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Here’s How I Made Two Linen Shirts With One Yard of Fabric Each


Concept


orange skirt pleated hand made linen historical 18th century outlander history bounding cottage core
I have made lots of skirts, but not many tops!

I have no shortage of handmade skirts in my wardrobe, but barely any tops to go with them! So I ordered some linen in a few different colours from my favourite Canadian online linen store, and set to work making some shirts! I used self drafted patterns and only one yard of fabric for each of these shirts! I finished both of these shirts in one week of spare time sewing, and the first of these shirts particularly is very approachable for a beginner. So let’s jump into the pattern details!


Gold Linen "Tuck-in Shirt" with Flared Sleeves

Patterning


historical shirt making hand made linen gold ginger flared sleeves star wars silk striped skirt brown
This shirt is based on a pattern I drafted a few years ago

This shirt is a quick and easily project, perfect for a beginner! I sewed almost all of it during one of my kids’ nap times. I reused a pattern from a long time ago for a basic loose fitting t-shirt, with small under arm darts and flared short sleeves. I have loved this shirt and worn it lots, and it is a great shirt to wear tucked-in with skirts.



sewing t shirt easy project flared sleeves blue cotton linen self drafting
Here is the original shirt made from this pattern a few years ago

If you are new to pattern drafting, this is a great pattern to make yourself. I use a book called “Metric Pattern Cutting” with instructions on drafting a close fitting and a loose fitting pattern block. For this pattern, I used the loose pattern block, rotated the darts to the underarm position, and widened and lowered the neckline a little. For more information on pattern drafting, read my "All About Pattern Drafting" article.



historical shirt making hand made linen gold ginger flared sleeves star wars silk striped skirt brown
This pattern is very easy to draft - perfect for a beginner!

For the sleeves, I added flare by slashing and spreading the basic short sleeve pattern. That’s it! If this process sounds interesting to you but you are a little confused, I highly recommend buying yourself a copy of Metric Pattern Cutting.


For this latest version of this shirt, I shortened the darts a bit for a looser fit, made the sleeves a bit longer, and made the shirt a little longer so it will stay tucked in more easily.


Cutting


gold blue yellow linen shirt making sewing project cutting cutting mat rotary cutter pattern
I cut out both of these shirts at once

I started by cutting out all of my pattern pieces. This pattern doesn’t include seam allowance, so I added it by eye as I cut. The original version of this shirt was made from a thin cotton voile and was fully lined. In this case, I opted for a basic single layer shirt, and to finish the neckline with bias tape rather than a facing. So I cut out one front piece on fold, and two back pieces as there would be a centre-back seam. Then I cut out my two sleeves, and bias strips of fabric to make my bias tape tape with.

Sewing


historical shirt making hand made linen gold ginger flared sleeves star wars flared sleeves flutter self drafted how to draft t shirt sew bias tape neckline
I finished this neckline with bias tape

I started by sewing my front darts. I like to do this by first basting a ladder stitch across the legs of the darts, and then taking that to my machine. I use a method of sewing darts which always yields perfectly smooth darts - I learned it from Youtube! like to gradually decrease my stitch length as I get to the point of the dart, and to sew the last inch of the dart directly on the fold of fabric.



historical shirt making hand made linen gold ginger flared sleeves star wars flared sleeves flutter self drafted how to draft t shirt sew
I used flat felled seams for this shirt

Then I sewed the side and shoulder seams with felled seams. I normally use french seams as a way of finishing seams without a serger, but I like the look flat felled seams for shirts.


So I stitched the seams to the outside of the shirt, then trimmed one side down, pressed the other side over top, and stitched it down. Flat-felled seams are extra durable, lie flat, and give a nice look to certain garments.



historical shirt making hand made linen gold ginger flared sleeves star wars flared sleeves flutter self drafted how to draft t shirt sew bias tape neckline
I love how the bias=finished neckline turned out!

For the sleeves, I first sewed an ease stitch around the sleeve head, then pulled up on the threads as I clipped it in place inside the armhole. Again, I stitched these seams to the outside of the shirt, and then felled it. This is a trickier type of seam to fell, so if you are beginning I would recommend another seam finish for sleeves.


Finally, it was time to finish the neckline. I did this with bias tape, sewing the first pass with right sides together, then flipping the bias tape inside the shirt and stitching down the other sides. This is my first time finishing a neckline like this and I know I will be using it again! It’s quick and light weight.



historical shirt making hand made linen gold ginger flared sleeves star wars flared sleeves flutter self drafted how to draft t shirt sew
This shirt fits loosely and is perfect for tucking-in

I sewed a basic rolled hem in the bottom of the shirt, and the last step was hemming the sleeves. Because the bottom of these sleeves is curved, a basic rolled hem would be tricky. So I first sewed a hand gathering stitch within the seam allowance, and then pulled on these threads to pull in the excess fabric as I clipped the hem in place. It worked beautifully!

