Yes, it's another post about fabric I got from Mood Fabrics on my trip to LA! But it's another gorgeous bit of yardage which I feel like I made a good decision about what pattern to pair it with! I vaguely knew what I wanted to make with it when I spotted it on the shelves. I love a classic plaid flannel shirt and the check of this Marc Jacobs cotton crepe really reminded me of that style of plaid. However, instead of a snuggly flannel this is a super fine, silky cotton crepe with a lovely drape, ideally suited to a very different type of shirt, one for layering under snuggly jumpers! I really liked the idea of a different kind of plaid shirt and set about finding the perfect pattern.
My first thought was a Grainline Archer as I already own and love the pattern but in my head I was imagining something a little more oversized that would show off the drape and flow of this lovely lightweight fabric. Then Kennis from Itch to Stitch put out a call for testers for her Mila Shirt, I looked at the line drawing and I was sold! It was just what I was picturing and I knew I could rely on Kennis for a good pattern with detailed instructions for all the fiddly shirt elements after making her Marbella Dress last year and being seriously impressed with the level of thought that went into it. I can also speak very highly for how well Kennis uses the testing process to make sure her pattern is the best it can be. A Facebook group was set up for all the testers to discuss the pattern with her and each other and a second test version was sewn up by testers who had time to make sure all the changes after the first round were just right. The shirt you see here is based on the first test version of the pattern so it's slightly different from the final release; the most noticeable changes were that the collar was reshaped (mine is much larger than the final version) and that a couple of inches of ease was removed from the waist to give the shirt some more shape.
Itch to Stitch sizing is super thorough and as with my Marbella dress I was very happy with the fit of this shirt straight 'out of the envelope', which I think is partly to do with the fact that sizing for cups from A-DD is included. It means I get a nice close fit at the upper chest and shoulders where I'm quite small whilst still having room in the bust without having to do any alterations. Using the D cup size, I cut the size 0 at the bust and waist and graded out to a 4 at the hips. I tend to usually fall within the one pattern size with most companies so I'd say Kennis drafts for a more top heavy shape and a slimmer hip than perhaps is standard. Grading between sizes is very simple and clear instructions for doing so are included in the pattern.
Looking at the pattern pieces I thought that the sleeves looked mega long so I gave the pattern pieces a quick measure (remembering to add on the depth of the cuff and remove the seam allowances) and compared it to my arm measurement. I took 2" off the sleeve length at the lengthen/shorten line as a result of this and probably could have done with a little more but I'll only ever wear them rolled up anyway so it's not important. The sleeves were shortened before the pattern was released but only by about 1/2", I'm quite short but I'd recommend giving them a measure to check! Speaking of rolled up sleeves the pattern does include the option of adding button up sleeve tabs to hold your rolled up cuffs in place but they're not a design feature I'm particularly fond of so I opted to do without.
As well as shortening the sleeves I removed some length from the hem to make it less of a tunic length as I thought I'd get more wear out of it as a shirt. The back hem line is slightly longer than the front so I levelled that off a bit while I was at it. Bearing in mind that I'm 5ft 3", this is the shirt with 2" removed from the front and sides of the hem, increasing to 3" at the back. I used my rolled hem foot as the fabric was so fine and the curves of the hem are quite tight so required a very narrow hem. A few different hemming options are thoroughly explained in the instructions which is great.
I managed to just about squeeze the shirt out of the 1.5 yards of beautiful plaid I had bought. The pattern recommends 2.25 yards and I would definitely say get at least two as I had to do a fair bit of juggling around and cut each piece individually without folding the fabric to get it all in! As the check is so small I wasn't overly concerned about pattern matching but I did make sure it lined up horizontally at the side seams and that my front and back pattern pieces were placed so the check was symmetrical either side of the centre. I made my life a bit easier by cutting the yoke and pocket pieces on the bias so they didn't have to be matched, mainly because I just love the look of that as a design feature anyway! That's actually a suggestion in the pattern instructions.
Various elements of the shirt need interfacing and as my fabric was so sheer I opted to use silk organza for mine rather than a fusible. I'm really pleased I did as I think a fusible would have changed the hand of the fabric too drastically, rather than just giving it a little strength and body as the organza did. I basted it to the areas that required it by hand, which didn't take long, then removed the basting when the shirt was assembled.
I had very little trouble with the instructions and really liked Kennis's techniques for all constructing all those fiddly, detailed elements of a shirt. I was particularly happy with the instructions for the centre front placket and the result I achieved. It's drafted beautifully too. One of those patterns where all the notches match up and everything comes together like it feels like it should. I veered off of the instructions only ever so slightly and mainly because I wanted to use techniques which I thought would be better for my delicate fabric than the standard shirt making techniques. For example I french seamed my side seams. I also used the burrito method to construct the yoke as I've done this a few times and love it. Peter from Male Pattern Boldness describes it really well in his shirt sew-along. Kennis did mention that she chose not to use this method in the instructions to keep the pattern more accessible for inexperienced sewers which I absolutely understand. I think this pattern would be a great one to try for your first shirt as the preparation notes and instructions are so through.
I surprised myself and actually abandoned my beloved collar construction method (using this tutorial from Four Square Walls) in order to give the more traditional Itch to Stitch method a try. I loved it and am really proud of how neat this turned out in such a shifty and fine fabric. I also think the cuffs are my neatest yet. Thanks Kennis! The only element of the pattern that I would change (and it's purely because of personal preference) is to have a placket on the cuffs instead of using a continuous lap of binding to finish the vent. Firstly, I prefer how a placket looks and secondly I love sewing plackets! Trying to bind that tight corner in this fabric was not fun.
If you're thinking about making this pattern it's worth noting now that the seam allowances are 3/8" as standard. I have a hard time remembering it with any pattern where that is the case; I'm a 5/8" kind of girl! Also I'd recommend stay stitching the neckline as soon as possible. It might be because of the delicate nature of the fabric I chose but I definitely feel like there was a lot of potential for that area to get stretched out of shape.
All in all I'm delighted with the shirt and really enjoyed the process of making it too. As with any shirt it was a time consuming process but I like taking my time and breaking it down into small steps. I'm so pleased I chose to keep it classic with this fabric. There are some other amazing plaid's in the Marc Jacob's range on the Mood site which I'm now keeping a keen eye on; loads of voiles which would make beautiful shirts or maybe even shirt dresses...it might be a winter of plaid for me!