First make of 2021

Not only my first make, but also the first #makenine2021 item completed.

So I had decided to make more trousers and improve my skills in this area. I wanted to find some patterns that were slightly more unusual than my usual straight leg jean styles( RTW) or leggings, and bought a a number of patterns in 2020 with the intention of trying some out. All had an unusual twist….

Papercut Patterns Palisade pants with their unusual decorative side pockets.

Papercut Patterns Twist pants with a twisted side seam

and the pattern I chose to make up first , Style Arc Kew woven Pants.


The pattern description is as follows

“This is a designer pant with a slight rounded shaped leg that narrows at the hem opening. The dart and front split at the hemline give this pant a unique look. The back is extremely flattering with a centre leg design line that shapes over the bottom and into a one-piece shaped waistband. Wear this pant casually with sneakers and windcheater or dress it up with heels and a blouse.”

The fabric I chose was low risk due to the unbelievably low price of £3 a metre. Bought online from the Textile Brothers (Facebook shop) I was really pleased when it arrived – it’s lovely and soft with a great drape the fabric has more of a purple in it than this screenshot suggests

I have made up a few Style Arc patterns before. I like their modern stylish look, but the instructions are really sparse. I knew I could find a tutorial on line to help with the fly ( found for some shorts). However this time it was the pockets that had me stumped.

I started with a cotton toile for fitting purposes, but spent most of my time trying to work out how the pockets should be constructed. Despite even contacting Style Arc I don’t think I have got it “right” , and seemed to have a spare pattern piece!

I contacted Style Arc via messenger. They said that the piece in question was useful if youeed to have a pocket bag lining in a lighter fabric. Despite their input I never solved the mystery of the additional pattern piece 5 but I do have a pocket construction that works and seems logical. I will probably never solve the mystery.

I did read up on the pants before cutting and the common comment was that these are short / sit above the ankle. As I intended them for winter wear I lengthened the pattern before cutting out ( note I am only 5’ 2” so I am usually shortening , not lengthening garments – so it is well worth checking this before you wield your scissors).

Other alterations I made were :

I increased he seam allowance slightly in the top leg as they were slightly too baggy for my liking

Before seam adjustments ( red top and guest appearance from Gizmo the cat also showing rear view) . Fit post increasing seams on right hand side

I used bias binding to finish the front slit as suggested by Sewinglikemad having read her review of this pattern on The Fold Line

I omitted the coin pocket

Trying to take photos in the mirror – spin bike on left hand side

The fly has actually gone well on these pants – am I finally getting the hang of sewing flies?????


I topstitched all the seams with a slightly contrasting purple thread (pictures below are closer to the actual fabric colour!)

Belt loops are perhaps not quite as neat as I would like ( I had this problem on the Itch to Stitch shorts I made too). If anyone has any tips or tutorials on this please let me know.

The finished trousers

Front of pants
Back of pants

It’s a shame I can’t go out anywhere to wear my new trousers as we are currently in lockdown, but I think they will fit the requirement of slightly smarter trousers with a difference.

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My #2021makenine

Quickly following on from my review of #2020makenine here comes my 2021 plans.

I have kept 3 of the projects that I didn’t do last year ( Itch to Stitch jeans, Helen’s Closet pinafore and the Misusu jumper) but added 6 new projects

I am attempting to improve my trouser making skills so will try to make 2 pairs. I have chosen the Style Arc Kew pants as they are a very different design and shape to any trouser# I own. I also plan to make a pair from Papercut Patterns( palisade or Twist pants)

I want to make another Stacker jacket. I love my corduroy one finished last autumn and would like a lighter weight one.

There are two piece# of fabric from my stash – patterns to be determined. The embroidered gingham will be a dress, the pink rib will be a jumper.

Lastly in the centre is probably the most challenging project. A request from my youngest son’s fiancé ( they got engaged on Boxing Day!) to make her a shorts and jacket suit similar to the RTW picture. Biggest challenge will be getting the fit right as it will need to sewn remotely.

So the plans are completed- 2021 starts.

My 100th post summarising 2020 with #2020MakeNine

I have done the Make Nine (#2020makenine ) challenge for the last few years and have never actually completed all nine planned projects. Well this year is no exception, in fact it’s probably the fewest I have ever completed!

