Cashmerette Harrison Shirt

Cashmerette Harrison Shirt

Like many people with curves, I struggle to find button-down shirts that work for my body. If the placket doesn’t gape then it’s a shapeless sack. If it has any shape then the placket gapes.

My last experience with Cashmerette convinced me that I need to take a closer look at their patterns so I decided to give the Harrison shirt a try.

Finally, the answer to your prayers: a fitted button-down shirt that doesn’t gape over curves! The Harrison Shirt is designed with double princess seams for a uniquely curve-friendly fit and all the features of a classic shirt, including a two-piece collar, yoke, and placket, separate button bands, and buttoned cuffs. “

Sewing Bee

I was thrilled to make it to round 3 of the Pattern Review 2021 Sewing Bee and this shirt was my entry. The challenge was to make a garment in a print fabric and have the fabric pattern match across seamlines – to make it look ‘seamless.’ This pattern was not the best choice for this challenge because the double princess seams over the bust are basically impossible to pattern match (or I don’t yet have those skills). Ultimately, I went with this pattern because I wanted this shirt in my wardrobe and I have vowed to only spend time sewing things I will actually wear on a regular basis.

Fabric

The fabric I used is “Cotton Viscose Fabric Cashmere Blue Ivy Gingham’ from JoAnn. Fabric content is 60% cotton/40% viscose. It’s very soft and drapes really nicely. It also stretches just a bit on the cross grain. That wee bit of stretching meant a lot of pin basting, machine basting, hand basting and some Wonder Tape to align the fabric print over seams.

Toile

Before cutting into my fabric I did a quick toile. YES! I DID! I marked the grain lines and everything!

When I entered my measurements into Cashmerette’s website it was suggested that I sew a 14 G/H with a 2″ FBA, 18 waist and 16 hip. For the toile I went the lazy route and cut a straight 18. The thought of an FBA just was so unappealing. After messing around a bit with the toile, I settled on a 16 G/H with slight grading to an 18 for the waist and hip. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have more room over the hips if I’m going to always wear this over jeans or trousers.

Sleeve sizing: The sleeves don’t have a lot of ease below the elbows. My arms are not inordinately large – they are average sized. I would suggest anyone making this measure the sleeve width before cutting the fabric. Next time I use this pattern I will add 1/2″ ease between the elbow and the cuff.

Pattern Matching

Honestly, I don’t have much experience matching patterns. I knew that everyone else in this round of the Sewing Bee would be doing far more complicated projects (one entrant made a lined jacket, lined skirt, blouse and scarf in a WEEK – and it’s perfection) so I decided to focus on doing a very good job of practicing pattern matching on a relatively simple garment instead of trying to compete with those who sew at an advanced level. My goal was to match the main horizontal line around the bodice. There were a total of 11 seams to match around the bodice, then I also worked to have the sleeves match at the same point. The horizontal line I chose was at my waist.

First, I penciled in all of the seam allowances on the pattern pieces so I could fold them back and see where seams would intersect. I used Frixion pens to mark the fabric design. A couple of pieces were impossible to match because there were no markings (the sleeve plackets). There were also no markings on the sleeves so I did not cut those until after the bodice was completely assembled and then I marked the pattern tissue and cut.

One thing I have learned this year is the value of careful pressing and a good ham

I had one piece in the back that I was never able to align properly so it’s totally wacky at the yoke BUT it matches on the horizontal at the middle!

Sewing

Once everything is cut out and interfaced, this is a very straightforward pattern. Things that seemed complicated, like doing the button band, would be easy if it was not for the print.

Many times the pattern match was off by just a few threads.

Only one section was very confusing and that was the two piece sleeve placket. In the end, the pieces went in well and it’s very nice looking but I think the instructions could be a bit clearer (or perhaps more detailed).

The methods to attach the cuffs and button bands are very good. For the button bands, the shirt is hemmed first, then the button band is added. So if your finished hem is not precisely 3/4″, you can make the button band the length you need. The collar goes on next and, again, things fit together really nicely. It probably helped that I was being so careful to matching everything but if that’s what attention gets you then I guess I should be sew without distractions more often!

For the buttons, I used Prym self-covered button kits. I used 1/2″ covered buttons and matched the fabric to the button placket as best I could. Lesson learned: the shank portion has to be aligned perfectly with your fabric print if you want to easily match button to button band. I knew I should have bought more button kits than I needed!

Think I will need to replace that button that will not line up straight!

Conclusion

For the first time since about the year 2000, I have a button down shirt that fits well! I give a lot of credit to the crew at Cashmerette for designing a great pattern.

In looking at the gallery contest entries for the Sewing Bee I know that I won’t be moving forward and that’s okay because I am really excited to put this shirt into rotation in my wardrobe.

Sewing as an activity in my life right now …

In the last couple of months I have had a lot of success with my sewing. It’s a stupid and clichéd understatement to say that this is a ‘stressful time.’ Although I am ‘okay’, there is massive uncertainty and I would be lying if I said that there aren’t worries that keep pushing their way to the front of my mind.

One of my ways of dealing with stress is to be very present and focus on the task at hand. My earliest memory of this coping mechanism is of when I was 6 and I bonked my head very hard on a porcelain water fountain. While I waited in the classroom for a parent to pick me up, I worked on a colouring book. I recall focusing VERY hard on staying within the lines – and that kept me from freaking out over the massive goose egg that was growing on my forehead. These days I am focusing very hard on whatever it is I’m doing. It’s helping me to get through this time until we get the all clear, and also helping my sewing!

