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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Never too many white shirts

Thanks for all the great feedback yesterday. 

There were a couple of things I would like to respond to over the next few days, but what I most interested me was that the idea of sewing a multitude of white shirts resonated.

It is always nice to know, when you suspect you have lost it, that aren't the only one.

I have been thinking this over and these are my reasons for my own white shirt mission (feel free to sew-along if you want-send me your link and I will post it here if you want) and white shirt thoughts in general, if I am missing anything let me know.

Ten reasons to sew ten white shirts:

1. Who ever looked a a white shirt in her closet and said "damn I don't have anything to wear with this"?

2. These are true wearable muslins. A white shirt allows a sewer to focus on technique and fit - and what you learn on these shirts/blouses can be transferred to other fabric.

3. In what other garment can you make many things from the exact same fabric? Multiple white shirts are cost effective, yardage, and notions saving.

4. You can wear a white shirt year round. Under a vest or cardigan in winter; as a sun cover suit in summer.

5. They don't really ever go out of style - unless the details are really crazy - but I would argue the white shirtedness extends shelf life.

6. They use classic fabrics, some of which you don't sew with any more. Pique, voile, swiss dot, broadcloth, oxford cloth, pima cotton, kona cotton. There is a bit of retro sewing process going on here,

7. The majority of white shirts are cotton. Easy to press and to sew. Plus you get that great satisfying steam coming off of the cotton - a cultural experience. Our culture.

8. It is easy to add details to a TNT - get a great fitting body and cuffs, sleeves, collars can be interchanged - in fact a lot of the patterns provide this in the envelope.

9. These are the ultimate snappy garment. Wear a white shirt when you are tired, crabby, or feeling sort of half-assed and it will make your appearance at least, looked perked up. There is occasional need in my life for this.

10. No one ever regrets the time spent on sewing a white shirt.

What are my standards going to be for sewing this self-challenge, and I guess for you if you are also feeling the urge:

1. I am starting November 1st. I need a week to think.

2. I am finishing when I am done. Feel free to go as far along with this is you want - if three white shirts is all you can face - well that's probably a sensible decision.

3. I will not do this straight, since I am a sewer much distracted by the bright shiny object. I will sew other things as I see the need between WS. See rule 2, this shouldn't be a problem.

4. I will use a variety of fabrics if I feel like it, as long as it is white.

5. I will make each shirt, or blouse, in some ways, different, reserving the right to carry forward techniques or details I like, in the interest of quality development. 

The object here is to explore the idea that limitations nurture creativity - I am not going to be mass producing 10 identical shirts - I don't sew like a factory and I don't sew in a factory.

My intention is to fully explore The White Shirt.

Any one else interested?


a little sewing said...

LOL, I read your post very quickly - so maybe I missed it, but, you don't have to change the thread on your sewing machine!

I want to sew from stash and I have several shirtings I'd like to use. So unfortunately, I'll have to change the thread on the machine. boo.

I read somewhere on a fashion blog about the idea of wearing only 6 pieces for a month and how hard would that be. For people who did it very literally, it was hard. But there was mention of allowing multiples of each piece. In other words, a white shirt would be one piece but you might have 10 of them and they could certainly have varying design details and fabrications. So, this idea is starting to appeal to me as a very good way to approach dressing. It can't be too hard to learn what my six pieces are, right?

Oh and one more thing - some people don't look good in white, so they might want to do something like tan or some color that complements their coloring.

Eileensews said...

When you wrote "pique" you got my brain thinking. That will be my first one. Thanks for giving me the idea.

Maryissewfast said...

Count me in Barbara...your thoughts echoed what had been mulling around in my head...I need some more white shirts and that has been on my radar as part of my Hepburn/Hepburn project (you can see how fast moving I am on that one too!) I have fabric in the stash waiting and I am forcing myself to finish up the last UFOs, but I'm almost there. Thanks for the inspiration to work on the white shirt!

Jodie said...

