Posted in Projects on Friday the 24th January 2020 by Vicki Ormerod
Posted in Projects on Friday the 24th January 2020 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello there! My name is Rosy, and I’m thrilled to have been welcomed into the Minerva Maker Team! I absolutely love to sew! Mainly clothes for myself, but also clothes for my daughter and soft furnishings for our home. I show most of what I make, over on my Instagram feed. You can find me @rosysewsmodernvintage. As my insta’ name suggests, I love vintage, retro and pin up styles and fabrics. I’m often inspired by 40’s, 50’s & 60’s fashion (I have lots of Pinterest boards for vintage style inspiration!) I love the simple silhouettes from the 1950’s and early 1960’s but I’m also drawn to the soft floral prints and muted colours from the 1940’s. Having said all that, due to being a plus size sewist, I generally use modern sewing patterns, as they are available in larger sizes, and then I try to give the garments a vintage twist, or pair them with vintage accessories etc.
So, let’s talk about my latest project! When I saw this black Textured Knit Fabric on the Minerva website, I immediately fell in love with it and knew it would make a fabulous vintage inspired jumper for autumn and winter! The glossy finish and geometric pattern really appealed to me, plus, what a bargain price!?! £3.99 per metre and 80” wide too! I chose the Tilly and the Buttons Coco Jumper Pattern, as I felt its shape was very similar to some of the tops worn by Audrey Hepburn in the late 50’s. I chose to do full length sleeves, with a turn up and the funnel neck, which can be turned down or left up.
The fabric itself doesn’t have a lot of stretch, so it’s very stable to sew with, and I really like that. I made the whole thing with my overlocker and it was super easy to put together. The fabric does tend to fray, so I found that by the end of the project, my sewing table was covered in quite a bit of black fluff! But I’m really not bothered about that, because the finished article is just so lovely! It holds its shape and works well with jeans for a chic & casual look, but it also looks great with tailored trousers for a smarter work look. After all, who says work wear has to be boring?!
I also wanted to mention that this fabric is very resilient to sharp objects! As you can see in this series of photos, I thought I’d try to get my cat involved in the photoshoot, but he wasn’t as keen! He wriggled away as quickly as he could and even though his claws caught the fabric a couple of times, I was thrilled to find that there were absolutely no pulls!
In the end, due to the generous width of the fabric, I only needed to use just over a metre. So, my lovely jumper cost just a little more than £3.99 to make (I already had the sewing pattern) and I’m sorry to say it again (actually, I take that back, I’m not sorry!), what a brilliant bargain?!
As I mentioned before, this fabric holds it shape really well, so I think it would make an amazing circle or half circle skater skirt or prom style dress; It might even be good as a fitted dress! I think it would also be gorgeous made up into some kind of jacket or coatigan. So, it definitely doesn’t need to be limited to vintage styles and silhouettes!
Well, that’s all from me for today, I’m now off to waft around like Audrey Hepburn. Breakfast at Tiffany’s anyone?!
Hello Minerva blog readers!
I am Crystal of Crystalsewsandstuff and I am back to share my experience sewing with this lovely Navy Blue Viscose Jersey Fabric from Minerva. The print on this fabric has a unique geometric design with its thicker and thinner lines throughout the pattern that I love. When I saw the video of this piece on the website, I knew it would be perfect for a flowy long-sleeved dress for Autumn and Winter. I chose Vogue 1558 by Rachel Comey because of the interesting style lines that are in tune with this season’s fashion trends. It is a loose-fitting dress with a nipped-in waist and long raglan-style sleeves that puff out at the wrist. The high neckline and pleating at the waist also give this pattern a unique flair that stands out among other dresses of this type. I have been seeing similar styles all over the runway lately and I wanted to put my own spin on this style.
Sewing and Alterations
I sewed a size twelve for the bodice and graded out to a size fourteen at the waist and hips according to my body measurements. For my size, this pattern requires 3 and 1/8th yards/2.9 meters of fabric and I used every bit of that yardage(meterage) to make up this dress! I raised the waistline by two inches to account for my short waist. I also shortened the sleeves by about two inches by cutting them out at the size six sleeve length.
