Thursday, May 5, 2016

Shirt Details

Recently my cousin showed me her collection of shirts. Oh. My. Goodness. I thought I loved shirts.

She doesn't sew but she is a savvy shopper, purchasing great shirts at garage sales, as well as Chico's. And the details are wonderful.

This one caught my eye. Details include an inverted back pleat stitched at the waist, wedge-shaped epaulets, button placket with a 2-3 inch fold-over, and flap pockets.

Placket detail

Pocket detail

Center back inverted pleat, stitched together at the back waist.

I was anxious to try to copy some of the details. The Now and Zen pattern from The Sewing Workshop (TSW) is pretty close to the RTW shirt:

So I started with the Zen. I made no changes to its back pleat. I have hip fluff and decided to skip the part where the inverted pleat is stitched together at the waistline. It is a pretty detail though, so maybe next time.

The placket on the Zen looks more similar that it really is. The RTW shirt has a wider, prominent fold-over placket and, most significantly, the button holes are placed on the shirt, rather than the placket, as in the Zen shirt. I have made the Zen previously and was not crazy about the buttonhole placement. It is a bit awkward to button with the buttonholes inside the placket without easy access. Hope that makes sense.

So I redrafted the placket. It should have been easy, but I got confused several times. I finally got the pattern tissue designed fairly well but then managed to sew incorrectly. I was sewing between trips and babysitting gigs. My mind was not focused.

Having exhausted my enthusiasm on the placket, I abandoned the flaps on the pockets. In fact, I did not manage to center the placket, so one of the pockets had to go. I hope the asymmetry is not too obvious.

This is the Zen shirt with the Now collar, a very clever collar technique.
The cuffs on the RTW shirt were standard with tower plackets and cuffs. My go-to pattern for that shirt element is The Blouse Perfected from Cutting Line Designs.

But I have a vintage Chico's shirt with 3/4 length sleeves that I have always loved. So I decided to try to copy that too. First I cut the sleeves 3/4 length + seam allowance. Then I drafted a facing that is about 5 inches deep. I added it to the hem of the sleeve created an easy vent in the seam just below the facing. I added a button loop in the center of each sleeve vent and a button to hold the sleeve cuff together.

I like the cuff better folded back. I will not repeat this detail in future shirts. There are easier ways to create a 3/4 length cuff. My Lucille Ball cuffs would have been just right!

I will repeat the front placket in my next shirt. I want to improve on that a bit.

I added a small detail to the back and I call this done.

I am wearing it today. It is delightful to wear - a beautiful piece of men's shirting from Gail K here in Atlanta.


  1. Love your new shirt, Martha! I noticed you had the collar buttoned all the way up. When I made my first Now shirt (size XL) there was no way I could have buttoned that collar even if I'd wanted to. I mentioned this to Linda Lee at the workshop in Eureka Springs, AR, that I attended several weeks ago and she and Kathy Davis agreed that many people found it too tight. Did you have to alter your collar?
    Kathy Z.

    1. Kathy, I did not alter the neckline, but you have me thinking about that! I love this collar in every way, even buttoned up, but in real life I wear it open. I can slip a couple of fingers in there comfortably but it just feels too formal to wear ordinarily. And as you point out, it might be nice if it was a little looser too. I am jealous of your trip to Eureka Springs!

    2. I only live 45 minutes away from Eureka Springs and if Linda comes to your back door, it's just too great to not go! My third time and I always learn something new. Meeting other sewists is a wonderful bonus.

  2. Gorgeous! Love all the details and the fabric is so understated.

  3. Great looking shirt. Love the detailing

  4. I am a fairly new subscriber to your blog. Thanks so much for writing it...I am a shirt fanatic (before I returned to making clothes I lpurdhasd Chico's shirts often) . Your posts are always so interesting to me! I had some issues with the collar on the Now and Zen I appreciated seeing it in your post. I am booking this post so that I can revisit when I make my next (longer!) Now and Zen. Marie

  5. Great shirt! Your adaptions and personalisations are excellent.

  6. Love the casual elegance! I wonder if you could make that stitched section of the back pleat halfway between shoulder blades and waist? Would give the shirt a touch of back shaping without a sudden splaying over the hips/buttocks.

    I love to see what creative sewing you are up to. Thanks!