A Tail of Two Shirts

I’ve been whipping up shirts from a pattern I’ve used before, burda 6908. You can see the first shirt I made here. It was a classic white shirt, but after I wore it a few times, I came to feel it was too big. Size is hard to determine when you’re dealing with “oversize” or even non-fitted. I made it in a size 14, with parts in size 16. I can’t for the life of me fathom why the size 16 parts, unless it was simply an error in cutting out the pattern. Eventually I took in the seams from the wrist, under the arm and down the side. I liked the result. So this time I tried the size 12.

IMG_1155 A shirt’s a shirt, you know. I have two patterns for basic button-downs, a fitted McCalls, and this no-dart version. I like it because of this collar (it offers 3 types). It’s a narrow collar, and the “points” face a little backwards. The collar stands up beautifully.

I carted this fabric — a heavy cotton poplin — back from Beijing with me in 1979. And I’ve carted it around probably a dozen homes since then, most of the time wondering why I ever bought it. It’s so bright! Well, it seems that I’ve changed, or regained something I had then. I love it now. It’s so bright!

I had a little square of sample fabric that I used to add a little surprise to the shirt.

I also eliminated one breast pocket and most of the top-stitching, angled the corners of the cuffs and shortened the front by about an inch. I also eliminated the front button and button-hole plackets, adding enough fabric to the shirt fronts to turn the fronts under twice. I prefer that less-obvious placket. I haven’t sewn on cuff buttons yet, and I’m contemplating making little button holes instead, so I can put a cool set of cufflinks through.

While I was on a roll I decided to make a second. I’d bought this fabric for about a buck at a discounter. It didn’t look like much — it was either beige or undyed — but I like the texture. I threw it in a dye bath.




I could have ironed it for this photo-shoot, but this one is always going to wrinkle so I might as well show you all its “true colours” 🙂 I don’t know what this fabric is. I assumed it was cotton. The stripes are woven in, which makes it really crisp. But now that I’ve sewn it up, it’s acting a bit like linen. In any case, it’s both crisp and floaty. If anyone knows more about fabric than I do and would like to comment, please do.

I found unusual buttons.


Fabric is everything, isn’t it? You can have the simplest designs — and I love simple — but make it up in a gorgeous and appropriate fabric, and you’ve got a great look. Next up, a tablecloth refashion!