Upon reviewing a few blog posts and reviews online; I decided to make a waist stay to prevent the waistline from drooping from the weight of the skirt. To do this, I sewed a strip of petersham ribbon along the waist seam to stabilize and give it more support. I used a size 10/70 ballpoint needle on my sewing machine and finished all the seams on the serger. This dress closes with an invisible back zipper that took me a few tries to perfect. I was getting a little too close to the zipper teeth and had to unpick it a few times. Fortunately, I remembered to interface the fabric underneath the zipper tape to help the zip lay flat during the installation process. I sewed a three-inch hem instead of the 1.25-inch (2.5 cm) hem recommended in the pattern. The dress still hits me at maxi level as I am only 5’2” tall; but I love way the length of this dress looks on me.
To hem the dress, I serged the hemline and used the blind hem stitch for lightweight and knit fabrics on my machine. This was my first time using a machine blind hem on a knit fabric and I love how the stitches are practically imperceptible. I will certainly add this hem technique to my sewing repertoire in future garments.
When imagining this dress, I knew I wanted to style it with some cute booties. I chose my favorite velvet blue boots by Unisa and they really bring out the blues in the fabric’s print. Additionally, I felt that while this dress looks nice without a belt, it really shines with one. For this look, I used a shawl scarf that came with a formal gown from my closet and tied it as a belt. I embellished it with a cute dragonfly brooch from my late grandmother for a little more pizazz. I added some cute earrings and a silver bangle, and my look was complete.
This is a straightforward pattern that I would recommend to those who consider themselves at an advanced beginner and above level. The dress has a significant amount of pleat detail including a few at the front and back waistline as well as on the sleeves. These steps are more time consuming than difficult, but I believe most will be able to handle this pattern without issue.
This fabric was easy to work with and is the perfect weight for this style. It would also look great as a cute wrap or cowl neck top. Minerva also has several other print and solid viscose jerseys to suit your style. You will love whatever garment you decide to sew with this beautiful textile!
To see more of my makes please check me out on YouTube and Instagram @crystalsewsandstuff
I am very excited to share with you my recently completed wool coat using Butterick 6385. This is my most challenging project of 2019. I don’t take making a coat lightly and I have poured my blood, sweat and tears into this project. Keep reading to learn some tricks for working with this Wool Fabric, a bit on hand tailoring, linings and interlinings.
This is not the first wool coat I have made. Back in college (some 12 years ago) I made a beautiful black, full length pea coat in sewing class. I put 50 hours of work into that coat. I learned so much about tailoring and grading, buttonholes, where to source big buttons, and how to put secret pockets into the lining. That coat has been well loved! But since it is not warm enough for winters in upstate New York, USA, I challenged myself to complete one this summer.
Wool coats on the rack can be pricey. Wool is a premium fabric, and is so so warm! The lining can also be expensive. It is so worth it to make your own coat especially if you want a custom fit or if you are trying to save some cash.
I chose the longer coat option with the pointed collar. I love all three of the collars so it was a tough decision! The pattern also features a two piece sleeve (I think all tailored coats should have them) and hidden pockets.
I knew I needed 100% wool coating (blends with polyester aren’t as warm) and so I chose this grey coating and paired it with a silk charmeuse lining purchased in the garment district of NYC. I also chose to interline the coat to provide even more warmth. Interlining was seriously a whole project in itself. You can read more about that on my blog.
Since Big 4 patterns tend to be 1 size too big on me (and other folks, too) I sized down and cut out an 8. The coat fits, but I did have to let out the side seams ¼” to allow for the bulk of my interlining. Also, I couldn’t interline the sleeves because that would have left too much bulk under my arms. So if you plan to interline your coat with something substantial, makes sure to size up. (In my case it would mean going with the Butterick size chart.)
The only adjustments I made to this pattern are as follows: narrow shoulder adjustment and petite height adjustment.
I used hair canvas on certain parts of the coat, including the upper front, and the collar. I am a BIG fan of hand tailoring for jackets and structured coats, especially with wool. Wool was made to be molded and formed! It was also made to be beaten into submission...yes, hammers were used in the making of this coat.
