Tag Archives: Shirt Making

A review of 2020

I’ve done review posts (and then planning posts for the forthcoming year) for quite a few years on this blog and I wasn’t going to do one this year (I won’t be doing a planning post) but then I realised it’s been my most productive sewing year so far so it would be a shame not to celebrate all the things I’ve made.

I do want to acknowledge my privilege before I dive into my makes because I know a lot of people have lost friends and family members this year and have lost jobs and had their lives as they knew them fall apart. I myself work in a bookshop and was furloughed when the UK went into lockdown in March and was about to go back to work when we entered the second lockdown in November, but this was delayed until December. I was back at work for 4 weeks and a day when Gloucestershire was moved to tier 4 (today) meaning that I am furloughed again. I have been paid at least 80% of my wages that whole time and my partner and I have relatively low outgoings (and he went back to work in June) so we have been okay financially. I also have a flat to live in and hobbies to occupy me so I was able to enjoy most of my time not working. There were weeks when I was fed up of being in my house, but I did manage to visit family in the Summer when it was permitted and we have my partner’s family close by where we live. I have no children so I didn’t have to suddenly become a teacher over night and this means my time has been my own to do with as I please. I have also had regular online chats with my close group of friends from uni and I feel we have deepened out friendships – usually we try to meet up once per year and have a whatsapp chat but it has been nice to feel like we are close together even when we are (literally in some cases) thousands of miles apart.

With all that said for the first 3 or so months of the lockdown I sewed ALL THE THINGS that I had in my mind to make for probably years. I had bought fabric with specific projects in mind and then never quite got around to them, even with moving to working part-time last June (2019). In 2019 I made 16 garments and in 2020 I made 35 garments (2 of which I haven’t yet shared here) and refashioned one. That’s quite a difference!

I’ll start with jackets and coats – I didn’t realise I made 4!

Sequined Bomber jacket

Houndstooth Richmond jacket


Gold Rumana Coat

Victoria Blazer Coat hack

And of course, no sewing year for me would be complete without a bunch of shirts!

Blue and Pink Popover Kalle

Yellow Geometric Kalle

Faces Kalle


White and Black Checked Blaire

Classic White Melilot

I also did some epic scrap-busting and made a load of Inari Tees from larger scraps I had in my stash.

Silver Knit Inari

Electric Blue Inari

Jungle Print Inari


Crowd Inari


Cotton Lawn Inari


Pink Striped Inari


Yellow Geometric Inari


Black Striped Inari

2020 was also the year of making jeans for me – I made 5 pairs in total!

Ginger Jeans

First Pair of Dawn Jeans


Pale Denim Dawn Jeans


Black Skinny Dawn Jeans


Navy Skinny Dawn Jeans

I also made some other trousers that weren’t jeans!

Black Crepe Evelyn Trousers

Grey Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Double Gauze Arden Pants

Mustard Double Gauze Arden Pants

I finally made 2 pairs of Carolyn Pyjamas, the fabrics for which I had had for years and years!

Liberty Cotton Carolyn Pyjamas

Boaty Carolyn Pyjamas

I refashioned my Sew Over It Anderson blouse into a Marilla Walker Mercury top and I very much prefer the new iteration of this gorgeous fabric!

I made another Cleo dungaree dress mostly just to use up some leftover denim. I’m not sure how much wear it will get to be honest!

I also made another Sew Over It Nancy Dress – again not sure how much wear it will get, though it will certainly have to wait for warmer weather either way.

Another make  I’m not sure will get much (if any) wear is this Sallie Jumpsuit. The fabric is a little too thin and clingy for me to feel completely comfortable.


On the opposite end of the scale is my denim Roberts dungarees which have already had sooo much wear! They’re so comfortable and a good choice for days when I’m mostly sitting at home but don’t want to wear sweatpants!

It’s no wonder after all the sewing – and all the new items for my wardrobe – that I slightly ran out of steam after the first few months! Though a few things were made after the first main batch, the vast majority were made in April, May and June.

I want to try my hand at underwear in 2021 – I bought some supplies to make period pants, to find another way to be more sustainable and reduce my impact on the environment. I did made reusable make-up wipes this year and they have been a triumph!

I also stopped wearing bras really at all last Winter (under so many layers of clothes when it’s freezing at work, who can tell anyway!) but in the Summer with only one layer on I do kind of want at least something else to protect and slightly support my boobs so I’m going to have a go at making some bralettes. I’m lucky that I don’t need the support of underwiring or more supportive bras – when I was younger (like a teenager) I wished I had bigger boobs but now I’m so glad they’re not!

I’ve also got a (rescheduled) wedding to attend in the Summer so I’ll definitely be making a new outfit – I don’t feel like I went out that much before the pandemic but I like having bigger events to go to as an excuse to make something fancier than I would wear in my every day life.

