Sunday, 31 May 2015

Cotton shirt #2

I am now the owner of three ruffly shirts! Altogether I've made 12 shirts in my lifetime, but this is only the third shirt I've made that is meant to fit me and is actually good enough to wear.
The first of these 3 shirts is getting really worn out.
 It's made from what little shirt cotton I had leftover from my line, which meant I had to piece the sleeves.
You can't see it in the pictures, but it's actually 2 slightly different cottons.
I couldn't get enough for 6 shirts in the exact same fabric.
 Most of it is machine sewn. The gathering is by hand because it works so much better that way.
The ruffles are cut on the selvedge.
I overlapped and basted them together in the middle so the slit wouldn't be any wider than necessary.
I put a whole lot of whipstitching on the bottom edge of the slit for reinforcement, because that part is tearing quite badly on my other shirt.

The collar is hand finished on the inside and front edges.
 I made a whole bunch of thread buttons. I've gotten pretty good at making them!
A partly formed button on a little bone awl.
When I make these I wax my thread, iron it between paper so the wax sinks in, then give it a couple more swipes with the wax. I've started making them a bit fatter and pulling the stitches tighter. It makes them so dense and hard they feel like pebbles.
I have to use pliers to sew the little X's on the backs.
I like to leave the thread tails long and braid them together in convenient bunches.
Buttons of various colours, intended for linen shirts of various colours.
 Since it's so similar to my other shirts there isn't much point to posting a lot of construction photos.
The finished cuff with three buttons. Two wasn't enough because they are very tiny buttons.
 The sleeves are attached with French seams. All the others are flat felled.
The collar. Too bad the buttons aren't as white as the fabric.
 The only hand finishing is on the collar, cuffs, hem, buttons and buttonholes.  Other than that (and the gathering) it's all machine sewn. This isn't something I would have done before, but I had quite a lot of practice making my line, and I learned that sewing machines aren't actually evil.
It turns out you can even put little hem gussets on by machine without too much fuss.
 Since shirts are a very practical thing this fits nicely with this months HSF theme.
It's a rather long shirt. Were it not tucked into my pants it would cover my butt quite adequately.

The Challenge: #5: Practicality. (The first one I've done this year.)
Fabric: Two mostly similar plain white cottons.
Pattern: The same as I used for this shirt, but with slightly longer ruffles.
Year: Second half of the 18th century. Probably a good chunk of the first half too.
Notions: Linen thread, polyester thread, beeswax.
How historically accurate is it? The overall look, the pattern, and general construction method are fairly accurate. The material (aside from the buttons) and the machine sewing are not.
Hours to complete: I can't say for sure, but probably about 10- 14.
First worn: Today.
Total cost: Nothing I guess? It was all stuff I had already.
 It's a very comfortable shirt. The collar isn't too tight, and I didn't mangle the buttonholes like I did last time.
A view of the piecing seam on the sleeve.
 I still need to make more shirts! 3 is much better than 2, but it's still not very many shirts.
My claws were in a terrible state over the winter
but the weather has warmed up and they're recovering nicely.
Pants are also a thing I need to make. My first pair has completely worn out and now I'm back down to 1.
For someone who does so much sewing I've got a pretty pathetic wardrobe.


  1. Very nice shirt and I'm totally amazed by your handmade buttons.

  2. I enjoy following your blog but have been really poor at commenting (belated congratulations on your line, it looks great!).

    Your shirt is very handsome, and the little buttons are so pretty! It struck me that I've read about a neck slit reinforcement that you might want to try - in "L'art de la lingerie" (by M. de Garsault, 1769), it says you cut a 2" square and shape it into a heart, fold the edges under and stitch it to the bottom of the slit (see image at - if the top edge was just straight in the middle it would be stronger than a true heart shape, though).

    1. Ohh, yes! I remember seeing that on a shirt diagram once. I'd forgotten about it. Thank you for reminding me!
      I think I'll add one.

  3. Nice looking shirt. And you really are getting good at the buttons. I guess practice at just about anything does that.

  4. Looks fantastic, and you look handsome in it! :D