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Adventures in amateur sewing

Flannel shirt


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The quest for perfection: or just another button-down

Pattern: Granville shirt by SewaholicSewaholic Granville Shirt pattern

Skills acquired:

  • Flat-felled arms
  • Patience

It’s gonna be different this time.

Or at least that is what I told myself when I purchased yet another 3 yards of plaid flannel. I wanted to make another flannel shirt, one that I could be proud of. I had made 2 before that were okay but had some obvious imperfections. This time I was going to do it right – I was going to practice the techniques making a muslin with some cheaper fabric and make sure I knew what I was doing before I stitched into the flannel. I used the Granville shirt pattern from Sewaholic since I had really liked the fit on the flannel shirt I attempted before. I made it a size smaller since I wanted a more fitted look and I had obviously made it too large last time.

What I really wanted to accomplish was flat-felled seams on the whole shirt. I had tried this with the first shirt, but I found it difficult when installing the arms in the arm hole. It got a bit messy. When I attempted it on the second shirt, it looked so bad that I just unpicked it and sewed them in using my serger, abandoning the whole flat-felled looked for the arms. I cheated. This time, I wanted to get it right so I asked someone I knew who had successfully done this on a flannel shirt of her own. She directed me to this online tutorial. Aha! It all made sense now.

It had been a long time since I had made a real button-down shirt, so I had to re-learn a few things, which made me glad I had this practice fabric. One of those techniques was sewing up the yoke, as I always forget how you sew up the two yoke pieces to enclose the seams.

Installing a yoke

Luckily there are great online resources that will show you how you are supposed to roll up the shirt and sew the shoulder seams, such as this Crafty blog. Surprisingly, the Sewaholic site didn’t include a detailed tutorial on this.

Sewing up a yoke

sewing up a yoke

The trick here is rolling the shirt pieces up so that when you sew the shoulders together, you can pull the shirt through the neckline.Sewing the yoke- pulling the material through

The finished yoke comes out great, using this method, and seams and finished nicely without too much effort.Finished yokeSince the muslin came out so good, I immediately tried this on the real shirt.

Sewing up the yoke

Success! Pretty soon it was time for the dreaded sleeves. As excited as I was to try out the new technique from that tutorial right away, I knew that I needed to test it out on the practice shirt. Things were going so well, no need to lose patience now.

flat-felled seams on the sleeves

It wasn’t perfect, but I was definitely getting the hang of it. This definitely helped my second attempt come out a lot better.

Sewing in the sleeve

The difference between the shirts was in the fabric – flannel is thicker, therefore more trimming needed to be done to make sure the arm seam didn’t get too bulky. I was happy with the result.

sewing in the sleeve

 

A new found confidence that this shirt would be as close to perfection as I could get it began to take over. However, there was one more obstacle, the collar. I didn’t have much a problem installing collars in the past, so I didn’t worry about it too much. Unfortunately this ended up being my undoing.

I don’t have many pictures of my errors due to frustration, but with the practice shirt I ended up not measuring the opening on the collar stand correctly, causing it to stick out in parts. Oh well, it was just a practice shirt anyway. When I started on the other shirt, I was so focused on my previous collar stand mistake,  I didn’t realize I was putting the collar in backwards. I had to pick out the stitches and try again. I used the online tutorials, but was still getting confused as to how the collar actually was supposed to be sewn into the stand. Which side? And why was the bottom folded? In all, I ended up re-installing that collar 3 times, and because I had trimmed it twice, the end result was a collar that was not even on both sides. Sigh, there goes attempted perfection.

Flannel shirt

Despite the mistakes, I do believe it’s the best flannel shirt I’ve made to date. The sizing ended up being perfect, so at least I had that going for me.  This time I remembered to measure and shorten the sleeves, which tend to be long with this pattern. I’ve been wearing it all winter, no problem and have even gotten a few compliments on it.

In the meantime, the quest for near-perfection continues. I have 2 more shirts cut out. One happens to be flannel.

I will do this until I get it right.

 

Flannel shirt

Back of flannel shirt

This shirt also contains a yoke, cut on the bias for a more interesting look. The inner yoke is cut straight to prevent stretching more than normal.

 

Placket on sleeve

This is also my best placket to date. This one features the “house” shape which I like very much.


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A tribute to lounge wear – a few variations

Patterns: Sewaholic Tofino pants, McCalls M6681 & free-form pantsSewaholic Tofino

Skills acquired:

  • Adding pockets
  • Piping 

I’ve made some PJ pants in my time, in fact I’ve made a lot recently.  I decided to consolidate them all in one post, for more efficiency (another one of my job skills – companies take note!).

Pajama pants are probably the most basic garment there is.  It’s the perfect thing to make when you are first learning to sew.  You don’t really need a pattern, there are no zippers and they are made from basic cotton fabric.  There are ways to dress them up and build off the simple design, but for the most part there is nothing easier.  The most basic patterns have two pieces for the front and two for the back.  These all get sewn up pretty much how you would imagine (even the order doesn’t matter too much) and you end up with two legs.  The waistband gets folded down, an elastic is added, the pant legs are hemmed…and voila!  Something you can lounge around in that you made all your own.

