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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Polka Dot Chambray Button Down

I've finally managed to finish another sewing project - a lovely polka dot button down shirt. I only recently picked up the pattern - I used Butterick 5526 - even though it's been out for ages. It has quickly become my favorite button down shirt pattern, and I can see why it is so popular online.

 This is actually the second time I've sewn this pattern, but the first one had a few fitting issues, even though I thought I took care of them all when I made adjustments to the muslin. But I think I have since fixed all the fit problems, and I quite like this shirt. I cut a size 12, but made quite a few adjustments to make it fit better. I chose view D, but with the long sleeves. The material is a lightweight dark blue chambray with polka dots. It frays and stretches easily, so it wasn't my favorite fabric to work with, but I managed to get it to cooperate.

When I made my muslin, I did a 1 inch FBA, which seemed fine, so I used that adjustment for my first make. However, when the shirt was complete, the bust was too small - definite pulling across the chest. Also, the princess seam fell at a weird spot - too close to the center front. To adjust this, I added 3/4" to the center front pieces at the bust of the princess seams. I thought that would help move the seam to the right place, and also add a little room in the bust. I ended up adding an additional 1/2" to each center front piece at the middle to make sure there would be no pulling or wrinkles. This also helped to move the princess seams to the right place. Finally, I added 1/2" to the collar and collar band pieces to fit the bigger center front piece.

I took 1 inch total off the front and side front pieces at the top, near the armhole, to reduce the fullness there. I just pinched off the extra. I took 1/2" off the top of the sleeve cap to reduce ease. I might even take a little more off next time so it isn't so puffy. The sleeves were overall too baggy and wide, so I took 1.5" off each side at the wrist, down to 1/2" at the armpit. I also removed 1" length from the sleeve.

I used the Negroni placket piece and instructions because I wanted a real placket on my shirt. I also interfaced only half of the cuff piece so they wouldn't be so stiff.

Other details - I used flat felled seams throughout, using the Negroni instructions. The fabric was pretty flimsy and frayed easily, so I wanted to use flat felled seams to make it sturdier and enclose all of the seams. I also used pearl snaps instead of buttons. I don't have a special tool to insert snaps, so I just used a hammer and lots of padding, and very carefully hammered the pieces together. Somehow, I didn't crack a single pearl top! I also added another snap on the placket so it doesn't flop open. I don't think that is called for in the pattern.

The pattern says it's an "easy" pattern. I don't know if I would consider any button down shirt to be easy, but this one was not very difficult. I wouldn't recommend that a beginner take this project on, but it's a good pattern for someone who already has some sewing experience. At least, I know I would have been lost if I chose this as one of the first patterns I made!

I prefer the look and comfort of having the sleeves rolled up, even though it hides all the work I did with the placket and cuff! But I like that I have the option of wearing them down if it's cold, or I want to look less casual. By the way, those red pants are the ones I made back in April. I actually think they fit better now - maybe they shrunk enough in the wash so they aren't as baggy in the wrong places.

The material was hard to work with because it was so slinky, and especially hard to hem. But I ironed furiously and eventually got the hem to cooperative. I would use a heavier weight chambray next time so it's easier to sew and wear, but I do I like how this one turned out. And of course, I love the polka dots!

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