Sewing a Mans Shirt

Every once in a while I do a little bit of selfless sewing. I don’t have the confidence to make clothing for anyone other than my husband so he is the usual recipient. I have made small gifts such as bags and purses for family before but sewing clothing is a different ball game and I think it would cause me too much stress and take the pleasure that I get from sewing away.

This isn’t the first shirt I have made for my hubby, in fact it is the 3rd long sleeved one I have made to date and I am happy to say I have improved each time.  The main fabric is a lovely quality Lady McElroy  Cotton Lawn from Lamazi Fabrics and I teamed it with a plain blue cotton lawn which matches the blue flowers perfectly.

Lady McElroy – Watercolours Cotton Lawn Dress Fabric

I made his first shirt when I had only been sewing for about 6 months and I had not tried many techniques so have to say I really struggled with the instructions back then. The pattern I used was from ‘The Gentleman’s Wardrobe’ and my original blog can be found here:

At the stage I am at with my sewing now I really don’t understand how I found the instructions so difficult, the first time I sewed this I pretty much abandoned the written instructions and turned to YouTube were I learnt how to use the burrito method – this puzzles me somewhat now because the burrito method isn’t even mentioned in the book, instead it gives a far easier method where you attach the front pieces to the inside yoke and then turn the top placket edge under by the seam allowance and top stitch! guess I learnt to run before I could walk.

One thing I did get wrong on this shirt was attaching the undercollar to the collar – totally my fault and not down to the instructions. For this shirt I had decided to use a plain blue fabric for the inside yoke, inside collar stand piece and the under collar. When I was joining the collar to the collar stand I sewed it with plain colours both facing one way and patterned pieces the other way. When I came to join it to the shirt I realised that this would mean either the blue side of the collar stand would face outwards with the patterned collar on top or the patterned collar stand on the outside would mean that the blue collar would be on the top. This is not how I intended the shirt to look so I had to unpick the whole thing, this was made rather difficult because I had trimmed the seam allowances. With lots of care and some careful stitching along a very narrow seam allowance I managed to put things right.

The rest of the shirt went fairly smoothly, I have finally cracked the flat felled seams, again the first shirt I made these seams weren’t brilliant but this time I think they look pretty neat.

I did have a little trouble with the buttonholes, the first couple went smoothly but then my machine decided to start sticking and sewing repeatedly in one place (I really don’t know why this happened because it wasn’t being obstructed by any seams adding bulk) I got there in the end by having to finish a couple of the buttons with a little hand sewing.

This is definitely one of my proudest makes, I took lots of care over the finishing carefully selecting the buttons which match perfectly with the blue and I took my time with some hand stitching. My husband is delighted with it and will be wearing out next week when we are off to Goodwood to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.


Testing Rosalee

I recently had the opportunity to pattern test for Experimental Space, I have done a couple of pattern tests for Andrea before and was really excited when she put a call out for her latest pattern – The Rosalee maxi dress.

Rosalee Dress : Sewing Pattern (Paper)

I love maxi dresses but being on the short side purchasing shop bought is pretty difficult so having the opportunity to make my own is a big plus👍

I should mention for transparency that the pattern was provided free of charge. A testing callout was put out on Instagram and I followed the link to apply, during the application a few details are required such as body measurements and sewing ability. These details are needed because it is important to get a variety of sizes and abilities in order to do a thorough test.

Once the testing team was selected a group chat was set up and Andrea gave us the details of fabric requirements so we could start selecting our fabric, next came the pdf files for printing off the pattern so we were all ready to go once the instructions were sent over. It is important to note that the files that we first receive may contain errors, obviously this is all part of the need for testing in order to iron out any errors that may of been overlooked so we were advised to sew up toiles first before cutting into our best fabric.

The dress is a swooshy maxi dress so I wanted some swoohsy fabric. Suggested fabrics are rayon, viscose and crepe or maybe a cotton lawn for an easier sew. I chose this gorgeous peachskin fabric from Sewisfaction that I had already got in my stash. I had originally earmarked this fabric for a jumpsuit but knew when I saw Andrea’s pattern that this would be perfect.

There are some lovely details on the dress – a nice cutout detail on the back, some gathering around the waist, a lovely neckline and the biggest pockets I have ever seen.

