Spring has sprung in london, and it felt like summer today. From the early hours, MrA & I were at a car boot sale with our friends the Peacocks (I made MrPeacocks wedding waistcoat HERE!) I’m always on the lookout for a vintage sewing machine when I’m at a boot sale or charity shop, and this time was no different. 

I didn’t find my dream machine (Elna Grasshopper) but I did find these lovely oil dispensers and some pretty amazing fabrics…

With spring in mind, I recently saw an advert for the Sewing Directory Upcycling Challenge with Jenni Taylor and thought it was right up my street. The challenge is to upcycle any home fabric. 

Well I have just the thing in mind for that! I’ve been housing this gorgeous Lulu Gunniness top-sheet for (probably) coming on for a decade now. It never gets used as it’s to sleep under, not over, and we use duvets not sheets and blankets. 

It’s a great quality white cotton and has a  band across the top with delicate pink spring-blossom embroidered on it. Perfect time, perfect challenge, perfect bed sheet…!

I mentioned my plans to MrA for a blossom shirt where the flowers came up one sleeve, halfway across the back, over the yoke, half the collar but plain down the other side. His response was;

‘For me…?’

How could I deny him? I decided to use Kwik Sew 3883, I had his size cut out & knew it fit him. What I’d forgotten since I last made it was that it only has 6mm seam allowances, which doesn’t really give much room for error… I gave the bedsheet an extra press with lots of steam. 

As I was starting out with a flat sheet, cutting out should have been pretty simple. There was only a strip of the embroidered section, so I laid my pattern pieces out first to check that the project would work. Annoyingly, the outer corners of the sleeve wouldn’t quite fit, so I forged an elaborate plan…

I removed the embroidered strip from the main body of the sheet. It was backed with plain cotton and opened out to almost a square, half blossom, half plain. I folded it along the seam and cut the shirt back piece out so that the left back would be plain and the right back patterned. 

Next, I cut off enough to make one sleeve. I ironed it flat and drew a straight line along the raw edge…

… then I sewed it up and cut down the centre of the plain section. This was all very extravagant to create what would eventually turn out to be two tiny little triangles of fabric under one of the armpits. However, I persevered. 

A bit of thinking had to go into it, but in the end I got all the right pieces cut out, the right way around:

Patterned: 

  • Outward facing collar stand
  • Under collar
  • Right sleeve
  • Right cuff and placket
  • Breast pocket
  • Outer yoke

Half and half (right side patterned/ left side plain):

  • Shirt back
  • Upper collar

Plain:

  • Left & right fronts
  • Left sleeve, cuff & placket
  • Inner yoke
  • Inward facing collar stand

… I think that’s everything. I wish I’d written this before I made it!

Despite the mean seam allowances it all came together very nicely. I won’t go into how to make a shirt here (if you’d like to read more of a step by step, try THIS POST)  

Another thing I’d forgotten about this pattern was just how curved the curved-hem is. I dislike doing curved hems at the best of times, often opting for a straight hem on many of my shirts. I have smoothed out the curve on some of my shirt patterns, but keep forgetting to amend the pattern. And it’s too late for this one. Perseverance prevailed, and – while there’ll be no specific close ups – I’m, overall, not totally dismayed by the results. But the shirt, on the whole, is a resounding triumph. It’s worked out so much nicer than I imagined, and MrA couldn’t wait to get it on. In fact, the pictures were taken before it was washed and there are a few splodges from where my iron spat at it during construction …

Back:

Front:

Collar:


Cuffs:


As you can see, MrA’s very happy with it:

So, time to fill out the form and send it in for the competition. There are some amazing prizes, so wish me luck!

Happy sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Add more seam allowance to this pattern next time it needs tracing. 
  • Make a template for universal curved hem. 
  • Shorten the sleeve pattern pieces a bit in the future. 

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