Cotton Lawn Shirt – Burda Style 7136

It is months since I have sewn a garment. I can’t seem to run a knitting project along with sewing. The knitting takes over and time for sewing is shrunk.

I still have sewing plans going around my head and one thing I wanted to make was a shirt. I like making shirts and I hadn’t done one for a couple of years. I was after a cotton lawn fabric and after searching the net found a design I liked on sale at Ditto fabrics for £7.50 per metre. When I cut out the fabric I did notice that further into the piece the pattern started to slope downwards, in fact I had to cut out the back piece again, luckily I had enough fabric. Maybe this was why it was a bargain price?

I used a pattern that I have used a few times before, Burda Style 7136. I have tinkered with this pattern and slimmed it down a bit but it is a bog standard shirt pattern.

I don’t seem to have the cuff placket pattern piece anymore so I drafted a new one following this link, from Emm makes Patterns. It has turned out slightly wider than I imagined but at least I know how to draft one for next time. The instructions also have a link to the Colette website for clear info on sewing your cuff placket.

shirt cuff placket (1824 x 1368)

I did the usual shirt construction with a two layered yoke and flat felled side seams from cuff to body hem.

shirt inner yoke (1824 x 1368)

One thing I did change about my pattern was the collar shape. I’m always unsure of the collar shape, usually thinking it’s too ‘winged’. I took a look at the bird print shirt that I last made with this pattern and took off some of the collar point and I’m happy with the results.

When I came to the topstitching on this garment I used my new preferred  method of two threads in the needle. This way works so much better for me than the thicker topstitching thread or the extra strong thread that I had been using. I now find topstitching so much less stressful than before!

cotton lawn shirt



After what seemed like a marathon jeans making session earlier this year doing the Crafty Jeanius course I decided it was time for a second pair. This time around the pattern was already done and the fabric was pre-washed when I bought it.

full length front (1824 x 1368)

There were a few areas I wanted to improve on for this pair.
1. fly front, the under flap on the first pair was too narrow
2. Top stitching, my first pair has a few ends that have come undone
3. Try and flat fell the seams
4. Get a better waistband fit
5. Get the length right! The first pair were annoyingly just a bit too short.

I bought the fabric from Abakhan in Manchester. They have pre-washed denim to buy by the weight. The lengths were about 150cm long and the piece I bought cost £11. It has some lycra content probably 2 or 3%.

A few months back I came across a great blog post from ‘notes from a mad housewife’. This has a fab tutorial for flat felling seams. I knew what the finished seam looked like but I didn’t really know the best way to construct it. This way is so easy. The seams are butted together and zig zagged then pressed in a Z shape before stitching. You just need to remember you only need 3/8″ seam allowance with this method.

I flat felled the back yoke and the back rise seam.

pressing the seam before applying the two rows of topstitching for the flat felled seam

pressing the seam before applying the two rows of topstitching for the flat felled seam

The fly worked out really well but I forgot to stitch along the very edge which I didn’t notice until I’d inserted the zip and couldn’t add afterwards.

Top stitching was relatively stress free and I mastered making a decent looking bartack. I also took great care to tie off the ends of all the stitching lines so hopefully there’ll be no unravelling.

open fly (1824 x 1368)


One thing I wanted to do on this pair was get a better fit at the waist. I had altered the back yoke pattern and remembered to add twill tape to stop any stretching.  I decided to cut a two piece shaped waistband. I took out 1.5cm from the top edge on the half waistband, 3cm in total which unfortunately didn’t make as much difference as I thought it would. I can still pinch out a couple of cms so next time I need to increase the curve of the waistband from the centre back to the side seam.

One thing I found was that I had quite a bit of ease in the outside leg seam of the back, I couldn’t remember this from my first pair. You can see it in the side on photo. This is also giving a few wrinkles on the back legs, so I  before I make another pair I need to adjust the pattern and pinch out the fullness in a couple of places which should sort out the problem.

You can see the fullness in the back leg

You can see the fullness in the back leg

Saying all that I am really pleased with the make up of these jeans, they are a definite improvement on the first pair but I don’t feel I’ve quite got them right. The fit isn’t quite as my original Levis or the first pair I made. They are slightly more roomy around the back thigh. I did try them on before attaching the waistband and I felt they fitted OK but what I need to remember that at this stage they need to be tight as with wearing they loosen up quit a bit.

The rivets are from Castbullet in the US, definitely worth the investment if you plan to make more pairs.

