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A Big Summer Shirt

A colorful abstract digital print Ramie, purchased at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in February, has been calling my name for several weeks.  It was pre-washed and draped on the dress form in my sewing studio so I could wrap my head around how to place the print successfully.  It was destined to be a cool summer shirt.

Communing with the fabric on the dressform

For years I have admired the look of oversized shirts in catalogs and on pattern covers.  The problem I found was they never felt right on my body.  The dropped shoulders drag over my full upper arms and the looseness in the body feels sloppy.

Choosing a design

Because this fabric print was so bold, I knew it would steal the show.   I decided to use my well-fitting Tabula Rasa Jacket with Shirt Variations and lengthen it to include a high-low hemline.

The back sections before being assembled.

If there was enough fabric, I hoped to include a split back.  Both of these details would give the shirt an oversized look while fitting well enough to be comfortable and neat.

Placing the fabric’s fanciful print

The fabric on the cutting table.

From the moment I spotted the fabric in The Confident Stitch booth, I was drawn to the bright colors and the pairs of abstract birds.  My obsession became where to place them.  My initial plan was to put all 4 birds on the back, but after moving the draped fabric around, I decided to put one pair in the back and the other in the front.

Placing the pattern pieces on the birds.

I placed the pattern pieces to confirm that it was possible, then puzzled through the placement of the extra pieces to keep the front mostly blue and putting lots of color on the back.  It was laid out on the cutting table for several days as I fiddled with the pattern placement.  So I would not get tempted to move the birds around, I drew them on the pattern pieces with a pencil.  I also annotated the placement of the blue sections on the right front, with the birds, so I could make an effort to offset the blue section on the left front.  This detail I had draped on the dress form during the design process and I liked it.

The illustrated patterns and the resulting fabric pieces.

Nuancing the final print placement

Here you see some photos of the collar, which in our shirt variation is a simple rectangle.  By the time I cut out the collar, there were not many options left to fussy cut for effect.  Once I got the shirt and facings constructed, I spent some time testing how I wanted to place the collar; the results were worth the wait.  I really love the shirt and the movement of the blue across the front.  Of course, there is nowhere to wear it these days, but I am optimistic that I will have some occasion in the future.

Another design for a Tabula Rasa Big Shirt

Another beautiful big shirt.

A different take on the big linen shirt was recently made by our friend Rebecca Fulgoni.  She is a gifted stitcher, blogger and Threads Digital Ambassador who often writes about using her Tabula Rasa Jacket pattern as a base for her creations, including this recent Threads extra, Create Tons of Style from a Basic Pattern.  Catch this month’s Threads Podcast for an interview with Becky or read her blog post and you will learn why she needs this beautiful sheer pintucked linen shirt.

Make one for yourself

Have you gotten inspired?  Using stash and a trusted pattern is such a good way to sew during these unsettling times.  Carrie has been eyeing a piece of lovely blue linen in her stash to make a shirt with and I have gathered a group of white cotton and rayon remnants to make a shirt for my daughter.  We haven’t figured out the designs yet, but watch our Instagram and Facebook feeds to see the results of our work.  Shirts are easily made using some of our Band Variations or the Rain or Shine Variations too.

The back of the big shirt

Have you made a “Big” shirt for summer using the Tabula Rasa Jacket?  What were your required details?  Send us a photo so we can share it with our sewing community.  Or, post it to your social media with our hastags, #tabularasajacket, #shirtvariations, #sewsuccessfully, #fitforartpatterns.  I will post more information about making this top all week on Facebook and Instagram.

Stay well and sew happy!  RAE

2 thoughts on “A Big Summer Shirt

  1. Wow Rae,
    What a great job of color placement! Reading about your decision making process is so helpful- even if your palette is too bright for my comfort level-I learn something every time I read your blog. Thank you for the inspiration. Toni

    1. Thanks Toni, glad you were inspired by the process. This time it was really fun! RAE

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