Take care.

Jacket Express with Recycled Denim

Jacket Express with Recycled Denim

A couple of years ago I bought the Craftsy class on industry sewing secrets (“Sew Better Sew Faster“) taught by Janet Pray. The class came with the Jacket Express pattern from Islander Sewing Systems. I didn’t watch the class and just filed the pattern away.

My Bespoke PJs got me into Round 2 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee. This week the challenge was to make an adult garment using ONLY recycled denim. I needed a pattern for a garment that I would actually wear on a regular basis AND said pattern needed to be comprised of many small piece. Jacket Express met the bill on the latter, and I could make a few changes to the design.

I convinced my husband to give up a couple of pairs of jeans but everything else came from the local Goodwill where I managed to find a calf-length denim dress, a pair of ladies jeans in stretch black denim and a pair of men’s jeans in size 48. The denim below is what I started with. I didn’t use the garments that are marked with red X’s.

For about an eighth of a second I considered spending time picking out the leg seams but I had enough denim so why bother. Then I set about laying out the pattern pieces so the colours would look okay. The black jeans provided just enough for the front and back side panels, the inside panel of the sleeves and the cuffs. Black is slimming, right? 🤣

Laying out the pattern

To make this wearable for me I first decided that I didn’t want the rounded collar. There’s a facing all the way around the garment so I simply drafted a piece of facing for the back neck. Then I skipped the breast pocket flaps because they would scream ‘1980s jean jacket.’ My denim was pretty heavy weight so I also left off the welt pockets as they would add bulk. This was going to be a jacket made of denim, not a jean jacket. Once all the pieces were cut I interfaced everything and it was …

Time to Sew

Although I had access to the Craftsy class (4 hours!) the instruction booklet is excellent so I didn’t bother with watching the video. I’ve attended a couple of Janet Pray’s classes at sewing events so am familiar with how to place the hands and hold the fabric so you take advantage of the feed dogs.

I put a denim needle in my machine, threaded the serger so the thread colours would work with my denim and set to work, following along with each step. The instructions are in the order needed to give a professional finish while still constructing with some speed. There is a LOT of jumping back and forth between stitching a seam on the machine, then over to the serger, then the iron, then back to the machine which now needs topstitch thread, stitching two rows and changing back to poly thread … But the results were really good right from the start so I just kept following along. All of the steps made sense, especially since there’s so much top stitching.

Pretty buttons from Fabric Mart

There was only one point when I watched the video and that was for the cuffs. The instructions in the pattern booklet were a bit of a head scratcher and since my project was completed, I’ve read several reviews that said the same thing. I managed to get them done right without any hand stitching. Actually, the only hand stitching in the whole project was slipstitching the back facing over the yoke and sewing on the shank buttons. Gotta love that!

One thing I wish I had done was use my cover stitch machine. Since I hadn’t used the pattern before I wasn’t sure if that would fit in and it definitely would. In a few cases you’re instructed to stitch just a single line of topstitching but in most cases it is two lines.

A surprise that I hadn’t considered was an interesting geometric design that appeared when I left off the breast pocket flap. The pocket is sewn to the interior of the garment (I used pockets from a pair of jeans) and then a facing is added. This meant that there was an opening that was highlighted nicely by the colour blocking.

This wasn’t supposed to look like a standard jean jacket so I added straps at the waist – you know, the kind that you can tighten up when you’re smaller and loosen up when your waist expands? I just unpicked two jeans waistbands and stitched them at the side panels. I like the look and at some point I can add another button hole to cinch the waist in a bit. 😉

Part of this contest is always going above and beyond so I considered different embellishments. My initial thought was bleach painting but the black denim just turned copper. Then I thought about machine stitching a row of leaves and adding rhinestones for flowers. In the end, I skipped all of the bling stuff because I don’t think I’d wear the jacket if it was flowery or too feminine.

One thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that I prefer simple garments without a lot of embellishment, especially for things like jackets that I’ll wear frequently. A wild print is fun for a dress or a top but all that colour and print has to be balanced with clean shapes. For this, I decided that less is more.

Several sewists I follow on Instagram have embroidered phrases and thoughts inside their garments so instead of putting a design on the outside, I used the lettering feature on my Brother PS500 and stitched a quote on the inside of the hem facing. For everyone this has been a really hard year and I wanted something quiet that would reinforce my optimism every time I put on the jacket.

Even if I knew the world would fall to pieces tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree.

Martin Luther

Once that was done and all of the necessary topstitching completed, I added the buttonholes and buttons and was done!

For the purposes of the contest, this was completed in almost exactly six days (Sunday noon through Saturday noon). Other than thrifted denim, I used interfacing, thread and buttons. (The buttons were from a big bag that I got at FabricMart in November.)

Summary

This is one of my better projects. It doesn’t feel like a jean jacket. And the interior looks good enough that I would throw it over a chair in a public place and not be worried about raw seams.

The basic construction of the jacket was far easier than I expected. The instructions are so good that I think a beginner could tackle this project. You need to be pretty present when doing the topstitching and the seam allowances aren’t large (1/4″ or 3/8″) so there isn’t much room for error.

Would I use this pattern again? Yes! Next time I would add a few inches to the length but this might be awfully nice in brocade or velvet. Hmmmm …