But these are my only plans – I used to plan yearly and monthly my makes but I almost never followed through with the plans so I’m just have ideas for now. And now my wardrobe if necessary items is pretty much complete I might have a go at some more frivolous makes just for fun – and to expand my sewing skills!

Happy New Year! And thank you for following my making journey this year – I’m so thankful I have had sewing to keep me occupied for the vast majority of 2020!

White Melilot Shirt

Wao another shirt (I hear you all crying!). I can promise this will be the last shirt I post here for a while! I planned this shirt as an alternative to my white Archer for playing in the brass band I play in (white shirts are part of our uniform). Little did I know when I was planning it that I wouldn’t be playing for almost a year! But you can never have too many white shirts in my opinion.

I still really like the shape of the hem of the Melilot. It also doesn’t have a yoke so it’s a good pattern to start with if you’re wary of venturing into shirt making.

The fabric is not the best quality to be honest. It’s certainly not as nice as the stuff I used for the archer. It feels and sounds shiny and crinkly which makes me think it’s definitely got some synthetic fibres in. I bought it with a voucher I won at Sew Brum a couple of years ago I think (it’s literally the only time I’ve won anything). It was from Clothspot which I had never heard of before (and haven’t shopped with since, embarrassingly). There were slim pickens for things I felt would work in my wardrobe so I got this white fabric and some fabric for trousers, which is also pretty synthetic feeling (though I haven’t sewn them up yet). I think that’s why I like to stick with the same few online fabric shops I’ve shopped with before as you know you’re going to get good quality fabric.

The Melilot as drafted has a rounded collar. I’ve made 3 other versions (see the bottom of the post), all with the rounded collar but because we wear a tie in band I thought that might look a bit odd so I made the collar pointed. I used the collar pattern piece from the archer shirt as the template for the edge of the collar but kept the rest of it as in the original pattern so it would still fit on the stand.

I made the size 38 and, as with my other versions, I made no fitting changes. I made the long sleeved version for versatility of using it in multiple seasons – and I can always roll up the sleeves if it’s especially hot! Though actually if I’m playing a band gig in the blazing sun (as I’ve done a few times) I learnt the hard way to keep your sleeves rolled down to prevent arm sunburn (I didn’t bring my sun cream because I didn’t think we’d be outside that long – also a hard lesson learnt!). A lot of people think I’m overly obsessed with sun cream but, seriously, I can burn in like 10-15 minutes!

Anyway….shirts! I put 2 pockets on because why not.

The top-stitching on this shirt is definitely not my best handiwork (though I didn’t take any close ups) because my machine was having tension issues. I fiddled with the tension to get it better but nothing seemed to work. I gave the little screw on the bobbin a tiny turn and that seemed to help a little but I think it probably needs another service. I’ve had my machine for probably 7-8 years and I had it serviced when we moved to Cirencester coming up for 5 years ago and this year especially it has probably had the equivalent of 2 years of ‘normal’ use when I was furloughed for so long!

I think I’m going to start saving up for a new sewing machine though as I could probably do with an upgrade – though this machine (which is the £110 model from John Lewis) has done basically everything I’ve needed it to do, from coats to jeans, to many many shirts, to sequinned dresses. I also want a new overlocker as I have the Lidl Singer and the tension is always off, no matter what I do – it’s fine for neatening seams but I don’t trust it enough to actually sew seams on it. Which machine do you use? What do you love/hate about it? I think given their not great responses to various members of the sewing community about accessibility information and them seeming to lie about working with disable sewists, I’ll be most likely avoiding Pfaff.

Are you especially obsessed with a particular kind of garment? I’ve definitely got enough shirts for now so I’m going to have to pause my shirt-making.

 

 

Pink and Blue Popover Kalle

This is the third and final Kalle shirt tunic I made when I was first furloughed at the beginning of the lockdown here in the UK.

I made the size 6, as with the other 2 versions (first and second) and with the sleeve expansion. This time, though, I made the popover placket instead of the full or hidden placket, for a change. And I really like it – not least because it involved making fewer buttonholes (which I kind of hate even though I love making shirts!).

There honestly isn’t much to say that I haven’t already said about the other Kalles I’ve made or about shirt-making in general! I do have a couple more shirts cut out (a plain white Melilot and a cream and black patterned Blaire) but then I really think my wardrobe is set for shirts! With this lockdown period I’ve sewn all the things I’ve wanted to sew/have been meaning to sew for years so now my me-made wardrobe is pretty set so maybe I’ll sew some more fun projects moving forwards as I don’t have the need to fill holes in my day-to-day wardrobe any more. Though I’ve got quite the backlog so it will be a while until you see any fun projects here!

Still my favourite thing about the Kalle is the shape of the hem – I love it in the cropped version I made, too – and I love it possibly even more in the tunic versions. I kind of wonder what they would look like with shorts underneath – but I’m probably just thinking that because I’m writing this on a really warm day!

