Saturday, 2 March 2019

The ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan... Well not quite!

This post follows on from my post about the hastily - too hastily - finished shirt for the GBSB sew-a-long.
I made view D but had problems with shoulder line, sleeve head and collar - they looked awful.
I have since removed sleeve tabs to make the shirt a cross between C and D

I fully intended to wear it as an over-shirt and everyone agreed that was most appropriate for the style. I realised however there was no way I was going to wear it because of the major wrinkles due to extremely poor fit around neckline and shoulders. I felt unattractive.

On Wednesday past  I asked Rory's advice - saying that I felt I needed to pull the front of the shirt up at the neck edge, on both sides and I explained that the collar had been too short for the amount of shirt to fit in it - or rather that there was too much shirt. She thought I was correct and the shoulder angle was a culprit but wanted to see the collar off. She thought the sleeves could perhaps be eased in and asked for the top of the sleeve to be released.

I spent the bulk of the time in our group unpicking the collar  (stitched, trimmed and topstitched) and the whole of both sleeves (edges overlocked but fortunately not cut down)- this was easier for me than fiddling with a little part. While unpicking, I took the opportunity to remove the sleeve tabs which I just don't like. I know that sleeve tabs are useful in holding sleeves up in an attractive way, or can be, attractive that is - and I like the look on others. I don’t like it on me.

Rory agreed that the neckline side of the front only of the shirt needed modified - pulled up and about 1.5 cms removed at the neck edge, tapering to nothing at the sleeve edge. She marked this.

She said there was 4 cm of excess in the sleeve head and suggested trimming the sleeve head down to see if that would work. Looking at it, she felt it was preferable to adjust there rather than at the underarm, another place she would normally adjust. She suggested where it should be removed and marked with a Frixion pen - which I unfortunately removed when I pressed the sleeve flat after taking out the lines of ease stitching! Oh well! One second it was there and the next - pouf! It was gone

On Thursday, in Lyn's group, I started to reconstruct. There is no doubt in my mind that it is harder to reconstruct a taken apart burrito yoke than it is to make it in the first place! Fortunately, I had access to the inside via the neckline, which I stay stitched again, the previous stitches having been cut away.

I felt like it was working with origami! I have quite a bit of difficulty with these kind of things but eventually worked it out and sewed the first seam on each side. That seam had easy access. I then really smoothed the remaining section of the three and marked just outside the previous stitching line to see where I needed to sew and how much fabric needed to be trimmed away. Quite a bit!! The stitching was done through the neckline - effectively I was turning this third section over the seamline of the first seam but rather than top stitching through all layers which would have worked, I suppose. I was turning to the inside through the neckline so I could stitch from there. It worked,

I stitched trimmed and pressed. The shoulder line was looking much better.
This is the right shoulder. Sleeve head looking nice.
Slight stretch lines where shoulder line meets collar - though not as bad as before!


Sleeves next. Lyn helped me identify how much to trim away. I trimmed some then had to trim more. Probably as much as 1.5 cm from the top, tapering down to the sides of the sleeve head.

I had trimmed off all the markings during my original sewing and trimming.. Lyn helped me recreate these and said she wouldn't ease the whole sleeve head from notch to notch as I heard done previously to try to get all that excess sewn in. She showed me how to identify the top of the sleeve with notch and where to start and stop my ease stitching. There were no markings on the armhole either. The top of the sleeve would no longer be at the shoulder seam, but slightly off due to the changes made. My fabric didn't ease all that well.

I found that previously when I added lines of ease stitching I hadn't used a loose enough bobbin thread tension.  Eating was so much easier with the bobbin thread tension set at 2 (normal being 4).

Lyn kindly pinned in my sleeves (beautifully) and I sewed them in place, first basting to see if they were okay. I was extremely happy with the result. The difference was night and day from the previous stitching. Fortunately first time I realised my sleeve insertion was poor and I hadn't trimmed off any fabric when I overlocked so stitching was easier than it could have been. This time I overlocked, at home, trimming off appropriately.

