Feeling continental


So with this post, I’m playing catchup (again!) Sorry about this, it seems that I’m sewing faster than I’m writing just at the moment.  Part of that is that the sewing tackles stress for me far more efficiently than does the writing, and right now there’s a fair amount of stress to tackle!  Also, there are deadlines; holidays, wedding invitations, children growing, me shrinking…..all of these things require new clothes more than they require new blog posts!

However, right now I’m pinned to my computer, waiting to be able to make my FastPass+ bookings for our DisneyWorld holiday (no, I couldn’t be any more excited, yes, I can’t believe our luck, no I’m not looking forward to managing my skin and the children’s in Florida in August!) so I thought I’d sneak in a quick post.

You’re feeling valued as a reader now, right?

So on the downside, this is a recent make only in that it’s this year.  On the plus side, that means I’ve worn it quite a few times so I can comment more on changes / likes / dislikes.

The pattern is the Deer and Doe Melilot.  I bought this very quickly after release, as I saw a couple of inspiring, very wearable versions by What Katie Sews

I was then talked into it on Instagram by https://www.instagram.com/louiseeeeeml/ having initially doubted my ability to make such a complex garment.

I think in some ways my trepidation was earned! However, I do love the finished article and I learned a lot, so there’s that.

Let’s start with the fabric.  I chose some planetary print shirting from Fabworks. I actually picked it up as a (beautifully wrapped!) remnant whilst in the shop one day; it said it had a possible fault but at £7 for almost 2m of fabric, I figured it was worth the risk.  It’s a pure cotton and it’s beautifully light, soft and smooth but holds a press nicely; a great choice for a shirt actually!

I opted to make the short sleeved version with the mandarin collar, both because I thought this collar would be easier and because I didn’t really want the formality of the proper stand collar first time out.

This was probably a good call, as I didn’t exactly get it all right!

I bought the paper pattern and it’s lovely packaging.  You get instructions booklets in both English and French.  Separately.  DO NOT panic if the first thing you pull out of the packet is the French version (ask me how I know…)

The instructions are clear but on the non-verbal side of brief! As this was my first attempt at making a shirt, this did result in several instances of my sitting scratching my head, muttering and trying to figure out what was going on.  Google is your friend at this point, people!

I traced and cut a straight size 40, and this is where I made my first mistake.  The longsleeved version is shown with a hidden button band whereas the button band is visible on the short sleeved version.  There is some VERY SMALL writing on the pattern, indicating that, should you not be making the hidden button band, you should cut at a different point.

I totally missed that and consequently cut my front pieces too big.

Then, when I came to attach my collar, I ran out of collar stand before I ran out of shirt to fasten it to.


With lots of Instagram support (and I’ve realised all my blog posts pretty much include that phrase, so thank you again if you follow me there!) I worked out what had happened and kind of corrected it by doing some extra folding over of edges.  However, the shirt has come out with a slightly off centre feel to it, so in hindsight I think I may only have done this to one side of the front and not both! #liveandlearn

What I haven’t yet got my head around is how the collar stand fits given I didn’t adjust both shirt fronts? But that’s a problem for another day!

There are a lot of buttonholes on this garment.  I would say if you don’t like buttonholes, don’t even pick this pattern up!  However, with the magic automatic buttonhole setting on my machine, combined for once with appropriate weight fabric, we sailed through that bit!  The buttons can give the effect of being slightly wonky but having measured them, I think it’s because I chose very bright buttons on a dark background which are very pale in comparison.

The buttons were an incredibly cheap bonus pick up from Scrap! in Leeds, 10p a sheet for 6 buttons. Can’t really go wrong with that, can you?

Another time again, I would work harder getting the finish on the bottom edge of the shirt perfectly even and neat.  However, in this instance, I did the whole thing in the day, including major stress over the collar mix up and correction and by the time I got to finishing, I just wanted done! So it’s not perfect, but it’s OK.

Despite the drama, I really like this pattern.  It’s cut beautifully, I really like the slim fit effect; it’s close enough to be flattering without being constrictive.  I’ve been wearing it both tucked into a skirt for work and with skinny jeans casually, or loose over tailored trousers for work, and felt good in it every time, which is a total win as far as I’m concerned.

When time permits to approach it slowly and get it finish and the collar spot on, there will be another one of these.  There is something very satisfying about the amount of precise sewing it calls for, topstitching collars and buttonbands and the like, and I really enjoy the finished garment.

There will also be more Deer and Doe patterns, not least because I’ve booked myself onto a course to make the Datura blouse at the Village Haberdashery next month on a free day in London thanks to work.  I’m fairly sure I could have confidently tackled this on my own, but I think being in a class environment might enable me to get that extra polished finish and also give me the confidence to try the cut out neckline rather than the collar.

You’d never guess I had a ceremonial bonfire of all my notes after my French GCSE exams, would you? 😉

Becca x

15 thoughts on “Feeling continental

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    1. Me too! Taking advantage of a Friday work trip to London, it’s not nearly so expensive if they’re paying my train fare home and all I have to fund is an overnight hotel. It’s still pricey but not as bad x

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Lovely shirt, I have been trying to decide whether to give this pattern a go and think I will go for it. Thanks for the useful info. It fits you really well


  2. Sewing is a great way to get away from stresses isn’t it. Well until something doesn’t go right but I find that’s another sort of stress which we can unpick & redo…. Pity we can’t do that in our other lives too!!
    Fabric is great & blouse fits you well😃 Sounds like you learnt a lot too. Enjoy your class, I love the opportunity to sew with other likeminded people


    1. I’m really looking forward to it and it fits in well with my holiday sewing plans. I really like classes like this which focus on making a particular garment so you know you’ll walk away with something in particular, rather than it being about zips or finishing or whatever. They seem rather scarce up North so it’s nice to have found one I can tag onto a work trip!


  3. Anyone who tackles all those buttonholes is brave in my view! I’m not a big fan of collars on me so I really like the look of this style. Enjoy your course at VH – a night away too, sounds wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ahh I loved this blouse the minute I saw you post it on Instagram! The fabric is amazing! (Think I’m due a Fabworks trip soon…) Also Scrap is so great isn’t it? I bough 4metres of lovely blue waffle knit fabric for £8 the other week.
    Hope your Disney planning is going well 🙂 x


    1. I’ve never bought Fabric in there before but the button bins are great: my 3 year old will happily sit and sort through them for ages, having a right good rummage, they don’t mind a bit and I can have a proper look round! I’m always due a Fabworks trip! Trying not to think about Disney planning too much, so much sewing on the to do list! X


  5. This looks great! I really like the collar actually even though I wasn’t sure when I first saw the pattern. I similarly screwed up the collar and shirt/placket width on my Sewaholic Granville but it all turned out OK in the end… well, if not being able to do the top bottom up counts as OK. Anyway, this is a fab make I think, the fabric is nice too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m never sure with mistakes like that whether it really is a disaster or whether it’s all you see because you know it’s there! Still, I already have some fabric mentally lined up for the next version so hopefully that will be closer to right. I’ve been tempted by the Granville but not risked it yet, I don’t think my skills are there yet. Maybe it’s a good goal for next year!


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