2 woven cotton summer shirts to refine the pattern: Pink Fern shirt and Ehv Kawaii

I sewed two Summer shirts from the fitted pattern. The Pink Fern was to refine the pattern more (neck line, collar, hem line at the back). The Ehv Kawaii shirt is because I liked the fabric and wanted a Summer shirt.  I tweaked the width of the button band and tried my hand at finishing a neck line with facings.

The Pink Fern came first:
pink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petitepink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petite
Again with 6 seams in the bodice, to fit my Petite Frame with Big Boobs and Sway Back. On the right is a view from the side to show how much space boobs need.

Fit of the shirt:
pink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petitepink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petite
Fits well. No restraints anywhere, lots of movement possible for the arm.

Not much room to be shaved off the pattern at the belly or the back: pink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petitepink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petite
Meaning this is my final bodice pattern for woven fabrics. I’ll have to accept that this is my shape and that my boobs suggest to most people that I am short and stocked:
apenbloessewing tricot top selfdrafted pattern aangeknipte mouwen. Past precies uit 1 m stof, dankzij de brede heupband die mijn sway back goed staat.

Stretchy fabrics accentuate my sway back and make me look more elegant. Also: FODMAP diet reduces the air in my stomach and makes it flat. Ah, there’s always a bit of tweaking possible here and there. But for now: this pattern for woven fabrics is now a good compromis between wearing comfort and slender silhouette. It is definitive. SA 1 cm. Which means that all 6 bodice pieces can fit next to each other on a piece of fabric from 1.40 m wide. Excellent.

Not so excellent: the collar and collar stand.
pink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petite
The collar is sitting crooked in this picture, it is equal in reality. It sits too far apart in the middle though. Also the neckline is not high enough, it does not fit my neck well enough.

The collar stand is uneven. It is not of equal height. It is also not sewn very neatly to the button bands.
pink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petite

Besides drafting a good collar and collar stand I was also fiddling with the sequence of sewing them together. Mr. Page Coffin suggests attaching the stand to the shirt and then the collar to the stand. The few shirt I’ve sewn I followed his guidance.

But my sewing teacher is used to first finishing the collar and stand together and then attaching it to the shirt. I tried her method as she is here in real life to guide me and I am still very much a student.

I did not succeed in attaching the collar stand neatly to the shirt, it was quite fiddly and many things were going on simultaneously. Not being skilled enough to envelop a raw edge with two pieces of fabric of which one folds in and then you sew it down from the other side led to a kind of ridge on the inside of the neck:
pink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petite
When I wear this shirt this piece of sewing irritates the back of my neck. It is not smooth.

I do like how I attached the buttons though. It fits the plant motif of my pink fabric 🙂 The inspiration came from Pinterest:
 sewing art by Bettina Reisinger

This is how I finished the sleeves (which shape came from my now standard, self drafted sleeve, just cut short). Fold under and stitch, it’s a whimsical Summer shirt after all: pink fern fitted blouse shirt sewing woven cotton details collar stand fit petite

The armhole has an issue though. The second princess seam comes in at a right angle towards the arm hole. This complicates sewing and puts strain on the fabric. The arm hole does not wear entirely comfortable:

princes seam to armhole Bunka style self drafted. The pink comes at an angle and does not wear (or sew) pleasant. The white kawaii is more vertical and is an excellent arm hole.

The second shirt, Ehv Kawaii, shows how I fixed that. The seam now smooths into the vertical part of the arm hole:
princes seam to armhole Bunka style self drafted. The pink comes at an angle and does not wear (or sew) pleasant. The white kawaii is more vertical and is an excellent arm hole.

This is the whole shirt:
kawaii fabric summer shirt facing sewing woven cottonkawaii fabric summer shirt facing sewing woven cotton

I liked the fabric very much and just wanted a shirt, fast. That’s why I skipped the collar and collar stand, I had another try-out shirt on the way to fix that fit.

I took away the “flap” at the hem at the back that the Pink Fern shirt has. It is meant for shirts that tuck into trousers or skirts. But this shirt pattern is long enough to do that anyway.

And I failed at sewing the hem neatly, with a small folded under hem, if the hem had those steep bends in it. I sewed with the foot attachement.

