Tuesday

Making a Groovy Kind of Shirt

 I love sewing and I had this length of fabric in the stash cupboard.
I wanted to make my son Max a shirt but I didn't have a pattern.  I took one of his shirts that fit him comfortably, checked YouTube and got the basics of making a tissue paper pattern.  
You just  lay out the shirt you already have on tissue paper on a pinable surface, carefully isolating each section of the shirt.. the sleeves, cuff, yoke, front, back and facings on tissue paper...then use pins to map it out around the seams... then draw along the dots around the whole shape... pay attention to the straight of the grain...  add seam allowances (5/8") and voila you have a pattern.  Well it wasn't quite as fast as "Voila" but just stay with it and you will get a pattern. and once you have it you can make as many shirts as you want from it.  I made two ... here's the first one.. the groovy one.
 I forgot to take a picture of the actual process of making the paper pattern but here are the pieces pinned onto the fabric and cut out.

Here the pieces are turned over...  
Max and I thought it would be cool to combine several colors and patterns in the same shirt... so why not have a little fun. The fabrics were quite fine and slippery, so the shirt will be very lightweight. The red and black print was a remnant from the fabric store. The black print is recycled fabric...  so is the gray print used in the cuffs. 


This is a 1977 Kenmore Convertible Freearm, model 158.19471, all mechanical,  that I recently brought home (second hand... super good deal or I wouldn't have got it)...and  after oiling and lint removing, it works amazingly.   I highly recommend this model.
 I wish I aged this well since 1977!

***I will do a post soon on my vintage sewing machine collection that sort of just happened over the last year. It's a long story... but I will post pictures of all the "girls" one of these days soon. Old sewing machines are the best!

 This is the inside of the back, which was cut on the fold. It is a fitted shirt so there are two darts in the back to give it shape, kind of hard to see for the busyness of the pattern. 
We made the yoke of the black print fabric on the inside...

 and the same color fabric on the outside of the yoke. I love lined yokes and they finish a shirt well and make the shoulder stronger.... and since the whole shirt is hanging from the shoulder, you want it strong.
 That is the collar at the top of the picture.

 I like clothing that is finished on the inside as cleanly as it is on the outside so I made Flat Fell Seams on all the seams.  It makes sewing clothing by hand that much more worthwhile.  I LOVE flat-fell seams.  They take a little longer to do but you will never regret the durability, strength and feel they add to a garment.... and they look nice.
 The above pic is a close up of top stitching the back/yoke seam. If the shirt was on inside-out you would never know except for the buttons.

 Here it is finished with the buttonholes and buttons.

Here is Max giving it a model.   It fit great and he really liked it.

 Since this shirt turned out, we found another length of fabric and cut out another one.


This time the contrasting color will just be on the inside.
This time I made the front button facing in a contrasting color and so a glimpse of it is seen when the collar folds down.
The fabric has a sheen so it was difficult to get the same lighting in each shot when I took the pictures.  I'm marking for the buttonholes in the bottom right pic.
 The upper left shot is the cut made for the sleeve placket.. then the finished sleeve with attached cuff. The machine does pretty good buttonholes. I was pleased with it.  There is a button on the placket of the sleeve too.
 Doing the buttonholes always makes me nervous as they run right up the front of the garment and if I wreck this last feature I have wrecked the whole shirt, so I always go carefully and slowly on this.. and sew with my fingers crossed and my teeth clenched a bit.
...using tailors chalk to mark the Buttonholes... it wipes right off with no staining.
All Done. I like it.

and incidentally, the second shirt went much quicker.  I started it one afternoon and finished it the next... so it doesn't take long to sew a shirt.

I am going to look for more fabric in the cupboard... John needs a couple shirts too.

***Note:  Flat-Fell Seams  (as it would take a while to describe a flat fell seam I have linked to this bloggers step by step... great pics of the method).
Thanks for visiting!


Gwen Buchanan at Desideratum Art Studio in St. Martins, New Brunswick, Canada.

25 comments:

A Heron's View said...

Pon my word Gwen ! You will be
receiving orders for shirts next are there no limits to your creativity ?

jane B said...

I have patience for painting but would never have it for sewing so I'm really impressed with this, Gwen.

Penny said...

I am afraid I don't have the patience to make shirts any more, but they look great

Karen Maggio said...

What a great idea! Love the shirts.

WILDSIDE said...

Our Kenyan friends said there is better quality and fit in a shirt that is made for you by family...

Fear not in the ones I'd make, sad to say!

Good job, Gwen. Another example of your level of patience shining through!

the veg artist said...