The book Singer: Tailoring was an invaluable resource.
I also used a soft fusible-weft insertion interfacing for pattern pieces specifically labeled ‘interfacing’.
This fabric has a tendency to stretch out. I didn’t realize this until I was inserting the sleeve to the armscye and noticed that the armscye had stretched to a bigger circumference. It also presented a challenge when I was sewing a pattern piece that was interfaced to a pattern piece that wasn’t. Even just having the presser foot over the fabric tended to make it shift. (Honestly, this can happen with any bulky seam.) My recommendation to you for this fabric is to stay-stitch your pattern pieces, especially those that will not be interfaced, like the upper collar. You could also use a walking foot and that will help a little.
I used my two sewing machines for this project, including my vintage Elna machine. Ellie (as I call her) has sturdy metal parts and was very forgiving of bulky seams most of the time. I used my Brother CS6000i for the lining and buttonholes because it does better detail work.
My automatic buttonholer foot had no interest in stitching over two layers of wool coating. So, I put the universal foot back on and I used a combination of zig zags and straight stitches to create each of my five buttonholes. It was tedious and they’re not perfect but I’m pleased with the result.
Thick layers in a coat can cause problems with buttons. Check out this resource for sewing buttons on a coat. This essentially shows you how to make a thread shank between your button and coat fabric.
If you want to make a beautifully tailored coat, be prepared to spend time with your hand needle. I spent 6-8 hours just on hand tailoring, sewing buttons and sewing the lining edge to the hem of the coat. Take your time and try to enjoy it! This is something you will wear for years to come.
I made a time card of my hours spent on this project as a way to motivate me. I also wanted to keep track of my time and see if I could make my coat in fewer hours than the last one. My total time on this project was 35 ½ hours, about 15 hours less than my first coat.
And there you have it! I’m delighted with the finished project! I must admit finishing this coat has not been easy as I sewed it in May and June without air conditioning in my sewing room. Nobody wants to try on a wool coat when it’s 83 degrees outside!
I hope you’ve grown an appreciation for the work that goes into making a coat. If you have a desire to make one yourself, Minerva has many good coating options. There are so many different kinds of coat patterns on the market, you are sure to find something just your style!
Thanks for reading,
Stephanie @ The Petite Sewist
I’m very excited to be back this month with my dream jumpsuit! I’ve sewn up the In The Folds Peppermint magazine jumpsuit in a gorgeous printed turquoise Gingham Cotton Fabric.
The fabric jumped out at me straight away as I’m a sucker for a gingham. However, as its printed its less traditional and looks more expensive. I’ve seen lots of fabric like this in RTW lately and it’s a great alternative for gingham. The fabric itself has a slightly brushed look to it and is a medium weight so perfect for loose fit clothing like this. My original plan was to make a trouser and top set, but I think its slightly too lightweight for trousers, so I went for the next best thing!
The price of this fabric is a little more than I would usually go for, but the quality is so good it’s definitely worth it. I’ve realised now (after years of sewing with cheap fabrics!) it’s worth investing in great fabric as you end up with a garment you will wear and cherish for years to come. It’s also worth noting that the width is only 46 inches, so you need to think about your pattern wisely - I had to use 3m for this jumpsuit!
The fabric also comes in a vibrant orange colour way that I was very tempted by but went for the turquoise one as I think it compliments my colouring better. I may have to revisit the orange colourway for another garment.
I used the Peppermint Jumpsuit pattern from In The Folds which I have made before and absolutely adore. The pattern is a free one as part of the collaboration with Peppermint Magazine (go check them out if you don’t know them as they are all fab!). The jumpsuit is loose fit with tapered legs and an invisible zip in the centre back. It’s a really great item to sew as its straightforward with a clean and modern feel. The bust darts give it some shape and the burrito method facing gives it a really clean finish around the neckline. If you haven’t used this method before, this pattern is a great to use as the instructions and photos are super clear and easy to follow. I decided to overlock all the seams as the side seams are really long and I didn’t fancy using French seams all the way!
