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I am a mother, a new 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 first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Mermaid shirt

My youngest son is off to Texas next week. 

He works in wind technology and there is a big project there that will last at least six months.

His birthday is July 4th and he will be on the coast. He wanted a new shirt to wear that night and here is the fabric he picked:

I am developing quite a little sideline in weird made-to-order shirts for my boys.

Every one I make I refine the pattern a little more. To date that means:

  • No interfacing in the front bands, despite the pattern instructions. The ready-to-wear I have examined doesn't have it and this would make for too much stiffness in a casual shirt IMO. Instead I do not trim the seam allowances inside the sewn-on attached front bands. So far I am happy with this.
  • I have reverted to hand-stitching the collar bands down in the inside neck and then top-stitching like Pam Howard does in her Craftsy class. Yes I know this is old school but I get good results and it is more relaxing. I like to sew relaxed. If you make your stitches invisible as you can and don't pull the threads too tight so there will be puckers no one would know.
  • I have shaved about 1/2" off the top sleeve cap so I am not fighting with any sleeve top puckers. This is what a shirt sleeve top should look like anyway. Also see above sew relaxed.
  • After flat felling and french seaming and top-stitching seam that sets the sleeve into the shirt I am now double-stitching and serging the seam allowances and then top-stitching instead. It works well and again is stress free, see above. I French seam all other seams.
The boys are big on collars that button down, since they obviously have a poor understanding of sew relaxed. I find locating the exact place to sew that button  in the shirt body to attach the collar the only hard part of this whole exercise.

The pattern instructions McCalls 6613 are hopeless on this. 

First they tell you to use a normal shirt size button, way to big you need a tinier button for the collar, and have you do the button hole way up into the collar. 

Every shirt I have inspected in the laundry has the button hole right into the point of the collar, some nice shirts even have it cutting into the collar top-stitching.

I have found the only way too to know where to put that button in is to try it on and see where the collar wants to lie.

Also when I sew on the button on I put a tiny circle of needle punch in the back (I have also used felt left over from craft projects with the kids) as sort of interfacing. I think something softer is easier on the skin (I am sewing for my baby boys after all, over six feet that they are now) and besides I have tons of needle punch and I can't be bothered to go out and find something else.

Here is the collar buttonhole with some wobbly top-stitching I realized. Excuse - I am under the gun want to get something else made too for his birthday and for his brother too:

More later. 

Right now though I have to go wash some baseboards because one of my other sisters is coming to town and I would like her to think I do more housekeeping and less sewing than I actually do. Although I after all those years including some where she shared a room with me she probably has already put two and two together. 

(I just remember she once made a line in the middle of the room with masking tape so I would keep my messy (I preferred the term creative) self in my own territory - problem was the door was in her zone and I had to climb up on a chair and jump onto my bed to get in).

Wonder if the husband has knee pads?


Mainelydad said...

First off, I love your blog. Long time lurker, first time commenting. This shirt is the bomb! Who wouldn't love wearing a mermaid shirt? I would strongly suggest that you try the "light crisp" fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. It's a joy to work with, and gives just the right amount of body IMO. Trust me...I'm not getting paid for this! I've made plenty of shirts and wouldn't consider using anything else. mainelydad. https://www.fashionsewingsupply.com/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=86&osCsid=a75f0371627d46941218184b52dbcf54

Louise Perry said...

Beautiful shirt he will look great in it. The image of you jumping from chair to bed as a child is great!

Barbara said...

Mainly dad, I have ordered some thanks so much. Also I am a lurker of your blog - your garments are impeccable. Thanks so much for the help.

Anonymous said...

Lovely shirt.......I'm inspired to try this for next son's birthday, which is not til December so time to improve beforehand!

Wondering what "needle punch" is? Quilt batting that says on the label that it is "needle punched" perhaps?

Thanks for sharing,


SuzieB said...

Love that mermaid shirt!