here on out.
The next step is to attach the front yokes to the front shirt – sandwiching the piping in between the two. Pin piping, baste piping, stitch piping. Done without drama.
Then you have to get these two wavy lines to follow each other. This is about as easy as herding kittens. In fact – I think herding kittens would be easier.
The picture in the instruction booklet, and the directions that go with it, make sewing this one seam look like a breeze. IT ISNT. NOT EVEN CLOSE. It’s more like a hurricane that’s gonna smack you face down on the pavement and break your teeth.
It took me like three attempts to get mine sewn, with much muttering and cursing as I unpicked and re-did row after row of stitching, and it’s still not great. But I lost the will to do it again. I first attempted it by following the instructions in the booklet – no pins, simply ‘pivoting the yoke’ as I went along.
And this ended badly. I then attempted to pin the two curved edges together, baste them, and then sew. Still looked pretty crap.
THEN I decided to pin, baste, and then clip the main body of the shirt to within an inch of its life – this worked better and it’s whats I settled on in the end. I had planned to line the inside of the yoke, to hide the seam and the piping tape, but after the shambles of attaching the front of the yoke there was NO WAY I was going to attempt putting a lining piece on that bloody wavy line. Nope. Neither side is perfect, and in fact the second yoke piece that I attached is slightly worse than the first – there’s this weird bubble/bit of excess fabric that appeared out of nowhere. But you know I ain’t going back and unpicking, because chances are it’ll look worse second time around and I’m not putting myself through that drama again.
The back yoke went on with considerably less drama, probably because it’s a shallower curve and by then I’d had a fair few stabs at sewing along a bloody wavy line. I’m not entirely convinced that the point of the yoke is completely central – but I literally don’t care.
Then came the REALLY fun part. Yep, that wasn’t even the worst part. To get those cute looking piped pockets, you have to go snipping holes in the fronts of the shirts that you just spent so long attaching the bloody yokes to. I was more than a little nervous at charging in with the scissors (because there was NO WAY IN HELL I was ballsing this up and sewing that damn yoke again) so I practiced with some scrap fabric and piping first just to make sure that I knew what I was doing. The instructions aren’t totally clear and dumbass-proof in the booklet – they don’t tell you how far either side of the line to lay your piping, and they don’t explicitly say to make your piping longer than the line BUT ONLY SEW TO THE END OF THE LINE – because what happens is that you are then unable to tuck in the ends of the piping:
What you should in fact do, is make your piping about a centimetre longer than the line but only sew to the end of the line (marked by the pins):
The real deal actually went without drama, surprisingly.
One thing that I’d already been given the heads up about, but subsequently forgot at the stage it mattered, is that there is no piece number 11 in the pattern. It’s in the cutting list, and on the line drawing of the cutting layout, but there’s no piece. So when it came to using this elusive Piece Number 11 (it’s a facing that goes behind the pocket to hide the gap in-between the piping), I’d forgotten to cut one out. And I couldn’t find where I put the leftovers of the black fabric. And I had a sneaky suspicion that there wasn’t much left of it and I’d actually just put all the scraps in the bin. Poop.
Instead, I cut a couple of facings from the cherry blossom fabric – guessing the size and the shape, as I had no template to use to cut around. Turns out though that I actually really like the way this looks and prefer it to just plain black. Although it looks uber pretty from the outside, the inside is just carnage. The facing just sort of hangs there a bit, and there’s nothing I can do with it. I don’t actually own any ready-to-wear shirts of this style, so I can’t compare – although I guess I could go snooping round some wild west shops and ever so coolly examine the insides of their shirts…
I French seamed the inside of the shirt, just to keep things nice – I don’t like overlocked edges on my shirts. When it came to sewing the 5mm hem, I used black half-inch bias tape and stitched it at 5mm from the edge to get the same hem but without the enormous hassle of trying to get my sausage fingers to fold a 5mm hem. Now this might have something to do with incorrect seam allowances somewhere, but my plackets weren’t long enough for the shirt edges. Not by much, like less than a centimetre, but it wasn’t right. I added 15mm seam allowance to EVERY piece (except where I was instructed not to), and turned up the 0.5cm hem as directed, but it just didn’t fit right.
