The other white shirt

Dear readers,

It looks like the new blog format is working for me so far, I hope it is for you too. However it’s too soon to tell if I will be able to keep it up. It wouldn’t be the first time that I manage to maintain decent activity levels on the blog, only to let it completely go a month later… One thing I forgot to mention though is that I don’t currently plan on posting on other platforms than here and Instagram. No more PR, Kollabora (which never seemed to foster interactions or traffic anyway), Burdastyle or Thread and Needle. Traffic was never high on this blog and will certainly drop now but I kind of like the idea of a narrower little corner of the Internet, mostly with regular readers.

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But let’s talk about today’s topic, another big square white shirt. Whenever I sew a white top, I kick myself for not making more. It’s so easy to be seduced by colors and prints in pretty fabric, but there are not many garments as versatile as white tops and blouses.

When I made the Ralph Pink pattern I mentioned last week, I already had in mind a crisp poplin version. Probably because of this Burda pattern (coincidentally Mokosha just posted about it, and it’s reminding me that it would probably fit my current needs) and this Everlane number :

I decided to start with my silk-blend version so that the drape would help with the extra-volume. I really like my previous version, but decided to take in the sides even more (total of 5″ on each side seam, as opposed to 3″ last time) and shorten the sleeves (3″) to account for the stiffer fabric. Unfortunately this required redrafting almost completely the front since I was reaching the sleeve cuffs in a straight line. While I was redrafting, I took the opportunity to modify the curved seam line you can see in the front. On the original pattern the front seam is purely decorative, with no shaping. But since I was going with a shape closer to the body, I included a sort of bust dart.

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I’m not sure you can see very well above but the dotted paper is my modified front pattern and the white one the original pattern. I also modified the top collar pattern to create a smaller/more current collar.

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The fabric is the most beautiful Japanese 100% cotton shirting. I found it at Mood’s and I have just no word to describe how smooth and perfect it is. It sewed well but I had a little bit of puckering that I could not completely iron out, for which I have no explanation. There is also the always tricky curved underarm seam, which was made extra difficult by the use of French seams. For this shirt, I finally  remembered to make my buttonholes and sew the buttons BEFORE hemming. No one will believe but I swear that the CF matched exactly in length before, but I am no Beth of SunnyGal Studio and I cannot explain how the lower picture happened!

Some of you may have a serious eye twitch already and believe me I do too! Let me explain how ironic the situation is. Being French (I know it’s a lame lame excuse), I’m a very critical blog reader. Lately, I kept noticing garments with the traditional closure for womenswear (right over left, ALWAYS right over left) had been avoided/omitted. It’s quite disturbing to the eye in my opinion. Well guess what happened next… I marked my buttonholes actively thinking:”Ha! You are not going to catch me making THAT dumb mistake!!” [Smirk face]. I sewed all the buttonholes , all the buttons, hemmed the shirt only to realize that I had just done it! I inverted the closure!!! Oh well…. *Shameful Face*

I really love the final garment. It fits my current needs perfectly and has been through several wash and wear cycles. I hope not to outgrow it too fast because it’s a very office friendly option in my shrinking wardrobe. I don’t have a definite word on Ralph Pink’s Sahara Shirt Pattern, like most patterns it did require a certain level modifications to match the idea that I had in mind. I did appreciate that the pattern pieces were relatively simple and went together easily.

As you can see in the inspiration pictures, a crucial aspect to modeling a square shirt is to pretend you’re about to casually perform a set of crunches.  I will comply as long as I’m not required to do the actual crunches!

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That’s it for today! Hopefully I will be back soon with more pictures of recent makes. This post is proof that I CAN take pictures inside my apartment, even if they are on the boring side… Oooh tropical background of Haiti, how I miss you!! Any tips for indoor pictures you would like to share?

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Classic white shirt – From Archer to TNT

Dear Readers,

First things first: Happy New Year! I won’t do a review of my year because I only posted 23 times, so there would not be much to say… My goal for 2015 is to double this number! Now, without any transition, let’s look at my new favorite shirt! The shirt was finished at least 3 weeks ago but I hate making buttonholes so much that it waited in a dusty corner until I made another shirt, for The Old Man this time, and then did all the buttonholes at once.

wpid1008-White-cotton-shirt-9.jpgI wanted this shirt to be as close as possible to a man classic Oxford shirt but with an appropriate fit. I believe that I achieved my goal.The initial pattern for this shirt is my modified Archer. Additional changes included using the collar and stand of my white shirtdress (from the Japanese book Blouse, Skirts, Pants), adding back darts, removing the CB box pleat and shortening sleeves AGAIN by 2″. They look embarrassingly short on the hanger but just right when worn. #Creepybabyarms, again.

