Prompted by the current BurdaStyle Vintage Modern contest, I decided to try making up one of the patterns from their book. (Not that I expect to get anywhere with the contest, but I tend to use contests and sew-alongs and anything with a constraint to work in and a timeline as a way to help me decide what to make next. There’s just too many possibilities otherwise, in my overflowing stash!) After flicking through a copy of it I borrowed from Nikki (thanks, Nikki!), I settled on the Amelia shirt. The Amelia shirt is a 1930’s inspired design, with a shaped yoke, cap sleeves, princess lines on the lower half of the bodice front, and a tie at the neckline. It’s a cute style, and I figured I could easily adapt it to a shirt to match current lifestyle requirements.
Since some of you wanted to see more about construction and fitting and the overall process of how I make things, I’m trying out documenting-as-I-go with this. I’d love to know what you think – too much detail? Not enough? Want to see something I didn’t show? Whatever your feedback, let me know so I know what to show next time for those of you who are interested. ;-) (Also, a little disclaimer – I’m pretty much entirely self-taught, and from the school of make-it-up-as-I-go-along, so please don’t look on this as the “right” way to do things at all! It’s just my way of doing things, for this project.)
Anyway, onto the shirt….!
This was originally meant to be my project for Sew Grateful Week, but it took a bit longer to make than I expected. (No surprises there – everything takes longer than expected these days. I’m looking forward to one day once again being able to drink an entire cup of tea while it’s hot….)
After choosing the pattern I was going to make up, I debated about which fabric to use. There are two shirt-worth fabrics in my stash that were gifts from people – I decided on using this lovely pink-and-white floral lawn that was a gift from TJ. (And the best part? There’s still enough of it left for a dress! Yippie!) Since the Amelia shirt has a lovely shaped yoke, I wanted to make the most of that by making it up in two contrasting fabrics, so I went hunting in my stash to pull out some suitable ones. Here’s what I came up with:
AFter a bit of debate, the brown cotton drill won out.
I used a tip from Oanh and traced the pattern onto interfacing, which worked brilliantly – it was easily to see the markings through for tracing, you can easily write on it in ballpoint pen, and I used heavier interfacing so it stays nice and stiff and lies flat easily when placed on the fabric.
(Yes, I use cassette tapes as pattern weights. One day I intend to make some ‘proper’ ones, but in the meantime, what else am I going to do with old tapes?!?)
I made the adjustments I wanted by drawing them directly onto the fabric before cutting. I first made the top longer as it was quite short. I added 5cm to the length, and allowed for a 2cm hem. (Side note: I only ended up using a 1cm hem, as it was still very short even with the additional length. It’s now a good length for a worn-untucked shirt, but if you want to make one you can tuck in, I’d recommend adding a good 10cm to the length, plus your hem allowance.)
I then extended the darts in the back of the shirt down to the new hem, tapering them down to nothing at the base. To allow turnovers for buttons down the front, I cut the front as two pieces (rather than one piece on the fold) and measured out 6cm from the centre front to allow turnings. I used a 1cm seam allowance everywhere, which is something I learnt years ago at a pattern drafting course and always use if using self-drafted patterns.
When sewing up, I used different thread colours for the different fabrics, so they were as subtle as possible. I pressed the seam allowance for the yoke downwards and top-stitched it in place, so the brown fabric wouldn’t show through the more-transparent lawn.
The main thing I fitted was the placement of the centre front and the buttons. I wanted this to be a reasonably fitted shirt, so after darts and seams were sewn up, I tried it on inside out and marked the centre front by pinning it together and marking with tailors chalk.
After marking where I wanted the centre front to be, I measured out from here by 1.5 cm (towards the side seams) to allow for the button turnings. This gave me a total of 3cm wide overlap in the centre front – plenty of space for buttons and button holes. This new line is the fold line – everything from there to the centre front got turned under.
The markings of the fold line then got transferred to the other front half of the bodice, by putting pins straight through them and marking the pin exit points with tailors chalk.
I then checked that I had the placement correct, by trying it on again and pinning closed 1.5cm away from the centre front (thus having it as fitted as if there was a 3cm overlap in the centre).
Once I was happy with it all, I choose some buttons, and stitched up some button holes. (I stitched them horizontally, as I’ve found having to unbutton and re-button a shirt multiple times during the day for breastfeeding puts extra strain on buttons, and they slip out of vertical buttonholes a lot more easily, which has resulted in a wardrobe malfunction or two. Oops.) I also interfaced the button strip, for added strength.
To add a touch of fun to the inside, I faced the button plackets (both buttonhole and button sides) with a strip of the floral lawn.
For the tie, I measured the neckline, then added on how much I wanted to hang downwards. I cut out a straight strip of fabric (once again, with a 1cm seam allowance), and attached it to the neckline. The armholes and hem are simply turned under and stitched, so it’ll be easy to unpick them to take the shirt in in the future (still working on losing the baby weight).
And there we have it – the Amelia shirt, a variation of the Amelia top from BurdaStyle Sewing Vintage Modern!
Anything I’d do differently next time? Well, I’d be a bit more careful how I was standing for photos so I didn’t pull the bottom of the front out of alignment and make it look like the hems don’t align! But in general, I’m pretty happy with this top!