How Do I Like It?


historical shirt making hand made linen gold ginger flared sleeves star wars silk striped skirt brown
I love this shirt! It's a very versatile style

I love this shirt! It is the perfect blend of dressy and casual, especially when it is tucked in to a high waisted skirt. I love the extra dressiness that the flared sleeves give it, and the loose blousy fit!

Blue Linen Collared Blouse

Patterning


turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar
The original blouse is too small for me now

I re-used old pattern from my one-yard blouse video, so if you would like to see how I originally drafted the pattern from scratch, check out that article and video. This time around, I made some alterations:

  • I lowered the armholes and altered the sleeves accordingly

  • Lowered yoke style line

  • Made waist band a bit larger to fit me better

  • Made collar a bit larger and altered it to sit more flat against the body


Cutting


turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar
After making changes to my pattern, I cut out the pieces

This pattern had seam allowance included, so I used pattern weights and a rotary cutter to cut around the paper pattern pieces



turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar
This blouse has a lot of components and took a little longer than the previous shirt - well worth it!

Layout was tricky, with only one yard of fabric to work with! I had to add a centre back seam to the back pieces, including the waistband, since there wasn’t enough room to cut on fold. I didn’t have enough fabric left for matching bias tape, but I had gold-coloured bias tape left from my previous shirt. Keep reading to see how I incorporated it! For the collar under-layer I used scraps from my breastfeeding dress project.


Sewing


turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar
I used flat felled seams for this blouse which contribute to the "dress shirt effect"

I also sewed this shirt with flat felled seams, and I think it gives this blouse more of a dress shirt effect then my previous version. There are a lot of components in this blouse, and I gradually began piecing them together. I sewed the side seams of the bodice yoke, the sleeves, the body panels, and the waist band.



turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage bias tape historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar bias tape collar
I finished the collar seam with bias tape - hidden from the outside

I also sewed the collar pieces together, both the inner and outer layers. Then I constructed the collar, sewing right sides together around the outside edge, trimming, clipping, pressing, and then top stitching.

Now it was time to start attaching all these components of the blouse together. First I attached the sleeves to the yoke armholes, by adding an ease stitch, clipping in place, and stitching. I also felled these seams.



turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar
The final step was adding my buttonholes

Then, I added a gathering stitch to the top of the body panels, pulled on the threads to create gathers, and clipped it to the yoke. I flat felled this seam. I created the waist band by pressing the strip of fabric in half along its length, then pressing the seam allowances in. One side I pressed in a little more seam allowance than the other, to make attaching it to the shirt easier. More on that soon.


I used this same process to get my button plackets ready, except I first basted a strip of scrap fabric to the inside for interfacing.



turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar dress shirt
And the blouse is finished!

Now it was time to attach the waistband to the blouse! I first gathered the bottom of the blouse to fit the waist band, using a row of gathering stitches. I attached the waistband in two passes: first the outside with right sides together, then I folded up the inside of the waistband, pinned it, and attached it using a top-stitch from the right side of the blouse. This is where the extra seam allowance thing comes in: the inside of the waist band came up a little higher, ensuring it would be caught in the top-stitching.



turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar
The short length of this blouse goes great with skirts

I used a similar process to attach button plackets, except I did it all in one pass: by pinning in place, then top-stitching from the front to hold both front and back in place at once.


Now that the button plackets were in place, I could add the collar. This is a straightforward process, and I used bias tape to hide the raw edges on the inside of the neckline. I first pinned everything in place, stitched it, then trimmed and clipped the seam allowance before pressing and sewing the other side of the bias tape down. I love how this turned out!



turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar
This blouse is a little dressier than the gold shirt, but still wearable

Finally, I turned the sleeves into little puff sleeves by adding a gathering stitch and finishing the edge with bias tape flipped to the inside - sort of like a facing. Cuffs would be a great option here, but I hadn’t had enough fabric to make any.



turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar
The collar turned out a lot better than on my previous version!

Finally, I marked my buttonhole placement, and sewed them on my Janome machine. Then I cut them open using a freshly sharpened buttonhole cutter, and finally sewed on some little white buttons on the opposite side.


How Do I Like It?


turquoise blue silk linen noile blouse vintage historical 1950's fifties fashion history bounding puff sleeve short peter pan collar

I love this blouse! I think it will be perfect to wear with the skirts in my wardrobe, and it has a dressier look then the previous shirt. I recommend trying out this kind of blouse if you want shirts to wear with skirts that have a dressy vintage look.

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