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Sewing Simple Shirt No 1: Pattern Review with Sleeve & Length Modifcations

To be honest, I haven’t sewn a lot of clothes for myself. I love making dresses for my daughter. She actually needs clothes and the materials cost so much less because she is itty bitty. Before I started this project, I had sewn myself a Zadie Jumpsuit from Paper Theory Patterns and the City Gym Shorts from Purl Soho. When my sister asked me to start sewing clothes with her in January of 2021, I was thrilled to be able to share the experience of sewing with someone. Our first pattern was the Shirt No 1 from 100 Acts of Sewing

pattern

This is a super simple top that is perfect for beginners. If you have a CreativeBug account Sonya Philip, the designer of the pattern, has a class where you get the pattern for free and she has several videos walking you through each step. It is a great resource! CreativeBug also teams up with a lot of libraries to offer their services for free and they also have a free two week trial.

Step 1 - Size & Cut Fabric

If you are ever making any clothes, I really encourage you to make a muslin or toile first. This is simply just a test garment made out of scrap fabric. I have friends and family give me their old sheets, which I cut up and use for this purpose. It allows you to really test the fit of the garment and make changes before you cut into the nice fabric. I originally sized to a medium, but I decided I liked the fit of an extra small better. I maybe also didn’t check to see if I printed the pattern at the correct size, so that could have been an issue as well…

materials

For the fabric, I used Brussels Washer from Robert Kaufman in sage. I bought my fabric from Sew to Speak, my favorite local fabric store. I only needed 1.5 yards and I was able to cut out a dress for my daughter from the scraps! For the bias tape for the neckline I also used some scrap Brussels Washer in Flax that I had from a dress I sewed my daughter. This shirt is really designed for flowy woven fabrics. Brussels washer is a mix of linen and rayon, so it has great drape and doesn’t wrinkle quite as much as linen. In the future, I would love to make this out of a cotton lawn.

I also made two modifications to the pattern. I added ~2 inches to the length. I cut the sides of the pattern to an XS, but the length to an XL. This will make the shirt so much more comfortable for me to wear. I also lengthened the sleeves by ~3 inches, because I wanted to give them a cuffed look. These are things that I practiced and worked out on my toile first.

materials

Finish Edges & Iron Hems

One of my favorite things to do while sewing clothes is finish the edges with a fun contrasting thread. It is also a great way to use up extra thread! Sometimes I do multiple different colors if I run out in the middle of a project. I used a fun blue color to finish the edges that would be exposed in the final shirt (shoulder and side seams). You don’t need to finish seams that will be in a hem. I also like to finish seams before I start sewing. That lessens the amount of fraying while I’m working with the fabric and I find it easier.

One great hack that I learned is that before you sew a garment together you should iron the hems. It is much easier to iron hems when you can lay them flat. So you will notice in the photo above that I already ironed the hems for the sleeves on the shirt, before I sewed anything together! When you approach that area for sewing the seams, just uncurl your hems and carry on with sewing. I did just a small ¼ inch seam.

materials

While you have your iron on, you can also make your bias tape. I loved making it out of a contrasting fabric. It would be so fun to make it out of a patterned fabric for a pop of color! Just make sure your two fabrics are of similar weight. I also love wrapping my bias tape around a pen or you could use an old thread spool. It keeps all of your ironing neat and tidy!

materials

Sewing

Next I pinned the shoulder and side seams and sewed everything with the prescribed ½ inch seam allowance. You can either press the seams to the back or apart once you are done. I like to press mine apart. I find it a little less bulky. This is also when I thank myself for finishing the edges first and not waiting until after I sewed the seams.

materials

I repinned the previously ironed hems at the seams and sewed all of the hems. For the sleeves I folded up the hems an inch so I could have this cuffed look. I also love that you can see a bit of the contrasting thread that I used to finish the seams. I put a few stitches over each hem line to hold the cuff in place.

materials

I was absolutely daunted by doing the bias tape collar. After spending two minutes rewatching the video on CreativeBug I felt confident. Videos are so helpful! If you don’t have CreativeBug you can always use YouTube. I pinned the bias tape to the outside of the shirt around the collar. I put pins approximately every 1.5 inches. I really wanted to make sure everything lined up and that neither fabric was stretched or loose when I brought it to my machine. Sew the bias tape around the collar with a ¼ inch seam allowance. It should line up with the first ironed seam in your bias tape.

materials

You then fold the bias tape into the shirt and press it. There should be just a peak of exterior fabric at the top of the bias tape when you press. This helps hold the collar down when you are wearing it. Sew around the bottom edge of the bias tape to hold everything in place.

And you’re done! My biggest philosophy when it comes to making things is that you really should enjoy them. If you make this shirt, don’t put it in the back of your closet for fear that you will get a stain on it or you don’t have the right occasion. Give it as much love and wear as you can!