We’ve had a couple of rainy days here in Maine, so work has progressed on the feather shirt. Otherwise, I’d be out sailing; trying to take advantage of every last warm day.
If you haven’t seen it on Instagram, the fabric for my current shirt is a fluid rayon border print that I fell hard for at Stonemountain & Daughter. It’s a deep green with teal and blush pink feathers running in a band along both selvedges. I was immediately drawn to both the color combination and the graphic. It was a classic “impulse buy” . This falls in the luxury category for me, a special occasion shirt that gets worn infrequently. But I knew I’d suffer “fabric regret” if I passed on it. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there! Little did I know the challenge that awaited.
The fantasy eventually fades, when reality sets in. This fabric, while being delicious to touch, is quite thin and a little on the sheer side. It’s also extremely shifty, so I’ve had to use every means possible to keep things accurate and straight. This means LOTS of basting, healthy doses of spray starch, and the occasional “wonder tape”.
Making a shirt is not an “instant gratification” project. It’s all about little steps, executed as precisely as possible. You’re either into that sort of thing, or you’re not. I’m always a slow sewist, but this fabric has me at a crawl. But in its own twisted way, I’m actually enjoying it.
Border prints open up lots of design possibilities. My plan…
- Asymmetrical front with the border running vertically on the left
- Storm flaps on both sides to provide double fabric at the neck and chest
- Left storm flap to button over a pocket which is pattern matched
- Border print running horizontally across the upper back
- Feather print used for contrasting inner yoke, collar stand and inner cuffs
The bottom edge of the storm flaps are interfaced with Fusible Light Crisp woven interfacing from Fashion Sewing supply. The top edge of the pocket is interfaced as well to keep it from drooping. In this picture I’m working on the pocket matching /placement.
After a liberal dose of spray starch, I applied Wonder Tape to the pocket edges, stuck it on, and then edgestitched it in place. I love Wonder Tape! It makes this kind of pattern matching so much easier and accurate. It should be in every shirtmaker’s bag of tricks.
The feather print was slightly visible through the back yoke, so I inserted a piece of black silk organza to make it completely opaque. It also adds a bit more structure, which is never a bad thing in my book. I never dreamed I’d be sewing with silk organza, but the stuff comes in handy.
With the yoke attached I moved on to the collar. I’ve made several shirts over the years, and the collar / stand has always been the hardest part. I always come away feeling it could be done better.
There really is no sense in sticking with techniques that aren’t leading to a satisfactory result, so I decided to rethink my whole approach. And here’s where that journey lead me.
First up. After reading a recent article in Threads on industry standard seam allowances, I redrew both my collar and stand pattern pieces. By reducing the seam allowances to 1/4″ I eliminate the need for trimming; which, most of us would agree, is a big waste of time and effort. (Note: I did keep the 5/8″ allowance at the neckline for safety sake, but I envision whittling it down as I gain more confidence). I also drafted separate pattern pieces for the interfacing, something I should have done ages ago. I highly recommend it. Keep reading, you’ll see why.
Sad collar points? Watch this video by Jamie Kemp and kiss those lumpy collars goodbye!
The real gem of this blog post, though, is this video; which I have watched over and over and over. There is no spoken instruction so just watch, rewatch, analyze, stop, take notes, watch again.
This has been my game changer! If you’re into shirts, I hope you find it useful.
The result is, hands down, the best collar and stand I have ever done. The “Big Takeaway” is that the interfacing NOT the fashion fabric is running the show. It occurs to me that the collar and stand pattern pieces could be eliminated entirely. Just fuse the interfacing to a rectangle of the fashion fabric, and then cut the pieces around it. I’m sold!
This same process is also applicable to the cuffs.
Reduce the seam allowances to 1/4″ and stitch just outside the edge of the interfacing. When the cuff is turned the outer cuff can be pressed back and none of the contrasting inner cuff will be visible. The only trimming needed is at the corners. Sweet!
Attaching the sleeves is less efficient / attractive.
Note to self…. maybe someday I’ll get one of those felling feet and stop all this folding, basting and top stitching. But for now, this will have to do.
I’ve run on long enough.
Enjoy your sewing projects, whatever they may be. Sometimes we have to go through a little sewing hell to end up with something heavenly!
Photo shoot soon, weather permitting