Ottobre Autumn Palette

Otto Autumn PaletteAnother Ottobre shirt. For this one, I went back in the archives to find a shirt without front darts. This is model #18 from the 5/2014 issue. I wanted dartless because I wasn’t sure how they would act with the pintucked bib.

A few months back, I got interested in finding some hemp fabrics to try. This 6 oz. denim came from Mood, so it was an easy one to order. Most of the other sources I found were wholesale types, or Canadian. Some of those Canadian Etsy vendors have some yummy-looking goods, so I will probably try some of them later this year. I’m guessing that laws in the USA make selling hemp a little complicated.

The mood fabric is available in three different shades of blue. I ordered the darkest, indigo, because at first I thought I would make some drapey pants. (These photos have all been lightened so they don’t just look like dark blobs.) When it came, though, it seemed just a little too lightweight. Browsing the internet I saw denim shirts with pintucked fronts, and thought that would be a nice change from a plain front.

Otto Autumn Palette pintucksThere were a few changes made to the pattern. First, I decided that I wanted an applied bib front, rather than pintucks that were released or ran the length of the front. The bib is shaped with the bottom at an angle – longer at the center and shorter at the sindes. It seemed like a separate button band would be the best way to handle the center front, because there was a definite difference between the front and back of the fabric, and I wanted the seamlines and topstitching. So the right front was converted to a button band. The left has a cut-on facing. Of course, the pockets were left off, and I shortened the body 7 inches. Again, used real sleeve plackets instead of a binding.

This is a very loose fitting style with dropped shoulders. The sleeve caps are somewhat flattened, but not enough for me to fell the armscye. Maybe a better sewer could do that. I fake-felled that one, even though the others are felled Otto Autumn Palette backfor real.

The back is gathered, like the original pattern.

The hemp fabric was just as easy to work with as cotton or linen. One interesting finding: I got the best pressing with a dry iron. This particular hemp has a very nice drape and a silky feel. It will be really nice to wear.

So nice, in fact, that now I’m thinking about ordering another length and making the pants I had in mind in the first place. Two things are giving me pause: the indigo dye from this piece came off on my hands, ironing board cover, everywhere. I’ll wash the shirt a few more times with some vinegar and see if that helps. The other little problem is that the fabric is so silky that it snags. That’s not something you would expect from denim. But it feels so good, I can’t help but think about it.

OK, I have three new shirts now. Nice!

Ottobre Seashells

Happy new year!

Otto Seashells

This was my last project of 2019, but I didn’t get to write it up until now. It’s from Ottobre Woman, the spring 2019 issue. Otto often has a shirt in its collections, and this issue has two – a regular button front shirt or blouse, which is what I made here, and a camp shirt. Both patterns share the same body and sleeve, so once you get one of them fitted to your liking, you have two styles all ready to go.


The shirt as modeled in the magazine has a collar on a narrow stand. I wanted collarless, so I widened the band a quarter of an inch. Added pockets and little side vents, and I used a regular placket on the sleeve instead of the turned and stitched method they used (which would work fine on a lightweight material), also narrowed the cuff a bit.

It’s nice that Ottobre uses darts. The fit is always a little neater because of that, and anyone needing a full bus

t adjustment at least has a place to start. This style has bust darts and there is a dart built into the back yoke. The fit of this one is boxy but not oversized, quite trim actually. The shoulder is not an extended one.

The fabric is a cotton chambray.

Making shirts is slow sewing for me, but I do enjoy making them. There is a lot of edgestitching and topstitching and lots of fiddly little details, like those sleeve plackets. But the construction is really modular, and breaks down into nice little bite-sized pieces. The other really nice thing about shirts is that I wear them for years. They don’t wear out and they don’t really go out of style. Knit tops just don’t last as well, at least for me. They pill and stretch out of shape quickly. I’m coming to the point were I don’t think I will buy any more knit fabric. It is such a crap shoot as far as quality goes, and I don’t really enjoy working with it either.


Another construction note – I’ve used spray starch or fabric finish to tame silks and make them easier to handle, but have not routinely used it with cottons or linens. For some reason, I decided to use Best Press when making this shirt. What a difference! It made every step a little easier, I used a lot fewer pins, and all the topstitching looks nicer, too. So that is my new year’s resolution: use starch.

The Sewing Workshop Mixit Shirt

SW MixitThis is an older pattern – the copyright is 2009 – but the three pieces in the Mixit don’t look old to me. I have made the tank many times and appreciate its higher neckline and close fitting armholes. The pattern also includes a short sleeve top with a keyhole neckline, and the shirt that I have finally made up.

I did a very slight sloped shoulder adjustment on this. I decided to trace right in between the lines for the L and XL sizes. As it happens, that was a good guess. I don’t like my things to fit too closely. This came out with just the right ease for my taste. The shoulder seam falls where it should, and the sleeve cap is sits right, too. This is not an extended shoulder style.

