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Sewing, Style & Creative Writing
  • My Emerald Green Elephants Summer Shirt

    Posted on 21/08/2013 by David in My Handmade Closet.

    Labelling your own handmade work is no easy feat sometimes. I toyed for a while with the idea of naming this post A Modern Take on a Safari Shirt but opted instead for cramming as many nouns and adjectives as I could without a single preposition to come up with that somewhat contrived title. Go figure!

    I have a bit of an anecdote about the story behind this shirt. When I saw this vintage Elephants fabric over a month ago, I really liked it but couldn’t figure out what to do with it so I left it there only to regret my decision moments later. I came back after a couple of days to find just two metres of that fabric left which I hastily bought along with some light emerald green linen. The shop assistant asked me what I was planning to make with the Elephants fabrics and I replied this was for a shirt. He then showed me a picture of that same fabric made as a shirt by no one else but the fashion companyPaul Smith itself!

    Blimey dear readers! What a revelation! I always wished I had deep pockets to afford one of their pricey shirts (this one retails around £100/$150) and I was about to create one with the same fabric! But hey, one would be foolish to try to compete with the mighty, highly successful and respected Paul Smith and I’m certainly no copycat so it just had to look different.

    You could be forgiven for thinking that surely, the more shirts you make, the faster and easier it gets…well it doesn’t with me! But again, I wanted to up the ante and went for more intricate details meaning a week was necessary to do the shirt instead of three days as originally planned. I had to redraft my front and back pattern to accommodate the wavy band of Elephants fabric all around the bottom of the shirt. I also designed my own pocket and chose contrasting fabric for the yoke, button and buttonhole plackets. I combined again the two fabrics to do my collar – fast turning into a signature piece it seems – but double collars mean double the time that I would normally dedicate to constructing them. Sewing two different thicknesses of fabrics together was at times challenging around the curvy bits, requiring more dexterity – and the help of a good unpicker when things didn’t quite go to plan! Oh and I also had a little revelation about flat-felled seams which I found easier to steam iron instead of pinning although folding the seams as you sew along is the best strategy around curves I think.

    So here is the result and obviously, this is now my new favourite shirt (I’m so shallow!). It looks great on my dummy Melissa who is wearing it for the time being and I love it so much that a very special photo shoot is on its way very soon to celebrate in style 🙂


10 Responses so far.

  1. Alex in California says:

    Terrific balance and composition. The closeup photos show quality work.

  2. Wil says:

    Beautiful work. What sewing machine do you use? The stitching is exquisite.

    • David says:

      Thank you very much Wil! It’s a semi-industrial Bernina 850. I much prefer these older models which are not as fancy as the newer ones but are much more reliable in my opinion.

      • Karen says:

        Older machines are the best. My mother in law uses her Singer that must be over 70 years old. Still in perfect working order.

        • David says:

          That is so true Karen, I’ve not had a single problem over the last 18 months I’ve had my old Bernina…fingers crossed it keeps that way!

  3. Mainelydad says:

    Love the collar! You outdid Paul Smith IMO.

    • David says:

      Wow, not sure about that but that’s certainly a fantastic compliment, thank you so much 🙂

  4. Clare Szabo says:

    This is amazing! Your top-stitching is beautiful and I prefer your shirt to Paul Smith’s 🙂

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