The White Shirt, Finished

I should’ve guessed that the thing that would come between me and a white garment would be coffee. Not one, not two, but three coffee spills today. (If there’s a leak in a coffee cup, it’ll find me.)

Then there was a little seam-ripper incident. I’m happily at the very end of things, finishing buttonholes and such, when I suddenly notice droplets of blood on my table, on my pattern pieces, on my buttons. My eyes race toward the shirt which of course had a trail of said droplets from the armpit to the cuffs.

I want to live in this shirt, not baby it, and I definitely I lived in this today. I’m not breaking any new glamorizons with this thing but it is the absolutely perfect drapey, comfy, throw-on-over-anything shirt. I really love the fabric, a weightier rayon twill from Dharma Trading. It’s like a cross between a soft cotton and a silk.

I absolutely adore the styling on this pattern, although Danger to those with Big Bosoms–do not attempt these pockets. They are HUGE and flop and drop about, making the whole effect much more there. Which is just fine on me.

This was my second attempt at a Burda mag pattern and while I love the styling, both pattern and instructions could use some help. Their magazine instructions are notoriously cursory, and sometimes flat out confusing in translation. But with all the sewing tutorials floating around the interwebs, who needs instructions?

I could not have done without these:

Turn of Cloth Allowance: one of the clearest explanations about turn of cloth or bend allowance. You’ll want to draft a separate under collar if the shirt pattern has only one collar piece (and this one did). It’s really easy to do.

Collar on Stand: I’m thinking it takes a bit of practice to make any collar look really clean but I thought this method eliminated a lot of extra fussing (or hand-sewing, ugh). There’s a slightly different, but similar-result-looking tutorial at Off the Cuff (you have to rummage around for parts 2 and 3 of this).

Attaching a Shirt Cuff: this is so easy and my cuffs turned out so beautifully!

(There is also another shirt cuff tutorial over at Fashion Incubator which uses the same technique but shows it on a more traditional cuff.)

Even after all these helpful tutorials, this was still a first shirt-making project and so loads of things went wrong. Blood, coffee, odd buttons whose color seemed to match inside but once outside almost clashed (white clashing with white, hmmm), terribly eased sleeves (I hate big sleeve ease and it seems like Burda has a lot), pocket flaps that didn’t quite cover the pockets (the pattern’s fault)–setbacks like this often end up in some theatrical sabotaging wherein I do something like throw the entire project and everything near it into some liquid where it will forever be unsalvageable.

I’m a tragic perfectionist, and not just with sewing. But, but, but I had a blast sewing this shirt. And exactly because I went at it like a trial run and took every step with curiosity rather than drive.

I’m always looking in garden design books for inspiration and ideas and often I tire of absolutely perfectly pruned, serene, photographic gardens, in which every plant is mature and which never seem to be in winter. One of my favorite magazines recently made a point of photographing desert-climate gardens in their barren seasons–so double the barrenness–because, the writer explained, the best gardens have strong “bones” that still show the garden even out of season.

In a like spirit, I show to you the crumpled shirt, the shirt that was certainly pressed but went through tucked and untucked, rolled up and unrolled all day long. That is the shirt I want to see. Annie Hall would be proud!


  1. MeiluMary says:

    The shirt looks great. I admire your spirit of inquiry and your tenacity. I sew quite a bit – but still tend to find shirts tedious and a bit scary. Enjoy wearing it.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Mary – thanks so much! Ha, yes, I’m rather tenacious. I can imagine shirts getting tedious after awhile. There are only so many details one can change about them. But as a first, it was pretty fun! Hopefully I can learn enough to make some great ones for my husband, who loves fashion about as much as me and has a hard time finding shirts that really suit him.

  2. Tanit-Isis says:

    This looks amazing on—good work! Love the back pleat, too. I live in envy of people who can throw on these roomy garments and make them look stunning—I just look like I’m wearing a tent ;).

    • Amy says:

      Thanks! I’ve had some serious tent moments. I work at home so I end up wearing smocky stuff more than I want to… but I have all these big cinchy belts that keep me from ballooning away.

  3. Wanett says:

    It looks amazing!!! It sucks that the pattern was so lacking, but great job finding so many useful tutorials! I’m pinning this for future reference.

  4. Muriel says:

    Hi Amy!
    Love the shirt! Would you mind posting the Burda pattern #? I could only hope to make one as beautiful!

Comments are closed.