Buttons: From stash
Elastic: From stash
Fabric: Ripped sheet from stash
Thread: From stash
Because I thought the first pattern with two inches of ease was too tight, I made the next with four inches of ease. Using a ripped sheet, I sewed up my bigger pattern and fussed with the sleeves. I finally got the sleeves right, after much experimenting and some kind email help from Cal, whose book I am using.
I wanted the shirt to be loose, but shapely. Even so, the back looked shapeless and, the same as with RTW shirts, I had a big puddle of fabric sitting on my backside. If I pulled the shirt so the hem hung evenly, there was plenty of room, so I don't think the problem was the shirt being too tight to fit over my hips. For whatever reason, shirts seldom stay pulled down and instead creep up to sit in a puddle of fabric just below the small of my back.
I finally almost fixed this by putting in two vertical double-sided darts, taking in the most fabric at the small of my back. Now the fit isn't perfect, but it is much, much better than most RTW button-ups I have tried.
After all this fussing about, I decided I had gone as far as I could without taking the best of the changes and cutting new fabric pieces. It's hard to see, but I had to sew on small pieces around the neckline for one of my changes. There is only so much of that I can do before I get lost and need to start fresh with a "best of" muslin.
I try to make my muslins wearable in the end, because I dislike wasting fabric. I also dislike going through all that work and having nothing to wear. So I stitched over all the raw edges, doing my best to make the stitching look intentional and decorative, when really, it is purely practical.
I wanted to put in bust darts, but after I sewed them in and pressed them and discovered they were some of the best darts I have sewn – not one pucker at the point, I realized that since the pattern wasn't drafted with horizontal darts, putting them in made the front side seam too short. So I ripped out those lovely, perfect darts.
The sleeves were pieced together and in poor shape, with rips and other maladies that made them unusable as sleeves. I ripped apart all the pieces I had sewn together to have enough fabric to cut out the sleeves, pressed the pieces, and turned them into seam binding for the armhole, pockets, and a skinny collar.
The collar is so skinny because that's all the fabric I had, but I think it looks good. I didn't bother to look up how to sew on a collar, so I need to remember to do that before I sew the next one. I folded under the raw edges of the collar, but the raw edge of the shirt neckline is unfinished.
I decided to use this wearable muslin to learn one more thing, buttonholes. I did some internet research and then read my sewing machine manual. I discovered I have a buttonhole foot, and after sewing several practice buttonholes, made some on my shirt. They were so easy, that I decided to put them on my pockets, too. As the pockets were already attached to the shirt, this was a bit tricky.
The buttons came from a black corduroy jacket when I replace the buttons with something more my style. For this shirt, I wanted one button in the center of my bust, where button-ups always gape and I end up sewing in a snap. I wanted one button low enough to prevent peeks of skin between my last button and waistband, but high enough that the shirt flows over my hips. After those two were placed, I had four buttons left and spaced them slightly unevenly between the two anchor buttons. I probably could have used a button above the bust one, but the shirt fits well enough that it's not a big problem.
The two largest buttons went on the pockets and my shirt was ready to wear.
I tried it on, expecting it would fit well enough, but not so well that I would want to wear it out of the house. The body fit was the best I could imagine. Not perfect, but surprisingly flattering. The arm holes gaped in the front and back because they didn't have the weight of the sleeves to pull them flat. After a bit of consideration, I threaded elastic (that I trimmed to size from a 1-inch elastic) through the arm hole seam binding and ended up with a sleeve style I adore.
Even though there are a few things I still want to work out with the pattern, I love this shirt. The seams where I pieced together the shirt front and back pieces fell in the perfect place for flattering, stylish details. The fit is loose, but shapely.
I like this shirt so much, that I wore it to interview for seasonal work at the local corn maze. I felt confident in the shirt. I could move easily, yet still wear something tailored. Then I looked at myself in natural lighting and saw that my chalk marks were still visible. Oh, well. Hopefully no one was looking that closely.
I am very temped to make another of these shirts, although I am curious if it will look as good if I leave off the pockets. I also want to see if the sleeves look the way I remember them from the muslin.
Even if the fit is only slightly better than RTW, the construction is much better. I used French seams whenever possible and finished my other seams. I have to force myself to attend to these details, but on the finished product, they make my smile.