The fabric is a lovely viscose from Like Sew Amazing. I think Sarah posted it on her Instagram a while ago and I immediately snapped some up. I would probably not recommend viscose if you’re planning your first foray into shirt-making as it’s a bit more slippery than a cotton. Also I didn’t do myself any favours by being a bit sloppy with my cutting out – I’m often a bit lazy when it comes to cutting out and set aside a day or two to cut out ALL THE THINGS so then I do things quickly and sloppily!

But that’s not to say the fabric isn’t lovely! And I’m really glad I went for the half popover placket as it makes this Kalle a bit different from the others. Being viscose it does, of course, crease like a bitch with a tiny bit of wear but the busy pattern kind of hides that a bit.

I did put the usual 2 pockets on the front of this version but I maybe should have interfaced them. I would maybe recommend that or lining them with a more stable fabric as they kind of sag – and especially if I try to put, say, my phone in one of them, the pocket ends up at my waist with the weight!

Sitting down = instant creases but what can you do?

So that’s it for shirts for a while for me. Have you been sewing ALL THE THINGS during lockdown? I’m very fortunate that I am furloughed on my full pay and had a rather large stash of fabric and patterns to sew through. And, of course, no children to try to home-school! I really feel for anyone trying to work from home and/or home school children. Not easy!

 

 

Yellow Geometric Kalle Shirt

Another day, another Kalle shirt tunic!

When we first went into lockdown I started off sewing the 3 Kalles that I cut out ages ago but never got around to making! I’d kind of been in a sewing funk for quite a few months before lockdown happened, but having so much more time after being furloughed I’ve definitely rediscovered my love for sewing (and I’ve made a LOT!). This is the second one and is made also in the size 6, with the sleeve expansion and the tunic length like the first one I already shared here.

This fabric was much harder to wrangle than the nice crisp faces cotton! It was from Sew Over It (I think) ages ago. I bought it because of the colour and the design and I can’t now remember the make-up of the fabric, but it’s definitely got something slippery and synthetic in there. It also doesn’t press super well which makes me think it’s more synthetic than anything else.

The colour of the fabric is coming out much more washed out here than it is in real life – it’s a much brighter yellow, whereas it looks kind of gold-ish here.

You can kind of see some old creases from where the fabric was folded in my stash for a while still in the fabric – it defo doesn’t pres nicely, which isn’t super ideal for a shirt. But at least it will mean I don’t necessarily have to iron it when it’s washed, which is a super win in my book!

Ah, I do love the shape of the Kalle at the back. Love the huge pleat and the cocoon-y shape of the tunic length!

You can’t really see here as the fabric has photographed oddly but the pattern is geometric black and white on a yellow background, so I used some basic white shirt buttons. I was planning loads of shirts at the same time (including the faces one and the 2 striped Archers I made a while ago) so I bought a million white buttons at once from my local sewing shop (a good while before lockdown)!

I still really like making shirts (I have 2 more cut out ready to sew 😳, I have a problem!) but I think I really have enough in my wardrobe now so once I’m caught up sharing ones I’ve made and making ones I’ve cut out that might be it for a while for my shirt-making😭


 

Faces Kalle shirt

Since we’ve been in lockdown in the UK, I’ve been sewing up a storm and getting through all those projects I had planned in my head for years! The first of these is this Kalle shirt made from this gorgeous faces fabric. I feel like this fabric went slightly viral in the sewing community when it was first released and I think I snapped some up from Fabric Godmother. Since then it has been released in different colours and on different fabrics!

As with my other 2 Kalles (cropped and Hawaiian) I made the size 6 with no fitting adjustments, but this time I used the sleeve expansion pack to make it more trans-seasonal, given that I live in the UK which is cold a lot more than it is warm!

A slight word of warning about the sleeves if you’re planning on making a Kalle with sleeves – they are really only just long enough on me. I’m 5’3″ so I don’t think I have the longest arms (though maybe they’re long proportional to my body, I don’t know!?) and the sleeves are really only just long enough on me. They look fine with my arms down by my side, but if I put them forwards the sleeves do creep up my arms. But maybe they’re supposed to do that and all the other shirt patterns I’ve used have really long sleeves? I don’t know!

I also made the tunic length for the first time, and I really like how it dips down so low at the back!

I also still really love the huge pleat on the back of this pattern! It adds a nice amount of fullness with still being as fitted as you kinda want a shirt to be across the shoulders.

I cut out and made 3 Kalles at the same time as I was making this one (though I actually made them one at a time) and this was by far the easiest to sew because it’s such a nice stable cotton! The other 2 were not quite as easy to wrangle! If you’re thinking of having a go at shirt making for the first time, I would highly recommend a nice stable cotton which presses well for your first one. This fabric was a dream to sew with!

I still really love making shirts but I might take a break from making any more as I think my wardrobe definitely has enough shirts to last me quite a while! Now I need more jeans……

Are you sewing up a storm in this weird time we’re living through or are you taking a break from sewing to recharge your batteries? Whatever you’re doing I hope you’re save and well xx