Monday, March 17, 2014

Completed: Orange-You-Glad Button Up

The full name has to be the "orange you glad it's not another pair of Thurlows" button up shirt.  Not that you're really happy that it's not another pair of Thurlows because, honestly, how could you ever get tired of the genius that is the Thurlow pattern.  Moving on, though.

I've been exceedingly jealous of all the lovely Archer shirts popping up all over the place... unfortunately the cut of the pattern is just not my style.  I need a slightly more fitted (or perhaps shapely is the word) button up.  Boxy clothes make me look, well, really boxy.  No bueno.

The ratio of handmade bottoms to tops in my wardrobe is beginning to spiral out of control.  The sad truth is that it isn't the result of an excess of serviceable RTW, but rather of finding and falling in love with the Thurlow and Hollyburn patterns.  The problem with tops is that I just can't find a pattern that I like.  I tried modifying the Darling Ranges dress to be a top, but honestly it's just so low cut and raising the neckline is tricky.  Then I tried some godawful big 5 pattern and you never saw the result (for very good reason).  I seem to recall a Seinfeld episode featuring that pattern...  Can anybody guess which one?

I think the real crux of the matter is that I have an impossible time finding button up shirts that I like.  In my entire life I have found two that I liked.  One was a white button up with 3/4 sleeves from Van Heusen (come to think of it, where the hell did that shirt go anyway?) and the other is a black long sleeve button up from Express.  Since, obviously, the Van Heusen top is long gone, I used the black Express top for inspiration.

I bought Pattern Making for a Perfect Fit aaaages ago.  Before I even knew much about sewing, to be perfectly honest.   I thought it was a really cool idea, and it is... but there was just so much in the book that was beyond my realm of knowledge.  Seam finishes?  Interfacing?  What da whaaa?  Of course that was a long time ago and when I picked the book back up (specifically for this project) it all made a lot more sense.  I've got a lot more techniques under my belt and have even tackled a placket or two.

 I don't have the same set up (nor am I prepared either spatially or financially to set up) for pattern tracing.  Instead I laid down my big roll poly tracing stuff (sorry to get all technical on ya there) on an overstuffed ottoman, laid the shirt on top of that, pinned, and sort of traced around the pieces one at a time.  It worked out pretty well.  Then, of course, I had to go in and add seam allowances.

The construction of this shirt is interesting.  Each front is made of three pieces: a yoke, a center front piece, and a side front piece.  The back also has a yoke, a center back piece cut on the fold, and side back pieces.  It's like partial princess seams and I think it works really well to give the shirt shaping without the harsh look sometimes afforded by darts (not to mention awkward dart pointage, ewww).  The original shirt had pockets covering up the point where the three front pieces meet, but I didn't bother with this version as it's a "wearable muslin" if you will.

I did have a few minor problems.  I need to lower and wide the full bust about a half inch... other than that I had a little trouble with the hem. Mostly just the center back.

That just might not steam out.  It actually borders on a high/low hem in real life.  The shirt looks great tucked in, though, so I'm not too worried.  I will raise the center hem just a smidge on my next version though.  The original version has this same shape of hem, I just traced it off.  All the curves made it surprisingly difficult to actually hem.  I think that might be part of the back problem you see here.  It's just too much fabric being sewn to too little.

The single biggest problem i had with the shirt is almost too embarrassing to share, but what the hell, here it goes.  I flatfelled every single seam in the body... only to sew the sleeves on inside out.  When I realized my mistake I just didn't have the heart to rip them off. Besides, the collar seems to sit better inside out so I just zigzagged the seam and left it that way.  As a result, though this is what my seams look like.

Le sigh... So close.  This is one of those strange little details, though, that I daresay no one is likely to notice.  Design feature?  I originally thought the inspiration shirt had flatfelled seams, only to find upon closer inspection that the seams were actually serged and then topstitched down to look like of like flatfelled seams.  Which means, really, this is closer to what the original shirt looks like.  Still... just no.  I may have also had a little accident when i was opening up the buttonholes...

Yikes!  It's Frankenshirt!  Oh well, at least it'll always be hidden under a button.  You can see how awful the stitching on the placket looks, but again: that was supposed to be inside!

Still, with all it's foibles I'm ridiculously proud of this shirt.  This is by far the most complicated thing I've ever made without a pattern (a real pattern, with instructions and stuff).  I was really confused about where the collar interfacing went and I'm 100% sure that's not how it goes, but I don't care. It lays pretty well when i'm wearing it.  Oh, and check out my cuffs...

Very sharp.  The sleeve has two pieces, which I think is weird.  I don't know if I'll stick with that on future versions or not.  It does make that slit very easy, though.  I'm still mulling over how to make it look more RTW with all the little details and seam finishes.

Fabric: Thrifted sheet
Pattern: My own
Notions: Interfacing, buttons
Changes: To be made in future versions
Final thoughts: I'm very happy with this pattern.  It needs a little tweaking, but I'm ready to work on it.  I definitely need more tops!


  1. Wow, this looks great! I like the bright orange color too! Oh and I totally use the same top pattern for almost all my projects! Thank you random TJ Max shirt for being the best shirt that I've ever worn! Keep up the good work!

  2. Haha, I know what you mean. I bought the original shirt so randomly and then it ended up being such a great resource!