Thursday, April 26, 2012

Retro red blouse.

I'm sort of picky about my clothes. I'm just not impressed with what most stores are selling these days. So when I find a shirt that I like, I tend to buy at least two of them. Last year I found two floral, princess-seamed, button-up (or snap-up) shirts on clearance from Old Navy, in two different colors, and they've become my favorite shirts. I wear them all the time. So...I thought that I'd like to try to recreate them so I can sew more like them when they wear out.

My first thought was to try and make a pattern from them, but I wasn't going to take my seam ripper to them because they're still wearable. Then I realized that I had a princess-seamed shirt pattern in my pattern stash, so I decided to start with Simplicity 2447, and work from there.

This is what I ended up with:

And just because the very idea of me doing an outfit post is hilarious, here goes. :)

Shirt: Handmade, White Cami: JC Penney, Trouser-style Jeans: Old Navy, Red Flats: Payless, Bamboo Deer Necklace: Cheshire Kat (I have the deer and the fox necklaces, and I love them both

I made so many alterations to this pattern that I don't think I can remember them all. :) I started off by making a muslin from the pattern as-is, so I wouldn't make any unnecessary changes. {I basically started off with view D, but cut at the length of view E and without the ruffle.} I did add four inches to the length right from the start because I knew it would be too short. The pattern was one or two sizes smaller than I usually make from Simplicity, but that ended up working well because there was about 7.5 inches ease in the pattern! {Why anyone would need a shirt like this with 7.5" ease is beyond me, unless you're going to be wearing it while you do gymnastics or something.}

It actually didn't fit too badly from the start, but there were some things I wanted to change. It was a little too snug at the bottom, across the hips, and at the bust. The sleeves were too tight at the upper arm and it was the armholes were too small. Also, I couldn't move my arms much, between the sleeves and the back being snug.

I worked on adjustments and muslins for about a month. I would get motivated and work on it for a couple of days, and then get frustrated when things weren't working out properly and put it aside for a week or so. I wanted it to fit just as well as The Favorite Shirts so I could use the pattern over and over again. Here are some of the adjustments I made to the pattern:

-Added four inches to the length.
-Cut up the back and made princess seams (a very intimidating experience...originally, the front had princess seams but the back didn't- it was just a yoke with one little pleat at the top like most Western shirts. I left the yoke, and just made the seams up to that point).
-Widened the pattern at the hips.
-Widened the pattern at the back and the front at the princess seams (sort of using this article).
-Made the armholes at least 1 inch bigger (again, with the above article).
-Did some sort of slash-and-pivot adjustment to the sleeves to make them bigger at the bicep.
-Shortened the sleeves and narrowed the bottom (and added elastic, instead of hemming them).
-Changed some of the seam allowances...some became 1/2 inch and some became 1 inch.
-Measured and marked new spots for the snaps to go.

As you can see, I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to making technical pattern alterations. :) I just studied my sewing books and did some Googling and then tried to incorporate what I learned. I know I didn't always necessarily do things the "proper" way. And the fit still isn't perfect. But this shirt fits just as well as The Favorite Shirts and that's good enough for me.

I always roll up the long sleeves of my button-up shirts to my elbows, because the sleeves are too short. For this shirt, I shortened the sleeves to be just below the elbow, and then I added some thin elastic into a casing. It looks basically the same as rolling them up- very casual and there's much less bulk at my elbows. :)

I'm really happy with how this shirt turned out. It's comfy and just my style and a bit retro-looking. And it's red. I think I need more red clothes.

The fabric is a polyester shirting (like this) that I got for a couple of dollars a yard at in a sale back in January. It's so busy that all of the seams and details sort of disappear in the crazy print. I like it, but it's very lightweight and thin. And even though I sewed with a thin-fabric needle and everything, some of the seams at the hips are already pulling. So my next garment sewing will be a couple more of these shirts in cotton, thank you very much. :) Plus the shirt turns my white cami pink every time I wear it underneath.

It gives me an almost ridiculous amount of satisfaction that the inside of my shirt looks just as good as the insides of the Favorite Shirts.

I'm still not comfortable with using the buttonhole foot on my machine yet, so I decided to go with snaps on this one. The snaps were the very last part of the shirt to complete. When I'm setting pearl snaps in my wallets, very often they don't go in correctly, and I have to start over with new fabric and new snaps. That drives me crazy, because I hate to waste stuff. I realized that if these snaps messed up, the whole shirt would be ruined because I didn't have enough leftover fabric to cut out a new band. No pressure.

I prayed over these snaps like I've never prayed over a sewing project before. :) They all went in perfectly.

Here is the new shirt, next to one of the Favorite Shirts that inspired it.

Until next time,


  1. Adorable! I just love the print you chose, too.

  2. I love it! Bravo for adapting a pattern for what you want. It looks great. You should definitely make more. And, don't fear making buttonholes. Just take them slowly and mark exactly where you want them. Also, I enjoyed your foray into outfit posting.

  3. These look terrific, congrats!


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