burdastyle | ruffle blouse

my daughter, Anastasia, needed a black pants and white shirt outfit for a recent choir performance. i came across a satin stripe white shirting at Fabric Mart (no longer available) so i bought a few yards to make her shirt and to have enough leftover to make myself an archer at some point. i used burdastyle 10/2010 #148, which has two variations. one is this ruffle front blouse, and the other is a tunic/dress with a drawstring casing. hopefully i can get to the tunic version this spring, because it’s so cute!


i made a size 134 (oh how it pains me to see her in the “pre-teen” size set!!) and the only change i made was to lengthen the top. looking at the picture from the website the shirt seems a bit cropped, so i added about 1 1/2″ to the length. i used my serger to finish the edging on the ruffle, just as you would for a rolled hem without actually rolling the hem, if that makes sense.


i haven’t had considerable luck with fusibles on collars and such (i need to splurge for the good stuff some day…) so i cut muslin as a sew-in interfacing for the collar stand and cuffs. i did use fusible on the button placket, and if i remember correctly, i used my roll of knit fusible from Sunni. that stuff is awesome—i use it all the time!


all in all, this is a great pattern! i’ll be coming back to it many times since it has all the details of a nice button up. it does lack a traditional tower placket, but that’s not a big deal. i don’t mind the continuous placket for a dressier girls blouse, and it’s easy enough to add a tower placket if i want.


while i’m discussing shirts (as i so love to do) i recently came across some great info. i’ve noticed for ages mysterious topstitching on the inner collar stand of dress shirts. i really couldn’t conceive of what it was there for until i came across this information on The Rusty Bobbin. ah-ha!!! they turn and press the neck edge of the inner stand and topstitch the SA in place before sewing it to the outer stand. LOVE this idea, and can’t wait to try it out on my next shirt! she has several posts there from taking apart a RTW dress shirt, and i highly recommend reading them. also, recently Pam from Off The Cuff did a tutorial on making a two piece tower placket. previously i never saw the merit of a two piece instead of one piece tower placket, but seeing her tutorial opened my eyes. to those of you who live in fear of the mysterious tower placket, that should demystify it for you. interesting things people!

—lisa g.

polka dot! polka dot!

i’ve had this shirt in my head (and cut out) for months now, and i finally got it made! the summer here was hot so making a long sleeved shirt kept getting pushed farther and farther down my list of things to do… but, i couldn’t stand it any longer and finally cranked out my fourth archer. have i ever mentioned how much i love this pattern? cuz i do. also, i specifically had this shirt in mind when i made my coral/pink pants. while it’s a tad (okay, more than a tad) bolder than i usually wear, i just couldn’t resist this combo!


i decided to forgo flat fells and/or french seams because this is a very lightweight cotton and, truth be told, the quality isn’t that great. if i didn’t love the polka dot so much i probably wouldn’t bother using it at all. the contrasting black, however, is a very nice cotton lawn (excellent price, i might add) from fabric.com and really classes up the shirt, i think.


i don’t know that there’s much left to say about the archer than i haven’t already said, so i’ll just leave you with pics. funny note: i’ve gone to deleting most of my pics off the camera before even bothering to load them on the computer. as i sorted through the remaining, i realized i hadn’t left a single pic where i’m actually looking at the camera. apparently i don’t like looking at my face. make of that what you will.



—lisa g.

archer in chambray

i keep seeing chambray archers and rtw button ups in chambray. chambray this, chambray that… chambray is everywhere! and i finally got in on the action. (p.s. is it just me or does the word “chambray” start to sound very funny, very quickly? or maybe that’s just me…) i was under the impression that chambray was a tad pricy based on what they charge at joanns, then i spotted some at a local fabric store (fabric place basement) for $5 or $6/yd. stoopid joanns. i picked up a couple yards and knew it was destined to be an archer. i heart you grainline studio. just sayin’.


i decided to go david coffin all over this shirt and flat fell my seams, stretch my collar, and tower placket my sleeve. this is the real deal folks. plus, it was good practice for making more business shirts for the hubbs.


my pencil skirt is self drafted and sewn up in double knit (made last fall). nothing earth shattering, hence it’s lack of appearance on le blog.

