"" The girl who makes things: Some unselfish sewing

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Some unselfish sewing

Hey folks, how's it going? I'm grand, I'm back in the UK (in Yorkshire to be precise) and enjoying some respite from the hot Portuguese weather. Ha, I'm joking. Seriously, what has happened to the UK summer? Ah well, I'm here until the end of August so lets hope that the sun comes back soon!

It's been a busy few weeks for me since I got back. I had a lot of catching up to do with family and friends, as well as getting back into teaching after a couple of weeks break. Not much time for blogging which is why there's been a little bit of radio silence in these parts. My apologies.

I have had enough time for sewing though. One of the bonuses of coming back to the UK is being reunited with my old sewing machine and overlocker, which my parents have been habouring at their house. As soon as I arrived, I was keen to get stuck into a new project, which luckily didn't take much time.

My Mum is a vicar. When she's not wearing a cassock on Sundays she's usually wearing a clerical shirt out and about. For ages she's lamented about the state of women's clerical shirts. Her main complaints are that they a) fit badly and b) are made from scratchy, sweaty fabric. Essentially they are men's shirts made in a slightly smaller size. So when I started dusting off my old sewing machine, threading up my overlocker and thinking aloud about what to sew, she asked me whether I could make her a shirt. And I said yes.


I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I absolutely love making shirts. I love the technicality of them. Have you ever made a perfectly pointed collar? Or matched up the collar stand and button placket precisely? Best. Thing. Ever.


We started searching for clerical shirt patterns in the Simplicity catalogue but didn't find anything, not even in the costume part, so in the end we found a shirt pattern which my Mum liked. Her main criteria was some kind of fitting feature such as princess seams to add some shape to the shirt. We bought Simplicity 2447 and I adapted the collar stand so that it could accommodate a dog collar.


The fabric came from the Remnant House, an end of line fabric shop in Harrogate. My Mum was instantly drawn to the tye-dye cottons (she's not a grey vicar type) and chose this bluey turquoise combo. It's a super soft cotton, very stable and easy to work with. Plus the dye didn't fade in the wash.


I made the shirt in about half a day. It came together very easily and I didn't make any fit adjustments. I overlocked all the inside seams and finished the hem with some bias binding. There's only one change we'd make to the pattern if we used it again: eliminate the back pleat which makes the shirt a little too baggy.


Overall, my Mum's really pleased with her new shirt and wants me to make another. I'm pretty pleased with it too. It's nice to make something for someone else every now and then, although I am a predominantly selfish sewer. So how about you, have you done some unselfish sewing recently?

9 comments:

  1. What an amazing shirt. This must make your mum the most stylish vicar ever. I think you could be getting orders from her colleagues, Ardmore women become ordained there could be a market!

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    1. Thanks Mags, yes, I think there's a market out there for clerical shirts!

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  2. Cool, good work! I have made two clerical tops for my friend who is a vicar ☺

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    1. Thanks! Ooo really? I'd love to know what pattern you used

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  3. That's beautiful. I too love the simplicity of shirt sewing, but the challenge of making it all look super neat.

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    1. Thank you, yes, shirt making is so satisfying :)

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  4. Wow, the fit looks excellent! It does seem like women in previously male-dominated fields have a rough time with bulky, blocky uniforms.

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    1. Thank you! Yes I agree, which is why it's so useful to be able to sew your own clothes I guess

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  5. What a fun read. I loved this post. I love how you helped your mom, who helps others.

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