The agony of sewing a shirt

It’s a. shirt…

To me that means it has a collar stand – instant angst.

As I write, I am confounded by changes in WordPress. Suddenly my browser is not supported. And the screen looks really weird.

Nonetheless, and moving on, I decided to revisit the Saraste Shirt, from the ‘Breaking the Pattern Workbook’ from Named Clothing. My first version, below, was Size 3 and a bit small. So I took out all those pattern sheets from the workbook and drafted Size 4.

For me, the most difficult and tedious part of this shirt is the collar/collar stand. It’s not hard! but it is, as I said, tedious.

To compound my native issue, my fabric is a stretch broadcloth. The added lycra just seems to get in my way at times. Practicing stitches on scraps is really really important to ensure the stretch factor is accommodated.

More later! Meanwhile, here’s a pic of a Cuban white tree frog who soaked up the sun on my front porch yesterday. He left overnight, messy little guy… Ciao! Coco

Working on a summer dress inspiration

After working on summer dress patterns that are repeats for me, I felt in need of a challenge and a change. I found this delightful dress on Pinterest, and, zoom, I was off on a fun project.

My first step was to source fabric – I knew I wanted something light, voile or challis, with a similar pattern.

Totally tired of struggling with the wily ways of rayon challis, I found Telio Verona Cotton Rayon Voile Dot Black/Ecru on From sewing other Verona voiles, I knew that the cotton content would work in my favor. Basically, it prevents extreme shrinkage and loss of shape. It’s really friendly fabric 🙂

The plan: a maxi with a two-tier skirt and a collared button-front bodice.

My starting point: a mash-up of the Style Arc Patricia Rose bodice (I love the fit and design of the bodice) and the Named Saraste blouse. The latter has a collar stand, a fairly narrow collar, and fits me well through the neck and shoulders (my original Saraste post is here).

Several readers have asked how to do a hack, would I do a video of the steps. Well, it’s an adventure, and, no, I’m not doing a video! I’m shy. But here are the basics for this bodice:

I aligned the Saraste and Patricia Rose at the center front and shoulder. And repeated for the back, center back and shoulder. An important checkpoint was the resulting length of the shoulder seams.

And I used the button front, collar stand, and collar from the Saraste.

Because this fabric is so light, I drafted facings for the front and back necklines. I wanted support for the collar – no flopping open, please. The facings, collar, collar stand, and the button band are interfaced with sew-in woven interfacing (Pellon SF7850, which I source online at JoAnn). I purposely did not use a fusible interfacing – fusibles freeze the fabric and can cause a major hiccough during construction with a light, loosely woven fabric (read that as ‘pieces don’t fit one another and the drape is gone).

After all that, I took the plunge and cut my fabrics. That sounds simple! but I had to cut the left bodice 2 times to get the center print-matching where I wanted it. The first one was a disappointment, because I was using mirror image tissue pieces. Missed the match by a hair, but I knew it would spoil the dress for me. Ahh…the second one was perfect.

This morning, after a week of work, I completed the bodice. Whew – but it was a blast.

I’m looking forward to working on the skirt, even though it means gathering yards of voile!

Bye for now – Coco

Breaking the Pattern – Saraste shirt

front closeup

I am in love with this shirt. It is by far the prettiest I’ve ever sewn – fit, details, drafting, rave on…


Fabric: Kaufman Kona cotton from JoAnn. Buttons: Akoya shell from Wawak.

Sewing notes:

  • I drafted the size 3, long-sleeve shirt without the shoulder vent,
  • And increased all my seam allowances to 5/8″.
  • Collar: Using the suggestions in the workbook, I decide to draft a long pointed collar. It’s so pretty! I’ve always been uneasy with collars, but this one is something  else. BTW, the collar on Named’s Reeta shirtdress was just awful, kind of ruined the dress for me (post here) but the ladies have really perfected this feature, this collar goes on like a dream.

Pointed collar

A tip: using a template to draw the curve at the collar band really helps.

Collar template

  • Sleeve: The original sleeve was very narrow and short, and kind of grabbed when I lifted my arm. I drafted  and cut out a new one with a few adjustments.
    • Added 1″ to the length.
    • Moved the side seam out 1″ at the hemline and re-drew the side seams and vents, resulting in a more commodious sleeve.
    • Dropped the curve in the hem edge by 1/2″ at the highest point, and re-drew the bottom edge.
    • Gathered the sleeve into the cuff for a nice soft finish.

sleeve bottom

A comparison of my original sleeve, and the new one I drafted:

Sleeve compare

  • The front princess seam…for my smaller girls, I flattened the curve on the side front by a scant 1/4″. This is an easy adjustment that really works.
  • Armscye: It’s very high and shallow.
    • Moved the shoulder out by 3/8″ and deepened the armscye by 3/8″ at the bottom, trued up each side.
  • Blouse:
    • Added 1/4″ to the side seam allowances at the waist marking (the blouse is very nipped at the waist) and trued the change up and down.
    • Did not face the back yoke, keeping it light and airy.


