Ottobre 5/2012 #7: Gardener Shirt

This time I went with a bias bound sleeve vent instead of a placket. Got some Golden Hour lighting going on!

Ottobre 5/2012 #7: Gardener Shirt (cotton flannel)

Ottobre 5/2012 #7: Gardener Shirt (cotton flannel)

Ottobre 5/2012 #7: Gardener Shirt (cotton flannel)


Ottobre 5/2012 #7: Gardener Shirt (cotton flannel)
I found the neck on this VERY generously sized.


I needed to make something to fill in my weekend flannel shirt gap. During the cold months I wear a lot of fleece jackets, but when I go out on errands I prefer the more structured look of a regular shirt. If you are tall like me flannel shirts are one of the garments where you will save money sewing vs buying. If I am vigilant about stash and fabric sales I can easily make one for less than $10, whereas flannel shirts that come in women’s tall sizes seem to be at least $35 – if you happen to be lucky enough to buy during a sale. Along with RTW flannel quality always being a wildcard, I would still have issues like too-tight sleeves and not enough hip room.

My flannel Style Arc Safari Sam is starting to get very thin, to the point of starting to develop little holes in certain spots. Rather than make another Safari Sam I decided to try something different this time, so I traced off Ottobre’s 5/2012 Gardener shirt. The simple design is well-suited for plaids and stripes.

I don’t have much experience with Ottobre. I think I made an Ottobre blouse about four years ago. I remember it being looser fitting than I thought it would be, especially through the waist. Just didn’t mesh with my style back then. That being said, Ottobre has a lot of great basics. They’re not the sexiest, formal, or most fashion-forward patterns, but they’re solidly drafted and come in a large size range (euro sizes 34-52). I think it is very cool how they use everyday people of various ages and sizes as their models rather than defaulting to the young, tall, and very slim models Burda prefers. As I was looking through my previous issues I found myself wondering why I hadn’t made more of them.

Then I remembered why:

The lines are color coded per pattern, but unlike Burda ALL the lines for each size are solid. I found myself getting “lost” more than once, despite tracing on a bright, sunny Saturday afternoon. I think this is partially why Burda generally offers only 4-5 sizes per pattern as opposed to Ottobre’s 10. I found myself thinking wistfully about the simplicity of Style Arc and Marfy’s single size patterns.

The fabric I used was a beefy cotton flannel from Fabric Mart. It is a sturdy, durable fabric, but doesn’t have the best drape.



At $3/yard I didn’t consider it worthwhile to do a muslin first. Since I considered it a wearable muslin some of my stitching was rather suspect in some areas ;).

I used the lightweight Shirt-Crisp interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply for the collar and cuffs. Since I didn’t want to cut a separate placket I decided to add a placket extension to the center front, and folded it over and topstitched in place. The three layers of flannel fabric eliminated the need for interfacing.

My buttons are the pink 18L sport shirt buttons from Cleaner’s Supply. (You really can’t beat 144 buttons for $2.95!) Since I didn’t have any matching Gutermann thread in stock and was already making a trip with my mom to Joann’s this weekend, I took a chance and used Coats & Clark Dual Duty All Purpose XP thread. Normally my Janome 6500P loves to shred Coats & Clark thread, but that was not the case this time. As a precaution I went extra slow when doing the buttonholes, but for the most part it was well behaved. (Does anyone know if Coats & Clark “reformulated” their thread recently?)

I started with a base size of 38 and made the following fitting adjustments:

  • Lengthened the sleeves 2″. I knew this would be too much, but since I had little experience with Ottobre I added the extra length as a precaution. I would rather have a finished garment, especially a flannel one for the winter months, with sleeves that are too long vs too short. I’ll shorten them 1″ for next time.
  • 3/8″ rounded back alteration
  • 3/8″ forward shoulder alteration
  • 1/4″ sloped shoulder alteration
  • Added around 2-3″ width at the lower hip
  • Went up to a size 42 for the sleeve width at the bicep/elbow. (My arms and legs are always at least one size bigger than my torso.)
  • Added a couple of small darts to the back. I think I removed a total of about 1.5″ at the waist. Just a little bit to help rein in the ease.