Here is what I managed to do

Three of these projects were completed very early in the year and were all taken on holiday to Sri Lanka. The fourth completed project – the corderoy Stacker jacket – was completed in October , and is probably my favourite make of 2020.

So what happened to the other projects? I think Covid probably had an impact. Dress / holiday clothes planned were supplanted by casual shorts for walking during the summer. A lot of time was spent sewing scrubs, masks and hand sanitizer covers. And as always new ideas came up during the year and got ahead of the planned makes in the queue.

So will I still make the unmade options. For the top two in the grid I already have the fabric, so at some point when holidays are back on the agenda I am sure these will get made.

And I would still like a spring weight Helen’s Closet pinafore. And I still want to master making trousers ( Style Arc Kew trousers on the table) so I would like to make the Itch to Stitch stretch jeans ( finally)

Given the low level of projects completed , will I do this again in 2021? Yes! I enjoy planning projects and always find it interesting to compare where my intentions and thoughts were at the beginning of the year with what actually happened. And let’s face it, nothing went to plan in 2020.

The flip side of only completing 4 put of 9 of these projects is that I did make many other things that weren’t plNned – and I don’t just mean face masks,

I have also been keeping a picture record of what I have made in 202o as I go along…..

Looking back over the 2020 makes a couple of things stand out

  1. Nothing in March – lockdown impact?
  2. Very few makes after February are for me . Whilst some of the face masks were, even many of these were made for friends. Indeed of the 65 makes pictured above, only 22 were for me. This isn’t my normal sewing pattern

So onwards to 2021

Satin Christmas Pyjamas

I can write up this now as the present has been opened. My daughter in law had put some satin pyjamas on her Christmas present list – so of course I decided to make rather than buy them.

I needed fabric in gold and silver anyway for a Christmas tree craft project, so bought 3 metres of gold satin fabric from Coalville fabrics. It’s good quality fabric but (I was warned) , it frays. And I had to use an awful lot of tins of tuna, beans, soup etc to stop it moving around during cutting out.Next fine any pyjamas I make will be in a nice easy to handle brushed cotton !

The pyjamas are a combination of 2 patterns. The top is from Lekala patterns, and the trousers were a free pattern from 5 for 4

Unfortunately no fancy piping ( couldn’t face that with all that fraying) but I did manage the monogram on the pocket. Thank goodness the letter N is just 3 straight lines!


I’m not sure how durable these are going to be. The seams tend to pull apart as the fabric frays ( most are overlocked). I did top stitch some key seams to hopefully try to prevent this in wear.

Not my favourite make of 2020, but hopefully they will get some wear.

And in case you are interested here are some of the Christmas tree decorations made for a star themed tree in Our local community

Birthday dress

Close to my birthday I decided a new dress to wear would be a great idea. I wear dresses a lot in the summer, but have very few winter ones

My thoughts were – long sleeves for warmth, not evening wear and importantly to try to use fabric and a pattern from my stash.
Looking on lone there seem to be some definite trends. Midi length dresses are everywhere. And three styles seem to dominate – wrap, shirt dresses and dresses with a gathered peplum / frill. Sleeves also remain a point of interest.

Pinterest board RTW dresses

I went through my pattern stash first . My gut feel was that a fitted shirt dress would take a little too long to make ( all those button holes) . I had a number of wrap dress patterns, mostly for jersey fabrics. I had a number of sleeve options on various patterns but no dresses with a gathered frill ( although I knew this would not be a difficult hack)

A quick look at the fabric stash and I settled on a medium weight fabric. I have no idea what it is! It is soft , with drape and is woven. I think I bought it in the late 80s, or may have acquired it from my Mum! I liked the autumnal colours and it felt right for my project. This of course knocked out the jersey wrap dress option.

Based on fabric ( woven) and the RTW styles , here is the sketch of the dress I decided to try to create

The design of the dress is based on New Look K6723 pattern – with a number of modifications / hacks. I have kept the princess seam bodice much as the original pattern making fit adjustments. These included grading the waist up a little, reducing the bodice length and adding two darts into the back bodice neckline to reduce gape. I also decided not to line the bodice, so I cut a neck facing to finish the neckline.


