One of my goals moving into next year is filling out my me-made dandy wardrobe, and I can’t think of anything that more closely fits the bill than designs from the English Arts & Crafts movement, with their intricate patterning and emphasis on texture. William Morris’s Strawberry Thief pattern has long been a favorite of mine, so I picked up a length of the Liberty Tana lawn with the express purpose of making a crisp button-front shirt (I have it in another colorway as well, and am debating if two Strawberry Thief shirts is too many…). To take full advantage of the pattern repeat, I knew I wanted to use a shirt with minimal style lines on the front, which meant turning to a menswear shirt pattern rather than my trusty Cashmerette Harrison (which has princess seams).
I have a few in my stash, but I like the clean lines of Simplicity 8427. The goal: to maintain a flat-front with one side bust dart that wouldn’t gape across my chest or hips or overwhelm my shoulders. This, my friends, required work.
To start with, I cut a size 44 at the shoulders, grading out to a 48 at the hips. I would have started with a 42 except 44 is the cut-off between size ranges, so I didn’t have a 42 included in my pattern. I then did a really basic 1.5″ FBA, creating a bust dart at the side and leaving the extra width open at the bottom (to further accommodate my hips). I added about 1″ of width to the biceps of the sleeves (and what a relief to only need a small full bicep adjustment, compared to the 3-5″ I regularly have to do on women’s patterns!) I muslined at this point, and it was clear that the shoulders were far too broad.
I needed to move the shoulder seam up by nearly 2″ without changing the curve under the arm or losing much width across the back of the shoulders, which meant reshaping the armscyth significantly. I wish I had taken a before/after picture at this point, but honestly I had no idea if it would turn out. There are still a few tweaks I would like to do, but I think it worked okay! I also ended up taking about 2″ off of the hem at this point.
I’m in love with the final product. I worked really, really hard to pattern match the front and carefully place the collar, and it looks SO good. I didn’t take as much care with the cuffs or sleeve plackets, but even those look pretty nice, and now I know I could do so in the future if I wanted.
Because I was looking for a slightly more menswear-styled cut, I didn’t do much shaping on the back beyond grading between sizes. This means it does bunch a little in my lower back, which I may or may not adjust on future versions. The generous curve from my back to my butt means I always need pretty large swayback adjustments if I want things to fit closely, but that adjustment also skews the center back line, which doesn’t work for things cut on the fold or with strictly directional prints like this. I think adding just a little more width on the side seams of the back piece from the lower back down will help.
There are only a few other adjustments I’d like to make to the pattern as a whole. There’s a little bit of extra fabric in the armscyth just above my breasts, which I would like to pinch out — however, I need to add the length back in somewhere so the sleeve can properly ease in, and I haven’t decided where that should be. I’d also like to increase the height of the collar stand by just under 1/4″ to make it a little more accommodating for ties. I used a fairly lightweight interfacing here, too, so my collar folds up on itself a little; upping my interfacing game and using higher-quality stuff is also on my 2018 goals list, so that will be a good place to test something new.
But those are relatively minor issues, and overall I’m just delighted with the pattern, the fabric, and ultimately the end result. I can’t wait to both make more shirts using this pattern and play around with Liberty Tana Lawn more! In the meantime, I’m busy matching my Strawberry Thief shirt to all the dandy things in my wardrobe.