2018-05 May

Make 17 – Men’s Long Sleeve Shirt – Birthday Present

  • Pattern – Kwik Sew K3422
  • Material – White Cotton Twill and ‘Deep Sea’ Cotton Print
  • Buttons – Metal ‘Fish’ Buttons

The wearable Toile was finished and because I’d checked for fit, I knew that the ‘proper’ Birthday shirt would be the correct size.

I tend to write on my pattern packets with the name of the individual (if any) and any adjustments I’ve made or should be making in case I misplace any re-drawn pattern pieces.  I have 2 copies of this pattern for example – one cut for my brother (with adjusted arm length) and one cut specifically for me.  I know some people would think that wasteful, or that I should have traced the pattern for each of us, but that’s the way I do it.

I originally though that I would use the fish themed fabric for the yoke of the shirt – but when I mention this to my Mum, she thought that this was a shame as the material is so nice and it would be wasted on the back, so couldn’t I put it on the front…..


I thought that I’d borrow a technique from my Jacket and layer the fishy fabric over the twill rather than just create a boring seam.  I decided that I would end the fishy fabric just above the pocket on the left breast – this gave me a decent amount of pattern to play with but also meant that I didn’t have to faff about with pattern matching the pocket as well as the CF (centre front)!


This pattern is different to the short sleeve version in that it doesn’t have separate button plackets, you create them by folding the raw edge of your fabric over twice and top-stitching.  This meant that the pattern matching was a bit more tricky – as I had to work out exactly where the edge of the front placket would be and match it to the inner edge of the underneath placket.  The photo above shows the alignment I achieved, so was pretty happy with it! (Of course this meant that I had to cut the two pieces separately – folding the fabric would not have achieved a match)

 I also had to take the pattern into account when cutting my collar and collar stand pieces and my cuffs.  It simply wouldn’t do to have the fish upside down on the collar or the cuffs.   I find that pinning the pattern piece onto the RIGHT side of the fabric helps.  I cut the collar stand ‘right way up’ and the collar itself (upside down) on the pattern.  It’s difficult to explain what I mean, but the picture below should help clarify:

Shirt 12

It looks like I’ve joined the two pieces together incorrectly at first – but think how a collar on a shirt folds…. it folds along that centre seam where the stand and collar connect.  The top piece is the collar – you can see the top stitiching, and the lower part is the stand with the raw neck edge to the left.

Shirt 14

The above image should help.  When my collar is folded, the collar points will be downwards so the fish will be the right way up.  If you can’t get your head around it, don’t worry, it took me a while to figure it out, but trust me, it works.  Basically if your collar looks like it’s wrong, then it’s right, and if it looks right – it’s wrong!!!

Now, with a shirt, I like to ensure that it’s as neatly finished inside as it is out.  Some people will use an overlocker (serger) on the raw edges, others will finish their seams with a zig-zag stitch – personally I don’t like either of these finishes on a shirt.   I only tend to use these techniques if:

  • I’m making a garment with stretch material (such as Jersey)
  • I’m going to fully line the garment, so the seams won’t be seen

I use ‘Flat Fell’ seams for a shirt (you can use ‘French’ seams and top-stitch them down, but this requires 3 lines of stitching – flat fell only uses 2.)

There are lots of tutorials and videos in internet-land for these, so I won’t go into detail on the ins and outs. Basically once you have completed your seam, you press it open (I always press seams open – apparently it helps to fix the stitching); you then press both  raw edges to one side (I always press to the back); trim the raw edge that is underneath close to the stitch line, then fold the other raw edge under and press flat.

I found the following image on the internet, but it shows the principle of the seam:

Flat Fell

Once you’ve cut, folded and pressed, you stitch (as in the illustration above) on the inside of the garment, close to the folded edge, but staying parallel to the original stitch line – you will get a neat line of stitching on the outside. The photo below shows the inside of the shirt with the completed flat fell seam.

Shirt 6
Flat Fell Seam (inside garment)

As you can see, the cut line can’t have been perfectly straight as the folded edge is a little bit wiggly – however, the stitch lines on the outside are parallel and look very professional.

The bit that I was least looking forward to was creating the plackets in the sleeve – the slit in the arm that allows the hand to go though and leads to the split cuff.   The instructions on this pattern though are ice and clear and easy to follow.