Fabric, thread & zipper cost me less than £16 a big saving in comparison to a £90 pair of Levis.

I’m going to adjust my pattern before I put it away, take out some fullness from the outer leg seam, re-shape the waistband take some width of the back thigh so it’s ready for when I want to use it again – otherwise I’ll forget.

So rather than a slim straight leg they are more ‘boyfriend’ fit but still a pair of jeans to be proud of 🙂


Cotton Bird Print Blouse, Burdastyle 7136

My autumn sewing plans got off to a slow start. The first item was going to be a denim skirt but the first draft of the pattern didn’t fit and I lost my enthusiasm to start again. It failed because I thought I could take a short cut……anyway, I moved on to the bird print cotton fabric to make up Burdastyle 7136. It’s a slightly slimmed down version of the pattern as the fit was great for a denim shirt I made but I also wanted a tighter fitting version.

birds not bats!

birds not bats!

The fabric was from Leon’s in Chorlton at £5.95 a metre, 100% cotton. I only bought 1.70mts and at 112cm wide it was a bit tight on the laying out. I had to use a plain white lawn for the inner yoke. Actually it was necessary as the print would have been visible through the outer yoke. One change I have made to the pattern is using a separate added on piece for the top front placket rather than just folding it back. I think this is a much better look.

My mood went up and down whilst making this. Firstly I thought it was beginning to look like a corporate uniform, the type of thing they wear down at the bank. Then the birds started to look more like bats.

The first time I attached the collar I thought I looked like Harry Hill. I took it off, having to re-cut the collar stand pieces, and trimmed the bottom edge of the collar taking 1.5cm off at the outer edges. If I had more fabric I would have re-made the collar and re-shaped the leaf edge towards the points. I need to remember to adjust the pattern permanently.

collar (2160 x 1620)

I then had a look at the Boden website to compare my shirt collar to RTW. I realised that actually my collar looks fine but what I needed in my life was a bright coloured skirt to wear with it. Nothing fancy, simple A line in Ponte Roma (Boden seem to use a lot of Ponte Roma). So the planned denim skirt is getting moved down the list of things to make.

I still wasn’t sure about it when I had finished I also felt that it looks ok with coloured trousers but not so great with dark jeans. I was out on Friday night and thought I’d go for it and see how it felt. I wore it with a light denim skirt I made early in the summer. This worked. I also rolled the sleeves up slightly. I was also able to say confidently ‘I made it’ when it got a compliment.

I was happy with the make up except for the collar stand. It looks Ok now it’s finished but I need to improve my technique here. I find getting a symmetrical shape at the front curves tricky. I flat felled the underarm and sleeve seams and I’m super fast at cuff plackets now.

cuff placket (1620 x 2160)

I didn’t have enough buttons for the cuff placket but I found that when I rolled the sleeves up they were a bit too loose so I’ve ordered some more.

I’ve previously used this slimmed down 7136 on these two checked shirts, here and here.

So, they are birds and not bats and I don’t look like I should be asking you to open a new current account.
One thing is that it is a bit of a b*gger to iron.

Second (and final) checked Burdastyle 7136

checked shirt - headless (1359 x 1364)

Going straight into another checked shirt after the first one was a bit of a mistake, I found the first half of this slow going and did think about giving up. It’s the same slimmed down Burdastyle 7136 pattern that I used on the tartan shirt and the original pattern (un-slimmed) for this denim shirt.

The fabric was a bit of hard work, it was two layers of quite lightweight loosely woven fabric joined together by a teeny tack in 1″ spaces. This made pattern matching when cutting out more difficult as when cutting the second piece of a pair I’d have the plain reverse facing me.
lilac checked shirt (1620 x 2160)

I faffed around over the chest pockets for a while before deciding on just one and without a flap. I didn’t intend to use a button but when I was stitching the button holes for the front and cuffs the machine was behaving so well I pushed my luck with just one more.

With quite a big check I soon realised I needed to think about where the light stripe was sitting. When I first stitched the back yoke it looked a bit rubbish. So I took another 5mm seam allowance and covered the stripe and it looked much better. The sleeve head opening would be short by 1cm but all was fine and it wasn’t noticeable when I came to sew the sleeves in.

back yoke - first stitching line then re-stitched

back yoke – first stitching line then re-stitched to cover the light stripe

I wasn’t enjoying sewing this shirt at all. When I stitched the pocket on somehow I put it way too low so had to unpick which was really tricky as the fabric has quite a loose weave and the thread was a spot on colour match. You can’t see it on the outside but you can see needle holes on the inner fabric. So I took a few days off from it and decided to take a slowly. From then on things worked out ok. I broke it down into processes and took one at each sitting.
Sleeve plackets, insert sleeves, side seams, cuffs, collar, hem, buttonholes, buttons – finished!