A quick look at the collar suggested that I was perhaps going to be able to reuse it and not have that dreadful bunching of fabric. I quickly pinned it in place and confirmed that this was the case. Unfortunately, the collar and shirt and been trimmed rather more than the sleeves had been.

I made the assumption that the collar had not stretched unevenly and marked the centre. I also marked the centre of the shirt back neckline. Using the centre marks and the end points, I pinned in evenly. There was no excess of fabric in the shirt now - hurrah!! I didn’t have to clip the shirt but in retrospect think I should have perhaps done so at one point as there remains a slight tightness. I’m not sure if that was the solution. I had very limited scope for re-stitching as the earlier seam allowances had been trimmed.

Nevertheless, I was much happier with the shirt. The collar isn’t perfect, I’m sure, but is satisfactory for the purpose. The left shoulder line is nice but I'm less happy with the right shoulder line - this is the shoulder I most often have problems with. I think that following a shoulder injury, I have a bit of a forward shoulder more on that side than the other. When I try on RTW, it's always this right shoulder that gives me problems. I clearly have to learn how to fit this shoulder rather better than I have done. This alteration was a quick fix
Left shoulder line - nicer than right.
I was going to edge stitch the collar as I had done before but decided instead to slip stitch by hand (as per pattern instructions, as it happens!!). Last night (Friday) I did this while watching an old episode of father Brown.

I still remained set against additional buttons and holes on the band and collar as I definitely won’t be wearing this shirt closed. Though it sits better with a closure.
Not pressed or washed but you can see it's better although right shoulder still has problems
I need to take photos. I’m trying to decide whether to wash first to get rid of the marks I made with chalk and the marks to place the sleeve tabs. I might take a couple now - then at least it might get done! It also needs a good press but I'm afraid to press in some of the marks I made - unlike Frixion marks which disappear, others tend to become permanent. So I will do a couple of photos pre-wash and pre-press.
Not pressed or washed but you can see it's better although right shoulder still has problems

I feel that I have saved this shirt from one that would never but never get worn to one that has quite a useful life ahead of it. Additionally, I'm  sure that most of the problems I had were user error and not the pattern's fault. I won't make this particular style again but I do like shirts, so I'll chose a similar style but shorter and probably with a collar or a convertible collar so I can wear it open at the neck -I have learned that I really don't like shirts closed up to the neck.

I've been wearing the shirt while creating this post and trying to sort out my photo issue (see later) and it's comfy so will get worn.

Next time I will spend more time making toiles and trying to sort out my shoulder issue.

I'm having problems taking photos. My PC doesn't like my camera photos; although it can open them, there is tremendous barrel distortion. My camera software on the PC won't export in a form suitable for uploading here. I have Photoshop Elements but it won't open my Sony RAW files - perhaps a more updated version would - I have version 15. You can see some of the barrel distortion on the photos I have put here (my window and curtains look curved on left) though I cropped out the worst bits. I'll have to work out what to do as these are not satisfactory.

This was the shirt previously


  1. Certainly your original sleeve was not wonderful. No wonder you did not like it. But what determinatin to undo and put right. Still, the benefits in doing this were that you actually learnt something, so will be able to nip this problem in the bud in the future. As for cameras, software, computers - I am afraid I do not understand that world much at all! My photos are not wonderful either ...and often distorted but more in foreshortened or forelengthened way, which I suppose is better than the problem you have.

    1. Thanks, Sarah Liz. I strongly believe that you learn as much if not more by your mistakes. I still have so much to learn. To some extent, I now know what I have to learn - when I started sewing I didn't know what I didn't know! I hadn't found a class and made lots of errors that I didn't now were errors. I value my direct tutor input so much but can't become totally reliant on them. I think I need a lot of practice - my finishing ideas outstrip my skills, sadly.

  2. Looks much better and you have learned a lot from the experience.

    1. Thanks, Ruth - yes, I have. It might not be wearable in a sewing company but certainly is elsewhere!

  3. Wow! The transformation is amazing. The shirt looks great now and you learned so much about fit in those areas to boot!

    1. Thank you. It is much better even if not perfect. I know how to go about it the next time (including NOT sewing up the burrito yoke and fully finishing with topstitching and overlock before properly checking fit!!)


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