Between the Utu skirt (posted here) and the Saraste shirt, I’ve gotten more pleasure and fun than I ever anticipated!




Rock on! Coco

Breaking the Pattern – Utu Skirt


No, this is not the Utu Skirt from Breaking the Pattern by Named Clothing – it’s my ‘broken’ version 🙂 The pic below is my basic Utu:



The Utu is one of many many patterns and variations in the new book by Laura and Saara Huhta of Named Clothing. Their site includes photos and line art for all the included projects.

book front


  • Nummi bag
  • Sade blouse and tunic
  • Rae pants
  • Utu skirt and pinafore
  • Solina dress, jumpsuit and top
  • Saraste blouse, shirt dress and top
  • Kaste cocktail dress and butterfly sleeve dress
  • Palo jeans
  • Halla coat

It’s a lovely workbook, printed on heavy matte paper and beautifully written and illustrated. And it’s really a sewing 101. I was amazed by the instruction sets, suggestions, and information included in the book.

Sewing the Utu:

book utu

  • I sewed the size 3, and the fit was great.

book size chart

  • It’s described as a midi skirt, but I actually added 3″ to the length. To me, a midi should hover somewhere between the knee and ankle – but not just below the knee. Reference, I’m 5’6.5″.
  • The patterns include 3/8″ (1 cm) seam allowances, a scary thought for woven fabric, so I drafted my pattern with a 5/8″ SA.
  • I love the high shaped waist, which is backed by a very deep facing. Nice drafting.
  • And the silhouette, as a pencil skirt, is perfect.
  • Not so nice – the front cross-over, right and left side, is very narrow. When I sat, the skirt split open to my ……
  • And it was just so plain.

So I broke it!

Fabric: Sportswear Stretch Corduroy Fabric -Rust from JoAnn

I removed 2.5″ from the front edges, added a 1″ button band and 4 belt loops, and fashioned a 1.5″ wide belt.

breaking it

Great little skirt!



I like this so much that I’m planning to do another 🙂 And I’m also going to break two more patterns!


Bye for now – Coco

Named – Reeta Shirtdress ho hum


No head and not happy. I don’t know why I keep sewing shirt dress designs. Wishful thinking. I don’t even like collars. But here I am again, so I’ll try to give a balanced review.

I love the promise…

line art

But it just didn’t work. The silhouette is nice, I even like it without any cinching at the waistline. In the first pic, however, I’ve use an self-fabric belt (from Vogue 8807).


I’m not a fan of drawstrings and so on, and this little belt is a nice option. Easy to do. Without any belt…



But –  I just don’t like the design on me.

Moving on to the pattern. It’s a bit of a beast, because the collar is totally wonky. I’m being generous. This is the worst collar/neckline drafting I’ve ever encountered.

I’m really good at sewing! but the collar and neckline just did not want to meet. I was working with high-thread count poplin, but, frankly – horrible drafting. I really tried, lots of pins, and it just didn’t work. To make me feel better, all 4 of the reviews I read mentioned issues with this CRITICAL area. Attaching the collar to the neckline. The pic below is hardly suggestive of the impossibility of sewing the collar into the neckline AND the facing.


I ended up trimming the neckline at the front and drafting a completely new collar. I have little patience for poor drafting and would just as soon try to save a garment with something else.

My collar:

new collar 1

Being a little discouraged, and looking for some fun, I drew a curved edge to my collar to offset the pointed lapel. Cute, right?

new collar 2

And my own collar and neckline worked just fine.

Sewing notes:

  • I drafted the size 42. It worked up to be somewhere between a size 12 and size 14 in Big Four sizing. It’s a little big on me across the  back, but it’s pretty comfortable. I think a size 40 would have been too small.
  • I started with the recommended 4 yards of 44″ wide fabric. And shortened my front and back by 8 1/2″. I could not have done the full midi-length in the suggested yardage.
  • I drew the sleeves to the pattern, but I did not do the double-up sewed-in-cuff view. And I ended up cutting off several inches and doing a 1.25″ hem at elbow length.
  • I added in-seam pockets. It blows my mind that this pattern doesn’t have pockets.


  • Mine are attached 3″ below the waistline, and to make them really comfortable, they’re topstitched to the front. No waving pockets please…

Nonetheless, I’m ditching this pattern and moving on. Summer is here, replete with rain, mosquitoes, and lots of opportunity for fun lightweight garments.

Lights out on this one!


Parting thought: I’m sick of black and white and grey! Forget about the advice on colors for grey hair. I’m going back to exuberant color and patterns. The alternative is just not me!

Ciao! Coco