A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

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I finished a very quick sew this week- the Lark t-shirt by the Grainline Studio.

I’ve written a tutorial for Minerva Crafts that takes you through how to sew your first t-shirt. I think this is a great pattern for a foray into sewing with jersey.

Some notes for next time:

  • Be more careful with notching- the seam allowances are tiny, presumably this pattern is intended more for an overlocker
  • Removing 3″ from the body gave me a tee that hits right on the hip
  • Overall the size 8 fits me just as well as any RTW shirt. It would take a lot of wizardry (i.e. FBA and moving between sizes) to improve the fit, and I don’t think it would make enough of a difference to be worth it. I’m happy.
  • 1m of fabric is plenty for a short-sleeved version

Pattern: Lark by the Grainline Studio

Fabric: 1m of cotton jersey


I’ve got to admit that after my final class, I was worried that I would never finish sewing my Ultimate Shirt. The remaining tasks seemed very daunting for me to tackle on my own. But I went for it, and I’m glad I did!

Here’s how the shirt looks with my specially made tulip skirt. I re-did the hem, which I put off for months because I knew how dull it would be. I was right, it was boring and took two hours, but it looks much better. Having a steam iron (thanks dad!) also makes a big difference, although looking at these pics makes me realise it STILL needs more pressing.

 

I think this shirt is really only wearable tucked in, but shirt tucked into skirt worn on the waist is a look I rock at work a lot, so that’s fine.

Notes on steps taken after third class

Hand-stitching the cuff facing seemed okay as I had already used the same technique on the collar stand. Emboldened by my success, I attached the second cuff.

I next spent about an hour pressing and pinning the hem. Like my unicorn top, the hem looks shit in places, but I don’t want to redo it so I think this is something I will live with for now. I will mostly be wearing this shirt tucked in anyway. Looks like I have found my sewing nemesis- shaped hems.

The next step was scary. Buttonholes. I spent ages thinking about which colour thread to use, which turned out to be a bit of a waste of time. I don’t think I’ve ever machine sewn a buttonhole before because my mum lost the foot for her machine years ago.

I did something I normally never do- consulted the handbook of my machine for advice. I then used some scrap fabric to practice, and the resulting holes looked pretty good.

It was time. I tried on the shirt to ensure that a button would cover the fullest part of my bust, to reduce the risk of gaping. I then measured and marked each buttonhole, which worked out at every 7cm.

I did manage to make one really stupid mistake. I accidentally started one of the buttonholes on the ‘top’ mark instead of the ‘bottom’, meaning that it was about 2cm out. Next time I mark buttonholes, I will use different colours for the top and bottom marks to avoid this happening again.

Since my buttons are fluorescent pink, I knew this error would be very obvious. It was time to do something I had never wanted to do on such a light cotton voile. Unpicking. I practiced unpicking one of my practice buttonholes and managed not to break any of the threads in the fabric. Heart in mouth, I unpicked the errant hole on my blouse. I won’t keep you in suspense, dear reader. I survived, and I don’t think my silly mistake is too noticeable.

I’ve got to say, I absolutely love this outfit! Go me. I’m hoping to engage with Me Made May a lot more this year, and I think this outfit will be a key player.


I managed to finish my Wrangler denim shirt-ultimate shirt sewing mashup recently. Overall, I’m quite happy with how it turned out, though I think I will make this shirt in a smaller size if I make more in future using heavier fabrics.

When I wrote my previous post about modifying this giant Wrangler shirt, I had actually nearly finished it. One step remained. The curved hem. As I have previously documented, curved hems are not my friend. My makes normally end up having a slightly stretched-looking bit that I have to ignore. Doing a curved hem on denim? Ugh.

I previously attempted this twice, spending at least half an hour carefully pressing and pinning the fabric, and both times the hem ended up twisted. A lady on my Ultimate Shirt course recommended starting the process at the highest point of the hem- where it hits above the hip. This turned out to be a top tip!

There are a few little tucks and untidy bits but overall this is the best hem I have managed so far. Ignore the fact that I didn’t bother to finish any of my seams. Sometimes I am a very lazy crafter.

Because of the way the original shirt was cut, the patch pockets on the front have come out a bit high. This is actually quite useful as it means my phone sits nicely against my chest, but it looks a little strange.