The fabric is a soft cotton chambray.

This will most likely be a favorite and I’ll be looking for ways to change the pattern with other necklines. The neat little v-band collar is rather distinctive and I wouldn’t want to repeat it too many times. I’ve heard that this pattern is based on the even older “Elle”, which I also have. The Elle has a wider collar band, so my first change might be to use that band with the new body.

It’s very pleasant to make something that goes together with no drama and that has instructions that are easy to follow and cover everything, from stay stitching to directions for pressing. Good pattern.

This piece got me on a little shirt making kick and I made one more this last week. I’ll try to get it blogged before the new year.


Cutting Line Designs – Relax A Little

CLD RALNot long ago Fabricmart had some cottons that they listed as “Hawaiian Designer” goods. I bought a piece to make a shirt for the spouse and when it came, I was so impressed with the quality of the fabric that I bought three other prints – another one for him and two for me.

I sewed his shirt first (no picture) and the material was such a joy to work with. Lightweight, smooth, and cool, he has enjoyed wearing it this summer. It was incredibly selfless of me to make his first. At last, here is a shirt for me from the same material, different print.

The pattern is one I made once before, the little boxy shirt from Cutting Line Design’s Relax A Little pattern. The pattern also includes a skirt, something I am never likely to make.

I enjoyed making the previous version, and always meant to make it again. I like it in the Hawaiian print, even though the design details and topstitching really don’t show. This time I decided I also wanted it a little bigger. Previous version did fit, but I wanted it a little roomier this time, so I made a new tracing between the medium and large size. In this pattern, there is a big difference between the sizes.

The top as drafted is really, really short. I needed to lengthen it just to get it to cover my waistbands. This one I lengthened a total of 2-3/4 inches so that it is more of a high hip length. Other than leaving off the pockets, which are nowhere near the size they are shown on the envelope illustration, I made no other changes to the pattern.

This top sits nice and securely on my shoulders, with the neckband snug up to the back of my neck. it doesn’t seem to pull or ride backwards.

I might make another one of these in a solid fabric while these cut-on sleeves are still in style. A solid would show off the deep yoke and pockets, as well as all the top and edge stitching.

Jalie Rose

I’ve been on a mini sewing binge.

My last shirt got me pretty excited about the collar/stand directions Jalie gives with this pattern and made me want to make their actual design right away.

jalie rose_1

Lucky for me, Fabric Mart was having a timely sale on challis, so I ordered this fabric and made it up as soon as it arrived. It’s a very fine and floaty rayon, just right for swingy Rose.

I did some measuring and was happy to discover that I could cut a straight size and did not need to enlarge at the hemline. What that means for everyone else is that it has a very A-line shape. It also has the back pleated into the yoke, for even more hip room. Bust darts give it a bit of fit but overall it is very loose, very cool, very nice for hot weather.

jalie rose_2

The front button band is tiny – only about 5/8″ wide. If I understand the instructions, following their procedure would result in two layers of interfacing on both sides. That would have been too much for my lightweight fabric, so I cut and installed two really skinny strips. The little collar has a pretty shape. And then there were the collar stand instructions that I read very carefully to be sure I got it right this time. On the previous shirt, I mixed up an interfaced and uninterfaced layer. Still got a pretty darn good result. This time it was even nicer.

The yoke and neck fit me very well. No forward shoulder adjustment needed! The forward yoke seams actually lie forward of my shoulder. These last two shirts have sat exactly the way they are supposed to on my shoulders without shifting around. That’s gold.

The armholes are faced with narrow bias – which brings me to my one complaint about this pattern – the armholes are too low. Wait…one more whine…I still like 5/8″ seam allowances for most seams, and Jalie uses all 3/8″.

I won’t be making another one of these right away because autumn is coming, but will take the time to make a nice tracing (cut this one from the PDF printout) with an altered armhole to have ready to make again next year.

I think it looks great with jeans.

jalie rose_3

Style 1612 vintage shirt

This pattern was a find because it enabled me to scratch two itches at the same time: it’s a vintage pattern from 1976, and it has French darts – or at least darts that start low and angle up. These are both things I’ve wanted to dabble with.

Style 1612 pattern

Finding an older pattern that isn’t obviously vintage took a little searching. This shirt turned up in an Etsy shop, and the seller is in New Zealand. I never thought I would be making impulse buys from a place so far away! There it was though, in my size, at an impulse-buy kind of a price, and even the shipping wasn’t what I would have expected. It only took about a week to get it. What a world, what a world.

The pattern has a front band, collar on stand, back yoke, bust darts in front and vertical darts in back, sleeves with cuffs and plackets.

