August Plans

Well, July went past in a bit of a blur!  I’d had grand plans to whip up garments for #SewJapaneseInJuly, post some work in progress updates and show off the Burda trousers I finally made – but I did none of that!  At this point I think I’ll not worry with the work in progress, but I’d love to show you the Burda trousers as they were a pattern I loved when I saw them in the magazine, but knew they’d need pockets and a zip transfer!

Anyway – it’s August now and I have new plans.  First off…  I have enough summer goodies in my wardrobe, so I’m not making anything more for me – unless it’s something that really grabs me and I have fabric!!  I’ve dusted off my pattern cutting equipment and books and have started with drafting a trouser block for the other half.  Why?  He needs new shorts and doesn’t like anything in the shops and none of the patterns I have fit his requirements either.  I tried with the Jedadiah shorts, but nope.

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Jedediah shorts from Thread Theory website

As far as making for the other half goes, things haven’t been all that successful.   I made a coat block 3-4 years ago and drafted a beautiful coat pattern, bought shell fabric and buttons, but I’m still looking for the “perfect” lining fabric, so that project is still on hold!  I am hoping making shorts will be easier, I mean, chino fabric is not that hard to find, right?  And it doesn’t need lining, thank goodness!!!  The block toile fitted much better than I expected!  I just needed to shorten the crotch depth by about 2cm and reduce the waist by 2cm too.  I distributed that between the front side seam and back darts and it’s all good!  I hontstly expected much more faff, so this is a relief!

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Instructions for the trouser block

Once the shorts are done, I want to make patterns for office trousers too, he lives in his jeans and one pair of black wool pants that have to suffice for meetings.  Why only one pair?  Because he’s a fussy begger who doesn’t like what’s in the shops so drags this one pair of pants out for every meeting.  So I definitely want to make pants to his particular requirements.  Then I guess it’ll have to be shirts and a jacket or two!  But jackets mean lining and if the coat saga is anything to go by, jacket making could take a while!  If you’re interested, the book I’m using is Patternmaking for Menswear, I bought this a long time ago now on one of my London trips, a chain bookstore there had loads of books I couldn’t get hold of in sleepy Warwickshire.  Sadly it’s closed down now and I cannot remember the name!!

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Patternmaking for Menswear

I’m quite looking forward to pattern cutting again – get those dusty brain cells up and running!  Of course, making garments will always depend on finding the right fabric, so now I’m on the hunt for suppliers of good shirting fabrics.  I’m sure my usual fabric suppliers will do good on the wool suiting and cotton twill for pants and shorts.  Tomorrow I’m taking my machine in for a sercive and then I’m off to a tailoring supplier in Kenilworth, it’ll be good to see his stock in person rather than online.  There’s also a little fabric shop on the high street that’s come up trumps for good wool in the past.

So – apart from the odd request from the girls, I’ll be making stuff for the other half this month!  Oh – and toiling a pattern for a winter coat and raincoat for me.  Just because my summer wardrobe is full doesn’t mean I don’t have room available in the winter one!  And I need to use up scraps, so I’ve decided to make some pouches and little bags that I’ll sell later in the year as a fundraiser for an environmental charity.  Them’s the plans!

Saraste Frill Top

Daughter No 2 sent me a photo on Instagram late last year/early this year of a cute little top made in broiderie anglaise.  One look at it told me I could use the Saraste Top from the Named Clothing book, Breaking the Pattern.  Going from the measurements I chose to toile the size 2.  Usually I make the first toile exactly as the pattern, but I aleady knew that she didn’t want the fullness and flare that the Top has.  I used the pattern piece for the Shirt side front instead of the Top one, and removed flare from the side back to match the side front too.

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Saraste inspiration, a top from Sezane

The toile got the thumbs up, with a request to take in at the back waist a little more, it was too baggy, but not awful.  So now I needed to make the pieces for the frills for the centre front and collar.  I decided to make the pieces half as long again as the measurement of the original pieces.  I could possibly have gone for  a bit more, but not as much as three quarters, and definitely not double!  The front frill is on the right front only, so only this piece needed the grown on facing to be removed and a seperate piece drawn up and cut.

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Frills for the Saraste, with overlocked rolled hem edge.