I scooped out the neckline and added facings. Finished with a double row of top stitching (no understitching). Press press press before you stitch stitch stitch.
ehv kawaii shirt detail neckline sewing

The raw edge of the facings were finished with a simple zig zag stitch:
ehv kawaii shirt detail neckline sewing
I did not use interfacing. This is a light weight fabric and a light shirt. It only needs to have a nice finish, not a firm shape.

Attaching facings is doable but how to treat the edge of the button band? I winged it:
kawaii fabric summer shirt facing sewing woven cotton kawaii fabric summer shirt facing sewing woven cottonkawaii fabric summer shirt facing sewing woven cotton
Not bad. It will work. This little flap will be tacked down by the button hole/button.

I thought better of it and folded it back a bit at the side of the button holes:
kawaii fabric summer shirt facing sewing woven cotton
So here I am now. I’ve got a self drafted pattern that is finished for all the bodice parts, wearing ease, arm hole, sleeve. The things that remain are a good collar and collar stand, on a well fitting neck line. And learning to sew the collar and collar stand neatly together and to the shirt.

For this I will follow mr. Page Coffin’s book.

As a matter of fact, I’ve got the next shirt nearly finished, in the green fabric with the machinery:
stoffen-woven
and it has French cuffs and a collar and collar stand that are sewn together neatly. All that remains is to add the buttons and to draft a better fitting neck line. And then… then!… then I will have a good pattern that I can use over and over again and I can cut up my quality fabrics and just sew the shirt together.

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brown little monkies shirt

In my quest for a nice fitting lady dress shirt with lots of arm movement I have come a long way. I now have an armhole that gives a good range of movement. This monkey shirt is one of the last try-out shirts before I have a real pattern and can start real dress shirts.

apenbloesapenbloesapenbloes Armhole comes from Bunka dress form. As do the fout princess seams (2 in the back, 2 in the front. Plus 2 sideseams. That’s a lot of seams.) apenbloesapenbloes

It works so well for a sway bag and a big bust on a small frame. The next version of this pattern is a bit more fitted.   I used a continuous bound placket for the sleeve slit using this tutorial: http://basicsewingtips.blogspot.com/2009/10/continuous-bound-placket.html apenbloes continious blind sleeve placket

Chosing buttons, sewing them with the wrong side up:
naaien naaihoekje naaimachine Janome

Shape and fit of collar and collar stand are next to be altered:
apenbloes

last of the tricots, promise.

The pattern is completed now, it fits me well. I now use it over and over again. With a seam allowance of only 1 cm and using a zig zag stitch (stitch length 3, stitch width 1)

I can get a shirt out of 1 m of fabric, thanks to the broad hip band.
The back panel is slightly less wide than the front panel, because boobs and sway back.

tricot sewing shirts viscose dress

A cat fabric shirt with a fish shaped pocket: tricot sewing shirts viscose dress

And two viscose dresses, for when the heat wave returns:
tricot sewing shirts viscose dress

The same pattern again, only a bit elongated and with sleeves cut of. Sleeves and neckline have a strip folded double. The hem is just folded under and stitched, with a zigzag.

For dresses I need the length of the dress. 1.20 m gets me a dress just above the knee.

Sleeve strips are 29 cm in length. Neck line strip 48 cm. Make it small otherwise it will stand up, as it does a bit with the purple cat fabric shirt:

tricot sewing shirts viscose dress

With all shirts and dresses I sew the seams with a zig zag and I do not use an overlocker since jersey/ tricot fabric does not ravel. I do, however, do a second run at the seams of the shoulders and the sides for reinforcement. So that when one thread bursts the garment does not fall from my body.

The cuffs of the shirts are sewn sand loper shaped, before folding double and attaching to the sleeve. This way the cuff tapers down when I wear it. It makes the difference between wearing a pyjama top or an urban garment.

more tricot tops: Scandic and Leafs

sewing tricot top selfdrafted pattern aangeknipte mouwen. Past precies uit 1 m stof, dankzij de brede heupband die mijn sway back goed staat.sewing tricot top selfdrafted pattern aangeknipte mouwen. Past precies uit 1 m stof, dankzij de brede heupband die mijn sway back goed staat.sewing tricot top selfdrafted pattern aangeknipte mouwen. Past precies uit 1 m stof, dankzij de brede heupband die mijn sway back goed staat.sewing tricot top selfdrafted pattern aangeknipte mouwen. Past precies uit 1 m stof, dankzij de brede heupband die mijn sway back goed staat.

