Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Great White Shirt sew along - Want to play?

I've started a "Great White Shirt " sew along at PR. Are you interested in joining us?
I am going to be using McCalls 5433, but you can use whatever you like! I have a few other things I want to finish first, but I am gearing up to get another shirt with great fit and want to compare this pattern to the BWOF pattern from April that I have been using.

Some thoughts about fabric:
There are lots of great fabrics you can use for white shirts, but when you actually go to find something, they seem to be in short supply! Let's explore some options.

First of all, my white shirts are my everyday go-tos. So, I need fabrics that can handle my everyday abuse! Comfort and ease of care are also number one considerations for me.

Silk: I love silk. But, I am hard on my everyday clothes, so I save silk for more "special" occasions. I will not be considering silk for this shirt, but some of you may want to look at silk twill, dupioni, or medium weight silk. There are other options as well, but I'm not discussing them here.

Cotton: hands down, one of my favorite. BUT, there are lots of types of cotton to consider and not all broadcloths are the same! TRIAL and ERROR are your friends here. You won't really know what you like, until you try it.

  • Broadcloth - I bought some 100% cotton broadcloth from last year and absolutely loved it. It was easy to sew, requires minimal ironing, and is super comfortable to wear. I made a shirt out of poly/cotton broadcloth last year and hated it. It puckered and it was impossible to get some of the seam lines to lie smoothly. I made some shorts out of the exact same fabric in another color, and they are my favorite pair! Poly Cotton broadcloth is cheap and washes well and requires no ironing. It is cool and comfortable. It is more difficult to sew than 100% cotton
  • Shirting - comes in many different weaves and weights. I have had very good luck with shirtings. Add some lycra and you get some stretch, which helps with fit, but also creates more wrinkles.
  • Batiste - soft, comfortable, thin and almost sheer. You may have to wear a camisole under this fabric. Also, because of its sheerness, your seam allowances will show through, so they better be straight and even!
  • lawn - just about the same as batiste, although sometimes a little heavier. Some books say that the two are the same, but batiste is usually solid and the lawn is usually printed.
  • voile - sheer cotton fabric - you would probably need to underline. Not really stable enough for a "shirt" in my opinion
  • gauzy fabrics - come in all weights from sheer to heavy. These can give an interesting look, but are not for the beginner. They stretch out of shape easily.
  • seersucker - easy to sew, comfortable to wear
  • quilting cotton - probably the most choice of solid color fabric if your only options are JoAnns or Hancocks. Feel the fabric and see if you like the hand. Some of them wrinkle terribly, others do not. Some have a smooth finish, others are rough.
  • Bleached muslin - can work, but it really wrinkles unless it is very high quality muslin.
  • Swiss cotton - if you are lucky enough to get your hands on some of this, it is beautiful to wear, comfortable, and easy to sew. It is also pricy.
Linen: My other favorite fabric! Linen is easy to sew and super-comfortable to wear. Yes, it wrinkles. You either like the look of it or you don't. Washing softens linen, but dry-cleaning will keep it crisp and lessen wrinkling. I have learned to love the wrinkles and look of linen. I like to order mine through fabric-store. Linen is sold by weight here. 3 oz is light weight and 5.3 oz is medium weight, kind of like a shirt-weight denim.

Rayon: Rayon has beautiful drape and is cool to wear. Think of those nice rayon men's tropical print shirts. Rayon is more difficult to work with than cotton or linen.

Polyester: There are some beautiful polyester silky type fabrics and also poly broadcloths and just about any weave of fabric you can find it polyester. It is easy to take care of and requires no ironing. I like it for sleeveless only because it make me perspire and has to be washed every time I wear it.

For cooler months I would also consider flannel and tropical weight wool.

I may have forgotten some things, but my next shirt will be made of either linen or cotton (both of which I have in stash!)


Rhoto said...

What a very helpful listing of fabric characteristics... Always tricky for me to "pick".
Warm greetings,
Rhonda in Montreal (PR)

gwensews said...

I may like to play. I have a lot of shirt patterns, and white fabric. I'll get out my paterns and take a look.

knitmachinequeen (KMQ) said...

Count me in. I absolutely love white blouses. I've had the fabric and been planning on make one for months. This will finally make me make it happen.

Summerset said...

Hmmm . . . I'm seriously thinking about this. It seems like I always have so many things I want to make, but a sew along helps me to prioritize. I'd love to have a whole closet full of white shirts in all different styles, but alas that's not going to work with all those bright colored bras now is it? LOL. Pretty bad example for my 10 year old daughter!

Anonymous said...

count me in! My favorite thing to wear is a crisp white shirt!

Tee said...

Nice blog...I'm in, I have patterns and plenty of white fabric!