Thursday, October 9, 2014

My shirt of Perseverance.

You should never sew while you are sick.  You should NEVER sew while you are sick.  YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER SEW WHILE YOU ARE SICK.  I think I will never forget this rule again.

I bought this lovely blue and white stripe shirting from a while back.  It had been washed and dried and waiting patiently to become my 3rd Archer.

I cut it out single layer, so as to match the stripes perfectly and to ensure it was on-grain.  Can't have crooked stripes!

All was going well.  I cut all pieces and even had a few scraps left over.
Then I got sick.  SICK.  I stayed home from work.  I HATE feeling like I am wasting time, so I decided, to make good use of my sick time.  Why not sew?  I had altered the pattern first go around to have side darts.  I sewed the darts. Goregeous.   I attached the front button placket.  It was a thing of beauty.  This was going great!  Wait a minute..... isn't a woman's shirt suppose to button right over left??  My button placket was on the left side.  WTH? How did that happen? 
 I cleverly decided that since it has a loose boyfriend shirt fit, that I could live with it buttoning, well, like a boy's shirt.
 So on to the collar.  I did a fine job!!  I trimmed and turned, under-stitched and top stitched.  It was beautiful.  Wait a minute, what the heck is the under-stitching doing showing on top of the collar??  WTH?  Yes.  I inserted the collar into the stand, UNDERLAYER ON TOP.  For a split second, I thought, WHO WILL NOTICE?   but of course, I would.  and I would hate it every time I looked at it.   So.  Still sick, I decided I could remove the collar portion only from the stand with careful UN picking.  and Amazingly I did.  1 hour and 45 mintues later, I had undone and fixed what it originally took me 15 min to sew.  Thanks to unraveling during unpicking, some of my new collar seam allowances are only about 1/8".... that was some slow going sewing.
Collar all better though!

Lesson learned! right?  Well you would hope so. but no. 

From the start I had decided that I wanted REAL button plackets on the sleeves, not the fold of fabric that seemed unable to withstand my constant rolling up of my sleeves.  So I headed over to 'Off the Cuff' for her awesome button placket tutorial.  tutorial-shirt-sleeve-placket  I made up pattern pieces, following her design. 

 The tutorial is awesome.  Clear and concise.  Look at my beautiful placket.  Beautiful.  I have the pleats next to it basted down in this pic, so they stay laying the right direction when I add cuffs.  But back to that placket.  Have you ever seen a nicer one?

And look how awesome they look with sleeves attached to my shirt.  Don't they make the sleeve look so much more professional.  Wait a minute.  WTH!  Isn't the placket suppose to be on the BACK of the sleeve????  I think I may have said a few choice words at this point, because my cat, Ipo, quickly left the sewing room and did not return.  After quickly verifying that I had indeed done the plackets correctly, I was relieved.  somewhat.  My issue was I had inserted the right sleeve on the left side, and vice versa. And trimmed seam allowances.  And serged them.  And did faux flat felling.  To be honest, I thought at this point that I will just cut off the sleeves just above the elbow and sewing them back on to the other sleeve.  CRAZY.  Never sew while you are sick.  Instead, I threw it on the floor,  sent my mother pics, and then whined to her about my crazy mistake. and then I went to bed. 

Two days later, I felt better.  I was not giving up.  I unpicked the flat felling.  And the serging on each sleeve. And removed the sleeves.  Then sewed them back on the right side and serged the raw edges, and re did my faux flat felling. Then attached the cuffs.  Yay!  Plackets on the back of my sleeve where they belong!!  You can see my shoulder area on the sleeves, looks a bit stretched out.... all that unpicking.  sigh

And look at the matching on those front pockets!  Can hardly tell they are there!

So once I was all better and done pouting about my crazy mistakes, all that was left was the hemming, buttonholes and buttons.  I really enjoy this part of the process.  I bought these awesome pearl shell buttons from Fashion Sewing Supply  This assortment of buttons, 20 buttons, only 3.99!, with some felt backing too.  It is the same place I buy the best interfacing ever. 7 - 1/2" for the placket.  2 - 1/2" for the cuff and 3 - 3/8" for the collar and sleeve placket buttons. 
When placing my button holes, I try the shirt on, and determine where the button over the girls need to be in order to prevent gapping.  I then space the rest out evenly from there.   Once I have completed all of my buttonholes, I then pin the shirt closed, matching top collars and fold up bottom hem matching the front edges so that the length of both will be the same.  I hem by folding up about 1/4" while sewing, and sew as close to the bottom edge as possible.  Once done, I trim the edge as close to that seam as I can.  I then fold it up about 1/4" while sewing, and sew as close to the folded edge as I can. 
Then it is time for the buttons.  I pin the front on the blouse closed again, matching collar and hemline.  I then lightly stick a pencil through the top of each of the buttonholes, to make a slight mark on the other front side of the shirt underneath.    I place a crossways pin to mark where the button center should be, and insert a machine needle vertically, to create a space under the button for ease.  Then I tape the button in place and remove the crosswise pin.

Using my sewing machine I sew the button on, while the needle remains centered underneath the button.  This give the button a little ease, and makes it easier to button!

To ensure I never lose a button, I do not cut the threads.  I take the two threads now on top of my button, thread them into a needle, and insert the needle through a button hole, and pull those threads to the back side of the shirt. Once all threads are on the backside, I tie them in a double knot.

Still, I do not cut the threads, I then rethread them back on a needle and insert the needle just into one layer of the backside of the button placket, and back out again about an 1" away. You can see the tail of the thread below coming back out of the one layer of fabric an inch or so away from my tied knot. 

Then I ever so lightly pull on the thread and clip it.  Magically, the ends are now buried within the layers of fabric.  No unsightly thread ends, and your buttons will NOT fall off!  I use this same technique on all my button holes thread ends.   This is the same way that quilters bury their thread ends inside their quilts!

And Now I am DONE.  Phew.  Stripes are so hard to photograph.
Here are my 'Off the Cuff" sleeve plackets!  With the beautiful pearl shell buttons. 

And here I am, happily wearing my shirt of Perseverance.  All in all, it was a good journey.  It is good to learn, NEVER to sew sick.  It is also good to learn, that a mistake is not the end.  It is just an opportunity to figure out how to fix it. 

Needless to say.  I LOVE this shirt.  We had quite the journey and both came out better for it.


Stay Happy
Keep Sewing
and if you can't sew
read a scary book by the fire!
and for a little Grandma eye candy...


  1. Despite all your troubles with the sewing of this shirt, you have a fabulous result. Thanks for sharing the process and your tips for the plackets and buttons. I have had my second Archer half done for a while now, this has reminded me that I need to get back to it and get it finished.

  2. WOW! I felt sad at the sleeve debacle! :)

    Great job. That shirt is a thing of sheer beauty!

  3. Yes, I agree, never sew when you are sick - and, I have also had to learn it is not good to cut while you are sick either :)

    What perserverance, but a great save, looks great :)

  4. Oh wow ... what a story! So glad you ended up with such an awesome shirt (and that you're feeling better).

  5. Your post made me laugh. Reminded me of my Marni Jacket debacle and it wasn't half as complicated as your beautiful top. Glad you persevered. You have a beautiful blouse now.

  6. You did an amazing job Kelly, sick or not! LOL I love that the stripes on the front band and the plackets are on the diagonal, it really gives it style. Found you on PatternReview :) got you bookmarked now :D