I got a little bit of time to get some pictures of this shirt. I definitely think it looks better worn tucked it, but I’ll take it on holiday with me and see how it works thrown over other things in the evenings. In this picture, I am trying to figure out the ‘remote operation’ feature on my camera.

Here I am still not understanding how it works.

Basically I was only able to take decent pictures of my back.

Pattern: Ultimate Shirt by Sew Over It. Size 14 at bust graded down to 12 at the waist

Fabric: Reclaimed from an oversized vintage shirt


I’m a bit sad to say there’s still a lot of work to do on my ultimate shirt after a couple of hours of homework plus my final three hour class at Sew Over It.


I’m happy with how the hand-stitching inside my collar turned out so I’m going to do the same on the cuffs. It’s painstaking work.

As well as attaching one cuff and finishing both, I have all of my buttons to do (having not sewn a buttonhole in years, if ever) plus the hem, which I’m very worried about. I failed twice at hemming my turquoise shirt and I still haven’t finished it.

I know I need to put the time in on this project soon, otherwise it will just languish half made in my pile of unfinished things. However, with the schools starting back next week and a few things on the cards, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to put in the hard graft in front of the sewing machine.


I bought this cool patterned shirt in a vintage shop in St Albans a while ago. I initially planned to wear it oversized, but that’s not really my style so it’s only been out of the wardrobe a few times.

turquoise-shirt-and-cowl

Not ideal that the only pic I have of this shirt is Anna’s Instagram photo of my semi-ironic hipster posing, but that reveals how seldom I have worn this garment despite falling in love with the pattern.

I decided to try putting my new shirt-making skills into effect by transforming this oversized shirt into a fitted shirt.


Since the shirt is fastened by studs, I was a little limited on what I could do without way more effort than I was prepared to expend. This meant no attempts at pattern matching. The pattern is very odd and the diamonds seem to be in a fairly random pattern, so matching would have been difficult anyway (I tell myself).

I vaguely hoped I could just modify the shirt by running some new lines of stitching down the side seams and sleeves, but that would have resulted in something very amateur looking. This meant I had to cut out new back, fronts and sleeves from the existing fabric.


I was lucky in that the collar and cuffs are pretty close to the size in the Ultimate Shirt, which cut out a hell of a lot of labour. Weird to think that these little details are what makes creating a shirt such a challenge.


So far I am very happy with the result I have achieved. This modification took me around six hours, and helped to solidify my understanding of how to make a shirt. I feel confident that the Ultimate Shirt would work and look cute in a heavier fabric.

Once I finish the hem, I will see how often I wear this shirt. Though I like the fit, I think that the oddness of the diamond pattern is more obvious now that the shirt is smaller. Might not be as much of an issue if I wear this tucked into a high-waisted skirt. Dyeing could also be an option. I’m going to take this shirt to class tomorrow as I would consider making a smaller size in future.

I have a feeling I will still wear it as long-sleeved work shirts that don’t gape at the bust are a massive hole in my wardrobe. Now I need to tackle the SOI Pencil Skirt pattern…

Pattern: Ultimate Shirt by Sew Over It (size 14 grading down to 12 at the waist)

Fabric: Salvaged from an oversized vintage Wrangler shirt


I was feeling pretty unwell yesterday but managed to drag myself to my second sewing workshop at Sew Over It.

Forgot to take many pictures, but got a lot of work on the body done, including front and back darts. So far the fit is looking pretty good.

The most tense moment was attaching my collar to the shirt. It worked out, fortunately. I have some hand-stitching to do as my homework- you can probably see that the inside of the collar is unfinished.

Need to pick up some buttons during the week. Looking forward to finishing!


I’m doing yet another set of sewing workshops at Sew Over It. After this, I need to spend some time consolidating my skills on my shiny new machine. This time, I am dedicating three Tuesday evenings to making their Ultimate Shirt.

shirt2-530

I can only aspire to look as beautiful as Lisa Comfort in mine.

As usual, most of the three-hour class was dedicated to modifying the pattern and cutting out. I used less than 1.5m of fabric to cut a size 14, which will save me money if I want to make more shirts in future (and I really hope I will).


So far, the only sewing has been starting the collar.



I’m using a delicate cotton voile so I’m even more afraid of making mistakes than normal. Unpicking isn’t really an option.