The frills are not double, The finished size is 2cm, with 1cm seam allowance.  I added 5mm to the outer edge which I used to create the rolled hem on the overlocker.  This worked out so well!  I had yet to use the rolled hem on this overlocker, so was very glad it was so easy to do and worked perfectly on the first try!

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Extra frill details

The pattern was on the sheets in the book, each sheet has a block listing the name of the pattern and the pieces it has on it.  I think it would be easier if each sheet was numbered, and the corresponding numers were in the book – but it wasn’t too hard to find the sheets I needed.  The pieces were easier to trace than Burda patterns, it really helps when they’re not packed onto the sheets!  Seam allowances are included, so nothing more to do.

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Named Saraste Top with added frills

The insides are just overlocked, broiderie anglaise doesn’t French seam well and I didn’t want to bind seams.  This way they are neat and tidy and will do the job just fine.  I chose buttons from the stash that had been rescued from one of hubby’s old office shirts, so all this has cost is the price of the fabric, which was £5 a metre end of roll from Rosenberg & Son.

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The instructions are clear, with illustrations if you need them.  Obviously I needed to deviate a little for the front edge and collar stand, but it really wasn’t tricky.  I think I might try making the shirt for Daughter No1, it’s the right shape for her and I already have the majority of the pieces traced!  I’m really happy with how this has turned out, and the toile was made as a wearable toile, so that means two projects in one!

I took it down to London and personally delivered it, as you can see, it’s great on! She loves it, it’s just cute and pretty enough!

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There’s a new colour in my wardrobe – and I think it’s here to stay.  I made my first green item in 2019, a pair of linen Teddy Pants.  They were followed by a pale green and white pair of Kana’s Standard pants and an LB Pullover in the same fabric, but that’s as far as that incursion went.  Until this year…  I fell in love with a Monstera print, olive green and ecru, and just had to have it!  What would I make with it?  Why another Olya Shirt – of course!

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Olya Shirt and Kew Pants

No pattern or fitting adjustments or changes from the last time, I’m pretty happy with the pattern on me.  The only thing that would change would be how the fabric altered the finished look and shape of the shirt.  So far my favourite is the black and white graphic print Olya, it’s soft but has body.  The striped one is a fairly heavy viscose, so it hangs more.  This viscose challis is soft and drapey and feels fabulous!  I bought it from The Rag Shop at the end of May.  Knowing that we’d be away for the last week, I asked that the shipping be held back so that the parcel would arrive after the May Bank Holiday.  It worked, and I had pretty fabric to add to my holiday purchases on the wash line!

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The fabric was lovely to work with, and I knew just what to pair it with on the bottom half!  While in St Ives, I bought 2m of a cotton/linen blend, the colour is a pale beige – the result of two colours woven together, white and beige.  It’s got body and no drape, but it is perfect for trousers.  I decided on the Kew Pants from Style Arc.  I’ve made then only once before and thought that this fabric would be great to hold the shape of the cocoon leg.  I made the 14 this time, the waist of the 12 is just too snug.

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I altered the angle of the front crotch line and curve, and took the inseam in by an extra cm, made the front look much better.  The waist fits properly now and the cropped ankle length and width works better in the bigger size.  The curved hem detail can be a little tricky to get nice looking on the inside.  The pattern instructions have you simply fold under the seam allowance and topstitch in place, but it really isn’t a nice finish.  I cut short pieces of off-white bias binding and used them instead, pressing in a tight curve first.

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These are such cool pants, I love that they sit nicely on the waist and the rest is loose.  The pockets are a good size, perfect for a phone, mask and card wallet!  I rarely use a handbag these days, not needing cash means no need for a proper wallet, all I need is plastic.  Pairing the black and white Olya with the black Kew Pants I made last year looks great, so I was keen on repeating that with these two projects.

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I love these two items together, tucked in, tied in front or simply left loose, they’re comfy and good looking!  Being beigey-cream, the trousers slot into my wardrobe perfectly.  I love the addition of green in the wardrobe this summer, I have a RTW green and ecru tee bought in Padstow to add to the mix, and am planning a plain olive tee soon!

Wasting no Time!