The sleeves were modified to increase their width and to add a frill and elasticated cuff.


I used the width of New Look 6524 as a guideline for the sleeve fullness as I had used this sleeve before when hacking a top and had been pleased with the results. No changes were made to the sleeve head ensuring that it still fitted well into the bodice armhole.

The skirt had two modifications. Firstly I added pockets using the pattern pieces from the Moneta pattern. Secondly I added the deep frill to the bottom of the skirt ensuring the skirt would be a midi length. I looked at pictures of dresses and worked out roughly where the top of the skirt frill fell on the models. I then adjusted the length of all skirt pattern pieces to be this plus seam allowance. I measured around the new bottom of the pattern piece and calculated what length the frill piece needed to be to give a circumference of approximately 1.5 times to allow for gathers and the required depth to allow for a seam allowance onto the skirt plus a hem.

And here is the finished dress

I wore it out to a beautiful local hotel for afternoon tea( a birthday present)

Afternoon tea – with scones of course

Papercut Patterns Stacker Jacket

Planning for this project started in 2019 when there was a flurry of great jacket patterns being launched and I decided it would be useful to own a smarter jacket for spring / autumn wear which was still reasonably casual enough to fit in with my wardrobe.

After eyeing up the many lovely options I finally decided on the Papercut Patterns Stacker jacket

As you can see most of the jackets I liked are a similar silhouette but I was drawn to the big pockets,yoke and collar of the Papercut Patterns Stacker Jacket. Plus I wanted a corduroy jacket which the model was helpfully wearing ( I also saw some great versions on line)

I bought the fabric and notions in one go at the Knitting and Stitching show in autumn 2019. It always helps if I have a focused purchase intention when I go to these shows as it helps curtail ( but doesn’t entirely stop!) numerous random purchases to add to the stash.

I already had a fairly clear of the required fabric – a wide whale corduroy in a neurotransmitter colour footprint maximum flexibility. The taupe corduroy I found was perfect. I then bought a mauve lining fabric, perfectly matched mauve buttons ( from the Button Queen) and finally some lightweight thin wadding / batting. I bought this from what I think was probably a patchwork supply stall. My idea was to make the jacket slightly warmer by using this.

After cutting out the jacket and lining , I cut out an additional lining from the wadding and attached it to the lining just inside the seam line so that the wadding and lining could be handled as one layer in the construction process.

You can see the wadding and lining in the photo below ( front of jacket)


One of my biggest fears in construction was that my sewing machine would not cope with the multiple layers. The collar construction required sewing through 3 layers of corduroy,2 interfacing, 1 lining and 1 wadding

Attaching the collar

Thankfully it copes at this point


It was when the jacket was almost finished that I hit my only problem

Towards end of construction modelled by Ariel

I will admit I was concerned about the buttonholes ! So much so that I decided to trial one on scrap fabric – which confirmed that I had a problem. The machine struggled with the thickness, and I think the corduroy ribbing, and would not run smoothly using my automated button hole maker. It just seems to get stuck part way through. So I tried using paper between the lesser foot and the fabric, which seemed to help to create a successful sample button hole.

So on to the garment, and of course the first button hole completely messed up about three quarters of the way through. I have no photos of this – I think I was too distressed to operate the iPhone!

There followed a long agonising and careful unpicking of the stitching ( I didn’t want to ruin the front of my almost finished jacket). I’m sure many of you have been there, done that!!!

Luckily there was no major damage – but I still needed a solution to buttonholes / fastening.

So my solution has been to use giant poppers and then just sew the buttons on for decorative purposes.

If any of you have any suggestions of other routes I could have gone – let me know in the comments. Always useful for next time!


I love this jacket. It’s turned out just as I had pictured it ( well without the buttonholes!) and despite the restrictions of 2020 it’s already had a few outings.

More Sewing for 2020


Sewing has continued, but once again blogging has faltered.

So this is a bit of a catch up ( again) with a very 2020 theme – Sewing for Covid.

I have had a period of time focussed on sewing masks, scrubs and a new item – hand sanitizer covers.

