Did anyone else have to wear blue gingham dresses for their summer school uniform? Well, we did. It could be any shade of blue but my mum always made our dresses out of dark blue gingham and, of course, I wanted the shop bought light blue one that my friends had! Well…I don’t think I’ve worn gingham since I left primary school but kind of thought it would be a great fabric for my next project, which should have fit in with The Monthly Stitch sew along theme for July but I took too long and it was a bit late to post it over there!
The pattern I chose was The Boyfriend Shirt for the book that accompanied the first series of The Great British Sewing Bee. I haven’t made a shirt in probably 20 years and this one seemed simple – no cuffs, a simple collar, a faux-yoke and bias strips for the placket. I purchased the fabric from Sherwoods Fabrics – it is a cotton fabric with a bit of stretch to it – an altogether new one for me. It’s probably a heavier weight than the pattern called for but is great as an overshirt for Autumn!
One of the things I loved about the pictures of this pattern in the book was the yoke cut on the bias. However, I quickly realised that if I were to cut out the pattern as suggested in the instructions, the front yoke would be on the bias but the back would not be. Luckily, I had bought a bit more fabric than the pattern called for and was able to improvise.
My second improvisation was in the production of my bias binding. I’ve never made my own before, always buying it in. I don’t yet own a set square either (I asked for one for my birthday but clearly everyone thought it just a little bit boring!) so cutting at a 45 degree angle was tricky. So I used the squares in the fabric, marking each corner with a fabric marker as you can see below – it worked out rather well, considering! Although, not a solution for most other fabrics!
The shirt came together relatively easily if a bit slowly (more to do with a baby requiring attention than there being any problems with the pattern). The collar should have been top stitched around the bottom to hold both layers together. However, I somehow managed to attach it unevenly and ended up slip stitching the top layer to the inside of the shirt by hand in order to get it right. I did complete the top stitching around the outside of the collar though.
One of the things I was worried about before starting, was setting in the sleeves. It’s not something I’m particularly confident about and will happily make all the sleeveless clothes in the World to avoid it! But this time, I tried! The left sleeve went in beautifully and I had a mini celebration. The right sleeve leaves something to be desired however with some slight puckers – and this was attempt number 2. I didn’t have the patience to do it again!
My top stitching is a bit patchy not helped by the substandard thread I used – this project really demonstrated how cheap old thread (I had it in my stash for a long long time) is not great to sew with. I had lots of tension problems on the machine and it kept snapping. I will be purchasing new thread for future projects!
I’ve never done buttonholes on my current Janome sewing machine but was happy to discover the automatic function!! Button in the back of the foot, lever down and press start…and hey presto, a beautiful buttonhole! Ok, so I need to perfect the settings but for my first attempt I was pretty happy with these!
I’m afraid that I’m not quite ready to post photos of myself wearing the shirt – it doesn’t quite fit my post-baby body just yet. I did choose the correct size for it to fit me now (Size 12) but it remains a little tight around the hips. But once I’ve lost these last few kilos, hopefully all will be well. But here are some pictures of it on the mannequin! Things I like – the bias placket and yoke and the style of the sleeves. I always end up rolling my sleeves up so this is perfect for me. I’m not so keen on the collar, which my husband observed was very eighties! First dressmaking project completed since baby was born – that, I feel, is an achievement in itself even if it isn’t perfect.