At our school in the UK we were taught this technique, but it was called a French seam.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hey Mel, Jane, Penny, Karen, Wildside, Thanks so much.
Sewing was my first love. When I was a kid, mom was always bringing home bags of hand me downs and of course none of them fit me, being the oldest... after they sorted out the good stuff, I could have any of the rest I wanted to make things with. It was like Christmas. I took those garments apart, sewed all the time and let my imagination run wild. I made some crazy stuff and wore it... I could get away with it being the 70's... they weren't always winners but there was no stress that I would ruin an expensive piece of fabric. Being frugal has its advantages.

Hi Veg Artist, A French Seam is a different technique than a Flat Fell. A French seam is not normally sewn flat to the garment but the seam is enclosed in the actual seam and stands out from the finished seam and can only be used on the inside of a garment. They both make great finishes and I believe each have their purpose.

Cheers All!

Linda H said...

Gwen, great job on the shirts! Lucky Max!! I used to make most of my clothing, including many blouses, most of them tailored. But then I discovered quilting, and quilts are easier to "fit"...

Terra said...

I admire very much these two handsome shirts and your sewing skill. Well done.

Sharmon Davidson said...

There seems to be no end to your talents, Gwen! Jewelry-maker, house-builder, draftsman, painter, and now tailor! These shirts are beautiful indeed - true works of art!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Haha Thanks, Linda, you're right... I haven't seen a quilt that didn't fit... and you create the most beautiful pieced quilts I know of!

Thanks Terra and Sharmon, I know you know how it is... one creation leads to another and we use each experience to build confidence for the next challenge. As Neil Gaiman says whatever the occassion, "Make Art".

cathyswatercolors said...

Another amazing Gwen project. Your handsome son looks great.

Jeri Landers said...

Gwen You are a superb seamstress! Those shirts are just great and your son is very handsome. I don't know which I like the best, but the fabric for the second shirt is just elegant. It looks like it would be difficult to sew, slippery, but what a wonderful shirt. We seem to be on the same wave length, as I have been planning to sew a few blouses, but I am lousy with buttonholes. Can't wait to see your sewing machine collection. I have been waiting for my mother to pass her old 1952 Singer Machine on to me.

Steven Cain said...

The first one is very cool... but the second is the shiz! Great fabric!

Gwen Buchanan said...

Cathy, you are sweet.. When my older kids were young I sewed all the time but I never had a chance to sew much for Max. I'm just catching up now.

Jeri the first fabric had a mind of its own but the second which I thought would be more so was actually quite easy to handle. I'd love to see your mom's sewing machine too. the Singer's from that period live on forever.

Steven, Max is impressd that you liked the shirts!! Thanks.

Guillaume said...

Very groovy. I love groovy clothes, although I do not have many.

rachel said...

How clever! And Max is looking pretty good too.....

sackerson said...

Fantastic. I just love creative shirts.

Faye Henry said...

Hi Gwen. I have been among the missing I am afraid but am all caught up on your busyness.. You did a lovely job on the shirts and Max is all grown up.. I remember when he was just a wee guy running around with you both.. Time has passed so quickly .. Love your homestead work and the grapes.. Can't wait to see how your jelly turns out.. I know you can blanch and freeze grape leaves and stuff them later..
Take care, dear..

Janice / Dancing with Sunflowers said...

I am in awe. Completely! These are great, and particularly because Max chose the colours exactly as he wanted them. My personal preference is for the less 'groovy' one! Love the elegant browns. And the concealed second colour. Very cool! And I agree - those little details and that level of care over the inside makes all the difference.

I know what you mean about doing the scary parts of a project after almost all the work is finished, and doing it with clenched teeth and fingers crossed. I also find holding the breath to be a good tactic. :)

Your level of work is something I can only aspire to. One day, perhaps....

Gwen Buchanan said...

Guillaume, I love making clothes that can't be found in shops... wish I had access to more fabric.

Thanks Rachel and sackerson... pure fun! once you get started it is hard to stop.

Hi Faye, Glad things have calmed down a bit for you. This year will be a busy turning point in your life. Now you can enjoy your family even more!

Thanks Janice, You were a big inspiration when you created two pair of pants, lickity-split.. Wow... I was very impressed and began searching out lengths of fabric in my cupboard. Thanks for the push!

Arija said...

It is so nice when the younger generation appreciate what we make for them and Max looks great in both shirts. We too have a decent collection of sewing machines from my mother's 1927 Singer hand operated one that she lugged with her when fleeing the invading Russian army with three children in tow, to a heavy duty one that sews leather.
What you call a flat fell seam we call a French seam. I always finished my garments inside and out too. No much neater, more durable and much, much nicer to wear.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Arija, Max is learning to use the sewing machine and wants to make garments too...so far,he has used it to sew pages together for a book.
Your mother was a wise woman to take her machine, even though it must have been a heavy lug. She knew how important it was. It was probably a woman's most valuable tool at the time. You have a wonderful, useful, historical keepsake!

sandy said...

YOu are SOOOOOOO talented and I can't believe how grown up Max is now and a very good looking guy in that wonderful shirt you made him.

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