Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Embracing my inner Edwardian

This is my latest make: a poplin shirt based on Burda pattern 01/2010 #109 and my inner Edwardian style leanings- think Helena Bonham-Carter in Room with a View. The beautiful fabric was kindly sent by Jessie of Sew and Quilt.
She recently got these poplin florals in stock and thought they would be perfect for dressmaking and she was so right!  I had already oohed and ahhed over the colours and the ditsy Liberty style print and once I felt the fabric I was totally smitten.  If you are not sure what poplin is, imagine a high quality, tailored men's shirt, poplin is frequently used for such garments.  It is densely woven, light weight-heavier than lawn/lighter than quilting cotton.  This particular poplin has a silky feel to it.  The dense weave makes it strong- hence its use for shirts.  Think of the movement of your arms and the strain on the seams and armhole/armscye area.  You will often see a run and fell/flat felled seam on men's shirts which add strength and poplin is a great fabric to work with on such finishes.  

For a long sleeved shirt/blouse in a smallish size, I generally think 2 metres is a good amount of fabric to work with and this fabric is a bargain at £8 per metre. The pattern is directional although not obviously so - on a non directional pattern I could squeeze a shirt out of slightly less fabric but long sleeves take a lot of fabric.  I made a short shirt as I am short in the trunk area, I wanted a shirt that would sit over the top of a waist band and if needed tuck in and I wear a lot of cropped cardigans as you can see below.
I tweaked the pattern which is really a dress.  Burda instructions are very sparing so you do need to know your way round a dress pattern.  I made the smallest size and the cut was generous.  I halved the width of the waist dart to allow for a small bust and doubled the length them to make diamond shape darts to provide waist and hip shaping, I then took in the sides to make a close fitting shirt with sufficient ease for my arms- I hate any feeling of restriction in clothing.  I did spend a fair but of time on fitting as this is a pattern I want to get right and repeat again and again.  I always make some sort of test garment with any shirts as I always have bust adjustments to do- its tedious but necessary.
The tucks are sewn on a large piece of fabric before you cut out the pattern pieces which is a great technique.
I sewed proper cuffs as the pattern directed and I was pleased with the finish.  Reader's Digest Guide to Sewing is my go to when jogging my sewing memory on how to do such things.
You may notice the lovely buttonholes.  I am extremely proud of them so I feel confident to shout about them.  They were sewn with a wondrous gadget, Singer 86718 buttonholer for Featherweight.   My Janome Horizon 7700 can do many things but its buttonholes are woeful- the lack of consistency being the biggest problem.  I long for the days of a 4-step buttonhole on my mum's Riccar, being able to isolate each step was so handy.  In a search for a solution I came across this video by Peter of Male Pattern Boldness- a great sewing blog and it was a revelation.
I found the attachment on ebay after a little oiling and cleaning up I had it in situ and within 10 minutes I had great buttonholes.  I'll do a separate post on it as it deserves a solo spot- seeing a straight stitch only machine sew buttonholes really was something!   You can find this gorgeous fabric here and if you are thinking quilting, it'll work just fine for that too and would make a lovely silky quilt backing too.  Thankyou Jessie, I loved working with it!
sib blog


  1. I was thinking it was quite Edwardian as well! I love the close-up shots, it looks so pretty. Great cuffs too! ;) xo

  2. lovely shirt, and I am definitely interested in hearing more about the buttonhole attachment!

  3. I watched on IG your buttonhole and feel compelled to get an attachment for mine but probably won't ever use it :). Your shirt is very professional Kerry! Gorgeous fabric!

  4. Oh that's beautiful, I love the style of the pattern too, might just have to google it!

  5. What a beautiful blouse on you Kerry!

  6. Just beautiful. In awe of your skillz, as ever.

  7. Duchess Kerry! Great job and lovely fabric, as usual.

  8. Fabulous Kerry absolutely love it, you look gorgeous, well done. Thanks for all the tips which are so useful, only wish I could sew half as well as you can.
    Lots of love


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