Self drafted pattern. With the broad hipband and 3/4 sleeves this pattern can be cut from just 1 metre of fabric.
I tapered the cuffs of the sleeves. The hip band must be at least as wide as the bodice.
No locking machine, just regular zig zag stitch. I reinforced a bit of the side seams and the shoulder seams, so I won’t burst the seams easily. For, you know, for my hulk moments.

Sewing these tops is soothing. I need to do a lot of thinking on a court case and sewing keeps my hands busy while I strategize.

Bunka block: damselfly blouse

damselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaiendamselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaien

Bunka is a way of pattern drafting in Japan. They use a different body shape and it fits my body way better than the traditional Western way of pattern drafting. The arm hole makes more sense, as The Fashion Incubator shows here .

With help of some internet research I drew a Bunka block for my arm hole and a Bunka sleeve. I experimented a bit and this is the sleeve I ended up with, put in my damselfly blouse.

I want a sleeve I can move in. Ooh, just found this very interesting blog post: http://overflowingstash.com/2014/07/07/fitted-sleeve-sloper-part-2-built-in-gusset/

I have arrived at the same sleeve a flamenco dancer uses: http://www.flamencodressmaking.com/2010/12/how-to-sew-sleeves-that-let-you-move/

It is placed at a right angle from the bodice, not at a 45 degrees angle. It has a lower shoulder cap, just like men dress shirts have. It can have a gusset at the arm pit for extra wearing ease. Having the arm hole fit close to the body.

The rest of the blouse fits well too. Need a bit more concentration when sewing the princess lines though. Back and front have some folds.

damselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaiendamselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaiendamselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaien

Bunka form has an extra princess seam in the front, this fits my curves even better. I wonder if I can incorporate where it hits the arm hole into the front line of the arm hole. Pretty much like this gent’s shirt looks.

I still have a steep bend in the arm hole, due to a secondary bust dart most people with small frames and large bust need there.

Otherwise: nice fit. I can move, I can breathe. Better collar too.

damselfly blouse sewing libellenbloes naaien

A tricot shirt: neck band doesn’t lie flat.

This is the fabric that I made all previous shirts for:swap 42 hhgttg ipad cover
Katzentritt by Susanne Bochem/ SUSAlabim for the European brand Lillestoff
Both drafting a pattern and learning to sew with jersey were done just so I could cut into this expensive and quality fabric and make myself something.

This is the shirt and it went all wrong the very end, at the neck band:
sewing self drafted t-shirt tee shirt Katzentritt jersey tricot stretch stitch Janine 425S

Last week, at sewing lessons, my teacher commented that I tend to stretch my jersey bands too much, they should be put in a tad looser. You put together the fabrics, at about 4 fingers width, and then the garment fabric should be loose enough for one finger to poke through.

After preparing the neckband I noticed I once again had made quite a tight band. One could easily put two fingers between the garment fabric and the band. So I opened up the neck band again and put in an extra strip, carefully matching the pattern.
I put it in the neckline, using a stretchy stitch (which sews triple, stitch G on my Janome 425S) and, knowing it would be looser, topstitched immediately. With another stretchy stitch that sews triple, the “straight” stitch A on my machine.
Turns out it was too loose. The band does not lie flat against my skin.

After consulting with textile friends there are at least 3 solutions for a neckband that doesn’t lie flat, apart from ripping it out and cutting a new, longer band:

  1. cut away the band and make the neck opening a little wider. Use same band.
  2. open up the band a bit and put in a bit of elastic which will sit the top.
  3. take the band at the shoulder seams and fold the tops into itself a bit. Making the edge circumference smaller. Secure with thread (or topstitch).

Because I had done a nice bit of pattern matching at the front I opted for the elastic:
sewing self drafted t-shirt tee shirt Katzentritt jersey tricot stretch stitch Janine 425S
Nice! Little ripples are visible but that’s beginner sewing for you: small steps, small mistakes but already nice things are happening and the garment is very wearable.

Trying out how tight the elastic should be:
sewing self drafted t-shirt tee shirt Katzentritt jersey tricot stretch stitch Janine 425S
When I was content I sewed the elastic flat onto itself, making sure it wasn’t twisted anywhere. I put it back in the band and closed the little hole I’d cut into the band with neat little stitches.

Now all that remains is topstitching the sleeve cuffs and grade the seam allowance there. I’m confident to sew tricots now.

finished a thin viscose dress

I’m getting the hang of sewing with tricot jersey fabric.