Firstly the scrub tops. Back at the start of all this I made scrub sets for doctors, including my own son. The sets I made for him were in fairly standard heavy-ish weight fabric ( similar to weight specified in RTW scrub garments). However he was finding the tops warm ( especially in the summer). Also 2 sets of scrubs meant constant washing.

So the first project was 3 more scrub tops in a lighter polycotton . Nothing new here as I used the same pattern and changed neckline as in my previous makes.

Next on the list is face covers/ masks. I have now made a lot of these! All my recent makes are using a Japanese 3D contoured Pattern.

After trying a number of different styles my husband and I both agree that this is our preferred pattern and fit. There are no fiddly nose wires, but the mask sits close to the face and importantly when you talk the mask doesn’t ride down your face. Look at the sizing carefully as they come in a range of sizes from small child upwards.

Mine are made with cotton ( sometimes left over dressmaking scraps but also fat quarters – especially those from Aldi), and lined with plain cotton bought by the metre. They also have an extra non woven interfacing lining ( not specified in pattern) which I include for filtration / layering purposes , not for structure or stiffening.


A tip which I wish I had thought of earlier in my mask making journey – use a loop turner to pull elastic through the side channel. It’s so much quicker than the old fashioned method of attaching the elastic to a safety pin!

I have made a variety of masks. New ones for myself and my husband ( who ever thought I would be saying a girl can’t have enough masks and which mask matches this outfit?) and many for friends. I have even started on ( dare I say it) Christmas masks.

Some of my favourites are the Marvel comic masks ( fabric from Aldi)

and the set of masks for my daughter in law who teaches reception age children. Apparently they have already proven to be a great hit with the children, especially the Simba mask.

Finally I have been making holders for hand sanitizer. I first saw these on Instagram and experimented with a couple of patterns. I think these are a great idea – I clip mine to the outside of my handbag or rucksack which means I don’t have to go into my bag and rummage around with potentially infected hands.

The pattern I have been using can be found here on Youtube. It took a bit of fiddling / experimenting to get my mind around the construction, but the result is a neat little bag which can be made from scraps

These have been made from left over mask fabric and upholstery scraps

The clips were purchased On Amazon, and it gave me the excuse to finally invest in some Kam snaps

The clever design allows the neck of the bottle to hang out of the pouch so you just flip the lid and dispense gel quickly and easily.

I’m using handbag sized Aldi bottles of hand sanitizer inside my covers. I have already made a few of these for presents and for myself – and will definitely be making more


Where did the summer go?


I haven’t written many blog posts this year and realising that I decided to look at when I last posted something  and realised it was June.

So what happened to July and August? I’m calling it the Covid factor – days , weeks and even months seem to merge  into one another. It seems the sudden change of weather and the noticeably more autumnal mornings have signalled that time is passing though. And a realisation that I haven’t written up any of my more recent makes

So this post focuses on the first of a couple of summer makes – shorts. Whilst I normally wear lots of dresses and skirts when it’s warmer, the changes in routine during this summer – less going out, more walking- has changed which clothes I have been wearing. So more shorts.

The first pair I made were the   Angelia shorts from Itch To Stitch, view B

The fabric – a Poly Cotton drill – was bought on line and turned out to be an ideal weight for shorts.

I made a number of adjustments to the pattern.

I cut the waist slightly larger than my measured hip size as I am more of a rectangle than an  hourglass shape.  I also lengthened the shorts as I find the knee length cargo shorts I have bought really useful for walking and general wear when not on a beach or holiday situation. I added a turn up and a second inner leg tab which enables me to lengthen the shorts [ copied from a RTW pair).

Finally I omitted the coin pocket

Most of the instructions are really clear. I took time doing lots of top stitching to get a crisp finished look.

And so to the part that I had the most trouble with – the fly. I have not made many trousers or garments with flies so I tried to follow the instructions carefully. First attempt just didn’t line up and had to be unpicked.

Second attempt better, but not quite correct

I resorted to looking for video tutorial and found link on Itch to Stitch website to a tutorial which did help.

I am still not 100% convinced I have completely nailed the fly, but it looks ok and functions – and there are only so many times I can unpick and redo .

I vowed at the time to use some scrap fabric and try / practise this method again- but of course this hasn’t happened yet!