A few notes:

  • I loved the back shoulder dart! This is something that really improves the fit if you have prominent shoulder blades.
  • I like how Ottobre tells you in the instructions where to place the first one (and how far apart to space the others) instead of just marking it on the pattern piece. I don’t know about you, but generally by the time I get to buttonholes the chalk has rubbed off…
  • Since I was working with a striped fabric with stripes of different widths and repeats, I went with a bias bound sleeve vent instead of a placket (which I normally prefer).
  • When I do a sleeve vent, I prefer to fold back the buttonhole side of the vent so the topstitching doesn’t show. This resulted in me having to reduce the size of the sleeve pleat.
  • The fit on this is roomy, but not boxy or overwhelming.  I do feel like it was less shaped through waist than what the line drawing indicated.
  • I had a hard time determining the fit from Ottobre’s photos. The model had it layered under a blazer, wore it unbuttoned with her hands on her hips, etc. Not too helpful. However, it does accurately depict that you can comfortably layer a t-shirt under it.
  • As I mentioned in the caption, I found the neck on this very generously sized. Without having much previous experience with Ottobre I have no way of knowing whether this is a design choice or if it is just the way their drafting is. Since the cuffs are also generously sized (I can slip my hand through them without undoing the buttons) I’m guessing it was the design. I should find another Ottobre blouse pattern and compare. I do found it more comfortable than the typical shirt collar. I also think it fits in with the overall roomy look.
  • I did not add length to this shirt. Out of the envelope it is nearly 28″ from back of the neck to hem.

35 thoughts on “Ottobre 5/2012 #7: Gardener Shirt

  1. Nice looking shirt. I wouldn’t have noticed the large neck except that you pointed it out. Ottobre loves back shoulder or back neckline darts on woven tops and dresses. I find their sleeve draft very different in a way I don’t like compared to Burda. On Ottobre there is very little difference in the sleeve width between the back and the front of the sleeve when divided by the shoulder point- this doesn’t work when on my arms.
    And oh yes I agree the tracing is vertigo inducing. I have spent minutes comparing the tiny line drawing in the instructions and the pattern sheet trying to find the grainlines on the pattern pieces.


    1. I noticed the collar as soon as I put it on! I have never had a shirt with a collar so oversized. It is actually quite comfortable and fits in nicely with the rest of the design, but it wasn’t something I expected!

      I always adjust sleeves as part of my forward shoulder alteration, so maybe (and the fact that this is a looser fitting shirt) is why I didn’t notice anything off about them. I also need sleeves with a very steep curve in the front and shallower in the back.


  2. Impeccable matching of the front pockets. Frankly, don’t know if I want to try Ottobre based upon that maze of tracing required. Your photography is very nice!


  3. Your shirt is a very nice basic in a great colour. When I trace any magazine pattern, I always go over my pieces with a highlighter one at a time, trace it off then highlight and trace off etc. Otherwise even with the little differences in the lines I can’t find them. I prefer Ottobre’s colour lines still.


    1. Thanks for the tip! My machine always does great with Gutermann and Mettler, but for some reason it can be very fussy with Coats & Clark! Have you ever had issues with residue? Since I use a computerized machine that’s my major concern.


      1. I just use a small drop on my thread once when I buy it and have not seen any residue. I have a Brother machine with the embroidery option.


  4. I particularly like Ottobre patterns for their fit. I have a strong Scandinavian heritage, so I guess my body shape is right for these patterns. Like you I don’t really like tracing their patterns but their written instructions are excellent compared to Burda. I really like your flannel shirt and the colour of the fabric looks lovely on you. I wondered if they had drafted the collar bigger so you could layer a polo neck tee underneath? Enjoy wearing your shirt.


    1. It would have been helpful if they showed it buttoned up on the model, so I would have confirmation if it was really supposed to be like that! They do mention that it is good for layering, so maybe they thought it could be worn with a scarf?

      I have some Swedish in me, but the Polish dominates 😉


  5. This shirt is terrific on you! I’ve been wondering lately what other sewers do with their scraps. I read a lot of sewing blogs, but I’ve never seen anyone write about it. After cutting out a garment, there are always some good sized but irregular pieces left. Then it’s all connected by thinner, useless pieces. I can never firgure out whether I should keep the leftovers, or how to fold it. Sometimes I think I should just toss all the scraps, but that seems wasteful. What do you do?


    1. My dad spends a lot of time working on machinery and home repairs/maintenance, so he gets a lot of my knits and cottons. I usually offer up the rest to my mom for dust rags and small projects, if she can’t use them then I throw them out. Space is at a premium for me so I can’t afford to keep bits and pieces around.
      I have heard that sometimes local quilters guilds and schools with fashion design programs accept scraps. Some people also use them for stuffing pillows and such.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for those ideas. I do have space, but I don’t want to keep a lot of stuff out of feelings of guilt or obligation to use, then have to get rid of it in five or ten years.


