One of my sewing goals for the foreseeable future was to make something with buttons, well buttonholes really, and I’m a firm believer in using courses, to push me out of my comfort zone and try something new in a controlled environment with an expert teacher on hand to rescue me if I cock things up. So when I saw that Sew Over It were running a course to make the Alex shirt/shirtdress from Lisa’s My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break e-book, I booked myself onto it without delay.
I was shopping my stash, and picked this chambray to work with.
This had been hanging around in the stash for far too long. I’d won it in a giveaway three years ago, and in my head it was always going to be a shirt, so it finally had the chance to fulfil its destiny! I wasn’t sure there would be quite enough to make the shirt dress, but I reckoned I could cut it as long as my fabric would allow, and see how it went.
I was at the Clapham shop this time round, and it was a different teacher, Dominique. The course was over two Monday evenings, and as anticipated, the first class was mostly concerned with the preparation, choosing the right size pattern to use, and cutting out. We got going on the first bits of the sewing, and I managed to get as far as having the fronts and back sewn into the yoke, by the end of the first session. The second session whizzed through, with the collar, side seams, sleeves and sleeve insertion, and finally buttonholes. I was really happy that this class gave me the chance to practise using the buttonhole foot, and to work out how to space the buttonholes correctly. I do feel a lot more confident on this now.
The class was really good fun, and it’s always lovely to see how six people can make six very different garments, even though you’re all working on the same pattern.
The only thing I had to do to finish the shirt at home was to slip-stitch the collar down, hem the sleeves and the bottom, and sew on the buttons.
Before doing all that, I had to decide whether it was worth the candle. I had my doubts about the grading of the shoulders and/or sleeve head. Dominique had assured me that this is a drop shoulder shirt, and the yoke extension over my shoulder was right. But I wasn’t convinced. When I got home, I took a few pics to check, and whatever the pattern is *meant* to be, I personally feel like the sleeves bouffe out too much at bicep level, making me look like I’ve got massive man-shoulders. Or at least that I’m boyfriending the shirt of a man with massive man-shoulders.
It wasn’t so bad if I had my arms down, but as soon as I lifted my elbows, I looked like I had huge eighties shoulder pads.
I COULD have undone all my sleeve sewing and redone them, but as I didn’t have enough fabric to recut the sleeves, it would have meant shaving only a tiny bit off to reduce the ease, which wasn’t going to help a great deal. I decided “stuff it!” and kept them as they are, with the proviso that this shirt wasn’t going to be something I wear outside the house. It is therefore now officially a nightshirt, which is good actually, because it’ll come in handy for my summer holiday. It also resolved the issue of whether I would need to shorten it to more of a shirt length, because it’s definitely too short to wear as a dress, but it’s the perfect length for a nightshirt.
Having decided that, I went ahead with the rest of the finishing off work. I had already decided that the buttons were going to be red, green and yellow to match the woven accents in the chambray. Rather than trying to find buttons that would match in style and come in the three different colours I decided to go random, and bought three bags of colour matched buttons in various sizes from Ebay. I picked out eight that were about 12mm across, and sewed them on.
And since I’ve got three bagfuls of buttons left over, I decided to string the yellow ones together to make a bonus necklace.