I am using cotton-covered polyester thread to sew the shirts, and the buttonholes in this thread were not the best.  The stitching on the right side was a lot looser than the left side and sometimes the center space was way too small.


When I looked at a commercially-made shirt, it looked like they were using a much thinner thread.  I decided to try some Maxi-Lock thread in both the bobbin and top threading but using the same needle and buttonhole foot.  Here’s the buttonhole produced:


Much better!

Been sewing up a storm here.  Here are the first two husband shirts modeled by the man himself during the cool early morning hours (the thermometer said 110 yesterday afternoon).

DSC00550This is the Victoria Jones Hawaiian shirt 210 pattern.  This pattern has lots of great ready-to-wear features like the folded front bands and french seams.  The side vents are nicely drafted, too.  I changed the seam allowances on the collars and neckline and used the felled seam technique that I mentioned earlier (http://off-the-cuff-style.blogspot.com/2010/10/tutorial-felled-shoulder-seam-technique.html).  He really likes this shirt and has already worn it a lot.


DSC00554This shirt, a Simplicity vintage pattern, is made from a length of Hawaiian cotton fabric I found at a local thrift store a few years ago.  I had barely enough for the shirt, but look how nicely the pattern accidentally matched across the front!  I felled the seams on the sleeves using the regular 5/8 seam allowances the pattern calls for which required a bit of hand basting, but I was pleased at how well it turned out.  These sleeves have a higher sleeve cap than more modern shirt patterns so I wasn’t sure it would work.  I grafted the side vents from the Victoria Jones pattern onto this pattern.

Here’s the vintage Simplicity pattern which will now be a TNT for the spouse’s more casual sport shirts:


Here are the new fabrics we have for future shirts.  Two of them were Father’s Day gifts from A, and the other is the one I found.

Fullscreen capture 7262014 105115 AM

Shirt One

The first shirt seems to be a success.  I used a dark gray and white striped cotton shirting fabric from the deep deep stash. The spouse was pleased with it, and he wore it for our getaway to Reno this last weekend.  I thought lowering the neckline and adjusting the collar and stand would be a difficult alteration but it turned out to be easy.  All in all, the shirt fits really well, and he likes it.  Now I can start sewing the fun fabric.


While in Reno we went to Mill End Fabrics which is a big warehouse full of sewing notions and fabrics.  My brain gets overwhelmed when presented with such a huge variety of selections, so I only got one piece of Hawaiian fabric for another shirt.  When we were in a different department store in town, I looked at the upscale shirts for men to see how they were put together.  The shirts looked nearly identical in construction and design to the pattern I used, but  I liked the nice neat buttonholes on those shirts so I think I will try using a thinner thread for my next buttonholes so they don’t look so hefty.   I’m going to try Maxi Lock thread on the next shirt’s buttonholes.

I tried the new-to-me method of sewing on the collar and stand (http://behindtheseams.wordpress.com/2006/05/24/collar-on-stand-part-1/) but I just couldn’t make it work for me and had to go back to my usual method which requires a lot of hand sewing.  I’ll have to try the new method again in a thinner fabric.  Thinking about the collar and stand made me remember some UFOs that are cut out and waiting to be sewn.  They are women’s shirts with short sleeves, so I found one and am now almost finished with the first one.  These shirts have a one-piece collar and stand combo.

First Fitting

The shirt was finished except for the buttons and the spouse tried it on.  Here’s my list of alterations:

1.  Add width to the fronts (About 1 7/16″ on each side.  I don’t know why the two fronts added together were so much narrower than the back.

2.  I traced the side vent wrong, so fix that.

3.  Change seam allowances of the armholes and the sleeve top to try  this technique:


UPDATE:  I’m going to be using this on all his shirts because it looks great and is fairly easy to do.

4.  Enlarge neckline slightly and lower front neckline 1″.

5.  Enlarge collar and stand patterns so they fit the new neckline.

6.  The pocket is a bit small so use the pocket from another pattern.

I like to get up early and do the finicky pattern work because then the day starts and it’s like it never even happened.  Also, it’s cooler in the sewing room then.