We’re 12 days into June and I’m so on my way!  I think I may have just found my Sewjo hiding in the cupboard and I’ve taken it out, shaken it down and fully embraced it!  Althought the gardening has been calling, I seem to have found enough time to share, and the sewing is getting done.  I don’t know how you all feel about repeat sewing, to me it’s a bonus.  You’ve already done the toiling and fitting and testing and now there’s a pattern you both like and can sew without instructions to hand!  When I find a pattern that really suits me, I can get carried away and make many, but then that’s the advantage of sewing – right?  You can make as many versions as you like, in every colour and fabric, and enjoy wearing every last single one of them.  Today, that tried and tested formula is for the Basic Instinct Tee from Sasha and the Teddy Designer Pants form Style Arc.

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Basic Instinct Tee and Teddy Designer Pants

I’m making the large in the tee now (started with the extra large) and find it’s perfect.  There’s enough ease in it to be loose and comfy in the summer, I love the body length and that of the sleeves too.  But most of all, I love the way Sasha has gone to loads of effort to allow us to match stripes!  Because there’s nothing better than matching stripes, and when you’ve planned, cut, basted and then sewn, the feeling of “all conquering hero” when you turn the fabric over and see those beggars all nicely lined up is fantastic!  This striped cotton jersey came from Fabworks, the last of the bolt!  It came the day before we left for Cornwall, I’d have loved to have made it up before we left.  There will always be room in my tee shirt pile for another Basic Instinct tee striped or not. 

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That “YASSSS” moment!

And that brings me to the next repeat offender.  The Teddy Designer pants are now on their 6th version, and I finally have a pair in denim!  Well, not quite denim, but close enough.  I found some lovely, soft chambray in Cornwall in May and knew immediately it would make another pair of the Teddys.  I decided to topstitch in gold thread and eventually decided on my first choice of gold buttons too.  I like the “jeans” effect it gives, and it feels a little retro too, especially with the colour of the chambray.  This is the size 12, shortened in the leg but otherwise unchanged as far as fitting adjustments go. 

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Only one thing is different with these pants, and I really wish I’d done it 4 versions ago already!  These pants have inseam pockets, which are fine, although after the first pair I make them a bit deeper and wider.  The problem is that they are unsupported so they flop around and if you have anything in them, you’ll quickly find that they fold the wrong way, to the back.  It’s just annoying.  So this time I extended the pocket piece so that it’s caught into the waistline.  Oh my goodness, what a difference!!  It’s so nice not to have to flip the pocket the right way round before fishing out my phone or mask!  This is an adjustment that’s staying!

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So there you have it, two items down, and no fabric going into the stash!  I’ve already cut and half made my next item, and have cut out another – you’ll have to stay tuned to see what they are, but suffice to say, they’re repeats! 

What to make in June?

I can’t believe how wet and miserable May turned out to be this year!  Going through my Me Made May photos for previous years reveals tees and viscose trousers, cropped linen pants and floaty outfits!  This time – jeans, jumpers, long sleeves and trainers, one open shoes only twice!  brrr

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I have done a bit of fabric shopping though, in preperation for June being much, much nicer than May!  And if today is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat! (But I’m not hopping about madly just yet.)  I bought what was described as olive and ecru leaf print viscose (turns out more green than olive) to make another Olya Shirt and a piece of olive cotton/linen blend for trousers to wear with the leaf print.  I also caved and bought a RTW olive and ecru striped tee while on holiday!  In St Ives I found the teeniest little wool and fabric shop on Fore St, and ended up buying a gorgeous chambray that will make the “denim” Teddy Designer Pants I’ve been wanting for ages and some natural coloured linen for maybe a pair of Kew Pants again.  I do like that pattern.

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Fix it on the left, make it on the right!

So – I have grey linen, natural linen and olive linen for pants, green and ecru viscose for a shirt and some blue and white striped jersey that’s definitely going to be a new Basic Instinct tee.  I also want to use the remains of the tencel twill that made the daughters’ pjs – I think I can make short pj pants and a cami out of what’s left, just need to tetris the pieces a bit!  I also want to make something with bits of left over linen in navy, white, rust and a blue/black and white print.  But I’m not good a patchworking and colour blocking, so we’ll have to see how that pans out.  Of course, now the weather has turned, the garden is calling louder than ever and the veggies all want planting out, so sewing time and planting time are in direct competition with each other!!!

