Well it seems I am on a roll with these #2018makenine patterns, this is my second ticked off the list!
I decided to dive in and make the Deer & Doe Mélilot shirt: short sleeve version with mandarin collar.
Despite my previous sewing makes only being rated beginner or advanced beginner, I wasn’t put off by the level 4 advanced experience rating….but that may be because I didn’t know it was a level 4! And I am so glad I didn’t even look as I probably would have been scared off attempting this just yet. I really love the style and fit of this shirt, so much so I made two!
The first make was in a khaki lightweight cotton twill that I bought online for £4 a metre! Now buying fabric online isn’t the easiest of tasks, especially when you’re still learning about the different types and weights etc, but this turned out to be a definite winner. This fabric is the goldilocks of fabrics; it is lightweight but feels like it would adapt to a winter or summer wardrobe, it is soft and drapey without being too relaxed that the structure of the shirt is lost, it sews up nicely and at 1.5m wide is an absolute bargain as I only needed 1m.
The shirt came together easily, the instructions were clear, and the finishing includes for French seams - which I love to sew. I really struggled with the narrow hem on this shirt, but I gave it a shot after a few practice runs. The end results were poor. I managed the first turn OK, but the second turn was impossible without ruining the distinctly curved shape of the hemline – I guess this is the part where the additional experience would have been useful! Instead I got around this by using the go to magic curve maker…bias binding!
I am also a little disappointed that the collar is a fraction to one side, 1mm too long at one end and 1mm too short at the other. Rather than unpick what was otherwise an acceptably sewn collar (since I already had to unpick the hem!) I decided I would just choose the side that looked best and make that the outer face – I generally like to wear shirts fully buttoned, so no one ever needs to know (except you guys of course!).
The second make was in a white cotton lawn with a lovely sketchy bird print. I don’t wear white too often, but I loved this print so much and it was another online bargain at £7 a metre! This shirt came together a lot quicker than the first, which itself was only around six hours sewing!
I was so careful when laying out the pattern pieces to ensure that the front and back featured some well-placed birds, but I forgot to check where the fold in the fabric was for the front piece and ended up cutting the bottom layer with virtually the same birds as the top, just slightly shifted!
It’s mildly irritating but hopefully it’s also a lesson learnt! I did manage to pattern match the pockets though; the shirt has bust darts so I could only do this on one side, but as this is the most visible side I think it worked out pretty well.
The only other mishap was that I managed to double up the fabric while sewing the collar on this one and ended up stitching part of the shirt back in with the top stitching. It takes a lot of concentration to sew the collar curve neatly and in the right place, making sure to cover over any visible stitching from when the collar is attached to the inside, so I’m not surprised I did it. But unpicking topstitching seems to be so frustrating, despite it coming out easier than construction stitching. My brain just doesn’t enjoy that moment when you think you’ve finished, but uh-oh!
For me, this pattern is a real keeper! My only problems were a result of user error and lack of experience, which can be overcome, and the results are striking. I really love the look of a mandarin collar. Regardless of the many style sources warning pear shapes to avoid them, I think this fruit can pull it off…
Not a bad weekend’s work eh? Two new shirts for a little over £20 when you include thread, buttons and bias binding, less if I could only master that pesky narrow hem!