A Simple White Shirt

Why do something simple, when you can do something complicated?

I haven’t sewn much in a while, so this spring, when I got out my sewing machine, I decided to sew something just a bit more challenging – a classic white shirt.

The pattern is Liesl + Co.’s classic shirt. It’s fantastic!

The designer behind Liesl + Co. is the same as the one behind oliver + s. Her patterns are like mini-sewing lessons. Everything is presented in detail and you end up a better sewist by following her instructions.

This pattern includes a two-piece collar, tower sleeve plackets with buttons, and a continuous (cut-on) placket or a separate set-in front placket. There are faux-felled seams, double rows of topstitching, and a rolled collar. There are also tutorials for adding a popover front placket, turning the shirt into a shirt dress, or a tiered dress, and several pocket variations.

The best thing about this pattern: separate pieces for A/B, C, and D cup sizes.

I wasn’t sure what size to sew. During the pandemic there was a lot of snacking (sigh). Oh well! So I stuck to the measurement chart and ended up sewing the size 14 with a D-cup.

I wasn’t sure it would fit. The whole time I was sewing this shirt, I kept telling myself “It’s just a wearable muslin!”. “This is just practice!” “It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fit, you’re learning!” And it takes a long time to make a shirt!

In the end, the fit was excellent. I usually buy shirts with some stretch so I can get them closed. I don’t think I’ve ever had a plain white shirt really fit properly. But this one is good, great even! It’s definitely better than any ready-to-wear shirt I’ve worn.

The fabric is some 100% cotton shirting that I got from Our Social Fabric, for about $14. The pattern calls for 2m, and I thought I would make a short-sleeved version of the shirt, but in the end, I was able to Tetris all the pieces onto 1.5m of fabric.

Our Social Fabric is a non-profit and its goal is to keep fabric out of landfills. They sell deadstock and donated fabric. I’m sure this particular piece was part of someone’s fabric stash once upon a time.

If I had to be really picky with the fit, I might add a centimetre or two to the sleeve length (a typical adjustment for me) and a centimetre to the arm with a full-bicep adjustment. I don’t really need it with this fabric, but I’d like to make the shirt again in linen and that has a lot less give. And in some fabric, like flannel, I might go up a size for a relaxed look. But my shirt is very wearable as it is.

The pattern doesn’t ask for interfacing on the sleeve placket, but my fabric was really thin (though opaque!) and sewing the buttonhole caused the fabric to bunch a little. You can barely see it. Still, I’ll probably add some (very lightweight) interfacing if I sew this again in a similar fabric.

I used faux felled seams around the arm on the inside, and everything looks as nice on the inside as on the outside.

This isn’t the first shirt I’ve made of course, but the number of professional features if higher than on any other I’ve made. I’m really happy with the results.

I’m already planning a couple more.


Pattern Review: Liesl + Co.’s classic shirt, available in sizes 0 to 20. View A.
Fabric: Cotton shirting from Our Social Fabric.
Size: 14, D-cup.
Cost: Pattern: $18.95 USD. Fabric: About $14.
Sewing Level: Intermediate.
Modifications: None.
Results: Fantastic!

Author: Shannon Smith

Data scientist, journalist, sewist, hiker, modern quilter, slam poet, and mum of four. My best friends are trees and my favourite food is granola.

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