Graphic Olya Shirt

I am late to this particular appreciation society.  I have numerous Paper Theory patterns, but only purchased the Olya Shirt in October last year, and only made it up in May!  And people, I cannot tell you why I left it so long!  I can only say that I thought wearing a “proper” shirt again after living in jersey tops would feel odd.  Well – it doesn’t!  I bought the pattern after making the blouse with the huge sleeves last year, there was just something about that fabric sitting on the cutting table that made me think of the Olya pattern, and I jumped.

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This version was made hot on the heels of the dark navy blue one, as in I cut it out on the Saturday morning after the Friday finishing!  No changes to the overall pattern, just the sleeve binding and placket construction.  This time I sewed both pieces to the outside and turned them in, instead of sewing to the inside.  I just prefer this method.  It means I just sew the straight seam and leave out the short sewing line making the “box” at the top, as this would get in the way of getting everything out of the way to the inside.  The finish is good and I’m happy with it- having handstitched on the  inside again.  And guess what – this time I managed to get the pieces on the right side!  I have proper cuffs!

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What I love is how different this one feels to wear compared to the heavier viscose crepe of the first one.   I’m going to be making more of these!  The fabric is a cotton/silk voile that I got probably 3 years ago now, and it’s fabulous to work with, even better to wear!  Usually I’d French seam this fabric, but opportunities for that finish on this shirt are non existant, so the overlocker had to do.  It is still neatly finished on the inside, and there is no visible bulk on the outside.  Cuffs and collars and the buttonstand were interfaced with fine sheer fusible.  I was lucky to find enough buttons in the stash that worked, I didn’t want solid colour buttons, so these with the fleck of white work really well.  I’ve worn this shirt so many times since making it – basically as soon as it’s washed and ironed I make a reason to wear it!

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I love the pleat from the yoke and the longer line shirt hem

I love it with the trousers in my current wardrobe – particularly the Kew Pants and Teddy Pants from Style Arc, & I can’t wait to try it with the linen trousers in my summer wardrobe, but the weather is seriously messing us around!  April was cold and dry (only 9% of the usual rain fell!) and May is making up for that instead of being the glorious introduction to summer that we all love.  So for now, I only have winter trousers to try the shirt with, but I’m happy anyway.  I have some olive viscose with a leaf print on its way for another shirt, and I might have had to order olive linen for trousers to go with it!  It looks like olive will be my new rust.

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In the mean time – if you’ve been eyeing out this pattern with an idea of making it, look at the photos on Instagram, #olyashirt, and see how well it suits just about everyone who’s made it!  If you’re not into too much ease, go down a size or two when you toile, but give it a try!  I really do love this pattern and I can see more in my sewing future – I might even try a colour blocked one!!

My Heart Goes Boom Boom, Boom

Well, here’s the first of what will be many!  Finally I have photos of the finished Olya Shirt I started at the beginning of March.  With the weather being so rubbish, I had a long time to wait for something decent that did the shirt justice.  Of course, this means that in the mean time, I was able to wear the shirt and be even more happy with it!

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Olya Shirt from Paper Theory

As described in the work in progress post, I made the 14, with no adjustments.  I also changed the constructions of the cuff binding and tower plackets slightly – spending so much time on getting those pieces on nice and straight that I made a rather large mistake…  I put them on the wrong sides!!!  Nevermind, the shirt still works, but I was annoyed when I finally discovered it when I put on my perfectly made cuffs!stripe olya 2

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It hasn’t altered my love of the shirt.  As previously stated, the instructions are good and clear and leave no doubts as to how to proceed.  The fabric is viscose marocaine, which has a crepe-like texture.  It’s heavier than regular viscose, not as drapey.  It was great to work with as it doesn’t slip around!

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I’ve worn this shirt loads and now wonder why I hadn’t got round to making it earlier, I have had the pattern since October!  I’ve made a second already, and am planning a third to happen pretty soon!

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Lovely Lander Pants

After making a pair about 2-3 years ago, I’ve finally made another pair of the Lander Pants, pattern by True Bias.  It’s not been an intentional delay – I just needed the right fabric!  My 3m purchase of the cotton/linen twill from Fabworks back in March was the perfect buy, and I knew I had a candidate for another pair of these trousers.