This week has involved lots of time in the kitchen.  I made plum jam, apricot jam, pickle relish, and three big batches of pesto.  Not bad for a drought year.  We used to have a big apricot tree, but it blew down in a storm about 20 years ago.  This is the first year we have had enough apricots to make a batch of jam in a long time.


Shirts and Plums



This is as far as I have gotten on the shirt.  I did make the spouse try it on and discovered that men cling to the idea of what size they wear for years without really considering that it might have changed.  It turns out that the neckline he had in college is not the same neckline he has now, go figure.  He had been complaining that he can’t wear a tie with the shirts he bought recently but rather than considering that it was his neck that had changed, he thought something was wrong with the shirts.  The rest of this shirt fits well so I am reading up on how to make the neckline larger while leaving the rest of the shirt pretty much the same.  It doesn’t look like the alteration is too hard, just cutting down the neckline slightly and then making the collar and stand pieces longer so that they fit.

The reason not much sewing is going on around here is that everything is ripe all at once.  We picked the plums (by ‘we’, I mean ‘he’) and I made jam.  Then the apricots were ready and I made jam out of those, too. Then the cucumbers decided to produce 8 lbs in one day, so I made the pickle relish for next year.  Next up will be the applesauce and the pesto.


In between bouts of preserving, the debris left from our new shelves and the reorganization of the sewing room is gradually being reduced.  The living room is starting to look like a room instead of a storage unit, and the number of boxes in the house is much smaller.  It really is wonderful to have all my cookbooks and sewing books in plain view and easy to get to.

Moving Books

After I had all the books and binders put away in the new/old shelves in the sewing room, I needed a fitting book.  My best books are in a nearly inaccessible stack in another room, so I had the not-too-brilliant thought to put the books I use the most in the shelves and replace the stack with books I seldom use.  This was quickly done and made me very happy.  My reorganized sewing room is not a decorator’s delight, but as I told my daughter, it is a working room, not a showplace.  I like knowing where my stuff is and knowing that most of the extra stuff I will never use is now gone.  Also, I am one of those creative people who thrive in semi-chaos.  Or so I tell myself.DSC00519My husband had the idea to get clear storage zip-closed containers for the yarn from the Container Store, and it really looks much better than the garbage bags I was using before.   It’s now possible for me to get into the closet and to access the shelf with my vintage knitting pamphlets.  Now that this big job is pretty much done, it’s time to actually make something.

DSC00515This is the hopefully ‘wearable’ muslin for the husband’s shirt.  I was just going to quick-sew a muslin, but the spouse likes the fabric, so I will go ahead and make the shirt for real.

DSC00516My goal for today is to sew the pocket on and press under the front plackets, heat permitting.  Today is supposed to be a little cooler so we will see how it goes.  It’s a little annoying that fans and sewing don’t mix.  They may keep you cool, but they blow your patterns and small fabric pieces all over the room.

Finally got the cutting table back into the sewing room.  No sewing going on yet, though, since I have to trace off the shirt pattern before making the first try.  Hopefully, men are not as hard to fit.  Here’s the pattern I am using:


I got this pattern at the craft thrift store and read some good reviews about it.  It has just what the husband wants:  short sleeves, one pocket on the left side, a straight bottom edge with side vents, and no flapping facing.  I’m not going to add the buttonholes for the button-down collar because if the spouse wants a button-down collar he can go buy a shirt.  The pattern seems to be wider through the chest and narrows into the hips, so I’ll just have to make one up and see if that works for the spouse.

Fullscreen capture 5292014 53554 PMMy husband likes the bee fabric used in the shirt given to him by the grateful client, so we have been talking about what kind of prints he would like besides Hawaiian prints, which everybody likes.  A new Hobby Lobby just opened up in our town, and it has the most lovely fabric department.  I happened to notice the ‘Now Open” sign early on opening day so I stopped in and found this fabric:

DSC00506This is perfect since my husband loves a road trip.  I’m still tracing the pattern so it will be another day or so before I can cut out the practice shirt.


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