This is a tale of ready-to-wear inspiring my sewing. (This will probably become a theme.) I love Liberty of London prints in their Tana Lawn and I love print shirts. These two came together a few years ago when I spotted women’s shirts for sale. They were produced under the Lord & Taylor label but available in Canada at The Bay. Here’s the first one I bought, in green, modelled by the lovely Nelly. (She’s always a bit tippy, but she’s cute.) There’s a second coordinating print facing the collar band, button band and cuffs.
The fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn and the main floral is Mitsi. The contrast is Hera.
I love this shirt. The bust dart is a bit high, but that’s the way it goes. It has about 2″ of positive ease in the bust and after I started to wear it, I realized a little more ease would be better. I like to wear a tank top under a shirt in the summer, and I need to leave this one open to do that.
The next year, they had more of these shirts at The Bay when I happened to be there, in different prints. This is Tana Lawn in a pattern called Ros, again with Hera as the contrast. I bought this one in the next size up, thinking that would give me more ease in the bust. I didn’t try it on, which was my big mistake – they’d changed the cut. Here it is:There is a breast pocket in this version—they didn’t match the print, but it’s still hard to see. Plus there’s a little contrast insert at the side seam at the hem:
This could have been cool visually but there are too many layers of fabric and it’s too thick. This one has 8″ of positive ease in the bust, so my regular size would have been just fine. The sleeves are more than 2″ longer than the green one, and overall, the quality of the workmanship isn’t as good. Here’s a close-up of the topstitching so you can see what I mean.To be fair, I’m a much bigger fan of edgestitching than of topstitching.
In looking at pix online of these shirts, I’ve discovered that they also made the inverse versions, with Hera as the main print and the other as the contrast. I remember the pink Hera, because I thought it was too much pink, but not the green Hera. It must have been sold out or I would have been indecisive.
The pink shirt vexes me. I’ve debated the merit of shortening the sleeves a dozen times. I need to roll them up or let them dangle over my hands. For the moment, it just hangs in the closet. Inevitably, I decided to try to make my own shirt, in a Liberty print – or maybe more than one.
Here’s the first contender. This is a voile from Westminster Fibres (well aged in the stash), which was part of a line of fabrics they produced in cooperation with the Victoria & Albert Museum. This one was Ikat Damask in the navy colourway, on their Bromley voile. (Their fabrics are now made and distributed by FreeSpirit.) I bought it at a wonderful fabric store called the Greenwood Quiltery in Guelph, which has since closed. 😦 It was a road trip for me, so I didn’t go often, but oh, I could spend hours there. What a selection they had! The contrast is Kaffe Fassett shot cotton, also acquired at the same store. Here it is:
The pattern is Vogue 8927:
I cut B, which looks a lot like a Liberty shirt. This pattern has a one-piece cuff, which is folded during construction. I could have split the pattern piece into two to have the contrast fabric on the back, but I didn’t. I’m pleased with how this shirt came out, with the caveat that I never thought to check the bust dart and it is (alas) too high. In fact, it fits a lot like the green L&T shirt, being a little more snug in the bust than would be ideal. It’s likely that I checked the pattern against the L&T shirt before cutting.
This one has been waiting a while for buttons, because I had some issues with the fit. The shoulders were too broad for me, something I’m realizing is so common for me that I should anticipate it and fix the pattern before cutting, and that made the sleeves too long. I had to take out the sleeve, trim the top of the shoulder and set the sleeve in again. The bust dart is unfixable.
Interestingly, in taking the pic, I’ve discovered that the bust dart isn’t too high for Nelly – that shows how she and I have grown apart over the years. Other differences between this pattern and the readymade shirt are 1/ the buttons – the pattern specifies larger ones, set further apart. This invariably means that the second button is right between the breasts (or even a little lower for Nelly) and not above it, as is usually the case with a readymade shirt – and more modest. 2/ The button band and cuffs are slightly wider than the readymade shirts – about 1/4″ – and 3/ the hem is straight instead of being shirt tails.
One thing at at time. I modified the pattern slightly to correct the bust dart first. I cut this version in another Liberty print, again with Kaffe Fassett shot cotton for the contrast.
The base fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn (100% cotton) and the design with the pansies is called Ros. Liberty’s website says it was designed in 2002. They’ve made it in a number of colours, including the pink in the ready-made shirt above, but I love this colourway with the black background. I’ve bought it twice – once at B&J Fabrics in New York and once online from Jones & Vandermeer. I’ve only bought from J&V the once, but it went well. I think B&J does online sales, too, but if you’re ever in Manhattan, it’s a wonderful store to visit.
I’m thinking of trimming the width of the button band and the cuffs slightly, since the buttons I have for this one are smaller in diameter. Hmm. If I do that, in order to ensure that the collar still fits the assembled neckline, I’ll need to use a smaller seam allowance between the fronts and button bands. Hmm.
I’ll show you the next shirt when it’s done!