I did some measuring and felt good about cutting out as-is, except for adding width at the hips and lowering the darts a smidge. The only other real change I made was modifying the super large and pointy collar to something more classic.

The sewing experience was a mixed bag. I was looking forward to vintage directions that I might prefer to the methods I usually use. That did not happen. When I scanned the instruction sheets, I thought I would like the method they used for the front band. Nope, not going to do that again.

But I did like the single-size pattern. There was heaps of information on the tissue, including directional sewing, lots and lots of match points, and of course, seam lines with all the intersections clearly marked.

I also used a couple of outside helps. This pattern finally gave me a chance to use the sleeve placket template I bought from Lunagrafix. My plackets turned out very nicely.

And while I was working on this shirt, I read some reviews and The Sewing Lawyer’s blog post on Jalie’s Rose shirt. Several people mentioned the great directions for the collar stand. One PDF download later, I was able to use those directions. I misread them and made a mistake, but still got a better than average stand.

Those are the two most tedious parts of making a shirt and now I have better ways of doing them!


And the vintage pattern gave really nice results. This is a trim-fitting shirt. It’s been so long since I’ve worn something like that, I’m a little shocked. The shoulders are not too wide. I didn’t need a forward shoulder adjustment. The collar doesn’t pull to the back. It’s much more close fitting than I’m used to, but there is plenty of range of motion.

I think I will like having a TNT fitted shirt to wear with the wider pants that we keep hearing are coming. Here is a rare bathroom mirror selfie to show how nicely it fits.

Style 1612 modeled

Conclusion: This is so different from the loose and boxy shirts that are current that it seems kind of formal. Even though I like it, I’m not going to make a pile of these until I see how much I wear this one.

Ottobre 5/2014 “Autumn Palette”

My new sewing machine, a Janome DC4030P, is here and has been put through its paces by sewing a white shirt. The machine did great. The seamstress, not so great. I love sewing shirts, but am out of practice. Foolishly I dove right in without giving myself a little review or pulling out some good instructions. Everything came out OK, but it could have been accomplished in a much more elegant manner. NEXT TIME.

Since I need to re-fit a bunch of basic patterns, I started from scratch with this Ottobre shirt. It is number 18 from the 5/2014 issue and is called Autumn Palette. The design features a back yoke with a gathered back, forward shoulder seams, collar on stand, loose fit with no darts, and sleeves gathered into two-button cuffs with a bound placket. This shirt is voluminous enough that I sewed a straight size 44 with no extra added at the hip/hem.

There is also supposed to be a collar. I meant to sew this up pretty much exactly as given to have a good clean starting point for future design departures. So I made it the full length (which is long – tunic length). The only changes to the pattern prior to cutting was shortening the length of the sleeves. I did some thrifty cutting, and thought I would be able to squeeze in all the pieces, but nope! It came down to a decision between the collar or cuffs, and I decided to keep the cuffs.

Evidence of thrifty cutting. This is all that was left.

The material came from Farmhouse Fabrics. Last year, they had a very good price reduction on some vintage cottons (in vintage 36″ width), mostly very drapey fine weaves. I had been thinking that the oversized patterns that I like would be more flattering made in fabrics with less body than the usual quilting or shirting cottons, so I gambled and ordered 5 or 6 cuts in mostly neutral colors. This thin cotton crepe is the first one to be cut and sewn.

I love neutral colors. I also love androgynous garments, like basic shirts and trousers. So I look a lot to menswear, where small details really make the style statement, for inspiration. I love Pam Erny’s old blog posts when she showed the details of her custom shirts. I aspire to workmanship like her’s.  So, to make this white shirt a little special, I decided to angle the corners of the cuffs and the neckband. Behold my style statement.

daring, right?

As far as the pattern goes, everything went together just like it was supposed to, and just like we expect from Ottobre. Here is the shot on the grabby dressform, which defied all my efforts to get the shirt to hang straight, which it does on my non-grabby body. The pockets don’t hang up like that, either. You can also see by how the red shows through how lightweight the fabric is.


The shirt is completely clean-finished, with french seams on the sides and flat felled ones on the sleeve cap. As I made this up, I thought about doing french seams on the sleeve cap – what do you do in cases like this? French or flat fell?

I used the edge stitch foot that came with my new machine in combination with the needle positioning feature to get nice even topstitching on the front bands, collar band, and cuffs.

My notes on fit for the next time…For this pattern, I really some sort of forward neck/shoulder alteration. The collar band is pulling to the back a bit, and the shoulder seams, which should be visible from the front, are pulling back, too. Will make those alterations for the next time. Other than that, I’m very happy with my new shirt that will keep me comfy and covered even when the weather turns really hot.

On to the next project! I am still working on developing new TNT basics. Next up – plain old pull-on pants.