Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A day in the life of a shirt with no buttons or buttonholes

Yesterday I took off the "hawthorn" (more about that later), fulled the fabric and cut out a shirt in readiness to sew this morning.

You know who on his way to the towel covered mound in the window.
Right there behind the iron.

After which I took the protective towel from the pieces I cut last night.
Cats are just addicted to soft.

Toby enthroned on the pile of uncut fabric,
protected by a towel.

So, on to construction. Shirt back:

Shirt front, shoulders matched.

Shoulders sewn, over to the old sewing machine to stay stitch the neck to protect it until I get that far.

Serging around all other unprotected edges of the shirt body.

Ready to set sleeves. The sleeve is folded both to determine its center and identify front and back. The back is bigger that the front. As it's tough to see, I stuck the ruler in to help make the distinction.

Sleeve pinned at the shoulder seam and the leading edges matched for sewing.

The sleeve is set.

The side and underarm seams are done. 
Here is the shirt, still right sides together, wrong side out.

A part I don't like. Making a long enough strip of bias for the neck facing.
I cut the bias from the extra from the sleeve, otherwise, I would need another length of fabric, which I wove by hand.  Too much waste. So, I sew two strips for my length.


Bias serged to neck opening. Turn off serger, turn to sewing machine for finish sewing.

Hemming around the neck bias.

Hemming around the rest of the shirt.

The side vent.

Done, and over to Helen. Looks just like a pullover shirt.

 But wait. It's a little shirt/jacket/front button blouse.
With three quarter sleeves that will take a nice roll.

Because the color I read as "Hawthorn" looked like no hawthorn I know, I asked my sister her opinion of the color. My sister deals with color.
Her appraisal: Victorian rose.

I went back to the waste basket for the empty cone. Well I'll be--"hawthrose."
Google yielded nothing.  Victorian rose it is.
But, how does it button you ask.

We'll see.
When we did this for a living I had a beautiful Husquevarna dedicated totally to button holes.
I was the Queen of Buttonholes.
I made hundreds and hundreds and hundreds in twenty years.
But, it's gone.

My sister mentioned those button hole makers like our mothers had. Before zig-zag sewing machines, when a little attachment made buttonholes by moving the fabric from side to side, not the needle.

Her sewing friends endorsed the one in the green rubber box, and yes, they are plentiful on EBay.
I bought this one, delivery guaranteed soon from Iowa.
As my photography professor used to say, everything you do in developing the picture is one more opportunity to ruin your work.

Same principal applies to sewing.
However, I will become as expert with this little fellow as I was with my zig-zag. 

And although I could have sewn up another Victorian rose shirt in another size,
I decided to spend the afternoon weaving bluebell yardage for more shirts with buttonholes.


  1. I personally am a huge fan of putting in the sleeve armhole first and sewing the whole thing from wrist to waist!

  2. It looks soft and comfortable, I too do not like buttonholes mine always look awful.

  3. The shirt looks comfy. And I like the color no matter what name you decide to give it.

  4. Beautiful. Putting in buttonholes was always my least favorite part of sewing.

  5. What a tutorial for the likes of me! Makes me wish I were 20... scratch that... 40 years younger... with the energy and imagination and inspiration I had back then. By gawd! I'd be weaving, construction, designing and having a blast... Ah.... I'm not going to do that now... as I glide back to the easy chair where the socks I'm knitting currently recline. I am what I am... and life is what it is.... but it's good.

  6. I love clothing without zippers or buttons, perhaps elastic and open darts are best. your garments look so inviting and comfortable reminds me of the garments I made in the 80s for myself when I sewed all my own clothing, those were the days when fabric was inexpensive enough to make your own clothing nowadays not so.

  7. It must be hard to cut into that fabric after spending so much time weaving it! Lovely jacket, nice colour.

    1. Actually no, not even the first time. For, until cut and sewn it is just yard goods, and what use is that. It cannot be handled as "regular" yard goods by an average sewer, so the rest of the puzzle was to figure out how to sew it into garments people would like to own. I never sold any yardage as such, even to people who claimed to be experienced enough to handle it.

  8. It looks very nice, and dang, what a lot of work!

  9. You make it sound easy but something tells me.....

  10. Very nice! I'm sure you will become a pro with buttonholes down the line!


  11. Now I see what a serger is, it's very similar to what we call an overlocker out here.
    It's been a long, long time since I made any buttonholes. I think it was the summer uniform dress for my oldest daughter's first year in high school.
    That Rose shirt looks very lovely, soft too, but I like the next yardage better, the blue.

  12. I took sewing in high school and I really wish I had pursued it as a hobby. I don't have a sewing machine and would certainly need lessons, though, but I enjoy seeing what others make, so thank so much for sharing, and of course I enjoyed seeing a cat in the photos. :)

  13. Wow, wow and wow.
    And I hear you on cat's addiction to soft. Ours moult up a storm at any oppportunity.

  14. Whatever the name, the colour is lovely! Fabulous tutorial, even for a non-sewing/weaving/crafty type person like me!
    Oh! New post going up tomorrow night/early morning. You're going to be mentioned (ha!) a couple of times...

  15. Hari OM
    so pretty... and cats don't just love soft - it has to be fresh and clean too. Jasper's fave spot was on the airer i the sun on the dry(ish) towels.... YAM xx

  16. I'm not a I got a bit lost when you described the process. If I had to make my own clothes I'd be wearing bird seed sacks.
    Jane x

  17. You are having so much fun. I, too, love a challenge. It's great for the brain.

  18. I used to hate buttonholes too...and zippers...but my current machine makes it pretty easy, buttonholes that is. Not that I sew that much anymore. the grandkids seem to have lost interest now. that's a great looking jacket.

  19. It looks very detailed. I think I would fail at this challenge.

  20. Victorian rose is a perfect name for a lovely blouse (as we say) or shirt (as you say)

  21. "Queen of Buttonholes" - be sure not to mistype that. That's quite a lot of work but I guess you enjoy the results.
    Oh did you happen to catch the Life of Cats on PBS the other day? good show and I don't even care much for cats.

  22. You are so clever! And I would love a shirt like that, but have no more chance of making it than the cat does!

  23. Love the color and the design. The jacket would be delightful. You have such a variety of talents!

  24. Ah, buttonholes. There I'd be, the garment finished and then I'd have to take a deep breath and put in the buttonhole, praying that I didn't ruin it!