The finished shorts are great looking – but I will admit are slightly more fitted on the waist than I usually wear mine. As the fabric has no stretch this makes them a little more restricting ( no big scone lunches and not so great for climbing over stiles)


Would I make this pattern again? Yes – it is beautifully detailed and well drafted. I enjoyed doing all the top stitching . But next time I need to master the fly first, and would size the waist up further to give a bit more ease . Then I just might get my perfect pair of walking shorts

Legs looking very short…..

Sewing Weekender Make and Thoughts

FC76DA45-66C1-484C-9479-9C7F8B3F7712I signed up for the on line Sewing Weekender 2020 as soon as it advertised. Although I missed out on getting a ticket last year, I was lucky enough to have attended the weekends in a Cambridge in 2017 and 2018. It was great that Charlotte, Kate and Rachel   Managed to organise an alternative to cheer us all up , and even more amazing that they managed to raise so much money for charity .
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As I didn’t need to travel, had all my sewing room facilities to hand and knew I wouldn’t be heavily distracted by talking to loads of sewists, I did not pre prepare my project as I had in the past. So my first job on Saturday was to prep the pattern and cut out,

I put the You Tube videos up on the TV to listen to and started.
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I had decided to make Kwik Sew 4154. I have been wanting to make a dress with waist ties like these for a while, and this pattern seemed versatile as it can be made in knit or woven fabric.

My chosen fabric was a knit purchased fromThe Fabric Manon Etsy ( I bought a number of pieces of fabric and all were good)
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The pattern specified a back seam zip which I thought may be unnecessary with a knit. So I posted on Instagram to see if anyone else had made the pattern and could confirm this.
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I contuued preparing pattern and started cutting out….and that’s when I got responses on Instagram. As well as general agreement with not needing a zip, I got a response from the always helpful ( and extremely knowledgable) Susan Young. She had made this pattern and was kind enough to share her experience ( and picture to demonstrate. The back of the dress did not fall in a flattering way, but created a humped bunch. She had tried to rectify this by moving the zip to the side, but this had not worked. However she said the skirt was lovely.

And that was when I fell lucky- I had started cutting out, but had only actually cut the skirt!

So rethink…..

I was wearing one of my Moneta dresses ( I have made 3). By the 3rd I had achieved a good fit knit bodice- so I decided to adapt the Moneta bodice to reflect the features I wanted from the Kwik Sew pattern.

I copied the Moneta bodice pattern onto newspaper ( I didn’t have any drafting paper). I then changed the back bodice neckline to create the higher neck line.

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Next I copied the Kwik Sew front neckline to the front bodice piece.

And then widened the waistline of the front bodice ( copying the Kwik Sew pattern) to allow for gathers.

Finally I drafted the back and front neck line facings As used in he Kwik Sew pattern.

I used the Moneta sleeve pattern and also decided to add pockets – because we all love pockets- to the skirt ( again I used the Moneta pockets)

This all took up a considerable amount of time – the whole morning – but it went by very quickly listening to the Videos .
As I went out walking in the afternoon I missed the end of day Zoom

Day 2

…and I actually got some sewing done.
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The  most challenging bit here was how to construct the waistline. I wanted to stabilise it at the back, but the Moneta method of using elastic to gather the skirt ( and thus stabilise to some extent) was not required for a circle skirt.
In the end I created a channel in the back of the bodice and sewed in 1cm wide elastic

Construction  was also different from the Moneta, which joins a completed skirt to a completed bodice. Due to the need to insert the ties into the sides of the dress overlapping the bodice and skirt, the front top and skirt and the back top and skirt had to be joined first before sewing the side seams.

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Once I had sorted all this out in my mind, the dress came together Reasonably quickly.

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Dress in progress

Again I was entertained during the morning by listening to the videos. This time I listened in to the Zoom session, but did not have anywhere enough of a finished garment to share.

The dress – and the videos- were completed in odd moments over the week after the Sewing Weekender . I am very pleased with the results, and very grateful to Susan for her advice.

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and YES the skirt is lovely.
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So finally, what did I think of my Sewing Weekender digital experience?