Count me in as well, but I've got to clear off a few projects off my sewing table in order to make way for the "great white shirt" project. Not sure I could make 10..but I'll see, just like rule #2 says! I was thinking I might do a long-sleeved, sleeveless, etc. to have a white shirt for each season. I've got a 3/4 sleeve pullover white shirt that I love and I bought at a great deal. And it shows - poorly/cheaply made and not great fabric. Think I might take it apart and make it in something nicer.

And I too have need of reason #9. Especially since some days it feels like I'm running and "putting out fires" from the minute I arrive at school until I fall into bed at night (teach jr. high, grades 7 to 9).

Can't wait to see what everyone comes up with.
Have a great Sunday ladies!

Towanda said...

I never thought about how much variety white shirts can add to a wardrobe. I need some shirts to built up my wardrobe. I have a bunch of shirt fabrics in my wardrobe. I need to work on getting a good fit and making buttonholes.

Like you, I will be working them in with other projects over the winter and spring.

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

You know I have one white shirt that I wear maybe once or twice during the fall/winter season. I don't make a lot of shirts because I just don't think I look good in them but I will be watching from the sidelines. What an interesting and creative challenge!

Deb said...

A decent, well fitting white shirt is something I don't have in my wardrobe. Most of my shirts (I am ashamed to say) are rtw and do anything but fit well. I think I will join you on this quest, but instead of aiming for ten I am going to use this as an opportunity to try a new pattern and hopefully turn it into a TNT to base future shirts on.
I have not sewn much in recent years and have 4 boys (read: little time) so this will be challenge enough for me.
Thanks for the inspiration ")

Ann Made Studio said...

I haven't had a lot of time to sew lately but I think I will join in and see what I can do.

Are you using only one pattern or a different one for each shirt? I have so many shirt patterns that I want to use,I think I may try a few patterns and change up the details.

I look forward to this, hopefully this is what I need to get my sewing back into my schedule :)

SewingLibrarian said...

Barbara, do you read Somerset Banks' blog, Pins and Needles? She has been doing a series of shirts this year, one a month. She is using vintage patterns and mostly patterned fabrics. Her posts have lots of information about shirt-making. I will enjoy reading about your project!

cidell said...

I think it's a brilliant idea. I have so many shirtings in my stash that are crying to be made up.

Digs said...

I think I'll be joining you for at least two white, and a few non-white, the white probably serving as muslins. November is my month for tops & shirts... Thanks for your perfect timing!

Myrna said...

A fabulous exercise only I can't imagine ten white shirts. I haven't had even one for YEARS, not even a white t-shirt although I bought some fabric for that a while back. Ten back t-shirts. I can imagine that. It'll be great to see what you come up with. Enjoy.

Karin van Dam said...

I love this idea. I have been wanting to make some shirts, white shirts, for a while now. I think with a white shirt everyone could look elegant. I'm in. Are you going to make a button, so I can put it on my blog?

Karin van Dam said...

I love this idea. I have been wanting to make some shirts, white shirts, for a while now. I think with a white shirt everyone could look elegant. I'm in. Are you going to make a button, so I can put it on my blog?

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea. Please join me up too. I'm not sure how many white shirts I will do as it's not a colour I wear often but it will be fun to explore new shirt patterns.

Kathryn said...

What a great idea! Count me in, as well. My shirts won't probably all be white, but they'll all be shirts, which I truly need. And my stash fairy will rejoice. She has been concerned with the alarming, burst through the ceiling, size of my stash.

Anonymous said...

I would like to join! I can't start until next week but in need of a white shirt! thanks for hosting.

Alethia said...

I would love to get in on this project. A couple of us in my community of sewist and crafters ( Sew Much Talent, have talked about doing a white shirt challenge,but never got around to it. Then I recently saw on Claire Kennedy's blog that she was joining your WS project and it peaked my interest. I don't know if I'll get to 10 with my hectic schedule, but I want to make at least one. :)
I want gonna see if I can get other members of SMT involved. Thanks for the project.