Well, surprise surprise…. I am back again with – you guessed it! – another button-up shirt. Ha! Is this all I wear these days? Probably. I’ve been sewing – and making button-ups – for years at this point, but it still tickles me to no end that I can get them to fit every part of my body without bagginess or gaping. To hell with all those tiny safety pins and double-sided tape – I finally have buttons where the buttons need to go! Yay!
So now, my wardrobe is just slowly filling up with the button-ups of my dreams. Also, button-ups are really really really fun to make. You like making jeans and bras? You’ll love making button-ups. So many tiny pieces with lots of precise topstitching I LURVES IT ♥
When I was in NYC earlier this year, I made some time during my trip for a couple hours at Mood Fabrics flagship store in the Garment District. Since I live way way outside of NYC, I don’t generally get this opportunity except once or twice a year – so I try to make it count! I always come prepared with a list and a plan – and while I allow myself to veer off the list if I see something shiny that appeals to my magpie tendencies (very much like when I go grocery shopping, although that sort of veering usually involves chocolate :P), the list is helpful for keeping me on track so my purchases are a little more focused. I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of shopping in the physical Mood Fabrics store, but it is QUITE overwhelming if you’re not used to it! The aisles of fabric go on forever, piled to the ceiling – and there are 3 glorious floors of it!
One of the things on my list for this trip was to find a chambray Tencel shirting. I’ve seen this all over sewing blogs and even in RTW – chambray Tencel was apparently very hot last fall (whether or not it’s still hot this fall – whatever, I like it, that’s all that matters!). I wasn’t familiar with Tencel until a couple of years ago, when I was sewing for Elizabeth Suzann and she started using it for some of her designs. Tencel is very similar to rayon – it’s a wood cellulose fiber, so it breathes beautifully, and it has an incredible drape. Unlike most of the rayons I have sewn with, this is a bit thicker and easier to handle – it’s not quite so floaty. My brief internet research also tells me that Tencel is a very environmentally friendly, and the fibers are grown sustainably. Gooooo Tencel!
I found this particular Tencel in the depths of the shirting fabrics in Mood’s store, and it was exactly what I had been dreaming of when I wrote my list. It’s drapey and nearly as soft as a baby’s butt – just like rayon – but with a thicker hand and an incredible sheen. I am pretty sure this is the same stuff available on the website, actually (also FYI, Mood Fabrics now has tons of Tencel on their site – including flannel WUT). I bought enough yardage to make a long sleeved button up, prewashed that bad boy when I got home, and set it aside to allow summer to pass before I cut into it. And finally, here we are!
I used my very favorite shirt pattern, Butterick 5526, to sew this up. I’ve made this pattern dozens of times at this point, so there’s not much I can say about it that I haven’t already said dozens of times. I’m so familiar with this pattern, I’m pretty sure it could sew itself if I gave it a chance. I decided to mix a couple things up to make my shirt look a little more like a workshirt – rugged, casual details, but with that pretty, slim fit that only princess seams can give you. And also to make it look less like I am just wearing the exact same shirt every day. Even though I totally am.
I redrafted the back to include a yoke (and by redrafted – I mean I just sliced off the top of the pattern piece and added seam allowances, ha!) and swapped out the simple bias plackets for a more manly tower placket. I also drafted pointed pockets with matching pointed flaps (again, I am using the term “drafted” VERY VERY loosely here!). Another big change was to topstitch everything at 1/4″, instead of my usual 1/8″ edgestitching. It’s a lot more bold and pronounced, like the RTW stuff I’ve been lurking on, and gives a completely different look! I imagine that over time, the edges will curl and wave a bit and make the whole shirt look more settled in. All the interior seams are flat-felled, with the exception of the yoke – which is faced with more Tencel. Oh, and I added button tabs to the sleeves, so I could roll them up if I wanted to!
Working with Tencel wasn’t much different than any other shirting fabric I’ve used, although it does have a tendency to stretch and slide if it things it can get away with it. I added lightweight fusible interfacing to all the normal shirting bits – collar, collar stand, button placket, etc – as well as the sleeve tabs and pocket flaps, just to give them a little more structure. This fabric responds really well to heat, so I was able to steam everything easily into submission, which is a must for shirt making.
I did have one pretty big unpicking session with this shirt – for some reason, the collar ended up too big (I don’t think it stretched out, as the top collar is cut on the straight grain and was also immediately interfaced after cutting – I am thinking maybe I skewed my seam allowances somewhere, somehow?) and went almost to the ends of the collar stand. I noticed it right before I started topstitching, and while I tried to convince myself it was ok – it wasn’t, and I knew deep in my heart of hearts that it looks absolutely fucking shitty. At this point, I had already aggressively trimmed down all those seam allowances and pressed the shit out of everything, and while I could still unpick things – it would going to be a giant PITA. I left the shirt on my dress form for a few days so I could get some space, and upon revisiting, I knew I wouldn’t be happy with the collar the way it was. Considering how much time I had already spent making this shirt (and the uncertainty of knowing whether or not I’d be able to get more of this fabric to cut another one), I ultimately decided it was worth the time to unpick everything, re-sew the collar with larger seam allowances, and then re-insert it. Not gonna lie – it took me about 2 weeks of leaving the shirt wadded up in the corner of my sewing room (so it could really think about what it had done) before I got up the energy to do all that unpicking, and another week or so before I re-sewed everything. But you know what? It looks SO SO SO much better now (it’s not perfect, but it is a 1000% improvement, no question) and it was worth the anguish! Sometimes you just gotta step away from whatever is frustrating you, to get another perspective.
Butterick 5526 is *my* personal go-to button-up pattern for sure – I’ve got my tweaks down to a science at this point, and there’s nothing this shirt pattern can’t do for me! I love a good button-up shirt and I’m so happy to see more of this sort of pattern emerging out of the wild these days! Cashmerette’s Harrison Shirt is drafted specifically for plus sizes all the way up to an H cup (like, seriously, the double princess seams with no gape is absolutely mind-blowing to me) and Tilly & The Button’s new Rosa Shirt & Shirtdress is a gorgeous little beginner-friendly piece that will walk you through every single step (stay tuned for my Rosa review, btw, bc OF COURSE I made one of those bad boys!). I also love the Grainline Studio Archer for a more rugged/boyfriend looking shirt (lack of princess seams on this one means less fitted, but also much more suitable for those cozy plaid flannels!) aaaand I just got my hands on a copy of Deer & Doe’s Mélilot shirt so that’s coming up next! What’s your favorite shirt pattern?
As a bonus, the skirt I am wearing in these photos was also made with fabric from Mood Fabrics! I used a cotton corduroy and you can read all about it in this post from earlier this year. This skirt has been on hold during the summer – it’s too hot here to wear cord, plus, it just looks silly in 100* weather – and I am excited to bring it back into wardrobe rotation with these dipping temperatures! Mustard and denim – is there a prettier color combination? I think not!
Note: The fabrics used in this post were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, as part of my participation with the Mood Sewing Network. That fabulous hat is all mine, though 😉