Burda to the rescue
Back last year when it was Shirt A Month time, I wanted to revisit some of the Folkwear patterns that I still have from my old hippie days. I enjoy ethnic/folkloric styles, and wanted to make something that had a Euro-type heritage. The Asian styles are beautiful, but as a blue-eyed ex-blonde I always feel like an obvious imposter. Almost like wearing a fake moustache.
So, there was ample yardage of a beautiful rustic linen in stash, and I decided to go out and do the best work I could possibly do to make the shirt and its smock-like embellishment based on pintucks. I pulled dozens of threads to be sure everything was absolutely on grain; even pulled a thread for each tuck. I was super careful with sewn-in interfacing, which involved lots of hand basting. There are also about a thousand little pleats that had to be basted, because the shirt body and sleeves are pleated, not gathered, at the yoke and armscye.
It was a punch to the gut when I got to the point that I could try it on and it looked AWFUL. No photos, sorry. I didn’t have the heart. There was all kinds of fabric bunching up going on around the armscye. A larger gusset didn’t seem to help. So I put it all in a plastic baggie and set it aside hoping to somehow save it later. The pattern I threw away in disgust.
The baggie sat on my cutting table, always in my way, for over six months. This week I decided to either make something of the half-finished shirt, or throw it away, too.
Those old Burda WOF/BurdaStyle (rantette: I hate those run-on names made from two words) magazines do come in handy. I knew I wanted a style that was somewhat shirt-like, but no buttons, and with bust darts. #121 from July of 2011 had all that and more – those shoulder seams are much more forward than normal – which meant that the pintuck embellishment I wanted to save would extend farther down the front.
The original for this pattern had a silk front and jersey back. No fitting adjustments were needed to make it work in all linen. The little cap sleeves are optional – just leave them off for a sleeveless version if you like.
Alterations: Since this pattern was for regular sizes only, I gave myself a 1/2 inch FBA and some extra fit insurance at the hip. Also made the swayback alteration that I now know I always need. I also decided to round off the hem, keeping the high-low style.
On the front, I added a horizontal seam. On the Croatian shirt, the tucks were just released where they ended, but cuts made to create the front placket meant I’d have a better chance at a save if the fronts were just cut separately and a lower front sewn on. I fell stitched the folds of the original front bands so the inside would be clean-finished, and then sewed the center fronts together by hand, raising the point of the opening. True to Burda form, that original front slit is way too deep for old hippies. The young ones may enjoy showing more skin. Bias binding finished off the armscyes.
Enough yakking. Here’s the end result, shown with the ancient Kenmore on which it was sewn. 3 yards of 60″ linen and I ended up with a sleeveless top! Ah, well. It does feel good that ALL of the fabric didn’t end up in the trash. There is at least something to show for it. And it still has a little folkloric flair. And I can wear it right away.
For those that may be interested, here’s a closeup of the embellishment. First, a set of pintucks is stitched. The two pintucks on the outside are left as is. The four in the center are mock-smocked – the folds are tacked together or to the shirt front to produce a honeycomb effect. I added the machine made herringbone stitch on what was originally supposed to be the button band. (My Janome with the beautiful buttonholes is in a funk and I’m not sure what to do about her. Meantime I’m sewing things without buttonholes)
Here’s another shot where I’ve highlighted the positioning of the tacking stitches, in case anyone wants to duplicate this detail. The thread is passed from one tack to the next by hiding it in the fold of the pintuck. The tacking is worked vertically.
Happy sewing, all!