Monday, 30 November 2015


To start with: I need to admit that this shirt came about through the purchase of a fast-fashion, RTW shirt from Topshop.

A few months ago I found myself in desperate need of a white shirt at short notice. After coming to the conclusion that it wouldn’t be possible to whip one up myself in the timeframe I had, I relented and purchased one from said chain store. While feeling slightly let down with myself (what happened to my no fast fashion goal?) it did set me on a journey of many shirts.

I kind of fell in love with my Topshop shirt. It filled a white-shirt-sized gap I didn’t realise I had in my wardrobe and I wore it frequently. At least until the fabric started pilling six weeks in and it started to look a little sad.

To cut a long story short, I didn’t realise the extent that white shirts (or rather tailored, collared shirts in general) fitted with my style and this has set me on course to creating my own pattern that I can use as a base for a variety of different shirts.

This particular shirt was made straight from the shirt pattern in Winifred Aldrich’s Metric Pattern Cutting. I intended to make up a wearable muslin simply because there’s a fair amount of work involved in sewing a shirt (collar, stand, placket anyone?) and it seemed silly to spend that time on a garment that has no wearability at all. Instead, I thought I’d take my chances and use a proper shirting fabric and hope it turned out wearable in some sense.

And it actually turned out pretty well.

The fabric is a cotton from the Fabric Store, and it’s the perfect weight for what I was wanting. It’s not super thin or flimsy and it crisps up well after a good pressing. It’s also got enough body to hang away from my body and not drape too much.


I pretty well followed the pattern instructions in the book, and only made a few adjustments. 

I omitted the yoke as I couldn’t be bothered with one for a muslin and I didn’t think it was all that necessary. There is a little bit of bagging around the shoulders/ back of the neck, but I can’t tell if that’s related to the lack of yoke or a problem with the neckline depth.

I drew my own collar shape, which is slightly pointier than I was intending but I’m still happy with it.

I directly copied the breast pockets from the Topshop garment. I think that most shirts need detail on the front somewhere to add interest and compliment the collar and it looked strange without pockets. This is also helpful in averting any problems with see-through fabric!

I made a pattern for the cuffs, but didn’t end up using it. During the trying-on stage, I decided that the sleeves were too full to be pleated into a cuff without looking puffy and unflattering , and to be happy with them I would have to draft a slimmer sleeve. However, I really liked the look of them uncuffed and at the length that they were, so I set about doing a super narrow hem to keep them this way. I think this adds a real point of difference to most of the RTW shirts I’ve seen and the sleeves are one of my favourite parts of the shirt.


This shirt is one of my first attempts at a decent collar and some tailoring; besides my Alder shirtdress I’ve never really delved much into that side of sewing. I was kind of gung ho when I started this, but it turned out pretty well. I’m not sure I’m doing this tailoring business right, I’m kind of winging it, but I think these skills will improve as I make more shirts.

I decided early on that if I wanted this to pass as a proper garment then French seams were important. I’ve sewn them on a few garments in the past so they were no real issue. While I did have a minor freak out when I thought the sleeves wouldn’t fit into the armscye, a lot of pins helped me realise that they actually would!

Next time

The collar on this shirt is not perfect. I’m happy with the general size of it, but I think I’ll make it with a slightly shallower point next time. It also overlaps by a few millimetres  at the centre front. I think this is down to a double up of seam allowances or something similar when I was tracing the pattern, but it’s easily remedied next time.


I wear this shirt All. The. Time. It fits in really well into my wardrobe; I usually pair it with culottes or the black skirt pictured above, but it also works well under a corduroy Sway dress I’ve made. It works in that it’s boxy but not so boxy that it bunches up under other layers or jackets. It’s a winner in my books!

A Journey of Many Shirts

As a wearable muslin, I’m pretty happy with this shirt. I’ve since made up a shirt as part of my Spring Summer ’15 plans (here and here) based on this pattern with a few alterations and it’s turned out well. I have a few more shirts planned for my summer sewing and they’ll all have this pattern as a base. I’ve christened this the Journey of Many Shirts.

Until next time!

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