I’d made the size 12 the last time – but in a stretch denim – so needed to take them in to get the right fit.  This time I went with the 12 again, but was prepared to have to possibly tweak in the plus side this time!  I cut the pocket linings from a piece of leftover print cotton in the stash, and kept all the topstitching simple and in the same colour as the fabric.

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Lander Pants with Burdastyle jacket

The outer leg seam is the one with the 2.5cm seam allowance, enabling a good chance at getting the fit tweaked over the hip and into the waist.  I started with half of that, 1.25cm all the way down and tried the pants on.  To my surprise, I realised I could take in the entire seam allowance again, from the top!  So I popped it under the needle and stitched the 2.5cm allowance.  It still fitted just fine!  There was the right amount of snugness over the hip and tummy, the front crotch area had no lines and the back was ok too!  Miracles!!  So I popped the waistband on and voila!

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I honestly expected to need more room than that, but they are comfortably snug, and only slightly loosen during the day with sitting and wandering about the house!  (Still not really going anywhere)  For the length, I needed to loose 9cm…  So I turned up a 4.5cm hem twice – sorted!  It gives a nice heavy weight to the hem, keeping the width of the trousers in place.

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I’m loving these, definitely needed another pair, and the blue is perfect.  These pants are going to be a great addition to the spring/autumn as well as winter wardrobes.  Might even keep them out during the summer, for those definitely inclement rainy British “summer” days.  And, given how delayed spring has been here in the UK this year, these trousers have been a properly good addition the my wardrobe!

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Tutorial: How to get a sharp square corner.

The eternal question for sewists – or at least one of them – is this:  How do you get a nice sharp corner on collars and cuffs.  Include waistbands, lined pockets and jacket revers with notched collars.  Here’s the method I use, it involves no cutting of angles at the corner, which just makes a weaker point.  I learnt this technique at a tailoring course, many years ago, and it’s worked for me!  I’m going to demonstrate by using one of the cuffs made for the Olya Shirt.  Please excuse my fluffy ironing board, and un-edited photos!

  1. Once your seams are sewn, layer them by trimming the un-interfaced seam allowance down by half.
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  2. Using the point of the iron, press the seam allowance onto the interfaced piece, nudging and pushing but be careful not to stretch anything.  Give it a good press.  You should be able to see that you have some “bulging” on the interfaced side.
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  3. Now – you want to start with the side seams of the cuff, fold the seam allowance onto the interfaced side of the piece so that you just see the stitching line.  It just needs to roll slightly up.  Now press that, well.
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  4. Once both sides are done, fold about 3-5cm of the long edge in the same way, ensuring that you get the seam allowance of the already folded side tucked sharply into the fold.  Press well again, especially on the corner where you’ll have more bulk.  On really bulky fabrics like denim or coating, you will want to get the clapper (or hammer) out and reduce bulk.  You could also shave some of the pile off fluffy coating fabrics, or cut the seam allowance at an angle, bevelling the edge.
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  5. Now, put your thumb into the cuff/collar, etc and place your forefinger on the outside, on the folded over corners, and pinch tightly.
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  6. Turn the fabric over the corner with your other hand, pushing with your forefinger into that corner to ensure as much of the fabric goes over as possible.
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  7. It’ll look something like this at this point, a bit rounded, not 100% sharp. Using a timber or plastic point turner, insert it into the cuff and gently push the corner, while pulling the fabric down to get the rest of the corner to pop out.  BE GENTLE!  And whatever you do, DON’T USE YOUR SCISSORS FOR THIS JOB!  Seriously, unless you want to be redoing the entire thing because you’ve gone and poked a hole in the fabric, leave the scissors on the table!  You might find the back of a seam ripper handy to encourage more reluctant fabrics to turn better, from the outside!
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  8. Now you can press the corner and edges again, using your fingers to manipulate the fabric.
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  9. I roll the under side slightly under so there’s no seam line showing.
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completed cuff, this is the underside of the corner.

And that’s a 90 degree corner done!  Believe it or not, the same method can be used for collars where the angle is more acute, but this time it will involve cutting some seam allowance away.  So here’s the same thing, but for the collar of the Olya Shirt.

