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!

Guest Sewist: Flowers for Spring

Over spring break kid #1 decided they wanted to sew something!

Although they’ve made some small hand-sewn projects over the years, this was the first time sewing a garment with a machine. The results were great! Especially for a beginner. I’m a very proud mama.

The pattern is Jalie 4020, the Florence Shirt and Shirtdress. The pattern-maker describes it as follows:

Boxy button-front shirt and shirtdress with band collar, cut-in sleeves finished with a band, and rectangle chest pockets.

I can confirm, it’s exactly as advertised.

This was my first time working with Jalie patterns. All the sizes come on the same sheet of paper (not tissue), nested (generally) and you just trace out the size you need.

The instructions were good, but a bit brief, and printed right on the pattern sheet. However, Jalie also offers stand-alone instructions for all their patterns as PDF downloads on standard printer paper. You can see the instructions for this particular pattern here. I love this! It’s so convenient for screens while you are sewing, especially tablets.

I also appreciate the large size range. It makes it easy to use the patterns more than once, and to grade between sizes.

The pockets are really large. We’ve already sewn this a second time in cotton gauze (photos soon) and in a more drapey fabric they look a bit less boxy. But that’s the design! It’s just like the picture.

This is a nice, easy beginner project – though I helped with the buttonholes and buttons.

There is no tricky piecing and no set-in sleeves – which is unusual for a button-up shirt, but handy when you are learning to sew.

The most difficult part for a beginner was turning the one-piece collar and edge-stitching neatly through all the layers of fabric.

The fabric is a floral cotton poplin – a great fabric for people just learning to sew.


Pattern Review: Jalie 4020, the Florence Shirt and Shirtdress, available in 28 sizes from 2T to 24. View A (shirt).
Fabric: Cotton poplin from Fabricville.
Size: T. Jalie uses their own sizing system, but this is about a size 14 in Big Four pattern sizing.
Cost: Pattern: $16. Fabric: About $20.
Sewing Level: Easy.
Modifications: None.
Results: Great!