Getting shirty

OK, so I admit it, I can be just as fussy about what I wear as I am about what I eat. Specially when it comes to tops.

I don’t like blouses, or vests, or fussy things with bows and ruffles and patterns all over. Tee shirts are only for the gym.

And I’m even fussier about the fabric. Cotton is either too flimsy, too stretchy, or too see through, and I can’t stand anything synthetic.

BAsically what I like is a nice simple white linen shirt. pin tucks are ok as long as they aren’t overdone. White with a stripe I can live with. Every now and then I go wild and wear a black one.

But not often.

I have a big pile of just such shirts, but unfortunately they are beginning to wear out. I’ve been looking, in shops and online, for almost a year, for plain white linen shirts for a reasonable price, but found nothing under £100. I don’t really have much fascination with modern dressmaking, but felt I had not other choice than to either start wandering around topless, or make myself something. So I dug out some striped linen I got sheap a few months ago.

I cut an old shirt to bits along the seams, making a mental note to add a seam allowance in when I used it as a pattern. You can see here where its worn away at the armpit. Gareth says this is because I have toxic pits – I swear the man commits at least five dumpable offences every single day.

I could have gone out and bought a pattern, but had two good reasons not to do so.

1) I have no clue how to find something suitable, or how to size it should I find such a beast. I swear women’s dress sizes are picked entirely at random. I have foten gone into shops and bought a skirt and top from the same manufacturer which were three sizes apart.

2) I’ve never used a pattern. last time I even looked at one I got so confused I needed a stiff drink (I can’t tell left from right, not without thinking about it, for starters, and I really don’t know the lingo) So I figured that if I took something apart I would be able to put it back together again – this always worked with small electronic items when I was a child (thankfully my mother never realised I had this hobby, as she probably would have killed me) so it ought to work with shirts, right?

Mum had told me pintucks were hard, but I didn’t find them to be so. POssibly this is cos mum was trying to do them on thick wool, whereas linen is such a biddable fabric – I love the way you can crease it with your fingers, cotton drives me mad cos it won’t do that. Having the stripes to follow was handy as well. If I’m honest they could have been a bit neater, and I don’t think I gathered up quite as much of the fabric as I should have done, but it’s not bad for a first attempt.

It was the bust darts that got me. They’re not really part of the medieval tailoring repetoire, you see, they were another first, so it took me three unpickings before I got them right.

It looks like a shirt. It fits, although I think I overdid the seam allowances and its a bit baggy. I need another half dozen now. You watch, I’ll buy the perfect linen from Anwar, knock up a few shirts, and then the shops will be flooded with affordable linen shisrts in my size.

Is it bad though, that I really want striped linen in four different colours so I can mix them all up in one shirt?

Good job striped linen is hard to come by really.

Oh, and below is Gareth’s shirt o’patrioticness. It was made a year ago for the wedding – a charity shop striped shirt tarted up with applique. He actaully looks really nice in it, but he wouldn’t model it.

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~ by opusanglicanum on June 6, 2012.

18 Responses to “Getting shirty”

  1. Your new shirt is beautiful! And using your worn out shirt for a pattern is *the* way to get exactly what you love without wasting time or getting drunk trying to figure out a commercial pattern.

  2. I love it! I too have had to “untailor” a few “modern” items to make what I want. I was lucky my mother refused to purchase clothing for me as a growing teen, i learned to read patterns and make “popular” clothes by taking a part “older” ones from second hand stores. I did not learn to work the zipper mess till I was in my 20’s because patterns make no sense with zippers in them 🙂 shirts are fun! keep up the great work!

    • I’m never sure if I’m sewing a zip in the right way, I hear sewing machine have something called a zippper foot, but if gareths has one I have no idea hwere it is or what it looks like

  3. I like your shirt and the way you produced it. That’s the best and sure-fire method to get what you want and what fits you – you’re absolutely right! Patterns CAN be very daunting (I should try the stiff drink some time?). Makes me want to go do the same…

  4. Your shirt is lovely. My problem with patterns is that I can never find one that is quite right, that is the same as the picture in my head.

  5. I love your “new” shirt! Thin stripes is the way to go. Don’t worry about it being a bit baggy; after you put it in the washer and dryer, it will be just right. Hmm, if you were nearer, I’d buy a few shirts from you. :=)

  6. Do you teach this stuff – I keep hearing about traditional skills dying out – you seem like a last beacon of hope, to sort of quote Babylon Five.

  7. Very impressed with your shirt reconstruction. The more striped linen the merrier.

  8. I have been looking for a white long linen nightgown with a bit of lace for a long long time. All stupidly stupidly priced. I find it frustrating coz I can follow patterns, (the easier ones) and making one isn’t that hard. I just can’t because of my disabilities now.
    So I’m really really glad to see you making your own shirts.
    Didn’t medieval woman have boobs? (Yeah, I know, they didn’t tailor for then, right?)

  9. And I thought I was picky! Well done, though, it looks good and it will be so satisfying to know that you can ensure your supply of wearable garments…!

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