One side of the slit becomes a very narrow rolled hem and is top-stitched down the very centre.  The other side of the slit has the placket attached – this is folded around the raw edge and top-stitched.  It’s actually easier than it sounds if you follow the instructions:

Shirt 9
Sleeve Placket

One of the other advantages of this pattern is that you don’t have to do a standard sleeve insertion as you do for some other patterns/garments.

Basically you attach the sleeve at the shoulder seam, flat fell it, and then turn the shirt inside out and stitch the sleeve seam and side seam all in one.  I really really like this method.  The trickiest bit of this for me is then forming the flat fell seam that runs from hem to cuff.

I find that the easiest way to do this is to cut and fold the fabric, iron it and pin it in place – use LOTS of pins – you don’t want the seam coming open while you are stitching it.

Start at the hem – you can get a lot of fabric out of the way before you hit the sleeve.  Once you hit the underarm seam, take it slow and steady – you are going to have to gather the fabric around the presser foot and needle plate as you go; because you are sewing in a tube…..  Make sure that you can see where you are stitching, and that none of the surplus material is gathering under the presser foot.  I tend to stitch about 2-3cm then re-adjust the fabric, and so on.

As this was a themed shirt, I decided that I needed some really nice buttons to finish the shirt off – I did a quick search and found these little beauties:

Buttons 1

Whilst I was sewing my button holes, I changed thread colour – keeping it white on the main part of the shirt, and switching to black on the patterned material (top buttons and cuffs).  It might seem obvious, but I didn’t want to make a feature of the button holes and detract from the buttons themselves.

Shirt 8

The eagle-eyed among you might also have notices something unusual about my button holes.  Normally button holes run vertically in a shirt, however due to the design of these buttons and the way the shank was on the back, (nose to tail on the fish) if I had made the button holes vertical, the shank would have held the button hole open; by sewing horizontal button holes, I avoided this issue.   (Tip:  If you are sewing for a fuller figure, then use horizontal button holes – it will help prevent buttons popping open as any stress will pull the button into the end of the button hole rather than pulling across.)


Button Hole Alignment

You can see in the above image, that the button hole on the left is being pulled open so there is a risk that the button will pop out.  The button hole on the right is actually being pulled closed – so there is less risk of the button coming undone.

The buttons that I used had a loop shank on the back so had to be hand sewn to the shirt.  However, the finished garment looks pretty good:


You can see in the above photo that the cuffs have the fish in the correct orientation as does the collar.  I had to adapt the pattern here, as the pattern has standard buttoned cuffs, but my brother wanted to use cufflinks (French Cuffs) – I basically just doubled the cuff length, and then pressed in half.

Shirt 11

A close up of the cuff with his ‘multiplier’ fishing reel cuff links.  I top-stitched in white rather than black as I wanted the stitching to show.  I did manage to get a pic of my brother wearing the shirt.  He was very happy with it and will be wearing it to his next fishing club dinner/presentation.


Make 18 – Ladies Japanese Style Top

  • Pattern – Japanese Style Top from GBSB book ‘From Stitch to Style’
  • Material – T-Shirting Fabric ‘Storks’ (looks like Flamingos to me!)
  • Notions – none

I’d been promising to make my flatmate this top since I first got the GBSB (Great British Sewing Bee) books back in the day (well, 2016 to be a bit more precise), but she hadn’t seen any material that she liked; until now…..

We’d gone along to our local Fabricland to look at some material that was a possibility for a blouse/dress.  I’d taken a picture of the fine cotton with a small white flower design, but without actually seeing it, she was unsure.


As pretty as it is, it was far too pale, so we had a bit of a look around and instead found the t-shirting material which she absolutely loves.


The pattern is a bit odd, as front and back pieces are cut ‘on the slant’ as it were, this allows the material to drape, but (I’ve been informed) it feels a little odd on the arms as they are not the same.

Top 3.JPG

As you can see from the book, the front and back pattern pieces are a very odd shape – but this is what creates the drape.  You can see that there are cuff pieces as well – I did cut these, but wasn’t sure how to attach them eventually we decided not to use them.  I simply hemmed the sleeves with a small turn up and zig-zag stitched.

The arms do sit at the same length, and the drape works well – flat mate is very happy with it!

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