Over the weekend I sewed a very thin viscose dress, using my self drafted t-shirt pattern with one-piece-sleeves. Because the colour of the fabric is nude I put in red bands at neckline and arm holes. I used 1 m of fabric, bought at Joop’s Modestoffen in Sittard, at Stoffenspektakel.
sewing self drafted dress one piece sleeves jersey tricot viscose Janine 425Ssewing self drafted dress one piece sleeves jersey tricot viscose Janine 425S

I learned more about sewing with thin stretch fabric on this instructable page.

I mainly used stretchy stitch G on my Janome 423S, after trying out numerous zig zags on a very small piece of scrap fabric. This is the standard stretchy tricot stitch that’s on every machine and excellent for internal seams, as I learn on this page from Make It Perfect.au.

This page was very informative too: https://doitbetteryourself.club/best-stretch-stitches-sewing-machine/

Stitch G is not so neat for topstitching but I read that the triple stretch stitch (A) was:
sewing self drafted dress one piece sleeves jersey tricot viscose Janine 425S
At least it’s sufficiently stretchy.

I did not have a lot of fabric and wanted the smallest hem possible. Just turn over and sew down with the triple stretch stitch (A). Not so neat.
sewing self drafted dress one piece sleeves jersey tricot viscose Janine 425S

learned to sew a tricot jersey shirt

First time sewing with thin tricot/jersey. Self drafted pattern for a one-piece-shirt (meaning sleeves are part of the front panel and back panel).

I learned at sewing lesson and I used the overlocker there:

I finished at home at my Janome 245S with a zig zag stitch:

Folded strips at the arm and neck holes. My teacher said to press them RS tog first, then overlock, then pin them to the hole with a bit of stretch, figure out how long they should be, sew the tube shut while the tube is pinned to the hole, sew tube to hole with overlocker.

I felt there was a lot of use of the overlocker while this fabric does not fray and does not need to be locked. It does lay the fabric flat though, stops it from curling. At home, with the zig zag, I soon found out that the zig zag should not be wide as it shows on the RS.

My second attempt I did with a small zig zag. My teacher also said to use a triple (stretch) stitch for the side seams. With only one thread you run the risk of exposure when the seam pops.

Steaming or pressing works very well for this fabric. Especially after sewing. It relaxes the stitches and further pinning and sewing is far easier.

This self drafted pattern had too tight sleeves so I cut them off. My next pattern has a bit longer sleeves but still not long enough.

the next day I made this:
tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleevestricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves

Back panel is less wide than front panel. This suits my sway back very well. The broad border at the bottom enhances this. It draws attention to my back, leaving room at the front, my belly, to breathe.

Learning to add the strip at the neckline and use the right amount of stretch:

tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves

Using my zigzag and topstitching with a very shallow zig zag, after pressing:
tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves

Inside of the neckband:

tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves
My nifty little handheld steaming iron: tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves
it’s from the Lidl

Sideseams were sewn twice and graded:
tricot jersey t-shirt handsewn self drafted pattern sewing sway back one piece sleeves

Now onto the next tee: adjust pattern:

  • take out the curve at the top of the shoulderseam
  • make sleeves a bit longer

practice practice

princess dress shirt: honing in on a good fit


Shirt with princess seams in the front and back. More room at the upper arms. Nice thick buttons (3 mm, diameter 11 mm) and learning the bypass the button-hole-in-one function on my Janome 245S because that’s too sensitive at times.

The pattern is from the shirt in the previous post: the bunnies shirt.
Alterations I did to that pattern:

  • different curve at the apex, for a bit more breathing space
  • more room at the back, at shoulder blade height, for more room of movement for the arms
  • shortened the shoulder seam by a cm. I thought by bringing the sleeve (cap) closer to the body and upward I’d get more range of movement, Which indeed I got.
  • wider sleeve cap, more room at the upper biceps
  • little tucks/folds in the sleeve at the shoulder point.
  • lowered the shoulder slope. I have square shoulders.
  • put the neck line in the front higher
  • adjusted collar stand but not collar (awkward collar now but looks alright when I put the back up, like a polo shirt)
  • lengthened sleeves a bit but had to shorten them at first fit, causing the sleeve placket to be not long enough.
  • gave cuffs a bit more room
  • cut the zero-ease block with 1,5 cm SA and sewed it with variable SA: none at the waist and shoulders, 1 cm at the bust. Only at the princess seam, btw, the side seams where sewn with SA 1,5 cm.

