It was only when explaining to someone what I’d made as part of this month’s Style Crisis solution that I realised ‘wool shirt’ perhaps wasn’t hitting the ‘elegant dressing’ button in their head. Apparently it was only one step away from ‘hair shirt’ – which I then looked up online – and…
Suffice to say there was no discussion of darts, buttons and carefully considered colour choices in that slightly worrying corner of the internet.
My wool shirt inspiration
Let me take you to the inspiration for this particular style outing; in a word:
Celice NO! Don’t go there! I meant Celine.
Research suggests that this twill shirt is actually a viscose twill – albeit quite a substantial one. I think this might be a version of the original but with a different collar style. A snip at £650…
The spark for me was the idea of a heavier, more draping shirt as a cross-season garment. The styling in the Vogue shoot suggested a garment to layer over a camisole or wear as a tunic when it’s a bit breezy in the summer – versatility in action. However I thought too that it would be something I could wear in its own right as an alternative to a jacket or cardigan for work inside. A twill weave I surmised, was a little less informal than a chambray or a cotton – and would respond to a more fitted shape, too.
Speaking of shape, I decided it was time to pick up the gauntlet thrown down in previous comments. Time perhaps, to pluck up courage and try and wear something a little more fitted. I have a short body with a high waist; shirts tucked in tend to make me look like a lollipop. I figured therefore that something with a gentle curve into the waist then out again and worn over the top of a pair of jeans (or indeed, the pencil skirt in my last blog) would give the illusion of a little shape.
The wool in question…
To work I went. On this occasion I started with the fabric. We’d had some luscious lighter-weight wool twill fabrics last autumn in dark wine and teal blue. The latter I’d used for my Simple wool dress project; now I was itching to use the wine. It’s a versatile colour which I like and which (I think) suits me. I also like the 70s connotations which that colour throws up in my head. There seemed to be a lot of it around at the time and not so much since, or at least until the last year or so
I wanted to keep the design simple – not just because of time but because that seemed to be the ethos of my starting point. So back I went to the tried & trusted Vogue Pattern 8772, last seen in my ‘Tomato’ shirt blog.
Continuing in the spirit of a little more fit – and bearing in mind that I was planning to wear this over a pencil skirt, I went for the shorter length of Views C & D but with the sleeves of View F since that’s where my sleeves usually end up anyway.
Having used the pattern twice before, I knew the only adjustments required were to size down the bust darts and reduce the back length by 2cm. I also decided to add a little interest in the collar department having determined that larger collars are the thing this season – and perhaps it was a continuation of that aforementioned 1970s association? My inspiration here was a shirt from Joseph…
…and a style suggestion that had the collar over a jacket lapel. Both collars were quite closely-spaced by comparison with my shirt pattern. Feeling like a seasoned pro I adjusted the darts, redrafted the collar then cut accordingly.
It was a weekend with no distractions so of course I created a few for myself, in this instance, Godless on Netflix.
An appropriate title for one decidedly not making a hair shirt. I haven’t been one for westerns since the demise of High Chaparall but Godless came recommended by my BFF and indeed delivered fabulous performances and stunning scenery. Which is probably why I proceeded to trim the top of the shirt front in readiness for the bow ties on Views A & B as opposed to the collar in Views C-F. *sigh*
Emergency services attended the scene and some very careful stitching managed to hold things together until the collar stand was safely attached. Having previously worked with our teal blue colourway of this twill I knew it was fairly forgiving of being re-worked – but at this point I mentally awarded it a badge of merit for keeping its cool under fire.
All then went according to plan in terms of finishing and final fitting (no adjustments required) until the buttonhole stage.
Digging a hole with buttonholes…
Ah yes. The bit we dread in any garment. By definition it has to come at the end after extensive time and effort has already been expended – and yet the garment’s not done till it’s done. An all-or-nothing moment, like tiptoeing across a plank over the Grand Canyon with an egg and spoon, a pack of coyotes baying behind. I left my wool shirt on the stand for a week or two before I could stomach the idea of buttonholing; a delay which was in part due to the absence of buttons which I felt would be worthy of the wool. I toyed with the idea of using some oval buttons that I picked up as samples a while back but in the end decided to go with round ones with a lacquer-finished print.
This decision was also because I realised the oval buttons would require horizontal buttonholes to keep them fastened – an odd choice for a shirt and tricky to line up, too.
I went for the first buttonhole on the collar stand – usually horizontal in any shirt because of its position of course. Partly because of the odd ridge of over-trimmed fabric to which the stand was attached, my machine got stuck and did a short buttonhole which then had to be re-attempted. You’re not getting a close-up of that; suffice to say it wouldn’t win an award at the local village show.
I was then so preoccupied with not repeating the same snafu that I happily carried on creating beautiful horizontal buttonholes right down the front of my lovely wool shirt. It was only in the middle of my swim training that night that the penny dropped and I shipped a lungful of water as I realised what I’d done.
As a result I figured I might as well use the original oval buttons which look a little out of proportion – but whose colours work well with the charcoal pencil skirt.
Here’s my completed wool shirt – which I have to say I’m really fond of, despite the self-inflicted injuries.
And here’s a detail of the collar, buttoned up.
My wool shirt has yet to be subjected to a proper wear, but I have high hopes. I love the collar, the arm length and the unbuttoned look. The shape manages to give the illusion of a little bit of curve and the simplicity of the overall design appeals.
I might well give it another go – perhaps with longer sleeves and a very slightly longer cut on the shirt itself. It also looks great with jeans, if I say so myself. Those buttons are a bit of a worry – they have a tendency to bend a little when being done up or undone – they may yet be my downfall.
Comments welcome as ever! Buttonhole tips especially – as well as your favourite button sources if you have any. I was hard pressed to find decent ones and I’m aware we could yet extend our haberdashery offering…
Plus, is a wool shirt a completely off-the-wall thing to come up with? Are there patterns which you think would make up well in a wool twill?
Next week I’ll be back to the pencil skirt; trying out an alternative length and different legwear following last week’s amazingly-helpful comments…what would I do without you to keep me on track?