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I can now officially say that no pattern piece is the same as the original Archer and that I am very close to a TNT pattern. Why, not a TNT yet? Because of some pooling in the upper back. I tried to pin out a horizontal take of 1″ just under the yoke and it looked so much better. However, I have not figured out how to remove it without completely killing my armhole… I’m waiting for an Eureka moment that may or may not come!

wpid996-White-cotton-shirt-3.jpgThe fabric is cotton I bought in Panajachel, Guatemala (by the beautiful lake Atitlán). It was cheap, has some texture and looks like washed cotton. I’m not sure if it has a name but it can get almost a paper feeling. I think it works well for this shirt but I would not recommend it for any project.

wpid1000-White-cotton-shirt-5.jpgMy shirtmaking skills are work in progress but they are improving each time. Compared to my last shirt, I went back to a classic collar construction order and I used different seam allowances for the flat-felled seams. Everything came together painlessly EXCEPT when I prepared, attached and topstitched BOTH sleeves to the body, only to realize that the wrong sides were on the outside. A lot of seam ripping/self cursing. Not fun.

wpid1004-White-cotton-shirt-7.jpgThe shirt is definitely filling a gap in my wardrobe. I cannot remember for how long I’ve wanted a 100% cotton white shirt. They seem to have become a rare commodity and I hate the blends that are sold currently from H&M to Ann Taylor. In addition to yellowing and aging badly, they also tend to be see-through, which is puzzling to me since their primary use is for the office.

wpid1006-White-cotton-shirt-8.jpgFinally, the pictures were all taken with my new camera, in full manual mode! I know it seems normal to a lot of you but I’m very happy about it. Also I quit on trying to keep the dog out of the pictures. He loves being in the middle of things…

After this shirt, I decided I was comfortable enough to go up one step: a man’s shirt. I will be back in a few days with pictures of The Old Man in his fancy linen shirt! I thought I would be done with those 2 shirts for a while, but then I saw the beautiful one Sasha just posted and Sewaholic released the Granville pattern. So… Granville is already printed and taped, I guess I will be back with more shirts soon! What about you? Are you getting closer to your TNT patterns in 2015?

Lucky me: Midi is the new Mini and some zipper drama…

As I said a few times before, the length of my skirts after 3 years in New York had diminished considerably and it happens that they are not only inappropriate for Haiti but also extremely impractical (try to get yourself into a Nissan Patrol elegantly in a tight and short pencil skirt and you will know what I mean). Therefore, and despite everything you can hear about short people and longer skirts, my recent sewing projects have all been hitting the knee and below. Including this last shiny shiny project :

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Conveniently enough, some runways have decided to agree with me (proof, proof, proof and PROOF !). I guess there is a limit to \how many seasons you can profess to go even shorter than the year before… The pattern is one I used before, but longer this time. It’s the pleated skirt pattern from burdastyle and I made last fall in leather.

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Of course leather would not have been a very good choice for the haitian weather so I used a coated cotton I bought at Paron’s Fabric before leaving New York (Ok, yes maybe I did do a little stash building operations prior to leaving… and yes maybe I’m feeding the stash everytime I get out of Haiti… but yes, I do buy fabric also in Haiti… I’m 3 times guilty!).

I really like the kind of retro silhouette that the extra length brings to this pattern.

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Ok, so maybe you can’t really see the coated shiny part of the skirt on those picture but I think it more visible on the close-ups. I did bring comments from my female colleagues such as “Oooooh shinyyyy!!!”. I guess a lot of us have an inner little girl wishing we would go to work everyday wearing shiny outfits!

The usual dress form shots: they are usually better quality because I take them with my Iphone instead of my crappy camera…

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I used the main fabric for the pocket and because the fabric was not fraying at all I did not do any kind of seam finish. My only concern with this fabric is the ironing. You have to use a press cloth even to open seams….

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I don’t remember if I had to do it for the leather skirt but I had to take in the back for at least 1″ on each side.

Also, this time I used a invisible zipper instead of a metal exposed one. Why? Well first because I think it suits the style of this skirt better, but also because THERE IS NO NICE METAL ZIPPER IN PORT AU PRINCE (Or am I wrong ? I will ask Lakaribane but after seeing her discussing colors of invisible zipper at the store-that-shall-not-be-named, I’m guessing I’m right). I used my usual method from Fashion Incubator for invisible zippers (really I cannot recommend it enough) with one of the zippers I brought back from my last trip to New York. I was sooo happy to have one to match perfectly. Now you can fell the drama coming… I finish the skirt that sunday evening with the hope of parading on Monday morning at the office. I put it on the form, close the zipper, take a picture for instagram and try to take it off the form to put it in my closet. ZIPPER STUCK, I spent an hour trying to remove it. Out of desperation I undid the seams hoping I would be able to fix it better of the form. Couldn’t. Cried a little. Put the skirt aside for 3 days until I had time to change the zipper to a not-perfectly-matching one… End of drama.

The culprit!
The culprit!

With this non-fraying fabric I decided to leave the hem raw but to avoid the unfinished effect I added 2 rows of topstitching.

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Anyway I’ve been quite productive sewing-wise so you can expect more posts very soon! Last question, my current date raised the issue of the skirt being maybe 1″ or 2″too long (2013, the year when guys started discussing hem length…), what do you think ? I could just cut it and redo the top stitching…

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