Hope all’s well in your world? We’ve had one of those rather hectic weeks of juggling childcare around school holidays; I drew the short straw and had to go to work all week whilst Beth spent her time between Daddy and Nana. But tomorrow’s all mine so hopefully the sunshine will hold and we can get outside for a while.
So, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know there’s been quite a lot of sewing going on of late, and as usual I’m hugely behind on the blogging front. There are a couple of posts I really have to get done, potentially ones that may see the light of day before this one, but I wanted to get my thoughts down on this first.
So, this post is all about my very first sewing project for my other half.
Given that the reason a lot of people sew is problems with fit in RTW clothes, and that my husband is almost a foot taller than me at 6’6″, the fact that this is my first sewing project for him may come as a surprise. Add in the fact that he has all his suits hand tailored for work (to avoid that school boy growing out of his uniform look) and you either get really surprised, or you realise that he has REALLY high standards. He’s also a labels man, generally preferring his casual wear to come emblazoned with men riding horses, aligators or other such higher end logos.
So he’s never shown the slightest interest in me sewing for him and has indeed looked quite horrified at the thought (thanks, love!) But for some reason I decided that Valentine’s Day was the time to aim at making him a shirt.
I don’t know why. Certainly we’re not big on romance in the general scheme of things. But I decided that, given my recent shirt making spree (more of that in later blog posts), it was past time I made something for him.
I subscribe to Seamwork magazine and have done almost since it launched, which means that I have had quite a lot of pattern credits lounging about. I was just about at the point of stopping subscribing until I’d caught up a bit, when they decided to allow you to exchange 3 Seamwork credits for a single Colette pattern. I now own Rue and Mabel. But I also decided to download the Walden Negroni pattern, and print it out (which took some time!)
In Manchester the other weekend with Sally, I picked up some navy blue poplin with a delicate cream floral pattern in John Lewis and bought the required 2.5m and matching buttons. And I was all set!
The first thing I did was to make some pattern alterations. This was slightly tricky; although I’d managed to get Rich to let me measure him, I hadn’t really wanted him to know any details of what I was making. But thankfully, one of the measurements I had taken was the length of back measurement, 35″. Comparing this to the pattern measurements, I decided to add a full 2″ to the length of the bodice at the lengthen/shorten lines. I also graded out between sizes on the hips and then reduced the collar depth.
I did this by comparing the pattern piece to a RTW casual shirt he loves and realising the RTW shirt collar was A LOT smaller. I roughly lined up the pattern piece, allowed for seam allowances, and hacked off over an inch along the outside edge of the pattern piece and hoped for the best.
Then I went to cut out my fabric. And realised that adding 2″ to a bodice has quite an impact on how fabric hungry your pattern is, especially when your fabric is quite narrow. However much pattern tetris I played, I could not get all the pieces to fit onto the fabric I had bought, and I was making the short sleeved version of the shirt so couldn’t save anything that way.
After a reasonable amount of quiet swearing (I’m not normally quiet but I wasn’t sure the kids were asleep!) I decided the best thing I could do would be to cut everything but one of the two yoke pieces out, as that would be on the inside anyway. I hunted through the fabric stash for an appropriate candidate but everything suddenly looked a lot girlier than usual!
My local habberdashery, the Fabbadashery in Halifax, saved the day; a quick dash in there at the end of the working day resulted in my buying the negative of the exact same fabric, cream with a navy floral. And suddenly my error looks like a design feature!
Actually sewing the shirt was a little time consuming but relatively straightforward. I found the instructions pretty clear and actually one of the hardest things was dealing with the effect that teeny tiny floral pattern had on my eyes! I definitely had eye strain at the end of each sewing session.
The pattern includes some new techniques, including my first attempt at proper (as opposed to faux) flat felled seams. They are a little fussy, but I really like the look of them and I think they would probably make the garment a lot stronger.
I finished the shirt on the 13th and couldn’t wait to see whether it fit. It does, and actually he really seems to like it, which is nothing short of incredible really! And it is so amazingly nice to see him in something which is truly long enough in the body.
Rich is that very rare thing, a tall man who is truly in proportion with himself (as opposed to just having really long legs) and it’s normal for his tops to just reach past his belt; he looks so much more comfortable in something which reaches his hips without being so wide his torso’s swimming around in several yards of spare fabric.
I’m not sure I’d want to commit to meeting all his shirt making needs (like I said, time consuming! and also he has very conservative tastes in fabric, which might be boring to sew) but I’d definitely make another one. Possibly with a few minor tweaks.
You know, if he asked very nicely. Possibly with prosecco?