I have made this pattern up before but made a few changes this time. I straightened the leg out instead of the tapered leg as I find this more flattering on my body shape. I also shortened the body and lowered the centre front point by 3 cm. I wanted to lower the front to show a little more skin to balance the overall look of the jumpsuit. As I’m only 5ft3 all the same fabric can drown me a bit. This also meant I had to shorten the leg by around 20cm as I wanted it to be cropped.
I made a matching belt to be worn with it but also really love this without the belt. It’s extremely comfy - not sure about its fashion credentials but it’s a great Sunday outfit! I can also see it being worn over a black turtleneck for the those crisp autumn mornings.
Thanks for reading,
Hello!I’m Jade and am delighted to talk to you about my first Minerva project…the Audrey Jacket, from Seamwork Magazine.
One of the main reasons why I’ve delayed making this jacket is because I had convinced myself that it was going to be really tricky to put together and calls for lots of topstitching and buttonholes…gulp! How wrong I was! The construction of the jacket from beginning to end was simple and felt like piecing together a really satisfying jigsaw puzzle. There are a fair number of pattern pieces to contend with, but by following the clear and concise instructions, I didn’t come across any issues.
Having done a bit of research before hand, I had seen that other makers had found the sizing to be a little large and as the pattern instructions advise it is intended to be an ‘oversized’ jacket, chose to go for one size smaller.
The fabric was a complete joy to work with and in order to give it little extra thickness for the forthcoming chillier spell, I decided to interface all of the pieces with ultra-soft light-weight Vilene. This took a little more time (and isn’t the prettiest on the inside sadly) but this was worth the effort as I can see me getting more wear out of it and I like the crispness it has provided. What sets this denim apart from other denims I’ve sewn with before is the quality. The weave of the fabric is very fine and soft with a subtle sheen.
I’ve been really inspired by all of the other dreamy versions of the Audrey Jacket I have seen from other makers and think that if making Audrey again, I would chose to invest more time and thought into the inside of the jacket, perhaps with Hong-Kong seams and also opt to tackle the welt pockets. There’s also potential for jazzing her up with colourful trims and iron-on patches too. I’m already dreaming up a mint/ pastel pink needlecord version.
Overall, I’m really pleased with how this make has turned out. The sky’s the limit with Audrey and paired with this gorgeous fabric, I couldn’t recommend enough!Thanks for reading,Jade @jadejuney
This time as a Minerva Maker I chose to work with this Lady McElroy Viscose Voile Fabric in black. Guys, this fabric is so so good. It’s like wearing a cloud! It is lightweight and airy, but also opaque…dreamy. Currently it appears to be only available in black, if more colors become available I will be placing some orders because I want more of this voile in my life.
Although part of me wanted to sew something dramatic and fun (I’m looking at you, Wilder Gown by Friday Pattern Co.), I have a small list of staple pieces that I want to round out my wardrobe. I decided to be practical and sew matched separates this time allowing me to cross off two wardrobe staples I’ve wanted in my closet; a classic black top and a gathered black skirt. I love the versatility of separates, mixing and matching outfits depending on my mood. I eeked both out of 4 meters of fabric, only small shreds leftover. There is something very satisfying about optimizing a make in such a way that there is very little waste at the end.
For the top I knew immediately that I wanted to sew the Cielo Top by Closet Case Patterns. I love that shoulder detail. I sewed View A with some minor adjustments: I cut the front and back bodice 2 ½ inches (64 mm) longer than the patterned called for, and I also trimmed 1 ½ inches (38 mm) off the sleeve length (before adding the cuffs).
As I sewed I did need to be conscious of the lightweight fabric, ensuring I didn’t stretch out necklines and sleeves and such. Also, I tried to use a pressing cloth whilst ironing to reduce a slight flashing that came from ironing directly. Katie from What Katie Sews recently shared a great tip on trimming down seam allowances and doing a zig zag stitch to finish lightweight fabric. I followed her advice as I went and was really pleased on the finishing of my Cielo Top. This voile was such a good fit for this pattern, the drape is lovely. I have made the Cielo in a sturdier fabric and would recommend considering sizing down with fabrics that don’t have as much drape.