for sizing, i went back to the size 4 of my original make and simply redrew the top part of the armhole so that the shoulder seam hit closer to my actual shoulder (shaved off about 1/2″). then i graded the back piece only from waist to hem out to a size 8 and matched up the hem lengths. i added about 1″ to the sleeve length to accommodate my monkey arms, and made a proper tower placket.


the under collar as drafted is two pieces cut on the bias. i assume the bias cut is to help the collar roll softly, but this time i cut the upper and under collar the same and used david coffin’s techniques of trimming and stretching to achieve the proper shape. it’s easy to do and works so well! i also used a stiffer woven fusible for the cuffs and collar, the same stuff i’ve used in business shirts.


my pics are post a trip through the wash and dryer… and i’m really lame at ironing.

man i love this shirt. i’m also pleased that i’ve become so comfortable with shirtmaking techniques. i won’t be churning them out on a daily basis quite yet but they’re definitely less stressful than they were a few short months ago when i made my first. i’m having breakthroughs people. breakthroughs. yay for sewing!


yup. had to include the token “tucked into a pencil skirt and belted” look.

i’m just curious… i know i’ll be making more shirts possibly in the near future. are there any specific parts that you would desperately want to see documented? i don’t think i have the patience to step-by-step an entire shirt, but if there are any burning questions out there now’s your chance to throw your two cents in!

—lisa g.

collar stay channel tutorial

one thing my husband likes on his dress shirts are channels for collar stays. it’s pretty easy to figure out by looking at a dress shirt that already has this feature, but here you go anyways!

[sorry for the following pictures to be of such poor quality. not enough sunlight, having a difficult to photograph fabric, and this ungodly orange table that i sew on are all on my list of excuses. actually, i really love the orange table. in fact i painted it that color long before i ever knew it might serve as a background for photographs.]

first cut two under collar pieces. if you don’t have enough fabric to cut the second one in one piece, just cut out two halves; you really only need the outer thirds of this piece. take one of your under collar pieces and mark a line from the collar point angling up the direction you want the channel. then mark 1/4″ on each side to give you a 1/2″ wide channel. fold down the corner of the collar that attaches to the stand. as you do all this, make sure you check where the seam allowances will fall so that you keep the entire channel opening free from the collar stand once it is all sewn together. once you are confident you have this all worked out, trim away all but 1/2″ of the folded under bit.

now you need to fill in the gap that you just folded over, so take the second under collar piece and position it under the first so that it fills in the gap. if you are not using an entire under collar and had to piece it, check the position against your pattern piece to make sure it all lines up correctly.

pin it all in place then edge stitch turning when you get to the stay channel. do this on both sides of the channel. you can trim away what you don’t need of the back layer so it only covers the channel, or you can leave the entire piece attached. if you do this, i would suggest trimming off the seam allowance to reduce bulk. depending on what you like to use for stabilizing the collar this under piece could take the place or add to whatever stabilization method you prefer. i didn’t trim much at this point, but later i did trim some bulk out of the point. just something to watch for. after all that is done proceed as normal to construct your collar.

i also wanted to show you what a difference it made in my collar construction by cutting the under collar smaller and stretching it as i sewed. the collar naturally curves and ultimately gives you a smoother line. had i trimmed as much width from the under collar as i was supposed to, the curve would be even more pronounced.

i was impressed anyways.

—lisa g.

mccalls 6044 version 3.0

so last weekend we hunkered down for the


during which time not only was it difficult to leave the house, we were expressly forbidden to at risk of fine and/or imprisonment. not kidding! not that i had any intention of driving around in a blizzard, but there you have it. we got 2 feet of snow and literally had to dig our way out the front door.

so what’s a girl to do while snow is falling at an alarming rate? why sew, of course!

i already had this dress shirt cut and fused and waiting for it’s turn under my needle. after cutting the shirt i perused david coffin’s “shirtmaking” and wanted to employ some of his techniques. while i didn’t strictly adhere to his method on all points, i did pay close attention to how he does the shirt collar. while i haven’t achieved perfection here, it was interesting to see how such small changes improved my collar attempt so dramatically! to me at least.

i’m not going to detail a full rundown of his methods, mostly because he does such a great job of it in his book, but also because duh! he wrote a book and it’s hardly fair for me to just put it all out there on the internet. if you’re not interested in owning a copy, most likely you can find it at a library. my library has a great inter-library loan service so i can get virtually any book i need. that’s how i tracked down this source, though i plan to buy a copy soon to have on hand.

