Wow! What a marathon! This shirt is surely the most time-consuming project I have ever worked on but boy has it taught me a thing or two. The first thing is clearly, never give Mr Ooobop the opportunity to model 70s clothing. He takes it far too seriously. I promise he doesn’t ‘slug-balance’ on a regular basis . . . but nonetheless it is a worry that he wears it so well! He was just rushing off to his next gig with The Redfords so for a rushed 5 minute shoot he was a very obliging mannequin and I must not complain.
If you haven’t read the previous posts, (post 1 and post 2) this shirt was inspired by some beautiful 1970s Laura Ashley fabric I found in an Oxfam shop. I had in mind a little vintage dress but Mr Ooobop! had a firm suggestion of a slim fit 70s shirt with a big collar. I think he has a really good eye for design but I wouldn’t want to inflate that ego any!
The pattern itself was in good order and had very clear and concise instructions. Every seam and edge was double top-stitched so I took it really slowly, given that each stitch was going to be on display! It seemed like it was going to take forever. Well it took me about 10 hours in total over a period of a month, stealing an hour here and there between work and children and either side of a holiday.
There were no instructions on how to finish the inside seams and I didn’t think it was quite right to have an open seam running down each side so I applied a flat felled seam (the kind you get on the outside of jeans) but to the inside. It was a bit tricky especially with all the underarm seam layers but it was worth it to keep it neat and also to form a strong seam. Very necessary methinks for such a slim fit shirt. And it was in keeping with the double row of top stitching.
Given that this was the first time I have ever attempted a man’s shirt, I am very happy. I wasn’t confident at all that it would work out. There are flaws, for sure. The collar stand for instance was a real test of my patience. I had to sew it on, remove it, readjust seams to fit, sew it back on, remove it, resposition it and sew it back on at least 3 times! It is still about 2mm out.
I thought the shaped yokes might prove problematical but actually that bit was dead easy. Again, I just took it real slow. I think because it was cut on the cross it helped to ease it into position on the fronts and back.
The buttonholes, all said, wern’t too tricky. I made sure I tested them out on some scrap fabric first. I have a buttonhole foot attachment that involves placing the button in the back section to create the correct size for automated button hole stitches. It works fine but I find it creates a button hole slightly too large so after removing the button from the guage, I close it down a notch to make sure its slightly smaller. I forgot to ‘reset’ the stitch on one of the button holes and it kept stitching beyond the ‘stopper’. New pet hate: unpicking button hole stitches!!
I have the facility to sew on buttons with the same foot attachment but my mum assures me it never does it properly. So the little niggling mum voice in my head made me sew each one of those ‘darling’ little pearly buttons on by hand!
The things I would change about it:
- I would definitely make the sleeves an inch or so longer
- I would overlock the inside yoke edges before seaming
- I would take care to measure across the back and get a better fit across the shoulders.
- I would not sew so late into the evening (when I make most mistakes!)
I would definitely use this pattern again with a different fabric. Perhaps experiment with a contrasting collar stand or cuffs… or yoke! But I have to say, I am now contemplating a very tiny project that isn’t quite so labour-intensive and doesn’t involve sewing on quite so many buttons!
What has been your most testing project to date?