Me-Made Closet – Summer Cotton Shirt

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Hello everyone, how are the last days of your summer? In my neck of the woods it has actually decided to be summer and be sunny opposed to the wet rain and overcast skies that have composed of most of my summer weather. I’m not complaining about the sunshine and going out for ice cream today. However that is off topic, as today I wanted to share the last garment I made before school begins. All summer I have wanted to make myself a cotton shirt to wear in the summer heat. Or lack there of as we didn’t have a summery summer this year. Anyways it took until nearly the end of summer to get to this project but I finally got to it and it had its own bumps on the road but I am pleased with the results and am here to share them!


So starting off with the pattern. The last five shirts that I have made are all different variations of the same pattern and this time I wanted things to be different so I finally drafted a new pattern. The pattern that I made was based off of this shirt and skirt combination that I saw on the Boyer Sisters Blog. I was also excited to make a new pattern because that meant I could use my body block again!


For those of you that don’t know a body block is basically pattern pieces that are shaped to your body proportions very snuggly so that if it were made of cloth it would be like a second skin almost. You use them as base pieces to help you form the new pieces of whatever new pattern that you are drafting. I made mine last summer (thankfully my proportions have not changed since!) and made the one pattern that I made numerous shirts from. But I haven’t found the time or effort to make more patterns since. But this shirt was the exception and the motivation. I did get my Mom to help with the drafting because I understand the basics but I am not really good at drafting, and how could I be with only one pattern under my belt? But it is a skill that I hope to learn and exercise more as I continue with my sewing.


My pattern is a bit different in the way that I did darts opposed to separate bodice pieces as well as shortening the bodice, and lastly my skirt did not have pockets and no pleat in the back. I just wanted something simple and plain (in relativity to my other shirts that are all silk) that would be cool and casual as well as something that I could work in but nicer than tee shirts.


I used two types of fabric for this shirt thin turban cotton and cotton sateen. The turban cotton is very thin with a loose weave so it is airily breathable and I knew I wanted to make something cool for the summer with it when I first found it because of its delicacy. But I knew that I would have to layer it up so that I wouldn’t be showing off more than I’m comfortable with. I used it for the skirt and the inside lining of the bodice so for the lining only needed one layer but for the skirt I used three layers of the cotton. I did sew all three layers together to make life simpler and also because I didn’t want lots of layers, as I wanted simple. As for the cotton sateen I didn’t want to use something sheer for the outer bodice so I used this because it was on hand. I’m not sure if I entirely regret this choice but this fabric does get a lot of things stuck to it. So I do need to make sure I have lint rollers or masking tape on hand.


As for the dyeing, this fabric like the fabric of all my shirts started off as white and then I used plants to dye the fabric. Most of my shirts involve different dye methods and different colours but remember that the aim here with this shirt was simple so I dyed the fabrics one colour. Near the beginning of the summer I conducted a natural dye test using pink hibiscus flowers, the dye resulted in a green colour surprisingly!


I was very excited by this and knew I wanted to incorporate it into a project right away, so I did! I waited until I saw my relative who provides me with the flowers and he gave me about thirty flowers! And once the dried flowers were in my hands I started soaking them in water the next day. I soaked them in a jar with in the sun for about three days before removing the depleted flowers. Then I took my scoured and alum mordanted fabric and placed it in a bowl with the hibiscus dye. Because I wanted and even dye I would move the fibres constantly for the first while and then I would leave it to soak and get up and more it every five minutes. When I was done I had a lovely pale green fabric!


Once the fabric was dyed and tried I proceeded to assemble the shirt as per usual. Cut out the pattern, sew the darts, assemble the bodice, attach the shirt, fit the shirt for the zipper, insert the zipper, sew down the inner lining, and finish it all with the hem. All this went relatively smoothly until I had thought I finished the shirt tried it on and realized the zipper was broken! What a nightmare! Somehow the zipper had two teeth side by side that were significantly uneven so when I went to put the shirt on the zipper would split. This was something I could not repair so I had to take out the zipper and put a completely new one in. I was dreading this however I was surprised by how simple and quick it was in the end. So not every sewing disaster is a nightmare to fix, however it would have been better if I had not had to do it but it had to be done.


In the end I am very pleased with the shirt and is perfect to wear on a hot day. And I might make another one next year! But that is a long way off. But I think a white one with a bundle dyed skirt would be rather lovely… The wheels are turning already haha! But until next time!





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