So you guys know me. I’m not one for frills or patterns. I keep my sewing patterns plain and my fabric even plainer. I know it’s dull, but it’s just the way I roll.
But wait. What’s this? A fancy shirt pattern AND it’s made up in patterned fabric? I went totally off piste. And I like it. I like it a lot. Weird, right?
The pattern is the newest release from the talented ladies at By Hand London – the Sarah shirt. They’re really well known for their effortlessly modern style. I’ve been admiring/stalking their patterns for a while now, so when they asked me if I’d like to pattern test I was all in.
I wouldn’t normally have picked this pattern for myself. It’s lovely and all, but I don’t really wear button downs. And my last two attempts at shirt making (a Grainline Studio archer and a Thread Theory camas blouse) were satisfying, but I didn’t really wear them very much.
But, hey, if the BHL girls – cool and on trend as they are – come a knocking I’m not going to say no.
The Sarah shirt comes in two sleeve lengths (short and long) and two collar options (a rounded collar and a more traditional angular collar). It’s v-e-r-y loose fit. Billowy even.
There are pleats in the shoulders and the pattern flares out significantly from the shoulders to the hips. I cut a size 8 based on the finished measurements and it’s still Billowy city.
As a fan of fitted clothes, I was a bit unsure about the looseness of the fit. Maybe I’m still on the fence, but I’ve got lots of compliments on it and I’m starting to come round. And to be fair I did wear it 3 times in one week, which kinda suggests I’m over the looseness.
I was also a bit unsure of the collar, thinking it might be leaning too much towards a girlie, polka-dots and bows aesthetic which is not really my thing. But I think it came out ok. I didn’t do a great job of closing off the top of the button placket. That’s on me. But, I don’t plan on wearing it buttoned up, so onwards and upwards really.
And can we talk about this fabric for a minute?
The fabric doesn’t particularly photograph well, but does have the advantage of hiding a multitude of sins AND being easy to work with. The perfect combination as far as I’m concerned.
I spotted it a few months ago on the Regency Rag eBay site and was immediately smitten. Its got the most amazingly soft drape but a decent structure so it would make a great dress or relaxed trousers.
I bought 4 meters of the stuff and ear marked it for a fen dress and maybe a pair of Hudson pants. They would totally work, right? (Though might have to prioritise now since I ate up 2 meters or so for this project)
I’m really going to go out on a limb here and say I think this is the perfect shirt for beginners looking to level up.
There are relatively few pattern pieces, the button plackets are made by folding the fabric under a few times at the opening, and the collar is very straight forward. I thought the instructions were solid, and the drafting was excellent.
All in, a pretty easy win. And it was all wrapped up in a few hours.
I think anyone making this pattern would need to think a little carefully about fabric choice. You want something that has a soft drape because of the relaxed cut and the excess fabric that goes into the body of the dress. But go for something too soft and it might end up too flat. So some fabric win soft drape with a splash of body would be ideal.
And so, back to this new weird, fancy me. Fancy and patterned. I’m just going to roll with it for now and work out how to incorporate this billowy bad-boy into my daily life.
Do you ever have that happen to you – finding yourself crushing on a totally unexpected bit of your closet? How did you eventually work out how to incorporate it into your life?
By Hand London Sarah Shirt
Pattern: BHL Sarah shirt c/o By Hand London
Fabric: printed viscose-cotton blend (I’m guessing) from Regency Rags
What changes did you make to the pattern or construction?
As I was pattern testing I pretty much followed the instructions and pattern to the letter.
I did opt to use topstitching to secure the collar and cuffs instead of the slip stitches that were recommended in the instructions. But I know that this topstitching option is also now part of the instructions. A good one for speeding up the process if you don’t mind loosing some accuracy.
What did you learn?
I was actually surprised at how quickly and easily this came together. All my previous shirt making ventures have been a little laborious, if not down right stressful. I think the combination of minimal pattern pieces and well-behaved fabric really helped.
What are you most proud of?
Not sure which I’m proud of the most really: the fact that I made a shirt in a few hours, that I nailed the burrito method of yoke insertion (any sewing skill that sounds like a food has got to be awesome in my book), or that I was a pattern tester for BHL. Both are pretty epic in my book. Wait, does that mean I really need to get out more…?
What would you do differently next time?
I would definitely be tempted to go down a size. I cut a straight size 8 based on the finished measurements (based on the size chart I should have cut a straight 10) and there’s still, acres of room. I know that’s the style, but I’m still getting used to this looser fit on me.
If I were feeling really ambitious I could imagine this would make a great summery shirt dress. Yup, I went there. It’s maybe not on my immediate make list, but who knows what kinda vibe I’ll be feeling in the summer.