I’m back today after an unexpected break in posts. I’m wanting 2019 to be a year of consistency and balance, and I managed to make it to the end of January before BOOM, kidney stones. Thursday morning started out like any other day. We had breakfast and moved onto math to kick off our normal homeschool day, and I got an ache in my back. Within half and hour it was so intense, I paused our school day to take a hot shower, hoping to rub out the ache. That didn’t work and after another half hour, I could hardly talk through the pain, so I called a friend and asked her to take me to the doctor. He very quickly surmised that the pain was from kidney stones, and sent me for imaging. Long story short, the pain was intense beyond belief, beyond delivering ten pound babies without an epidural, and I had to go the hospital. They filled me up with some good pain meds via IV (thank God), and I finally was able to breathe and not scream. Anyway, all that to say I have been down and totally out since Thursday, and yesterday I was finally able to be ME again. So we are back to our regular schedule! happy dance.
This post is so long overdue. Truly. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I cut this shirt out in 2018. May of 2018, to be exact. I really don’t know what took me this long, except that I had a really good, steady stream of commissions that kept me quite busy last year. I think when I did get those breaks in-between work for clients, I chose simple personal projects that would give me quick victories rather than slowing down and really giving this shirt the details it required. Also, when I cut this shirt, I cut out three others so I could sew them in a batch. When September rolled around, I had a brilliant idea to cut out two more, so I could just go ahead and knock out six of them! If you have trouble completing four, going to six is definitely the answer, said no one ever.
But anyway, we are celebrating finishes not failures around here, and today, though overdue, I have a finished shirt! I am happy to tell you I actually have two finished shirts, but they are awesome and deserve their own posts. And I will be getting the remaining four outfitted with their sleeves and collars very soon, so I will have even more to share. Hold me to it!
This shirt is just my favorite thing. That’s why I had the crazy notion to cut out six of them. I guess it was back in 2017 that I finally worked up the nerve to order a used version of my most favorite, most worn garment off of ebay and deconstruct it so I could make my own versions in whatever fabric I wanted. My best fitting, most frequently worn shirts are my Perfect shirts from J.Crew, and I’m so happy I can make my own versions whenever I want. It was a tedious project to meticulously take apart and make every note I could and record photos and so on, but it was so worth it. I highly recommend doing this if you have a garment you just can’t live without!
Back when I got my first Perfect shirt, they would put out a few Liberty versions every year and they were $150 which is way out of my budget. Not that they weren’t worth it, they were simply out of the means that we have. I was able to get my first one at a super low sale price- like $20 at the end of season, and I quickly realized why they cost what they did. Obviously Liberty is a pricey fabric to begin with and no fabric rivals its quality and weight and print quality (okay, so I’m biased, but hey). But the workmanship was top notch. They gave attention to every detail and spared nothing on these shirts. The fit was spot on, and the finishing was beautiful. They truly were the perfect shirt.
Over the past couple of years, they have lowered a lot of prices at J.Crew to make the brand more accessible, and while I am all for that, I do notice the shirts don’t have that same quality of workmanship that they used to, and aren’t finished as beautifully as they used to be. Of course, with a trade off in price (they are now like $89 for the Liberty versions which is crazy cheap for what it is), there had to be a trade off in the workmanship because people have to get paid for their work, so less pay = less work. I don’t think the folks making these should have to put as much into something for a much lesser pay. And since people get worked up about anything on the internet and say so, I do wholeheartedly love and support slow fashion and so on, but I also believe that you can buy from good brands especially good basic pieces that will last for years and years. I got my first shirt from them about five years ago, and it still looks brand new despite being worn constantly. I take care of my clothes, and plan to wear them until they fall apart or I will donate them so they can continue to be used and loved. I think this is responsible financially, and also environmentally. Use and reuse! I only buy a couple of things every year for myself and my husband (usually a single pair of jeans, or some basic item that is needed), and we wear them out. That is not a compromise to slow fashion, its supports our economy and the economy worldwide. Like with anything, there is definitely a balance to be struck and you have to find what works in your life and what is feasible for YOU. I brought up the change in quality to begin with because I’m glad I had older, better models to work from so I could really mimic the top notch quality that caused me to fall in love with this shirt.
Back on track! I posted about my first two shirts back in 2017 and you can read all the details on that post, but suffice it to say even though it took me way too long to finish this shirt, it was absolutely worth the wait. The fit is so good, and the fabric is one of my all time favorites. I stumbled across the color way of Wiltshire several years ago, but I could not for the life of me find a garment sized cut of it anywhere worldwide. In fact, I couldn’t even find a scrap of it. One day, a friend of mine in Great Britain posted a picture of it on Instagram, advertising she had a bit for sale. She usually sells these great little charm bundles, but I immediately was messaging her oh my gosh, i have to have that. you have no idea how long i’ve been searching for that exact fabric. She’s a total Liberty connoisseur, and she understood right away that I would treasure this fabric. She arranged for me to get what I needed, and was so generous with me. I’ll always remember her kindness when I wear my shirt. I actually got this fabric to recreate this shirt long before I had even thought to deconstruct one. I just knew this fabric must become my favorite shirt! They are a match made in heaven.
I did sort of cut a corner on this shirt, and maybe I’ll regret it one day. Not today, though. You see, I can be a little minimalistic (er, cheap) when it comes to sewing things. I’m all about getting good fabric. Nothing is going to go well or be worth the trouble with crappy fabric. That I don’t skimp on. But I don’t have a lot of accessories or anything. I have one ruler, and I hardly keep backups of anything like needles. I know, shame on me. I also don’t really have much variety in thread color. I just have some small, mostly empty spools of a few colors that aren’t white or black, and I was too unbothered by it to get a teal blue that matched the shirt exactly. So that isn’t perfect. I just decided to really embrace some contrast with the buttons. I didn’t love the blue, didn’t want to use white, so I went for a burgundy which I just happen to have a lot of because it was given to me at a big embroidery event. There’s kind of some burgundy in the shirt, so I just went with it. I think the result is cool, and it gives it a little unexpected pop against the Mother of Pearl buttons. I like it and I have to wear it, so I think its golden.
I don’t ever think this way when I sew for clients; they are the reason I have any colored thread at all, because I always get all the things for commissioned projects. Funny how we adapt when its just for us, right? I hear this sort of thing all the time on Instagram- well this is just for me, so that mistake is fine. No one will know. I think its good to give ourselves a break and just let it be sometimes. That piece of clothing isn’t going to cloud my day! And the quilt will never tell.
My mom flew in last week to take care of me and the kids so Justin wouldn’t have to miss work, and she was so sweet to help take some pictures of me, so all credit for those go to her and my oldest child. I even got one with her. She didn’t bring a lot with her since she got on that plane in a hurry, so I told her to get whatever she wanted from my closet, and I couldn’t believe she chose this fish shirt which is one of the first two Perfect shirts I made back in 2017. Isn’t that funny? She had no idea it was one I had sewn until I told her, “Mama! That’s the same style of shirt you’re going to take pictures of for me, and its one of the first ones I made!” Now I need to make some for her!
I’m not sure if I’m going to share a new dress or another take on this shirt with you on Friday, so you’ll have to come back and find out. I’m gearing up for a tutorial in the next week or two, and then hopefully I will have a steady stream of free projects to share throughout the year so we can make things together! I have a new machine I’m using from the folks at Janome, and I cannot wait to share more about that with you in the coming weeks. You’re going to love it!
See you back here Friday!