Put it in your pocket

I wanted to make my boyfriend a new pair of lounge pants since I felt like I could improve upon the pants I had made him a while back.  He said to me, “If you do make another pair, could you add pockets?”  Hmmm…this was something I never thought of.  There aren’t too many patterns out there that include pockets on such a garment and I didn’t really trust myself to figure this out on my own.  I found this handy tutorial online and decided to experiment with some pants I was going to make myself, just so I could get it right.  I had a remnant of flannel which I really liked, although I did not have enough to make full length, which is why these are cropped.

PJ Pocket pants

It was all pretty straightforward, however I kept messing up because I had a hard time Continue reading


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The flannel shirt A/B test

Pattern: Grainline Studio Archer shirt

A/B testing is kind of my thing.  I did this a lot at my former job and it’s always exciting to me when I get real results from an idea or theory.  I’m a total nerd for data.  Back when I was just toying with the idea of making a flannel shirt I had bought two different independent shirt patterns and couldn’t decide which one to use.

Sewaholic VS Grainline

I did some initial reading up on both patterns, and made the decision to start with the Sewaholic Granville shirt because the pattern was designed for pear-shaped bodies (like mine).  I liked the result, shown in my previous post, but I couldn’t help but wonder how the shirt would look using the other pattern.  Well, the only way to know for sure is to test it out.

Hypothesis: The Sewaholic Granville shirt pattern is the better pattern for making a plaid flannel shirt

Now this obviously cannot be a real A/B test since there are a lot of factors in this test that make it imperfect and not scientific.  We all know that the first attempt at something has the most learning curve and so some techniques that were new to me when making the Granville shirt, were more familiar when making the Archer shirt.  Also the material I used for the Archer shirt was a lot cheaper, in price and quality, so the overall result would be slightly different no matter what.  There is no way to hold all conditions equal for this experiment, but I decided to still test out the following parameters:

  • Ease of pattern directions
  • Garment details
  • Overall fit and look

Ease of Pattern Directions

Both patterns have clear directions that could help anyone making their first button-down shirt.  The drawings are all well done and precise.  I did find it strange that the Grainline pattern didn’t specify which drawing referred to the interfacing cutting layout.  There is Continue reading


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Waffle Knit: It’s not just for breakfast anymore

Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew topRenfrew

What do you do with mis-matched fabric?

I bought this fabric a while back because I really liked the waffle-like knit texture it had.  It reminded me of one of my favorite winter shirts.  One that now has a giant hole in it – probably from over-wear.   However, when I brought the fabric up to the register, I noticed the colors were off.  There was a whole section that was missing one of the colors.  The fabric was so soft and perfect for a thermal shirt I wanted to make, that I negotiated a price reduction and bought it anyway.  It would be at least be good to make as a muslin, right?

discolored fabric

I was able to cut out the front and back out from the fully colored section, but I had to cut the arms out on the faded Continue reading

Crescent Skirt


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Coming back from leave…with a leaf skirt!

Pattern: Sewaholic Crescent Skirt

New Skills Acquired:

  • Bound seams

Well I don’t know what happened.  I got super busy in August and September and put my sewing on hold. Then all of a sudden it was December and I hadn’t gone near my blog, not even to read posts from my favorite bloggers.  It’s not like I haven’t been sewing – I have been working on projects here and there when I find a spare weekend.  In fact this skirt I am writing about was actually made in September and I had even started a post about it.  Well these things happen.  Sometimes you get so focused on the constant making that you don’t take a step back to write and reflect on what you have accomplished.  I felt so behind in the projects I wanted to finish this summer that I kept pushing through and I let my laptop collect dust.  But now we return to our regularly scheduled blog post, already in progress…..

What a difference the right pattern makes!  With my last skirt a fitting failure, Continue reading

plaids


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Anti-fashion in a new age: the improved flannel shirt

Pattern: Sewaholic Granville shirt (1501)Sewaholic Granville Shirt pattern

New skills acquired

  • Plackets
  • Collar & collar stand
  • Flat-felled seams

I grew up in the 90’s. This was the decade where I awkwardly lived out my teen years and a few young adult years as well.  Say what you will about the grunge music movement, but for a self-conscious pre-teen who had spent most of her childhood bullied mercilessly, that music felt like ecstasy inside my head.  I remember spending many hours listening to Nirvana’s Nevermind over and over to try to numb my pain.  And I actually spent an entire family vacation to Arizona with the Pearl Jam Vs. album constantly pumping into my ears.  People say that music was depressing, but life can be depressing when you become a teenager.  The music mirrored all my thoughts and feelings about growing up and trying to find my place in a world that didn’t seem to want me.   And the flannel!  Flannel shirts were the style – a part of the anti-fashion movement that was sweeping the country. We were no longer going to spend money on brand names and store logos.  We would look in thrift shops and re-purpose old clothes from our parents.  It was casual and comfortable and a way to rebel against corporations.

I miss my flannel shirts.

Anyways, this fashion craze was all finished when I went on to college. Continue reading