  1. Same as above, sew seam, layer seam and press allowances onto the interfaced piece.
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  2. Press the side seams onto the interfaced side, then the long side, approx 3-4cm worth.  This time you’ll see there’s folded seam allowance sticking out beyond the folded lines.  Left like this there’s no way to get a sharp point.
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  3. We have to cut it off, but before you do, flip the piece over and check where the stitching line is, you do not want to be cutting “blind” and end up snipping the stitching!  Cut just enough of the seam allowances so none extend past the pressed fold.
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  4. Turn in the same way as for the cuff and press well.
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Completed collar corner!

 

And that’s it!!  Your first few might be a little wobbly, but persevere with the technique, it really does work and is so much better than chopping a 45 degree angle off the corner.  I’ve seen so many corners ruined with that technique as with wearing and washing the remaining tiny bit of fabric is weakened and turns to fluffy  shreds.  Good luck with your corners and edges!

P.S. if you’re using this for a pocket flap where you have a fold and a stitched side seam, just press the stitched seam onto the flap and hold it while you turn the corner.  Works well for waistbands too!

Please click on the collage photos to see them much bigger and get more detail.

Work in Progress Wednesday 4/21

Three minutes left of Wednesday – where did the time go!?  I thought I’d show you all my latest sewing project, as I seem to have been sewing in secret lately, and only showing off finished items.  Today, I’ve been making the Olya Shirt, pattern by Paper Theory.  I bought the pattern in October/November last year but only managed to get it toiled last week!

My measurements suggested I make the 16, but the finished measurements indicated a lot more ease than I’d usually be comfortable with.  Yes, I do know this is ssupposed to be an oversized shirt, but there’s baggy and there’s tent.  At frst, I thougth I’d toile the 12, but hedged my bets and went with the 14 as a middle ground instead.  Perfect choice!  I decided it needed no adjustments, sleeves are the right length, cuffs not tight, shirt length fine and just enough “oversize” in the circumference measurements.

My fabric is from Rainbow Fabrics, viscose morrocaine (sadly now sold out).  It has a lovely, crepe-like texture, and the dark dark navy and ecru irregular, zebra-ish stripe is right up my street.  It is light and drapey, but has good weight and doesn’t slip around like ordinary viscose does.  Cuffs, collar pieces and front band are interfaced with a fine sheer polyester interfacing, not adding bulk.

The construction of the shirt is different to your usual shirt, because of the style lines.  The front yoke and sleeve are one piece,and the shoulder seam and insertion of the sleeve head happens in the same seam!  It looks like it’s going to be clunky, but it’s anything but.  Tara’s instructions are clear, unambiguous and direct.  Some indie designers get so into the instructions that they get confusing and I ignore them entirely!

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Top and middle, plackets on the sleeves. Understitching the back yoke. Right, box pleat, back yoke and stay-stitched neckline

One thing I did differently, right at the beginning, was to change the way the sleeve plackets are sewn.  I sewed the tower placket piece as described, but the binding I sewed to the right side.  This is because I don’t like seeing stitching on binding, and if I’d done it the original way, I’d have to stitch on the front.  This way I handstiched the binding on the wrongside and topstitched the placket on the right.  Small changes.  I also staystitched the neck edges as soon as they were ready.  You don’t put the collar on until quite late in the game, and I didn’t want any stretching.

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I pick my sewing up in a bundle to prevent pieces hanging and stretching out while handling.

Talking about stretching out, be careful with handling the fabric pieces, the sleeve and shoulders can start to stretch before you get to sew them, so don’t let the pieces hang.  I pick up my sewing in a bundle so nothing hangs and drapes and potentially stretches out before I get to sew it up.

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Shoulder/sleeve seam, pivoting and snipping at the end of the shouder point, going into the sleeve head seam.

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The instructions really do give a good result – don’t ignore them! (this is as much a note to me as it is to you!)

So far I’m really happy with my shirt, it’s all going together really nicely and at the end of the day I have the buttonbands, collar, cuff and hem to do.  And I need to find buttons.  What’s the bet that, even with a drawer full of buttons, I won’t have the “right” buttons?

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So far, so good!!