For the skirt I used the waistband from the Brumby Skirt by Megan Nielsen and then deviated on the skirt dimensions and zipper option. I am all about pockets, but in a rare move decided to omit pockets so they would not weigh down the skirt.
I had about 2 meters left of black fabric remaining for the skirt base. I quite liked the selvage on this fabric so I decided to use it as a raw hem feature. I snipped and tore the fabric right down the middle of the remnant (hoorah for grainlines) and then seamed them together, taking care to line up the selvage edges. I did find that fusible interfacing did not adhere well at all with this lovely voile, so I would recommend sew-in interfacing in a waistband or other areas you may need to reinforce. In preparing skirt waistbands I have found that I like to add a layer of lightweight canvas with the outer waistband to create a sturdy band that will not stretch and flop as easily. The rest of the construction was straight forward, and I felt like a #sewingrebel not hemming all 4 meters of that hem. Despite the good amount of fabric, this skirt holds its light weight and flows so prettily. It’s the kind of skirt you could leap and run in, or take a nap in—it’s just what my wardrobe needed.
Thanks for reading,
Well hello again! I'm so happy to back here on the Minerva blog and really excited to share my latest project with you. This one has taken me far longer than it ever should have, but in the end it was all worth it! I am absolutely thrilled with how my Christine Haynes Ellsworth Coat turned out!
When I first received the Lady McElroy Stretch Cotton Fabric from Minerva, I thought I would make a dress, but then after thinking about it I decided what I really wanted to do was make a coat that would take me through either fall or spring, for those times where there’s just a bit of a chill to the air, but not enough to be wearing a heavy coat or parka. The print of the fabric is beautiful - it's got every thing I adore. Birds and foliage and flowers oh my! What's not to love? I thought a coat from it would be quite unique!
Once I had decided on making a coat, picking the pattern was easy. I’ve had the Ellsworth pattern for quite a long time now and because it’s got an oversized, slight swing shape to it, fitting would be forgiving. I've been trying to recall if I've ever made a lined jacket or coat before and I don't think I have so I wanted a pattern that would be fairly straight forward with simple style lines. Both these factors made me feel that Ellsworth would be a great choice to start off my coat making adventures with because the fit would be forgiving.
I diligently opted to trace my pattern, as I didn’t want to cut into my paper copy of it, however it proved to be my first hurdle. I was completely daunted by the sheer number of pieces that needed to be traced. Once I finally started I quickly ran into my second hurdle. The pattern is so faintly printed on the tissue that my aging eyeballs were just about crossing trying to trace it. Maybe the ink has faded in the envelope since I bought the pattern so long ago? (Although I have patterns from the 1940s in my stash that are still nice and crisply printed so maybe not) More than once bad words were said and more than once I balled up paper and threw it on the floor in frustration. (Not one of my finer moments... I’m glad my 9 and 10 year old boys were not having to bear witness to their mama having a full on toddler worthy tantrum.) I kept going though and finally my pattern was completely traced.
I was pretty excited to get down to the business of sewing my coat, and at first things went well enough. I felt ever so smug as I lined my pockets and moved onto to sew the princess seams.
Things were definitely progressing except for one slight mechanical problem. Enter hurdle number three. My machine. When it sews it does a beautiful stitch. I’ve never had problems with tension and it handles all fabrics like a champ. However, there is a problem with the set screw that causes the stop motion wheel to slip with each stitch I make until it stops sewing completely. So every few inches I have to stop, tighten the wheel again and start up. Rinse and repeat. Over and over. Not to be beaten though, I accepted the added frustration and forged on. Then I got to the sleeves.
Cue the ominous music; something out of an old horror movie might be an acceptable choice here...
Let’s just talk about notches for a second. I think we can all agree they’re fairly significant to successfully matching certain things up. Remember how a moment ago I said I’d traced my pattern completely? Well. Spoiler alert. I hadn’t. Time for hurdle number four. It turns out I’d missed several integral notches. When I referred back to my actual pattern I could see why I’d missed them. Because the notches utilized the same dots, dashes and lines that marked each size uniquely, the ones for my size were barely visible if at all in some spots. It took some careful peering at my pattern as well as some going off of the notches from other sizes to figure out where my notches should be. SO MUCH FRUSTRATION.