The size chart goes from 31″ bust to 43″ bust. I went with my body measurements (35/32/38) so sewed up a Cara for the bust and graded up to an Eve on the waist. The pattern is also drafted for different heights starting at 5ft 3″ and going up to 5ft 7″ I found this really useful and was able to cut the shortest size and save on fabric – the pattern suggests that you will need 3.5 metres of fabric 1.4m wide and I was able to get my dress out of 2.5 metres of fabric which was 1.5m wide by using a contrasting fabric for the facings.

The pattern is described as being for ‘Improvers’ because there are a couple of techniques that newer sewers may be unfamiliar with such as a mini burrito for the facing and attaching an invisible zipper but the instructions are very good and walk you through these processes very well.

I found the instructions for the burrito particularly good, I have used this method before but usually take to YouTube and follow a video to see what I am doing but I was able to follow the written instructions very easily and completed my burrito without any problems, this method gives a really nice finish on the inside.

My toile turned out really nicely too – this fabric was discarded in the corner of my bedroom for nearly 2 years! so it is good to finally turn it into something pretty and wearable.

I have also filmed a vlog over on YouTube that can be found here:

If you fancy a maxi dress too then I would highly recommend this pattern. Anyway that’s it from me and next time I wear this dress I plan to be sitting by the pool on our holiday sipping a cocktail.🍹😎

Vogue Pattern V9169 Tee Shirt


I have a preference for the Indie patterns when it comes to sewing but sometimes a have to turn to the Big 4 if I have a particular make in mind.

I recently picked up 2 contrasting fabrics from Lamazi fabrics and knew that I wanted a pattern that would compliment them both.

Danish Design – True Beauty Wine Cotton Jersey

After a little research I came across Vogue V9169 and thought that style A which is a short sleeve tee shirt would be perfect.

My first gripe with the pattern is the sizing – the pattern can be purchased as either Extra Small to Medium or Large to Extra Large, this would be fine if we all fitted into just one size but in reality this is not likely. For my body measurements (34/32/38) I needed the medium size for my bust and hips but the large size for my waist. I have had this problem before with some dungarees I made using a Simplicity pattern and find it so frustrating having to re-size the pattern pieces for my waist. I am pretty sure it is luck rather than judgement that on both occasions the patterns have worked out.

All that said I am very happy with how the pattern turned out and think it looks really good in my fabric choices. I did sew up a toile first (see below) just to test the size out and did find that I was able to take it in at the waist anyway so maybe I could have got away with just sewing a straight medium size.

The pattern itself is fairly easy to sew up although again I do think that the instructions over complicate things. For my toile I followed the instructions but for my final make I did a couple of things differently which I will mention below:

The instructions leave adding the sleeves until towards the end which means the side seams have already been sewn up and you have to add the completed sleeve. I find it far easier to add the sleeves on the flat before stitching up the side seams and can see no reason for not doing this and it means that you then get a nice side seam all the way down from the edge of the sleeve to the hem.

I also attached the bottom to the top part of the top differently. In the instructions you completely finish the top section with all the top stitching before joining the bottom section and then top stitching again this means there are a lot of rows of stitching unless you are very accurate and can run exactly over your original stitch line (I am not). I turned the top section and basted into place and then gave it a good iron. I then joined the bottom section as per the instructions and then basted the top to the bottom section, gave a good press again and then top stitched with a double needle. I found this worked well for me and looked much better than my first attempt. I should also point out that in my first attempt I stitched the sections together in the wrong place (my mistake). If you look at the photo of the floral top you can see the stitching line is too close to the edge and therefore does not give the lapped affect that is intended.


Overall I am pleased with how things turned out and love the fabric that I have used I still prefer the Indie patterns though and think they will always be my first choice.

Marilla Walker Isca Shirt Dress

I thought I would share with you my latest make. I visited the NEC for a sewing show back in March and picked up the most gorgeous cotton/linen blend fabric which I knew I wanted to make a shirt dress with. I had a shirt dress style in mind so then it was a case of searching Instagram for something that would fit the bill, I wanted something with a fuller skirt which only buttoned on the bodice. I eventually came across the Marilla Walker Isca Dress.

