With spring approaching, I wanted to make a couple of spring projects for this month’s blog post. At the same time, I wanted to try out some new skills and fabrics. I wanted to try my hand at making a shirt, so was looking for a nice shirting or linen cotton. This white linen-blend Dressmaking Fabric looked perfect for the job! And for the skirt, I was trying out various alterations to my self-drafted skirt block, and thought I’d try a Stretch Cotton Fabric for extra comfort. I hadn’t made anything with stretch cotton before, but the navy and white paisley print on this one really appealed to me!

The Shirt

I decided to kill two birds with one stone and use the top half of the M6696 shirtdress pattern to make a shirt. I would come out of it with a shirt, and at the same time I could work out any fitting issues for when I eventually use the full pattern to make a shirtdress. Bonus!

Here’s a look at the pattern:

I liked the collar, the yoke back and the cute short sleeves (on view B). I wasn’t a big fan of the gathering on the back piece where it meets the skirt and the yoke back. This is actually quite a common theme on various sewist’s reviews of this pattern - so, like many of those reviewers, I decided to remove the gathered ease. I shaved a couple of inches off the back pattern piece down the centre back line, leaving enough to have an inverted pleat instead where the shirt back meets the yoke. I then extended the bodice pattern piece out to hip length.

I checked the finished garment measurements on the pattern pieces to decide which size to cut. The measurements table suggests a size 12 for my bust measurement, but I ignored this and went for a size 8 based on the finished bust size. I shudder to think how much extra ease there would have been with a size 12. A quick tissue fit suggested that I shouldn’t need any major fitting alterations (which was correct!), so I cut straight into the main fabric and got to work. 

The instructions were nice and clear, but I had come across another method for attaching the collar band and collar here which I decided to try. It was pretty simple! I also decided I couldn’t be bothered with all the hand stitching they recommended so I topstitched the yoke facing, and I also topstitched down the button placket and around my collar edges, for decoration. The other thing I did differently was to turn the sleeve cap ease into a little pleat rather than gathering it.

On the insides, I just used my overlocker to tidy up all the inner seams, and hand stitched the hem. I used some buttons which have been in my stash for ages, that I think look nice against the white linen. 

Also - I used a bright pink Frixxion pen for marking up buttonhole placement etc, and I can confirm that it ironed straight out, no visible marks left!! Just in case anyone hasn’t heard about these pens! But always test on a scrap of fabric, and I’d probably be more confident using it on a cotton than on something like a white silk! Eek!

The shirt was actually a pretty quick project and one I’ll definitely do again. Here are some pictures of the finished shirt!:

The Skirt

So, this was my first stretch cotton make and I remember being surprised, when the fabric arrived, at how light it was in texture/weight! Unfortunately Minerva have now sold out of this fabric/print, but they have loads of others to chose from! It’s not at all see-through, and it has a nice amount of stretch to it, and that lightness makes it nice and comfortable to wear. I made a basic pencil skirt, slightly shorter than my others, with a vent at the back and finished it off with this button at the back waistband. I used a plain navy stretch cotton for the waistband, to add a bit of contrast and interest. 

With the stretch factor, I did have to slightly adjust my skirt pattern - I deepened the waist darts and took an extra 1/4” or so off the side seams. It’s a super-comfortable skirt - secret PJs - that I’m sure will get a lot of wear over the summer!

A couple of pictures of the finished skirt:

Hope you all get some spring/summer sewing in soon!

- Michelle