i’m just going to call that last buttonhole
stitched in green my signature okay?

to start, he gives you several different seam allowances to work with. he suggests 1/4″ for most parts of the collar (except the edge of the collar that attaches to the stand—that you leave 5/8″) which allows for more control and accuracy. i find 1/4″ difficult to stitch because it falls under my presser foot, which i obviously can’t see, so i went with a 3/8″ SA.

he also suggests trimming width off the under collar and inner collar stand, so the under or inner side of these pieces are 1/4″-1/2″ smaller than their counterpart. i find it interesting that he has you stretch the smaller piece as you sew to fit the larger piece. what i have seen before, say in tailoring a coat or jacket, is to cut the outer pieces larger then ease them down to the smaller size. do you see the difference? it’s subtle, but it really works well. when you let go, the collar just naturally curves itself! very cool. i was a bit nervous and didn’t trim as much as he suggested so i still have a few wrinkles. next time i’ll follow more closely for sure.

i always had issues getting the rounded edge at the front on the collar stand to look good. i could never figure out when to sew that little curved bit and thankfully, coffin address this very well. no more guessing for me! all in all, the collar on this shirt is much more crisp and formed than my previous attempts. i still need some work on my collar points. i may need to invest in one of these.

i hope to make up a “how-to” for the collar stay channel soon…

i’m still not great at flat felling. i had removed most of the ease in the sleeve cap because it’s quite unnecessary here and makes felling even more difficult. i think with practice i’ll get a little quicker at it, but i spent f-o-r-e-v-e-r putting those sleeves in and felling them. the side seams, by contrast went super fast. it’s still tedious to get all the way up or down those sleeves, but using my new felling foot at least got my stitching far more even.

inside felled armhole

inside felled sleeve seam

another thing i found interesting was how coffin recommended a very short stitch length. i had noticed while examining my husband’s rtw shirts that the topstitching was done with a very short stitch, so i did this on the last shirt, but he suggests that you do all your construction with a much shorter stitch. his argument is that the shorter stitch uses more thread to go up and down with each stitch which enables the fabric to retain some of it’s natural give. i noticed that i was getting slight puckering in my seams, but dialing down the tension a touch took care of that.

there are still minor changes i’ll make next time around: widening the button placket (coffin recommends 1 1/4″, this one is 1″), turning the under button placket to the inside instead of the outside, widening the back pleat, etc. i do feel pretty good having made three dress shirts this year, and it’s only mid-february! i know more will be on my plate before long, but these are a good start. actually, i wouldn’t mind making one for myself. each time i make one i keep thinking, you know with leggings and a belt i think i could wear this… focus lisa, FOCUS!

—lisa g.

mccalls 6044: version 2.0

it’s tricky to get interesting-looking shots of an un-modeled men’s white shirt (i should probably at the very lest get myself a nice hanger) but here you go anyways. i finished this last week right before my husband had to take off for the weekend on business. to las vegas. wah-wah…

this is one of two shirts i cut out for my husband, this time dress shirts for work. there is a dive fabric shop nearby that has amazing deals and i picked up some white and light bluish grey shirting for $2.50/yd. since i’m still learning all the tricks i’m not ready to splurge on the $10-$20/yd quite yet.

i made the white shirt first with a couple fit and design alterations. i widened the neck by about 5/8″. when i had him button the top button on his first shirt, it was definitely too small for tie-wearing. also, the sleeves were a touch long, so i shortened the sleeve by 1/2″.

if you squint you can see the collar-stay channel i added

then i did the front placket different. i extended the center front of the shirt front so i could attach the placket at the edge then fold it onto the front, then top stitch.it’s a small change, but it requires less blind precision and eliminates hand stitching the placket from the inside.

i went ahead and flat-felled the sleeve/shoulder seam as well as up the sides and down the sleeve. surprisingly not as hard as i thought it would be! i just ordered a felling foot to make this stitching a little more precise in the future though. it’s damn near impossible to hide imperfect stitching on a light solid colored fabric, let me tell you.

