Wendy Ward Basics for Everyone – Shirt

I have made a few shirts for my husband over the last couple of years and have previously used the ‘Gentlemen’s Wardrobe’ book which contains both long and short sleeved versions. Much as my husband appreciated them I have never been quite happy with the fit at the collar which is a little on the tight side, this isn’t really an issue in that he doesn’t tend to fasten the top button anyway but it is something that as always bugged me and I have not felt that I have the experience to change it.

I recently won the Wendy Ward ‘Basics for Everyone’ book when I took part in the @Sewover50 challenge (#so50visible) on Instagram, this challenge showcases pattern companies that use older models for their advertising/pattern illustrations.

Sewing Basics for Every Body by Wendy Ward **SIGNED COPY**

I modelled the Closet Case Sienna Maker Jacket for the challenge whilst also adding the #poselikethemodel.IMG_20200309_174432_607

The book contains several patterns that can me adapted for both male and female, including a jumpsuit, coat and shirt so my first make from the book was the Rowan Shirt.

The shirt offers several different options in both length, sleeve style and shape of hem. My husband opted for a short sleeved shirt and I sent for this fun holiday print for him from Textile Express.20200515_123026

One thing that I noticed straight off is that the instructions in Wendy Ward’s book are far user friendly than in the Gentlemen’s Wardrobe book, the first time I attempted a shirt for my husband with the Gentleman’s Wardrobe book I spent hours on the internet following tutorials. One of the first stages was preparing the front plackets for the buttons and buttonholes. This book uses a different method than I have used before. Previously I have used a separate placket piece whereas Wendy’s book simply folds the front over. One thing I would say is that I did change her method slightly. In the book the instructions ask you to cut along the cutting line and then turn the fabric over once then unless you add binding to the edge you will be left with a raw edge (this could be finished with an overlocker).  I really appreciate nice finishes on the inside of the garment so I decided to cut the front pieces wider so the I could turn the edges over twice thus tucking all the raw edges inside.20200515_122949

One thing that is explained really well in the book is the burrito method. This is a great method and ease once you get the hang of it and gives a really nice finish on the inside with the shoulder seams concealed.

The collar and collar stand are also very well explained but one thing I would point out is that if you have a directional print then you need to cut out your collar pieces so they appear upside down otherwise when you fold the collar down your pattern design will be standing on its head!20200515_12440020200515_144704

Another thing I really like about these instructions is that the sleeves are attached on the flat – this is definitely my favourite method for adding sleeves. I also like how the sleeve heads are finished off with binding and then top stitched into place. On my previous shirts I have used the flat felled method which is so fiddly and I can guarantee that I usually miss a section that doesn’t catch in the stitching.

Overall I am really pleased with how the shirt turned out and the fit is much better around the neck. It is a more loose fitting shirt my design and I could possibly go down a size for him next time. Hubby is very pleased with his new shirt and he will certainly look the part when we can finally go on holiday (at the time of writing we are about 8 weeks into lockdown).20200606_101536

I look forward to making some other items from Wendy’s book and may treat myself to a new shirt, I am sure I have some suitable fabric in my stash. I will also refer to these instructions should I use a different pattern, well written instructions make sewing so much easier.


Experimental Space – Lily Top

I recently had the opportunity to pattern test for Experimental Space. I have tested for Andrea a few times now and love how she always comes up with a special feature for her sewing patterns. This time it was ruffles😍

Lily Top : Sewing Pattern (PDF)

I made a total of 3 tops whilst testing, the first 2 were sewn up as toiles to test the pattern so that any adjustments could be made before the final draft of the pattern was sent out for the final make.

Depending on your size requirements the pattern only uses between 1 and 1.5 metres of fabric, I was able to sew all of my makes up out of 1 metre each so it is ideal for using up that left over fabric that you don’t know what to do with or alternatively it doesn’t break the bank to buy that expensive piece of fabric that you have wanted for ages.

My first toile was made from a remnant of viscose fabric that I had left over from a previous make, I had just under 1 metre left but was able to squeeze out the pattern pieces.  I Cut a size Cara on my bust and graded it to a Dee on the waist and hips, this was actually an error on my part and from the size guide I should of graded to an Eve so I had to sew a narrower seam and thus couldn’t use the French seam method for finishing the sides.

The pattern was altered slightly after this to improve the fit and I sewed my 2nd toile up using the correct sizing of Cara and then grading to Eve for the waist and hips, I sewed the 2nd make up in some cotton fabric I have had in my stash for ages, it doesn’t have the drape of the viscose so gives a more structured look but I still like it.


Once I was happy with the fit and Andrea had made any adjustments to the pattern that had been brought to her attention then I was ready to sew up my final make.

I was lucky enough to win a voucher recently from Sister Mintaka and I have had my eye on some lovely Atelier Brunette viscose fabric.

Dune Smokey Viscose

At £18 per metre is isn’t cheap but I only needed 1 metre so the voucher was able to pay for that along with some matching bias binding.

It was quite scary cutting into such lovely fabric and knowing that there was no room for error so this was an occasion were I checked and re-checked before proceeding.

The first stage of sewing is the bust darts and the front neckline which is finished with bias binding, the ready made binding that I had was about double the width of what I needed so I cut it in half along the fold line.20200507_102540

I received these clips for Christmas and have used them so much since, I find them easier than working with pins and less likely to mark the fabric.


Once the front neckline is finished it can be put to one side and work starts on the back.  The back is where you are going to be adding the ruffle so that piece needs to be folded in half (wrong sides together) and then the raw edge can be finished off with an overlocker or a zigzag stitch.  The ruffle needs to be gathers so 2 lines of gathering stitch are sewn and then it is time for the ‘ruffle shuffle’.  There is a handy guide with the instructions which tells you the length that the ruffle needs to be pulled in to.


Once happy with the ruffle with everything evenly spaced then the ruffle is attached to the back along the top curved edge.


Next up is joining the back and front at the shoulders (right sides together). One of the things I like about Andrea’s instructions are that they have good illustration to explain as well as words. The pictures below show what it will look like from both sides.


The whole of the top edge is then sewn together with the back piece on the top for ease of sewing.  It’s important to press the seams and top stitch to make sure that the ruffles lay nicely along the sleeve front and the back of the neck.

There are 2 options on the back neck seam, it can be finished off with a zigzag or overlock stitch or you can add bias binding.  I went for the bias binding because I want this top to be pretty on the inside as well.


Once the neckline is finished it’s pretty straight forward with some French seams for the side seams, I love the finish that this gives especially with a fine fabric like viscose.


Cuffs then need to be added to finish off the sleeves and then it’s just a case of hemming.  I had just enough bias binding let for the hem so I took my time and finished it off with that.  I am really happy with all 3 new tops but this last one is definitely my favourite, the fabric is such nice quality and I love the colours. I have just sent for some Ramie Linen to make some trousers in and the colour match is really good.