Getting shirty


Today we started our men’s shirts. (See what I did there? Ha.) The pattern was pretty easy – just a bunch of rectangles, really – but wrangling all three meters of fabric and getting the pieces to fit properly was a pain and a half. Then we had a practice placket session, to mitigate the potential for tears and panic when it comes time to put them in tomorrow. At least, that’s the goal.

By the end of the day I had all of my shirt pieces cut, marked, and overlocked, but before I can sew it all together I still need to cut the interfacing and wrist plackets. My goal is to have all the “bits” done by mid-morning break at 11 am, leaving plenty of time to finish making up the shirt by tomorrow evening.

Until then, here are some of my sewing samples from Friday:

French seam

decorative finish

lapped seam

piped seam

channel/slotted seam

welt seam

satin-bound and zig-zagged seam finish


Cue Pac-Man twirl-around-and-drop-dead noise.

Bernina is my new bff


Today was challenging. I have one of those headaches I get when I’ve been concentrating too hard for too long – or more specifically, when I’ve been trouble-shooting with chiffon and stitch-length.

We started off nice and slow: play around on the machine, try different stitches, get a feel for it, sew a seam, press it. Then somehow a gentle trickle of seam finishes and techniques became a flood. Individually they are all fine, and relatively easy if you’re paying attention: welt seam, French seam, channel seam, joining bias, stretch stitches, darts, grading, clipping, notching… but somewhere around mid-afternoon they all started to muddle together. Wait, what now? We sew that to that, and it looks like that? Sure, ok, I’ll do that, but I don’t know why I’m doing it or when I would ever use it. Oh wait, my bobbin’s run out, so I need to spend 30 seconds winding a new one and somehow in that 30 seconds I have fallen behind on completing the last sample while everyone else has moved on to I-don’t-know-what. Oh, no, it’s fine, they’re making piping. I’ve done that before. I can make piping. Good!

Despite today’s challenges, I felt really comfortable on my assigned Bernina. In fact, we got on like a house on fire! So even though the chiffon was fiddly and the day was long, I’ve come out of it all that much more confident in my abilities.

And that’s the first week! I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but I’m getting the sense that I – wait for it – know what I’m doing! All those times I thought I was just blindly following Paul’s instructions, second-guessing everything, absorbing nothing; well, I was wrong. It stuck.