|Kwik Sew 3555 in purple and grey striped polycotton|
Both of the previous shirts I've made used the Ottobre 05-2012-07 "Gardener shirt" pattern, and despite their problems I still wear them pretty much every week after more than 6 months in my wardrobe. (I suspect, however, I may have to cull the original navy version from my wardrobe at the end of the spring as the (cheap) fabric is really not holding up to such frequent laundering.) For this shirt, however, I chose to use a different pattern, Kwik Sew 3555. This was mainly because I wanted to try a pattern with a back yoke. There are also some other differences between the two patterns: the Kwik Sew pattern has no dart or other bust shaping as drafted and the bodice is overall more boxy in shape; the button band on the Kwik Sew pattern is cut on and folded under rather than separate as on the Ottobre shirt; it has a squared edge, one piece cuff rather than a shaped two piece cuff; it has a forward shoulder seam; and the shape and width of the collar is slightly different.
I hadn't used a Kwik Sew pattern before now and I found the breadth of the XS-XL sizes rather unhelpful, but the good news was that since I know the Ottobre shirt fit reasonably well, I was able to use those pattern pieces to help me choose a size and make some adjustments. I ended up with a rather strange medium/large hybrid: the back, collar and cuffs (I have big wrists, apparently?) are a large. The front and sleeves are a medium.
On top of my combination of sizes, I also did a 3cm FBA on the front bodice and introduced a side bust dart, added some length to the bodice and then, uh, cut some of it off again because I'd made it too long (that part of the process was a bit of a mess!), and lengthened the sleeves for my monkey arms. The adjustments I didn't do were my usual square shoulder adjustment (which I should have done and left off only by accident) and a large upper arm adjustment to the sleeve, which I didn't need for once (which, as I know for a fact I have proportionately large upper arms, suggests to me that the pattern is probably excessively generous in this respect).
|As modelled by yours truly|
Overall, I think I need to do quite a lot more work to properly tailor the shoulder/upper front/upper back of shirts to my body. It seems like I must be a really eccentric shape -- square shoulders, wide neck, average-to-narrow shoulders, hollow-chested above the bust at the front, and then wide through the upper and upper-mid-back. Getting it right might result in some really funny looking pattern pieces, but it would be worth it not to have the shoulder seams of shirts perpetually hanging down over my biceps. I'm just not quite sure where to start in terms of getting to those pattern pieces: with something that fits at the shoulders and then adjust the back? Or find something that fits across the back/armhole and adjust the shoulders? I'll have to do some reading and experimentation I think! I know a seamed back (either shoulder or armhole princess) would be easier to fit in this respect, but I do love to wear casual, unfitted/menswear style shirts. I figure if I can get to the point where I have a pattern piece that works from the shoulders to just below the armhole, I'll just copy that onto every subsequent pattern I use!
For this shirt, construction-wise, I used the Kwik Sew instructions for the parts that were new to me, i.e. the folded button-band and the clean-finished two piece yoke, and then ignored the rest as I wanted to construct it in a different order for purposes of trying on/fitting and/or use the methods from the Shirtmaking book for the cuffs and collar. On the two previous shirts I made I flat-felled my seams, but this time I just overlocked. It's not as pretty, but it's perfectly serviceable.
Interestingly, the KS instructions have you set the sleeves in flat -- I set mine in the traditional way because of changing the construction order for fitting. Alas, I continue to be rubbish at setting sleeves in -- I don't know how it is that I'm not improving at it even though I've now done so many sleeves. The first sleeve went in lovely, but the second, argh, non-stop unpicking/sewing/unpicking/sewing for over an hour. My apparent skill plateau in setting in sleeves is my number one concern about moving on to making outerwear, I have to admit.
Overall, compared to the Ottobre pattern, I don't think I like this pattern quite as much. There is some subtle shaping to the bodice of the Ottobre shirt that I think is more flattering than the Kwik Sew. I also I don't particularly like the cut-on/folded-under button band. I don't hate it, but it's not interfaced and it feels insubstantial. I think I might have liked it better if it had been folded onto the top as I've seen in other patterns. I think I like having the definition of the ridge of seam visible. However, I do like the look and fit of the yoke very much, and I love the clean finish of the yoke inside and out compared to the shoulder darts the Ottobre pattern uses.
In conclusion: it was definitely useful to make this up this pattern, but it is not really a contender for "The Perfect Shirt" pattern that I am in search of and I am not sure if I will make it again.
I have to talk about the fabric and the eye-searing nightmare it proved to be. I pulled this fabric from the "inexpensive shirting" part of my stash. It's hard to get an accurate photo of the colour, which is purple and grey, but it seems to look more blue in some light. It was cheap-ish (about £3.50/m) because it's a polycotton, with rather heavy emphasis on the poly, and I bought it on Goldhawk Road in London when I went on a shopping trip with my friend B in late 2013. It takes a crease beautifully and is mostly well-behaved under the needle, so it was actually a good choice for this pattern. Weirdly, however, it didn't seem to take being top-stitched very well, and I am disappointed with the top-stitching on the whole shirt.
|Some details I am pleased with -- pattern matching across the bodice pieces and side seam, my nicely curved hem|
|Less pleased with: crinkly looking unmatchable shoulder seams due to easing, the mess I made of the "nose" of my collar stand (but my collar point is nice and pointy!)|
The whole striped shirt experience made me look at one or two fabrics in my shirting stash with a very jaundiced eye. Now I know that whatever I make with them I will need to budget LOTS of extra time for stripe/check/pattern wrangling. I have one utterly gorgeous shirt-weight linen in white with a bright green and blue check that I was looking forward to sewing up this summer, but now I am kind of dreading it!
What's up next: My next garment project is definitely another woven top, but as a little breather after making this one, I'm going to work on my Fake Everything Bag next (so called because it's made of fake leather and fake suede).