Adding the snaps was pretty simples – I bought the hemline pearl snaps and the corresponding plastic tool from Minerva Crafts. The tool worked for installing the ‘fronts’ of the snaps but not the backs – for this, I had to use my regular metal snaps tool which worked first time. I was a bit nervous putting the snaps in because if you put it in the wrong place, you ain’t getting it out again. So make sure that your markings are in the right place! Because you’ve got to get that placket EXACTLY lined up (or the piping is going to look a royal shambles), what I did was lay the shirt on the ironing board and line up the plackets one on top of the other and pin them in place. I then put pins where I wanted the centre of each snap to be, marked the base of the pin on the top layer and then lifted up the top placket (being careful to keep the pin through both layers) and marked the corresponding point on the layer below. This is probably by no means the best/most profesh method, but it worked for me.
I excitedly took the shirt, now with snaps, to the mirror to try on. Immediately, a couple of things became apparent:
- The armscye was at least an inch (maybe even two inches) too low.
- The collar is HUGE! Proper70’s retro style. Which is further exaggerated by the piping. I feel like I’m channeling my inner Tony Manero.
After what felt like a reallllly long process to make the shirt, I spent just as long trying to decide where to photograph it. My trusty go-to graffiti backgrounds just didn’t seem to gel with a western shirt, but I eventually found a wonderfully dilapidated (that’s a big word for a Sunday morning) building in East London – which just so happened to be pink.
When it came to styling this shirt for the blog photos, I had in my head that I would wear it tucked in, with my black fitted skirt and calf boots – but as I stood in front of the mirror wearing said get-up, I knew it wouldn’t work. Just something about the fitted-ness of the skirt, coupled with the quite poofy shirt, looked a bit weird. Against my better judgement, the shirt actually looked better untucked – despite the roomy fit – but it didn’t go with the skirt AT ALL. Jeans it was to be. Looking at the finished photos, the shirt doesn’t actually look as wacky as it felt when I was making it – I wasn’t sure that I could work it in to my daily wardrobe, but paired with jeans I feel like I could actually wear this to work. This makes me happy as I really do love this shirt!
As if you haven’t already seen enough photos already, I’m now gonna spam you with about 20 more before the end of this post because I think this photoshoot is one of my faves. Something about this building is just YAS – the colours, the textures, that abandoned old-world vibe ?
So, back to the fitting issues I mentioned at the start. It’s that armscye.
When I move my arms away from my sides, I end up with webbed arms because of that armscye. I don’t know what it is with armsyces on sewing patterns – they are always cut SO low! Either that, or I have really shallow shoulders/armpits. I can’t say it’s something that I’ve ever really considered – it’s weird, isn’t it, how sewing can make you think about you dimensions of your body in ways you never thought would be important.
So this is how the armscye fits on the finished shirt:
And this is how I think/feel it should fit:
You can see that if I pull the shoulder up so that it’s comfortably underneath my armpit (and I can therefore move my arms freely without looking webbed), there’s SO MUCH EXCESS on the shoulder. At least an inch needs to come out of that. I seem to have this same problem with a lot of other shirts that I’ve sewn – so either it’s me, or armscyes on shirt patterns are drafted only for bodybuilders ?
It’s something I’ll bear in mind for future makes, but it won’t stop me wearing this particular shirt. Too much effort went into making this for me not to wear it.
(I know I could have/should have made a muslin, which would have highlighted the armscye issue – but I’m not breaking the habit of a lifetime. I like to live dangerously.)
In line with the revelations that came from sewing my first Archer shirt, (which revolved around the fit of shirts on my hourglass body shape) I think that cotton shirts are something that I should generally only wear tucked in. Silk shirts (and fabrics with a bit more drape like viscose) are ok to wear untucked as they don’t create such a boxy shape on me, but cotton ones seem to just make me look a bit of a blob around the middle if I leave them untucked.
Ah, the dramas.
I’m currently sewing up another Deer and Doe Melilot shirt, after the one I made last year was a total FAIL. I wanted to make some shirts to wear to work, and as I seem to have a bit of an addiction to making Scout Tees right now (they will be on the blog soon!) I wanted to make something different – and the Melilot called to me. If this short-sleeved one works out ok I may try the long-sleeved version too ?
Despite the armsyce dramas, and the fact those front welt pockets aren’t level (I know you probably wouldn’t have noticed had I not pointed it out, but it bugs me), the collar is on point (it meets *perfectly* in the middle) and I’m really happy with the fabric/piping/snaps combo going on here. It was even quite fun to make. I would consider sewing this pattern up again, purely for the enjoyment, and because lets face it – that yoke is DA BOMB, amirite? ???
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a luxurious Ogden cami made with designer silk ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!