Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Shirt-making, part deux (and a pair of yoga pants)

Last month I made my first button front, collared shirt, and I almost immediately cut another one in chambray. Then it took me just about FOREVER to actually make it. I kept whining to myself about how fiddly all the steps were, particularly once I got past the easy parts of the bodice and into the cuffs/collar/etc. As a result, it languished in my sewing room for days at a time, untouched.
Ottobre 05-2012-07 made in denim chambray
Eventually though I got over myself, and here is my chambray shirt made with Ottobre 05-2012-07 again (which I promise I will never wear with my chambray skirt made of the same fabric for fear of looking like that famous unfortunate Britney Spears/Justin Timberlake denim ensemble photo). I was determined this time to get a better fit and a better finish on this pattern, but my results were mixed.

On the fit side of things, my most pressing concern was how tight the first shirt felt across the upper back. This time I added 1.5cm to the upper back (from the shoulder seam to just below the armscye) I used the pre-existing dart to get rid of the excess at the actual shoulder seam. On the plus side, the fit is now exactly the way I want it. However, the way I dealt with the extra width at the shoulder turned out to be a mistake as it made for quite a large dart that I didn't position very well, resulting in a strange Hunchback of Notre Dame shape on the upper back. I probably care about this less than I should simply because 99.99% of the time I can't see it.

I also, thanks to themuslinette who linked me to a tutorial, removed 3cm of ease from the sleeve cap. You may recall that my biggest sewing problem with the original dark blue shirt was a nightmare setting the sleeves in, which required multiple attempts and still looked terrible when I was done. This time, the altered sleeves went in BEAUTIFULLY first time and I was so, so proud of them.... right up to the point where, having actually done lovely flat-felled armscye seams (first attempt at doing this! love the finish on the inside!) I tried the shirt on and discovered the sleeves have a HORRIBLE twist on them. (I know, I know, try my shirts on before I finish the seam, I have learned my lesson!)

As worn by me, showing how twisty the upper arms are. It's less noticeable with the sleeves rolled up.

Since the first version didn't have twisted sleeves (although it had all sorts of other sleeve problems), I know it's not a body vs. clothes fitting problem, which means either (a) I cut the sleeves off grain, possibly by screwing up where the grainline should be through my many many alterations of the pattern (width, length (twice), sleeve cap adjustment, etc) or (b) I set the sleeve in incorrectly, possibly because I altered the shape of the sleeve cap and didn't adjust the position of the mid-point dot. My feeling is that it's some combination of the two factors, possibly slightly more (b) because of the way that the shirt seems to want to twist right from the seam.

At any rate, because I'd finished my seams it was unfixable so I just have to live with it. At first I was all WOE :( my shirt is unwearable :( as a result, but then I wore it for an entire day and actually kind of loved it in spite of the sleeve problem. It probably helps that I rolled the sleeves up all day. So, whatever, I know it's not perfect and I think it is visible even to a non-sewer that it's not perfect, but it's wearable and that's a good start. However, before I make this again, I think I might re-trace and re-adjust the sleeve. I also need to take a hard look at the shoulder seams, which I feel are just a tad too wide.

Some shirt details -- I had horrible problems with the collar stand joining seam last time, this time is much better. I am also pleased with that collar point. (It is the same shirt, despite the seeming colour change!)
I also decided to try some different methods on the cuffs and collar, after being quite dissatisfied with the outcome following the pattern instructions. For this I used Shirtmaking by David Coffin Paige. I don't find this the most user friendly of books, I have to admit, but having struggled through the cuffs and collar instructions I was very happy with the outcome, which noticeably didn't have some of the more frustrating finishing problems of the previous dark blue shirt. Not to say either the collar or cuffs are perfect, but I think they're better.

I was helped in all these endeavours by my fabric, which was the same denim coloured chambray I used for a skirt a few days ago. I love these well-behaved all-cotton fabrics I've been using lately! I top-stitched in grey again and used classic white shirt buttons. Overall, I am super happy with the look of this shirt, even though some of the details aren't quite perfect.

Having finished my shirt on Saturday, on Sunday I had a real yen to sew, but I didn't want to do anything complex. I also really needed to add a really boring staple to my wardrobe: knit yoga pants.

Purple yoga pants using Silhouette 3400

I decided to use Silhouette 3400: Three-Piece Yoga Pants, which I got wayyyyy back when I first started sewing clothes for $1 when I bought another pattern. This was before my irrational loathing of Silhouette and Peggy Sagers took over and I refused to buy any more Silhouette patterns. I have multiple other yoga pant patterns, including a couple in my beloved Ottobre, but that would have meant tracing and adding seam allowances etc etc and I just wanted something really REALLY low effort. Normally I trace even cheap envelope patterns, but this time I just chopped into it, on the basis that I really don't care about this pattern.

My irrational loathing for Silhouette is not actually entirely irrational. First: what is with the front covers of these patterns?! You'd think this was a pattern cover for the top, but no, you're supposed to divine something about the bottoms from this appalling picture. Second: I understand the rationale behind the sizing scheme, but I disagree strongly with the argument that it's better to be given finished garment dimensions only. This is actually the main reason I can't be bothered buying any more of her patterns. I have two Silhouette blouse patterns, one of which I LOVE from a design perspective, but for the life of me I can't work out what size to make and it makes my head ache just thinking about it. (The REST of my loathing of Silhouette/PS is totally irrational and not worth discussing.)