I flat felled the underarm and side seams just as the last shirt which I am really pleased with and again I gave myself a 2cm seam allowance to work with. I nearly didn’t bother because I just wanted to get this done but glad I took the time.

flat felled side seam inside and outside

flat felled side seam inside and outside

The fabric was from My Fabrics which was on half price sale for £5.50 per metre, I now know why it was on sale as I wouldn’t buy it again – looks great when finished but hard work getting there.

My original inspiration was this shirt, and now I’ve sewn three I don’t feel I need to sew one for a very long time.
plaid shirt


Dinosaur Junior – boys shirt

Just as I was planning to make a shirt for my toddler I came across these instructions for drafting a shirt based entirely on the collar measurement which is 1 and 1/6th of the neck measurement. It’s blogged about here on the Offspring blog from a book dating back to 1910. I thought this was really interesting.

bench 1 (1246 x 1462)

The neck measurement I had was 24cm which gave me the collar measurement of 28cm. The body width is 1 1/2 times the collar length and and the body length is 3 3/4 the collar length which has the back and front cut all in one piece, so from the back hem over the shoulder to the front hem.

When I drafted this out it was turning out too wide and too long for what I wanted so I went back to the drawing board and took measurements from a current shirt but made slightly larger. I took the arm scythe measurement from the pattern and drafted the sleeve following the instructions in ‘Winifred Aldrich’ children’s wear book. I added a double layer back yoke which came slightly over the front shoulder. The front opening was to be a half-length placket with a stand collar.

original shirt

original shirt

After fitting the toile it was too long and too wide. I took 1cm out of the width on the half both front and back and shortened the length. There was too much length in the top edge of the collar, more so on the front than the back. So I cut up the collar in 3 places and overlapped each piece by 3mm to shorten.

collar on the toile with too much length to top edge

collar on the toile with too much length to top edge

pattern adjustment to the collar

pattern adjustment to the collar

The sleeve head had way too much ease, so I reduced the sleeve head height slightly which took out some of the ease.

The dinosaur printed lightweight cotton fabric is from Fabric Rehab. I love looking at all the prints and with this one being ‘lightweight’ rather than ‘quilting weight’ as usually described I knew it would be suitable.

shirt on bench full (1824 x 1368)

Despite being confident with the half placket after a successful trial (previous post here) I managed to stuff up the real thing. When I came to fold over the top placket it just wasn’t wide enough. I could have just removed the placket and cut a new piece wider but I had trimmed the seam allowances to just a few millimetres and this affected the front body piece. So I marked where the fold needed to be which would be the stitching line and added a wider strip and completed in the usual way. The problem happened because I stitched slightly more than 10mm either side of the centre line, so instead of a gap of 2cm it was more like 2.5cm.

I made the cuffs up as I went along. I added a strip to the bottom of the sleeve sewing right side of strip to wrong side of sleeve. Pressed and folded up and stitched the top edge of the strip to the sleeve taking a tiny fold under hem.

picture 1 (926 x 1290)

I then felled the underarm seams, sewing wrong sides together; trimming down one side of the seam allowance then pressing the top wider seam allowance over then taking a tiny turn under, stitched the seam and finished by stitching across the bottom edge. Here’s a link to instructions for a flat felled seam. I used this seam on the side seams as they give a stronger finish and are traditionally used on shirts. I chose to stitch wrong sides together so you’d see two rows of stitching on the outside.

flat felled side seam

flat felled side seam

The sleeves were set in and neatened with the overlocker then topstitched and I made a tiny double fold for the hem. Finally the button holes, which always seem to cause me a problem, the one step buttonhole stitch on my machine seems to stitch the first side with a bigger / wider zigzag than the second side. No amount of twiddling seems to fix it. The one on the collar took 3 goes to get right and despite nicking the fabric with the seam ripper it looked OK. I finished by sewing the buttons on in 3 different colours of thread matching the print on the fabric.

The finished article was greeted with enthusiasm and he was quite happy for a garden photo-shoot.
There is plenty of growing room in this pattern and I’m sure it will get made up again for next summer.

julian smile (1368 x 1824)