I will say that once I got the notches figured out, sleeve insertion became much, much easier and the rest of the sewing went well. My machine was still giving me fits, but at least my pattern was working out well. It's not a complicated pattern really, but it is fully lined which makes it a bit more involved. When I got to the part where I would turn the whole coat through the sleeve I was pretty skeptical that it was going to work. It's really hard to envision a twisted, bunched up heap of fabric turning into an actual coat.
But it worked and I could not have been more pleased with myself! I finished off the last steps of the lining, closed up the opening in the sleeve that I had turned the coat through and gave it a good pressing.
Then it was time for buttonholes and buttons. Enter hurdle number five. I sewed every single functional button on in the wrong spot. Not once, but twice. HOW?!?! How does that even happen to anyone? I was ready to walk away again at that point, but really how long can you drag out a project before it just becomes completely ridiculous. So nose to the grindstone I measured once, twice and double-checked a third time then sewed the buttons on again. Third time was the charm thank goodness or this post may have gone a very different direction entirely.
Despite all my trials and tribulations along the way though, I love my Ellsworth Coat and I can't wait to wear it out and about!
Thanks for reading!
Sarah @ www.prairie-girl-knits.com
Posted in Projects on Wednesday the 22nd January 2020 by Vicki Ormerod
Hello! I’m Jen and I’m so thrilled to be on the Minerva blog for the very first time! As soon as I saw this incredible John Kaldor Viscose Twill Fabric in purple and navy, I knew it was the perfect fabric for me. Anyone who has been following along with my sewing the past few years will know that I have a soft spot for purple. When I received this fabric in the mail, I nearly gasped! It was so beautiful and incredibly soft in person! It does say that it has a navy background, but all I can see is PURPLE! The large scale floral print is perfectly on trend with what is being sold in the shops and I knew that this was going to be the right dressmaking fabric for my vision.
The viscose twill fabric is completely opaque which makes it suitable for a dress with no lining. There was no fuzz or halo to the fabric after it went through the washing machine and the tumble dryer which means it will be long lasting and the colors should stay vibrant. I would order this type of fabric in any color it came in because I believe it would work for a dress, jumpsuit, culottes, or even a pair of luxurious pajamas.
My pattern of choice was the Chalk and Notch Orchid Midi Dress. It’s a seventies-inspired dress with two sleeve options and two bust cup sizes. Choosing patterns that include expansive size ranges is very important to me and I’ve been a huge fan of Chalk and Notch designs for a few years. I’m extremely happy to see her rolling out new patterns that go up to US size 24 and include B and D cup size options.
I’ve sewn this pattern once before as a sample for a sewing class I’m teaching this fall, but since I had to hand that version off to be displayed in the store, I knew I wanted to sew an Orchid Midi that would be just for me. This viscose twill fabric is a match made in heaven with the Orchid Midi pattern. The fabric was very easy to cut and sew, was perfectly simple to gather, and held a steamed press well. The only tiny issue I had happened when I was picking out some basting stitches. I accidentally pulled one of the dress threads and it left a white line on the fabric. It’s so tiny that absolutely no one will ever notice it but me (and maybe you, if we ever meet in person and you lean in very closely to inspect my dress). Just use extra caution and a contrasting basting thread so you can easily pick out the basting stitches and not accidentally pull a thread from your beautiful fabric!
I customized a few parts of the pattern to fit the look I was going for with my Orchid Midi dress. It has been very HOT in Ohio this summer so I knew I wanted my dress to be sleeveless. To do this, I simply reduced the width of the shoulder and bound the inside of the armscye with a strip of bias fabric. I also wanted a shorter, swishier skirt than the pattern design. I added a few inches to the width of the skirt to create more volume and then gathered the extra width before attaching the skirt to the bodice. I shortened the length of the skirt to around my knees and omitted the front slit. The result was a lightweight, flowy skirt that felt wonderful on a warm evening. My husband and I went out on a rare date night to dinner and to see a traveling Broadway performance so of course I had him snap some pictures of my dress before we left.