In order to pick a size with this pattern, I sort of... flailed about and picked a size almost at random? Well, that's not entirely true. I compared a pair of knit trousers that I like to the pattern and THEN I flailed about and picked a size at random because none of the pattern sizes seemed to correspond in any way to what I already owned. In the end I made a 12 and it fits pretty much how I expected it to.

Once I'd made the pants, I did have to do some surgery. There was FAR TOO much fabric at the front of the crotch and believe me, it's not an attractive look to have a ton of extra fabric bunched up right at that point. I sewed a much deeper curve, and then I did it again, and honestly I should maybe have gone for a third pass but I was bored of this alteration by then and decided I could live with it. I also have some EPIC flat butt wrinkles going on which I didn't bother to fix this time but will fix when I make this again. And I will make these again, because, irrational loathing aside, this pattern goes together very well. Everything fits together exactly as it's supposed to, and the instructions were very clear. Plus, the shape and style is exactly what I like in a yoga pant. And this is a legitimately fast and easy project: I made these in under 2 hours including cutting out the pattern and re-threading my overlocker with appropriate thread. However, I'm going to have to think about the waistband because I ardently dislike how twisty it is.

Some of my fit photos, including an unfortunate close up of my butt, with flat butt wrinkles beneath D:

This fabric is something I bought really early on in my garment sewing career. It's a heavy polyester knit with plenty of stretch in both directions, and when I bought it I LOVED it. I got a huge piece (5m) from eBay from the lady liquidating her late mother's stash (I have SO MUCH fabric from 2012 that I bought from that lady!). Since then, as I've become more knowledgable and picky about what I'm buying, the weirdly slick finish of the fabric became more and more off-putting, and I went from "how will I ever use this, I love it TOO MUCH" to "how will I ever use this, I have SO MUCH and it's not very nice!". Surprisingly, though, I quite like it made up into yoga pants. I only used 1.6m, so I suspect I might end up making another identical pair at some point with some of the remainder.

Up next on my sewing table: a couple of tops using Butterick 5826 (with some minor changes taken from other recent patterns I've used) and another button-down shirt. I'm in two minds whether to make the Ottobre 05-2012-07 pattern again or whether to move on to another pattern. On the one hand, I have a lot of hard-won knowledge about that pattern now. On the other, I kind of want to make a shirt with a back yoke and some different details. So I am not quite sure what I want to do with that. I also want some more knit tops, and I really REALLY want to make New Look 6303, which to my extreme joy went on half price sale on the UK Simplicity/New Look site just in time for me to snaffle it.


  1. Wow. That BS/JT photo is tragic. That's a lot of denim even for me!

    I never look at Silhouette patterns and would have never thought the pants pattern was advertising pants! You can hardly see them in the photo and the shirt looks interesting. That is some unfortunate photography.

    I like your chambray shirt. I want one now!

    1. I think even one of them in all that denim would have been a bit much, but BOTH of them is both hilarious and awful.

      I almost never look at Silhouette now because I despise the lady who runs the company and don't want to give her money. Her pattern covers though are ALSO amazing and awful. The one blouse pattern I have that I can't work out what size to use, the line drawing makes it look great, but on the cover the model is like, 3/4 turned away from the camera so you can't see even half the details of the design. Baffling.

      I think this chambray shirt is the first time a trend and I have intersected in the last ten years. :D It's a nice basic though!

  2. Nicely done!!! That top-stitching is perfect. The collar points are perfect. And yep, I'd just roll those sleeves up and go!

    1. Thank you! I am so proud of the finish on the finicky bits of this pattern that I'm wilfully ignoring the twisty twisty sleeves. You really can't tell how bad it is when I roll them up so I guess I'll be wearing it perpetually rolled!

  3. I love how your chambray shirt turned out! The topstitching looks great! I have a chambray shirt on my "to sew" list, but who knows when I'll get around to it.

    LOVE the Britney/Justin pic!

    1. I kind of want to make another chambray shirt in a more fitted pattern now as well. The only problem I have is that most of my jeans are blue, and I fear that even dark blue jeans + light blue chambray top edges into Justin and Britney territory!

  4. That collar and collar stand are gorgeous. Whatever it took to get there, it was worth it. And your top stitching is beautiful! Suddenly I want to make another Archer.

    1. Thanks! I'm really pleased with my finishing on this shirt, it's just a shame about the sleeves! I've seen a lot of great Archers, but I have been put off by the lack of bust shaping.

  5. Great sewing. I am impressed with your collar - I can't believe it's your first time it looks perfect. I really struggle to not get any steps where the collar joins the shirt fronts but yours align up perfectly. Hope you are feeling better.

    1. Thanks! To be fair, it's my second, and on my first one I had exactly the same problem with 'steps' as you did. I found the method described by David Paige in the Shirtmaking book fixed it though.

      I am feeling MUCH better thank you, with some occasional hiccups and bad days :D