Well  of course it was very different from a weekend away. There were elements that were “easier” – having all my things to hand, no 2 hour car drive are the major pluses, anyone and everyone could attendBut I did miss the social element. I love chatting to people about what they are wearing, admiring the fabric, guessing the pattern etc etc. The videos were really great in creating an atmosphere / chatty background to help get some way towards this – so well done to everyone who contributed to those. And we did still all get a Goodie Bag ( which I hope will help any shops who have been struggling)

Personally  I would love to see any future digital format include opportunities for small scale meetings ( Zoom rooms) which could be used to meet new people / chat during the day for those of us who don’t have an established network of sewing pals. Maybe themed? Eg  at specific times  #Sewover50 chat room, a room for anyone making jeans / TAB / whatever the latest popular indie pattern is. what do others think?

So, very well done to all for organising this digital get together. You really did a great job of re defining the Sewing Weekender to make the best of current constraints. I hope in the future we will see BOTH experiences again- a summer weekend away maybe and a winter digital weekend? The best of both worlds – a chance to physically meet and immerse if you can but also if you can’t travel or get a ticket the opportunity to be included ( with the addition of winter weather so I don’t mind staying indoors all weekend)

 

 

 

Making Shirts

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I have just finished making my second man’s shirt  – I just never got round to posting the first, so time to rectify , and cover both shirts in one post.
Originally  this was one of those “ challenge myself” projects . A shirt just seemed a really difficult thing to get right but I had seen some beautiful one in blogs ( can’t believe the stunning ones made by malepatternboldness ) and wanted to give it a try.
In order to give me some scope for creativity I decided to make one for my son, not my husband! I felt the former might be a little more adventurous in what he would wear.

I looked at loads of patterns, and came close to buying a few ( still think maybe MimiGStyle  have been a good pick). In the end I bought  Simplicity 1544 because I felt it was traditional enough, but would walk me through some of the little touches of contrast fabric( view A)

My son lives over 300 miles away, and I wanted to make the shirt as a Christmas present so I resorted to using an old Shirt for a size guide. Key thing he said was to make the body fitted / not too loose.

For the first shirt I sourced fabric from the internet – ( Doughtys) a fairly traditional shirting cotton.

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but I paired it with something more flamboyant – an off cut picked up at a swap  , a lovely quality cotton lawn ( I think) with flamingos on it

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Pocket construction

I also took time to read up on and source some interfacing for the collar in order to get a really good crisp collar, I ended up buying this from William Gee on line

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Construction of yoke. Back tab was removed as my son did not like it

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I was pleased with the final result. It’s not perfect . In particular the collar does not sit correctly when buttoned right to the top – but as my son doesn’t wear a tie, this isn’t an issue.

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Son was impressed.
His only comment was that the sleeves were a bit wider than he would ideally like.

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Well the proof of liking was when he handed me some fabric late last year. He and his girlfriend had bought it thinking she might try making him a shirt, but with starting work this never happened .

This is a very different fabric. An interesting colour choice ( not one I would have guessed at for him) and quite heavy. More like a linen than a cotton.( you can see the texture in the photo collage below)

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The  lockdown finally got me started on making the shirt. That and a few subtle hints like “ where is my shirt you said you would make?”

So it was very much a repeat process. I adjusted the width of the shirt body as before using the old shirt as a guide. I reduced the width of the sleeves following comments from the first shirt.

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Same interfacing used in collar .I used standard heavyweight interfacing in other areas.

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Found scrap fabric to use for contrast, but used in slightly fewer places

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All seams are flat felled finish ( as was the first shirt

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The  sleeve placket  – I forgot to take photos of this for the first shirt

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And due to lockdown a rummage through my button box to find buttons – settled on a dark grey which I think works well.

 

I took extra care with the collar to ensure it buttoned this time

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It was definitely easier making this a second time, even though there was quite a gap between makes.

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The finished shirt

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I have waited to publish this as the shirt was sent to him for his birthday last weekend. So the update is that he wants white buttons – but his girlfriend will go to Abakhans to get some and do the replacement.

I’m still tempted to try a different pattern for a future make. Anyone got any recommendations? It needs to be slim fitted on the body and ideally with a narrow sleeve, suitable for slim late 20s man.