These shirts are made from an organic cotton/hemp blend jersey, which gives them a slightly “heathered” look, and adds a little bit of visual texture.
Yes, there is hemp in this fabric. No, I can’t smoke my t-shirts. I tried. It doesn’t work. Just kidding (kidding about trying to smoke them of course!). There are lots of misconceptions about hemp, and I didn’t intend on bringing this up, but I had several comments from people along those lines while making these shirts, and feel like I need to say something about it.
Put simply, industrial hemp, the plant grown for its fibers, which can be used for fabric, yarn, rope, webbing, etc., is different from the stuff that people smoke, or bake with, or….you get the idea. The plant produces a really strong fiber that can be made into a wide variety of textile products, and fortunately for me, it is relatively easy to dye.
I have a ridiculously hard time finding fabric for my projects, and I am always looking for the perfect combination: the right fabric for the garment, the right color, and the right price. So when I found this organic cotton/hemp blend jersey and it was reasonably priced, I decided to buy some. The only problem was that originally, the fabric was sort of an off white yellow-ish hue, which isn’t really my thing.
Although I enjoy the dying process, it does consume a lot of water, and I’m guessing that the dye and fixative aren’t the best thing for the envrionment. These two concerns probably cancel out any “eco-friendly” benefits of using organic cotton and hemp. My original plan was to use natural dyes, but it appears that they aren’t always more environmentally friendly, and you still have to use harsh chemicals to make them set.
The fit isn’t quite perfect, but it will work for now. I might want to revisit the pattern and see if I can clear up some of the bunching in the arm pit area. I based the pattern off of a t-shirt I wear all the time, and after examining several ready to wear t-shirts I have, they all bunch like this on me in the under arm/chest area. While technically a V-Neck, the “V” is so shallow that these fit more like a crew neck t-shirt, which is fine by me. I wanted the center front to come to a point, but didn’t want a plunging neckline.
Arms can be so awkward. Thankfully my jeans have pockets. Also, I’m awful at posing for photos.
This was my first time sewing with knits, and it really wasn’t as difficult as I expected it to be. I used my serger for all of the construction, but used a zig zag stitch on a regular sewing machine to baste the neckband in place before serging, and a double needle on the same machine to top-stitch the sleeve and bottom hems. I completed the shirts (except for the hems) first before dying them. Since polyester thread does not absorb the type of dye I used, I saved any top-stitching for after the dying process to make matching the thread color easier.
My plan is to work on some lightweight summer pants next. Shirts and pants, shirts and pants, shirts and pants…
I’ve been holding on to this piece of shirting fabric for nearly a year and finally got around to using it. The pattern and fit is nearly identical to the last shirt I finished, which was made from a light blue oxford cloth. This fabric is a small check white and gray gingham that is tightly woven and very crisp. The weight is a little heavier than I would prefer (I find that I like lighter and lighter weight shirtings regardless of season), but I’m sure it will soften with repeated washings.
The only pattern adjustment I made was to the length of the collar. I actually need to trim it a little more because it is overlapping just a little too much at center front. The only time this would be a problem is if I want to wear a tie, which happens once, maybe twice a year.
So I could have posed in my living room for a proper fit picture, but I tend to like candid shots better even if they are blurry, grainy, low light iPhone pictures. This is me hanging out in between giant pallets of beer at Good People Brewing in Birmingham, AL. If you are ever in the Birmingham area and like beer, definitely make a stop at Good People. I highly recommend the Snake Handler double IPA.
Speaking of beer, I happen to do a little brewing from time to time. I’ve decided to create a section on the blog for all of my brewing adventures. This is mostly a way for me to keep track of my brew sessions, recipes, and tasting notes, but for anyone who is interested in small batch all-grain brewing, there is a link in top menu. I realize that a lot of people have zero interest in beer on a sewing/clothing blog, so I’ll try to keep the beer related posts on this separate page.
Cheers, happy sewing!
The oxford cloth button down shirt is a staple in many wardrobes. This one is made out of 1oo% cotton with sew-in interfacing for both the collar and cuffs. I used two layers of interfacing in the collar and collar stand for added structure, which may have contributed to somewhat rounded collar points. Despite trimming close to my seam allowances, the second layer of interfacing adds some extra bulk. Some shirt collars are actually designed to have rounded points, but I am usually shooting for something a little sharper. I like that the rounded corners contribute to a more casual look, but hopefully with practice, I can achieve sharper collar points.
I made a few adjustments to my pattern since the last time I made shirts.
- Slight adjustment to the curve in the yoke/shirt back seam.
- Removed a little bit of ease below the armhole along the side seams, and took out a little bit of extra room at center back near the waist line. I’m still trying to find the right balance between too loose and boxy, and an overly slim, tight fit. I want a sharp “tailored” look, but don’t want a shirt that strains and pulls with every move.
- Lengthened sleeve plackets to make rolling up my sleeves a little easier.
- Lengthened shirt tails to help keep the shirt tucked in.
I would love to hear your favorite techniques and tricks for constructing collars/collar stands, techniques for joining the collar stand to the shirt fronts, and which methods you use to attach cuffs to sleeves. I’ve been using David Coffin’s instructions from his Shirtmaking book where the collar stand is sewn to the neckline before the collar is attached to the stand. He uses a similar method to make cuffs, but I’m always looking for new construction techniques.
Some slouchy, poor posture fit pics.
The weather is warming up here in Tennessee, and comfort on those hot, humid days is what I had in mind with these shirts. I chose two lightweight warm weather fabrics. The first is a small check blue and white gingham, and the second shirt is made from a light gray Pima cotton. Both are 100% cotton and feature a single pocket on the left hand side. I may end up adding buttons to the collars to make sure they don’t flair out too much, but I want to wear the shirts a bit more to see how the collars naturally fall.
Back in January, I started re-working my shirt pattern in anticipation of needing a couple of spring/summer shirts. There was too much ease in the back of my first few shirts, which caused them to “poof” when tucked. Overall, I ended up taking out about 2 inches of extra room from the back of my shirt pattern.
Another major change I made was to the length of the shirttails. On my first three shirts, I purposely left the tails somewhat shorter than normal so I could leave the shirts un-tucked and not look like I was wearing a dress. I’ve pretty much decided that un-tucked shirts look sloppy and a little juvenile (maybe I’m getting old?). This time around I lengthened the shirttails to make sure they didn’t pull out when tucked.
I also made a couple of small changes to the collar. I slightly widened the spread of the collar points, and I made the collar taller by about 1/4 inch. Lastly, I took out a little ease from the sleeve, raised the arm hole, and refined the shape of the side seams. While I was happy with the fit of my first shirts, the above modifications are definitely an improvement.
I kind of wish I could photoshop that stupid look off my face.
This picture was taken right after I finished sewing on the buttons. It fits better than depicted above. I should have ironed the shirt first, and it would help if I was standing up straight instead of leaning on that railing.