With the bunnies-shirt I noticed how fast the insides of my cuffs get visually dirty. (I apply cream to my wrists and hands a lot).

So for this shirt I played with the placement of the fabric pattern. The insides have trees, just like the outside of the collar. I placed some details at the ends of the sleeves too (but they got cut a lot when I had to shorten the sleeves):

It’s a nice shirt. I’ve already worn it. Is has more arm movement than the previous shirt. But still not enough. My sewing instructor wants me to enlarge the arm hole but I’m partial to make it smaller, closer to the body so I do not drag up the whole shirt when I raise my arm.

Other things I have changed to the block after fitting this princess shirt:

  • took out the curve at the side seam which would be easily identified as “side boob”. I had put it in because I reasoned that if one needs more breathing space at the front, such a curve at the side might help. It does not.
  • lowered the shoulder slope even more.
  • took out 2 cm at the back, at the neck line
  • gave neck line 1 cm SA
  • trued the four pattern pieces around the shoulder seam
  • fiddled with the arm hole. Still fiddling.
  • took away 5 cm of width from the sleeves.
  • took away 4 cm of length from the sleeves
  • made the collar stand higher
  • made the collar fit the stand

still to do:

  • make the cuffs a smidge wider so they overlap more neatly.
  • adjust collar to new neckline
  • change the curvature of the collar stand so the top part is less lengthy and the stand will lay more flat against my body (it now stands away from my body)
  • adjust collar accordingly
  • if I bring the arm hole closer to the body I’ll need to give the sleeve extra length.

No more adjustable SA sewing. Just give it the SA it needs so I can cut precisely.

As soon as I have a good body fit I want to draft some french cuffs and sew a stylish shirt and wear it with cuff links. But first another wearable try out shirt in cheap, funny fabric.

finished a dress shirt: bunnies shirt

My basic self drafted block. Princess seams at front and back.

It has been altered after this blouse was finished: new neck line, lowered shoulder seam at the neck, little tweaking of the sleeve cap (move it 1 cm up the shoulder seam, widen it a bit), remove flare at bottom of the side seams. Wider cuffs, slightly longer sleeve.

My block has a seam allowance (SA) of 1,5 cm and I cut the block precisely. I then add wearing ease by placing the sewing line in the SA. For this blouse I gave the princess seams an SA of 1,25 cm. Adding a total of 2 cm wearing ease. Which is enough.

For the next blouse I will vary the SA within the princess seams: 1 cm at the apex front, 1,5 at the shoulder seams, 1,25 at the waist.

Princess seams were sewn, folded to one side, topstitched and then pinked. One sleeve cap was a felled seam following instructions from Page Coffin but that did not work very well for me. I just did the other like I did the princess seams.

No ironed interfacing, all regular cotton (old sheet) sewn into place. My sewing instructor warns me that things might bundle up when the shirt is washed. I will wash an learn.

I like how the shirt fits my body shape. Not too much dragging lines at the front. I can move my arms reasonably comfortable. I’m glad I had a professional fit me half way through. It is not something you can do by yourself, not for sleeve caps. It all comes down to half a centimetre here or there. 1.8th of an inch.

First time sewing button holes and buttons with my sewing machine. It took a while (you really have to put all the dials on the Janome 245S into the right position) but then it wens swimmingly.

Tips for sewing a button hole with the button hole foot on the Janome 245S:

  • attach foot
  • put stitch width on 5
  • put stitch length on the button hole image. If you put it a bit to the left stitches will be closer together
  • lower lever on the left side of your needle, it needs to touch the foot
  • put button in foot
  • the hole will start at the front, then go backwards.
  • it does not like to encounter multiple layers of fabric. Sometimes you better turn the fabric and start the hole from the other side.
  • do a trial hole on pieces of scrap fabric
  • put the stitch dial onto “reset” in between every hole

 

Sewing on a button without a button foot:

  • remove foot
  • remove under pressure on the dog feeders
  • choose zigzag stitch
  • put pin in fabric
  • place button on pin (need some space between button and fabric)
  • put foot down
  • crank needle with hand and aim for one hole
  • crank further and adjust stitch width until the needle finds the second hole
  • start sewing a few times
  • for a 4 hole button: don’t break yarn, lift foot, turn fabric, put foot down and aim for the other holes