This is not a pattern company that I was familiar with and on checking out her site the paper version of the Isca was sold out. It was available as a pdf and although I do now use pdfs (they really aren’t as scary as I used to think) I just have a preference towards a paper pattern. Luckily for me I put a search into Ebay and one popped up on there which I duly sent for.

The paper pattern comes with a nice instruction booklet and very good quality paper printed pattern pieces. There are 2 style options available – A is a traditional style shirt dress, B is described as a drape front dress and looks more like a wrap dress from the line drawings. Sizing goes from bust measurement of 31 inches to 48 inches and waist measurements of 24 inches to 41 inches. I used my body measurements (36/32/38) so graded from a size 4 on my bust up to a size 5 on my waist. My waist fell between the size 5 and 6 but looking at the finished measurements I was confident that the smaller size would be fine. I made a wearable toile first, not something I usually do but I didn’t want to risk ruining my lovely fabric.

The toile is pictured above and is made from a cotton that I picked up in the sales at Hobbycraft. At only £2 per metre it was a bargain and turned out much better than I expected (floral isn’t a fabric I go for normally). From the toile I only needed to make a couple of adjustments – I took the side seams in by 1/2 inch and shortened the length by 5 inches, I then adjusted my traced pattern accordingly. The pattern is described as being Intermediate level but the instructions really are excellent – some of the best I have come across so a confident beginner could definitely give it a go. The instructions even include details of different seam finishes – Lapped Seam, French Seam and Plain Seam. There is also an in depth explanation of how to do a small/full bust adjustment.

The front bodice is in 2 parts which helps to give some shape over the bust area and the shoulder seams include a shoulder reinforcement which gives a really nice finish to the inside shoulder seam. I found the instructions for adding the collar very easy to understand. It was a different method than I have used before but much easier to follow and one I will use again. I did use the wrong seam allowance on the collar of my toile, my fault because the instructions clearly state that it is a 1cm allowance here not the usual 1.5cm like the rest of the pattern. The toile still turned out fine though and I only became aware of the error when I made my final garment and realised that the collar stand was wider than on my toile. The skirt construction was very straight forward; the hardest part for me was adding the gathers which is a technique I find tricky at times but it’s just a case of taking your time and trying to spread the gathers out evenly.

I did have a little trouble with the button holes, I practised on some scrap fabric and that went fine but when I came to adding them to my placket when I got to the third button the bobbin ran out (I should of checked beforehand) and then the stitches got a little bunched up. For the buttons I was undecided what to go with; I recently bought several packs of buttons from a vintage charity shop in Leicester and all of them would have worked so in the end I decided to go for a mixture of 2 of them and alternated them along the placket. I think they add a really nice finishing touch.

I would definitely recommend this pattern if you are looking for a shirtdress and I am tempted to give the drape fronted version a go next time.

I have also uploaded a video review over on YouTube where you can check the dress out in the flesh so to speak:

Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here, not sure where the time has gone or what I’ve been doing but really wanted to tell you about my latest make.I have seen several lovely versions of Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs over on Instagram and then when I went to SewBrum sewing event last year I chatted to a lady who was wearing the most gorgeous purple corduroy version and I was well and truly sold on the idea. I purchased both pattern and fabric on that day and it has been sitting in my to do pile ever since.A couple of things have delayed me from making them – firstly as much as I like other peoples versions I was worried they wouldn’t suit me, this is not my usual style and therefore a little out of my comfort zone. Secondly they involve making trousers which I was a little intimidated by, my only other attempt at making anything trouser like was early last year when I tried to make the Sew Over It Poppy Playsuit, it did not turn out well and I destroyed all photographic evidence😂I finally pushed myself to make them so that I could join in with the Instagram challenge #sewtogetherforsummer and I am so glad that I did.The pattern comes with 2 options for both the bib and the trousers, I went with version 2 for the bib which is a straighter top and teamed it with version 1 of the trousers which have added darts for a more fitted style. The fabric was purchased from Guthrie and Ghani but its been a while so no idea if it is still in stock and I’m not certain what type of fabric it is but think it’s a type of chambray so its fairly light weight with a decent drape.For the sizing I went with my body measurements which meant grading the bib from the size 8 for my bust up to the size 12 for my waist then for the trousers I started at the size 12 for my waist and graded back in to the 8 for my hips. Lengthwise I went with the cropped style but they have ended up being full length, at only 5ft 2″then I guess I should of expected that. I am currently leaving them full length because I do like them like this although I may decide to shorten them at a later stage (the joy of sewing your own clothes).The instructions are very clear so I didn’t really have any problems understanding them, probably the hardest part is once the bib is attached to the trousers making sure you get everything the right way round. I checked and double checked before sewing in the invisible zip because that can get a bit confusing. I found the best thing to do was to lay the garment out on a flat surface and make sure the seams were all in the correct place to be joined together and then work on which way the zip should be attached, the rest was really fairly straightforward. I love the front pockets which are nice and deep, there is an option to add back pockets too but I decided to omit these because I thought there was enough at the back with the gathers of the waist which is pulled in with the belt. I also couldn’t resist adding a couple of cute cat buttons (crazy cat lady here) which I have had in my stash for a while.I can’t recommend this pattern enough, I think when you buy ready to wear then some styles just don’t work because the fit isn’t always great but sewing for yourself opens the doors to a whole new wardrobe of styles that you may not of considered before, so if you are hovering over a pattern and worried it won’t work for you then give it a try you may be surprised at how great it turns out.

Pattern Testing The Josie Blouse

Experimental Space is a fairly new kid on the block when it comes to sewing patterns, it is run by Andrea and this is her third sewing pattern and what a corker it is.

I first became aware of Andrea’s website last year when she put a call out for testers for her second pattern – The Casey Sweater. I applied and was lucky enough to be selected to help out with the testing process. This was the first pattern test I had taken part in and thoroughly enjoyed the process. I was really impressed with the pattern, my version is pictured below, there is also a really nice version over on LikeSewAmazing which was made up in some fabric from Sarah’s store which she appropriately called Casey fabric because it is absolutely perfect for this top.

When a call out for the Josie blouse popped up on my Instagram feed I was quick to apply and really pleased when Andrea contacted me to test again. The artwork on the pattern is super cool and the pattern is available as both pdf and printed copies. The blouse calls for a light weight fabric such as viscose, rayon or crepe – anything with a good drape. I made my tester version in some very lightweight cotton that I had left over in my stash from a previous make – Andrea always emphasises the importance of doing a test version first before cutting into your nice fabric (this was a pattern test after all so issues may possibly arise).

One of the things that make these patterns a little different is the size chart that works on names rather than numbers ‘Be a name, not a number’ is the tagline, measurements are also taken from the high bust rather than the full bust.I went with my body measurements for the bust which worked out as Cara and for both waist and hips I fell between Dee and Eve so graded to the Dee working on the amount of ease in the finished garment measurements. On first reading the instructions I thought I may struggle a little with the pleats on the shoulders because this is a process I have not done before. There was really no need to worry, the instructions are very good and guide you through the process step by step. The marks on the pattern pieces for the pleat points can be a little difficult to read because there are a lot of markings for all the different sizes but Andrea as it covered with a handy diagram in the instructions that tell you the exact measurements between each pleat. The pleats are also mirrored on the tops of the sleeves and then these need to be matched up at the shoulder seams. The instructions advise tacking in place to make sure they align correctly before sewing the sleeve in completely.I like the fact that the side seams are finished off with French Seams to give a really nice finish on the inside. I also added Hong Kong Seams to the back join (I wonder if this is a correct term? I have been watching the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee and Esme who is a judge on the program didn’t seem to think there was any such thing!) This is a fairly simple sew with some nice techniques, I love the pleat details on the shoulder – I wasn’t sure that bishop sleeves would be for me but having tried it on I am now definitely a fan, I also love the fact that the cuff is extended.
I would recommend this pattern if you are looking for something simple but a little different, I am not a fan of what I would describe as fussy blouses (they just aren’t my style) but this is plain enough to work as both casual and smart and contains just enough detail to make it that extra bit special and unusual so that is stands out from the crowd.

I teamed my Josie Blouses with a gorgeous necklace from Sew Dainty, the link is below for anyone who would like to take a look: