Sunday, 9 August 2015

Sew Over It Ultimate shirt

I have completed my first ever shirt with the fantastic help of sewing teacher Julie at Sew Over It in Islington. I took the Ultimate Shirt class in July which consists of three 3-hour workshops that cover measuring your body, adjusting the paper pattern and then the construction of the shirt. It falls under the advanced skill class and there is homework every week too!

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would be confident enough to try shirt-making on my own now after setting in my second ever collar (the first on my McCall's 6696 shirtdress) and working out the cuff attachment along with the finish of the cuff opening.

All in all it was a great learning experience with lots of opportunity for beautiful neat top-stitching (I can't say it's 100% neat everywhere - but it was my first attempt!)

An added bonus was a friend I met on a sewing workshop years ago (pencil skirt at Saturday Sewing Sessions) also took the class so it was nice catching up again.

I must also mention another sewing friend Alex who kindly took the photos of me in Neals Yard, Seven Dials. This mini photoshoot was fuelled by some rather lovely treats at Hotel Chocolat which we discovered was another shared interest (then again, who doesn't love chocolate!).

The shirt is made in a Liberty Tana Lawn called Plastic Fantastic which I purchased Liberty's online when they had a 50% off abstract prints sale a couple of months ago (which made this only £22.50). I have to admit the fabric turned out a little more lilac than I could tell from the computer screen but I still really like it. The quality and weight of the cotton is delicious! I bought 2 metres and I still have just under half a metre left.... now what could I make with that? Any ideas sewing friends?

My first open set sleeve using a French Seam. You need ALL OF THE PINS! 
Lots of pins to even out the sleeve curve. I managed almost NO puckers in this sleeve which I am immensely proud of.
You must stitch about 2mm around the marked cuff point and then cut to reveal the cuff opening. A bit tricky.
The pattern doesn't ask you to use any form of interfacing on the button stand so I used Stitch and Tear on the reverse side of the buttons to give the fabric a bit more stability when sewing the buttonholes. It really worked a treat!
Happy with 95% of the top-stitching on the shirt. Hopefully next time it will be 100%
Overall I am pretty happy with my new shirt. I now feel I could tackle the Grainline Archer which I have had for over 2 years unused!

Things I changed on the SOI Ultimate Shirt:
  • I added 6cm to the length of the sleeve - Yes I know! Gorilla arms....
  • I didn't add the front and back darts on this shirt as I felt it worked better without on me
  • I sewed the cuff buttonholes the wrong way so must remember NOT to do that next time
Future changes:
  • I have already amended the paper pattern by adding an extra bit on back near the shoulders as its a little tight
  • Still need to do the corresponding amendment to the top of the shoulder on the front pattern piece
  • *Might* lengthen the body for extra tuckability-into-trousers-and-skirts?

Have you got any good tips about shirt making? I would love any advice or tips.


  1. LOVE this shirt! And I didn't realise even the sleeves are set with French seams, even more special :) I really like the fit without the darts, makes it easier to wear and probably a lot more comfortable. I wonder if you could squeeze a vest top like the Sorbetto out of the left over fabric or perhaps you could colour block it with something else for a funky design or even just use it for some fancy facings x

    1. Thanks Alex.
      It was a great experience trying lots of 'firsts' like open set sleeve, inserting collar stand (differently to my last one), cuff finish and lots of top-stitching.
      Thanks again for the photos - I really appreciate it!
      Yes I could see if I could eek out a Sorbetto or using it for a bit of colour blocking would be fun too!

  2. What a great fabric for this gorgeous shirt! You did a great job, I cannot believe that this is your first one! :) I am excited to see more :)

    1. Thanks Katharina. Yes i'm definitley a little bit in love with the fabric! Hopefully I can get my shirt-on now with other patterns!

  3. Lovely shirt Caroline, that fabric is great! Maybe you could use the left over for another attempt at the Polly top? I was thinking about mine the other day and thought maybe taking some width out of the middle might help solve some of the fitting issues we both had...Might be easier said than done though! Thanks so much for your comment on my blog the other day. Haven't got back behind my sewing machine yet - I decided to teach myself to knit the other day - its not as easy as these youtubers make it look!

    1. Hi Tamson- yes the Polly-top might be a nice idea IF I ever get around to making all the other patterns I have in my queue. Good luck with your knitting adventures x

  4. Wowie what a lot of pins! So you put the sleave in and the sew up the sides and arms? This is such a beautiful blouse. I admired it in Instagram, but its even better seeing all the close ups. Lots of scary techniques in this! Well done and enjoy wearing it with pride.

    1. Thanks so much Louise. Yes I'm glad to have tried all these new techniques. Good to learn new stuff!