  6. That pattern sheet is insane! Your shirt came out beautifully though, especially since it was only supposed to be a wearable muslin. I’m with you in adding extra length to long sleeves (and sometimes going overboard). I try to avoid cold wrists as much as possible. An extra inch or two makes a big difference!


  7. I’ve been sewing for over 65 years and used Coats and Clark for the first 30. It was manufactured in R I where I lived, and was the only thread available. My 1959 singer was fine with it. Sometime around 1970, my machine started shredding it and I learned that the factory in R I had closed and the thread was being made overseas. I switched to Guttermans and Mettler. About 5 years ago, in a desperate attempt to match color to fabric, I tried it again and it worked fine. I noticed that it is now made in Mexico, so maybe that’s the difference?
    I so enjoy your blog and seeing the beautiful things you make. Does my heart good to see another young woman exploring her creativity in such a wonderful way. I’m teaching my 11 year old granddaughter to sew. Didn’t have much luck with her mom, so I’m hoping the gene skips only one generation!


    1. I heard they changed the manufacturing process around five or so years ago and were phasing out the old C&C to C&C XP, but a lot of old spools were still hanging around. Maybe that’s why when I tried it a few years ago it shredded, but this time it didn’t. My machine still prefers Gutermann and Mettler. I think I read somewhere that the old C&C thread shredded in a lot of machines because they wrapped the filaments around a core, whereas Gutermann and Mettler twisted the filaments together. So the C&C shredded because as it went through the machine that outer section wore down easily. Something like that…

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I think C&C might have changed their thread around the time they changed their spools, but I don’t have any evidence other than that it started to act much nicer in my machine.

    I keep wanting to try Ottobre, but I’m too lazy to order the magazines and now the pattern sheet is giving me second thoughts. Your shirt looks really nice, though! I am always in awe of your photographs. 🙂


    1. That must have been when they were transitioning from their old style to the XP. I rarely used it, as in addition to my machine’s lackluster feelings toward it I find it cheaper and more convenient to use the Gutermann real thread chart and order from Cleaner’s Supply than to go to Joann’s.


  9. Gorgeous shirt! And strangely enough, I was just thinking I needed to find some flannel shirting for my husband, so I’ll have to try FabricMart. Do you know of any other places that would carry decent quality flannel shirting that would be male appropriate? Also, those lines are crazy making! Though, I was checking out the IG feed of a Russian sewist, and she had a picture of something clear that she had traced a burda pattern on. Not sure what it was, but I wonder if some thick dropcloths would work for tracing those easier?


    1. has a rather large selection of flannels, but I have heard a lot of people say their customer service has gone downhill. They are also not as competitive price wise as they used to be. I have an enormous stash because fabric availability can be so touch-and-go, especially if you’re price-conscious. So I’m constantly on the hunt. More often than not I end up buying fabric long before I know what specific pattern I’m going to use it for. My advice to anyone that sews is that if you see something you like, know you will use at one point, and can afford it, just buy it.

      I use 50 yard rolls of Bienfang brand tracing paper from Dick Blick. The problem isn’t the opacity of the paper, it is that the lines are just super confusing to follow because they’re all solid and there’s 10 size lines for each pattern. Even with nothing over the pattern sheet I have a hard time following those lines.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Commenting on an old post. I sew primarily from Ottobre patterns. I hardly notice the tracing anymore. What I do is look at the sheet and “see” the shape of the pattern piece first. Like I look for where the CB line is, the neck, shoulder, armhole, side, hem. Then with the shape in my mind I don’t find it very difficult to follow the right line. It might help you!

    I like Otto patterns because they run true to size and they draft consistently. I always make the same alterations on them, more or less.


  11. Intuitively I think they *ought* to be hard to trace but in practice I no longer find it so. Much more annoying to me is to use a paper pattern with the seam allowances on which makes them so hard to properly alter. Much less a single size pattern! I love being able to easily move between multiple sizes.

    Another thing about Otto that one doesn’t appreciate at first is how many of their pieces have interchangeable parts, which makes it very easy to change collars, sleeves, fastenings, etc. For example there’s a pattern in the current issue that is shown in two lengths, with hood and without, with pocket or without, as a cardigan or a pullover. Which they don’t say, really, but there it is. Their kids clothes are among the best and most on trend as well, no grandma-style clothes for kids (for women, sometimes 🙂 but not for the kids).


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