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.