I’m already planning another Orchid Midi dress for the fall. Maybe in a burnt orange floral crepe or a solid navy rayon? Feel free to give me fabric recommendations from the Minerva website because I am in a fabric shopping mood! Thank you so much to Minerva for having me on the blog and I look forward to sharing more future makes with you all!
Posted in Projects on Wednesday the 22nd January 2020 by Vicki Ormerod
I’d say about 85% of the things I sew I sew for myself. However, every now and then, I like to share the sewing love and make my boyfriend a little something. And honestly, I don’t know why I don’t do it more. I love making things for him, and I know he loves wearing them – it’s a win-win for everyone! (It’s also nice to have someone else do the modeling!) When I saw this shirting, I immediately knew it would be perfect for a button down for him, and I think it’s safe to say I was right!
Let’s start with the fabric. This is the Lady McElroy Spotty Cotton Shirting Fabric. It is a truly awesome shirting, both in pattern and weight. The color is such a great saturated navy, and the small white squares give it a little something extra. Luckily for me, my boyfriend is usually up for garments that have a little something extra. He once asked for “baller-looking buttons” on a vest I was making for him. So, he was 100% on board with this fabric.
This shirting is a bit lighter weight than some shirtings I’ve used, and I think I prefer this weight. It was so easy to get nice crisp corners, which I think are always essential in a good button down. The fabric also washes and irons perfectly – and bonus! – it doesn’t wrinkle like crazy.
The pattern I used is Simplicity 8427. It comes with two different cuff and collar variations. I selected the spread (or as I’d call it, the pointed) collar and the barrel cuffs. I’ve previously made a version with French cuffs. One of the great things about this pattern is that it fits by boyfriend straight out of the package – no alterations necessary – woohoo!! Although, having made both cuff versions, I think on the next barrel cuff version I may shorten the sleeves just a bit. But, as my boyfriend says, he usually ends up cuffing his sleeves up anyway.
I find button downs or shirt dresses to be some of the most satisfying sewing projects. I used to find the collars and collar stands so intimidating, but after I had a few under my belt, I started to really enjoy the process. This is a good thing, because I love shirt dresses, and my boyfriend wears button downs every day.
Along with getting comfortable with collars, I’ve also picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. One of those tips is interfacing the button band. This pattern has a self-button band, where you simply fold the fabric back twice to create the band. While certainly easier than attaching a separate button band piece, I find that this method isn’t as sturdy. To remedy this, I add a piece of interfacing on the second fold and then trim back the first fold (you don’t need all that bulk with the interfacing). This provides some extra stability to support the buttons. It also looks much more crisp.
Probably my favorite little trick is using the thread tail method to get a nice sharp collar point. This method works every time (unless there’s user error and I accidentally put the thread in the wrong place!) and produces the sharpest collars I’ve ever made. Here is a great tutorial on Closet Case Patterns’ website.
To finish the seams on this shirt, I used all flat-felled seams. This is not recommended in the pattern, but if you look at any quality men’s button down, you’ll see that they are all finished with flat-felled seams. This creates the cleanest look on the inside, because all the raw edges are enclosed in the seams. I’d recommend this flat-felled seams tutorial from Collette.
Flat felled seams are actually very easy, and the only place they get a bit tricky is in the sleeves, since you’re basically sewing a seam inside the sleeve. Depending on how roomy the sleeves are, you may need to stop sewing halfway and finish sewing the flat-felled seam coming from the other direction.
To finish off this shirt, I decided to use pearl snaps instead of buttons. As I mentioned, my boyfriend has a lot of button downs, but he doesn’t have a lot of snap downs. Plus, I thought the pearl snaps would look great with those white squares on the fabric.
I think this button down just might be my favorite one yet. I love the way it fits, and the fabric and pearl snaps are a great combination. I’m sure my boyfriend will get a lot of use out of this one, and there are definitely more custom button downs in his future!
Until next time,