i decided to track down the ultimate resource in shirtmaking, aptly titled “shirtmaking”, by david coffin. since the husband has tasted the fruits of custom clothing there’s just no going back. i’ve glanced through the book and there is so much information to absorb. he has great techniques for all the tricky bits and i will no doubt rely on this book heavily.

i had promised a sleeve placket tutorial to go with my pattern piece, but i made this one in the evening and had no adequate lighting. i’ll make sure to do the next one during daylight hours for your benefit. it did turn out rawther well, i think.

overall i’m pleased with how the shirt came out. the fabric weave is looser than a lot of shirting so i had some issues and struggles all throughout. the next one has a very tightly woven fabric so i think it will come together a bit easier. even though i have it cut out, fused and ready to go, i have another project i’ve already started: thurlow pants in denim! the shop that i picked up the shirting fabric at always seems to have a pile of denim for $2.50/yd and i finally picked some up. plus i have an unblogged pair of pants i made for my daughter… ack! it’s only the end of january and i’m already getting behind in posting!

—lisa g.


finally, finally! the lovely guy who supports my addiction, obsession, useful skill of sewing FINALLY has his own garment to show for it. i should have done this ages ago, but… well… i don’t really have a legit excuse.

i picked up some plaid shirting from fabric.com and used mccalls 6044, which i picked up for $1 at joanns. i mentioned in my last post that i had a laundry list of gripes about this pattern, but upon further reflection i’ll just call these “changes” and QUIT COMPLAINING. 

overall, this is a decent pattern. the fit for my husband is an unaltered, straight out of the envelope size small, and it’s basically perfect. (to all of us who do extensive alterations on patterns to get a decent fit… I KNOW! so not fair.) and it’s not that he doesn’t fit a standard RTW size, but he’s small-framed and those sizes aren’t heavily stocked. ultimately i want this pattern to serve as a business shirt that i can make over and over whenever he needs a new one. right now he needs about ten. i went to his closet, checked out all the details on his RTW, and here is is what i changed.

i drafted a back yoke piece that was straight across the back (instead of the western style—though i love me a good western shirt) and did the whole two piece yoke sandwich thingie (or “burrito” as described by peter at MPB).

then i added 1″ in width to the back piece so i could add pleats. his casual shirts have two pleats out toward the shoulder and that’s what i did here. his dress shirts have a single larger pleat in the middle, so i can easily change where i pleat the back piece as needed.

for the long sleeve version in this pattern, there are two pieces to the sleeve. typically there is a button placket at the cuff, but to get around doing a regulation placket, you are instructed to turn the SA’s in and topstitch. eh. not gonna cut it for me. all i had to do was lay the sleeve pieces together along the seam line and cut it as one. but, then i had to figure out and draft the button placket. i had instructions on how to sew it in a book, and after a bit of puzzling i worked out the dimensions and drafted my own. if anyone is interested in having this pattern piece, i plan to create a .pdf with instructions at some point. i measured the plackets of his existing shirts so what i have is a pretty standard size, though it could be customized according to preference.

i didn’t flat-fell the seams on this one, though i plan to for future makes. i did serge and topstitch for a faux flat-fell. i set the sleeves in flat, so topstitching the side seam and down the arm was something of a challenge. it was like sewing in a tunnel. not sure if i’ll be skilled enough to flat-fell it this way… if anyone has tips for me on how to do this, please speak up! i’m a complete newbie on this one.

i bought a 1/4″ piecing foot for quilt making (i have grand plans to use up my leftover fabric scraps and turn them into my very first quilt), but i found it came very much in handy as a guide for topstitching, fancy that.

the only thing i plan to change for future shirts will be how the front button placket is done. it’s fine as writ, but it requires a bit of lining up so that the inside and outside edges line up perfectly when topstitched. there’s an easier way that minimizes both bulk and room for error. next time i make a shirt (and i’ll be fabric shopping for white shirting this week—wish me luck!) i’ll elaborate and show how it’s done.

so what did i learn? the button down men’s shirt is not to be feared ladies! it took a little more of my attention since the process was not my normal autopilot dress or tee shirt, but difficult? not really. okay, the collar can go very wrong very fast, but other than that, not difficult. you will see more of these from me. and maybe even one for me if i ever get around to it.

so there.

i did it.

—lisa g.

UPDATE: click here for the sleeve placket template