Adventures in Shirt making


I’m no Pam Erny when it comes to sewing shirts but a sewing goal for next year is improving my shirtmaking skills, especially collar points and the precision pattern matching required by stripes and plaids. I also just generally need some new shirts! This project has been on my radar for a while and after Vogue released 8747 I found the pattern I want to use. It has a more feminine take on a tailored shirt; the princess seams, gently curved placket and sleeve/collar variations are exactly what I’ve been looking for. All good news right? I can just get going on cranking out new shirts right? Well not exactly because Vogue slopers a HUGE on me regardless of the style. After a zillions adjustments, two muslins and fitting help from Ann this pattern was finally in a usable state. Here’s a breakdown of what I had to do:

Petite Sizing

Below is the side pattern piece showing the various slash-spread adjustments with the original pattern piece laid on top. I have a very short waist, only 15 inches, and very narrow shoulders so generally for tops I start with a size 12 and go from there as shown in the 1st photo on the left below. Even with a size 12 Vogues back waist is 16.5 inches so this always my first adjustment This pattern has A-B-C-D cup sizing and I started with a 12 C-cup.

Uneven Shoulders

Due to a slight case of scoliosis my left shoulder is about 3/8 if an inch higher than my right. The side bodice piece in the photo 2nd from the left illustrates the raised armysce and the shoulder piece on this side was also raised. Nancy Ziemans pivot method is the easiest way to do this type of shoulder adjustment.

Bust length

A single layer layout is required because the pattern pieces are no longer identical. Labels are used to make sure the correct pattern pieces are sewn together. The right side pieces are marked with dots so I can easily tell them apart. When doing the layout I orient everything to my body as I stand in front of the pattern pieces and fabrics. Sort of a variation on stage right, stage left.

Single layer layout with labels marking the right and wrong sides

Single layer layout with labels marking the right and wrong sides

Vogue always has (for me anyway) a lot of extra length from the front shoulder to the bust point and you can see the various tucks I made to take out extra volume. There is no real science to this, the basic idea is to make a slit, open it up, overlap the adjustment and then taper to the nearest seam. The slash-and-spread method works for me a bit better than just tracing to the next largest size from waist to hip for example. I have no idea why this works, I suspect its because it keeps the scale of the pattern true to the original sloper? But really I have no clue.


This is a blue and white Italian shirt fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics and its soooo beautiful! It sews like a dream. I dont know what the weave is exactly, its some kind of complex cross between a twill and broadcloth. The buttons are also from Pam, these are her Classic Cream Pearl shirt buttons. Very beautiful and classy. For interfacing I used, for the first time, Pams new Pro-Woven Shirt Crisp and this is a great product. It really produces a professional base for collars and cuffs. Fusing interfacing is a task where I have a bad tendency to cheat by not following directions however, with this product its really necessary to rigorously follow Pams precise and thorough instructions. I also let each piece cool before I sewed it and that made a big difference as well. This interfacing will feel rather stiff when the shirt is finished, however, after one washing it softens up quite a bit and produces that beautiful firm but pliable hand we know from RTW shirts. Really Pro-Woven Shirt Crisp is the only interfacing worth using for tailored shirts in my opinion.