This is one of those projects which while it isn’t perfect, I’m really proud of. Yes, I made a proper shirt for me! Using designer fabric! And finally using that Butterick 5526 pattern I’ve had hanging around for so long it’s now out of print *facepalm*
You might have noticed I missed posting last week, and that’s because I was insanely busy trying to finish this beauty up before the deadline that’s part of any Minerva Brand Ambassador projects. Full disclosure, this Art Gallery Fabrics poplin (affiliate link) was provided free of charge in return for a review over on Minerva’s site. You can find my review here: https://www.minerva.com/posts/1072416
Now, I’ve had two months to make this up and I honestly didn’t leave it all till the last minute. I just spent quite a while trying to sort out the fit of the toile, and then my perfectionist side wanted to sew everything the most complicated, time consuming way. And then Daisy needed a couple of trips to hospital for some anticoagulant injections (missed warfarin dose- whoops!) on the days I had earmarked to finish everything off. Ah well. I got it done, just in time.
I’ve made a few shirts before, including one for Andy and one for Gabriel, both as yet unblogged. But this is my first try at a proper button up shirt for me, unless of course you count my linen Vogue shirtdress, I suppose. Over all those makes I’ve been gradually honing my shirt making skills and now have some experience to draw from of the best way of doing things. In Vogue and Butterick patterns this generally seems to mean ignoring the pattern instructions, which in this case would leave you with all sorts of horrible seam finishes inside.
I bought the Butterick 5526 pattern years ago after seeing all the gorgeous versions sewn up by Lauren Lladybird. I loved the princess seams option which can give you a really close fit at the waist, but there are also less fitted versions. I went for view D (princess seams), but with the longer sleeves and tabs from view A. And I added a yoke so I could do the lovely burrito yoke finish and get the insides looking lovely too.
Now, past Anna was pretty optimistic about staying slim and bought the size range that stops at a 12. I don’t think I ever fit the body measurements specified for that size, but Butterick always include loads of ease so that was the size I used to sew up when at my fittest/slimmest. I’m not quite that size at the moment, but I hoped I would get away with a 12 and duly sewed up a toile using an old duvet cover:
As you can see from the top pictures, the 12 was too tight, particularly at the bust, although I was pretty happy with the armhole and shoulder fit. While I think a 14 probably would have been an easier fit, perhaps doing a full bust adjustment to the 12 was the right way to go. It was the only way I had available, at any rate! I split the front princess seams and patched in fabric until it fit right (bottom row of pics), then spent a fun hour or so adjusting the paper patterns properly using my Palmer Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting (affilate link) which is an amazing book, I’ve got to say!
Then I cut the good fabric. Now, I probably should have done a second toile at this point as I’d made a fair few adjustments, including narrowing the sleeve, lowering the sleeve cap, narrowing the shoulders and adding width at the hips as well as that full bust adjustment. But I didn’t. What can I say? I’m lazy. That and I knew I was likely to run short of time to finish sewing this to the standard I wanted if I had to make another toile. So I crossed my fingers and went for it.
At this point I could have pin fit my good fabric before going ahead with all the french seams and topstitching, but again, I didn’t. I wish now that I had as I think I went a little overboard with adding in extra width, and the finished shirt isn’t as fitted as I would like.
I think with a more drapey, apparel type fabric I might have got away with it, but poplin is pretty crisp and unforgiving. If you have too much fabric, you’re going to see it! When trying on my finished shirt I remembered why I no longer tend to sew garments out of poplin/quilting cotton. I much prefer wearing fabrics with drape or stretch. That said, you can’t beat poplin for ease of sewing. I achieved some lovely bits of finish here, especially on the collar, which I doubt I’d have managed with a more tricky fabric.
I also think I made my sleeves a little too narrow as they’re a bit of a fiddle to roll up, but it could just be that I need a longer cuff placket with sleeves this narrow. Next time I sew it up I’ll try a decent height tower placket rather than the little blouse placket the pattern specifies.
For all these criticisms, though, I love my shirt! I love the colour and I’m really proud of myself for sewing to such a high standard. I particularly love the bias finish hem which is so much easier than the narrow hem the pattern instructions detail. Honestly, I didn’t really follow the pattern instructions at all, browing the internet for better ways of doing things whenever possible.
I’m really looking forward to wearing this shirt this year, although I suspect with it fitting the way it does I’m more likely to wear it as an unbuttoned shacket than a button up, but who knows? I’m also really looking forward to making Butterick 5526 again, including the alternate body without the princess seams. It’s a really versatile pattern and I can see me making lots of different versions with different fabrics and features to ring the changes.
But next time I’m definitely going to pin fit those seams to get it how I want it before I French seam them all!
Pattern: Butterick 5526 (now out of print)
Fabric: Art Gallery Fabrics Cotton Poplin in Floralish range by Katarina Roccella, from Minerva (affiliate link)
Modifications: Numerous fit alterations including FBA, narrowed sleeves, reduced sleeve cap ease, added yoke.
- Pattern: £5.00? I bought this so long ago I’ve no idea.
- Fabric: £0.00 (£35.68 if I’d had to pay for it)
- Notions: £0.00 (thread, buttons and interfacing all from stash)
- Total: £5.00 to £40 ish.
While not the cheapest me-made if I’d paid for this fabric, I think a shirt made to this standard would cost a lot more in the shops, so there’s that.
On the Sewing Table:
At the moment I’m working on another Minerva Brand Ambassador project, which is my very first raincoat. I’m having an absolute blast making this one! I’m starting to think that outerwear sewing might end up becoming my obsession… Anyway, the lining is all made and fitted, the outer cut and I’ve started sewing. It’s a pretty simple pattern (McCalls 6517) so I’m hoping to have it all finished by the end of tomorrow.
Then it’s a week of Easter holidays and we can’t go anywhere as a family because Gabriel’s school bubble has to self isolate after someone testing positive for Covid, so I guess I’ll have lots of time for the garden and sewing. Silver linings… I’m thinking I’ll make some headway on another couple of Minerva projects so I don’t find myself up against the deadlines again. I have a couple more Art Gallery Fabrics lined up to make a dress for Lauren and a tee for me. See if you can guess which of us is getting which fabric!
I hope you all have a lovely Easter weekend with plenty of chocolate, if that’s your thing 🙂
Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