Friday, June 8, 2012

Royal (not a) Pain in the Neck Shirt

No, the shirt wasn't a pain in the neck to sew. But I don't absolutely love it, because I simply do not like to wear shirts. This particular one was yet another attempt to change my mind, but it didn't. I still don't like shirts, and if you stick with me, I'll explain why.

Last summer I purchased a washed tencel fabric in a gorgeous shade of royal blue from Homespun Boutique in Ithaca. Since then, I've been waiting for it to tell me what it wanted to be. I knew I wanted a top out of it, but I wasn't sure if it would be a shell or a shirt. Since a shirt requires buttons, I interviewed several blue shirt buttons from Sawyer Brook (oh, how I love having my studio right next door to SB. I had to walk all of 30 feet to get these buttons!). If I found a button that looked great, I would make a shirt.

Well, that square beauty on the right sure looked good! It's dyed corozo, aka "vegetable ivory", carved from the tagua nut. The color is a perfect match, and the square shape mimics the straight lines of the woven stripes in the fabric. This little button was my decision maker, and I moved forward with making a shirt. (If you're interested in the button, it is available in several colors here.)

I started with the same OOP Sandra Betzina Vogue pattern I used for my Nuevo Yukata shirt last summer. This time I left the neckline as drafted, rather than lowering the front a bit. I drafted a square-cornered mandarin collar and a long pocket. 

In the pattern instructions, Sandra gives permission to not put buttons at the top if there are no plans to wear it buttoned up. I don't like close-fitting fabric at my neck, and knew I'd never wear it buttoned, so I took advantage of her permission.

The shirt went together very easily. The fabric has good drape and the texture keeps it from being slippery. I made short sleeves and turned the sleeve hem allowance up twice and stitched, like the front bands are done. I did the same at the top of the pocket. I would have done the same at the hem, but didn't cut it long enough to do so. 

I really like how the buttons look on the fabric. I love how the grain of the natural nut shows in the finished button.

Button nirvana!

Ok, so why don't I like shirts? I think it has to do with the fabric. I love knits because they are soft and smooth and don't stand away from my body. This washed tencel has nice drape and breathes well, and I have to say it's a relatively comfortable shirt. But there's just too much fabric at the neck, at least for summer wear. I wore it yesterday and found it to be comfortable in 60 degree temperatures, but soon the weather will be too warm to wear it. I think I'll get more use out of it in fall and spring, when I can also wear it with a tank or cami underneath.
Not a pain in the neck, and such a gorgeous color!


  1. Wow, a gorgeous shirt, Dixie. I love the texture of that beautiful fabric and the striking color. You perfectly matched the texture in the pocket. Those buttons are perfection. (I am a huge fan of the tagua nut!!!) It's too bad that you don't love the end result more. But I do get it. I make woven tops and then force myself to wear them. :) Knits feel so much more natural.

    Anyway, it is nice and I hope you get some wear out of it!

  2. Your shirt looks fantastic - I understand that knit is comfy but this really looks great on you.

  3. I love love love the feel of tencel, and that is gorgeous weave and color.

    I think it looks great on you, but I hear you on shirts. My attitude isn't so much that I don't like shirts, it's that I don't like the classic COLLARS that go with shirts. That's where the incredibly gorgeous neckline treatments of vintage clothes excel, imho. Oh yeah, & in spite of the fact that I'm obsessed with buttons, I don't like to spend time buttoning up shirts - I want it to slip over my head.

    All that said, I hope you get a lot of wear out of this, because I really do think it looks fab on you!

  4. Shirt looks great and I love your button choice. Really pretty.

  5. I'm with you on the shirt - I dislike collars around my neck too. But I have to say this shirt looks FABULOUS on you. Very flattering & the colour is great on you. Pity you're not feeling the love. :)

  6. You look fabulous in this color, and the shirt fits great. With that lovely fabric and beautiful buttons, I hope your shirt can get some wear time. I like the idea of wearing it over a cami.

    And your studio is next to Sawyer Brook? That would be both amazing and dangerous!

    1. Thank you for your comments, Andrea. Amazing and dangerous is actually my job. I work at Sawyer Brook! I manage the button department
      (including photographing them and posting them on the web), do some of the clerical work, fill in when the shipper is out, etc. I've been there for 9 years, and I love it! When the studio space became available 2 years ago, it was a no-brainer decision to move my sewing, knitting, and paper crafting there. I am truly blessed!

  7. I love everything about your shirt. The color – the fit – the buttons!

    PS: I was born and raised about 40 miles from Ithaca! I tried to visit Homespun Boutique while visiting home, but they were closed on Saturdays during the summer.

    1. Elaray - I was born in Ithaca, and lived there until 1995. My parents are still there, which gives me a reason to go back. What town did you live in?
      Thank you for your compliments!

  8. I am another one who doesn't like high collars around my neck, that could be in part because I have no neck, well almost.

    I love that color on you, and it is a great idea to wear the shirt as an over shirt over a cami or tank. It all came together beautifully. But then again, everything you make does. Remind me why I like you. 8-D

  9. I love the shirt on you and think the collar frames your gorgeous face perfectly. I am a shirt person, though. I do wear knits most often, but love to sew and wear shirts from time to time. The color and drape of the tencel fabric is really nice.

  10. It's a shame that you don't love the shirt, because it flatters you so well - both the colour and the shape. But, wearability is the main thing, isn't it? I normally don't like shirts because I find them boxy or TOO fitted- but then, I'm talking about RTW shirts. I haven't made any of my own because I'm too busy sewing knits! :-)

  11. Beautiful! One of the reasons I enjoy your blog is that we have the same shape, and as much as I love knits, I must say the vertical line of buttons down the front is far more flattering on me than my vast expanse of boobage in a knit top. De-emphasizes the horizontal apex, so has a slimming effect.

    Would be interesting to see it with no collar at all - just a simple V or rounded neckline.

    I agree with the others - the fabric is gorgeous, the style is flattering, and your work is impeccable.

  12. I really love that shirt! The fabric is lovely, the buttons perfect and the colour is fabulous on you. Give it some time. Maybe it just feels different than your knit tops and you need to get used to it.

    And what a dream job you have, Dixie! Lucky you.

  13. Many thanks to all for your kind comments. I do think I'll like wearing the shirt better in late summer, as I'll need the extra warmth then.
    I started another version right after finishing this one a couple of weeks ago. It's violet linen, with a colorful paisley print trim. I used the same type of collar, and now I'm thinking I'll remove it and make a facing. I might just let it sit until early September, and figure it out then. Sometimes things just need to rest for a while!