Allow me to present you: the first garment I’ve ever sewn for anyone else! Locally, it’s also known as “the project that shouldn’t have taken me such a long ass time to make but did anyway”! Seriously, advancing from cutting out to stitched-up, finished wearable took me five, maybe six months….? This is with breaks and expeditions into other projects of course, but phew…it was one hell of a thing to get over the finish line. I’ll get into particulars and details of why this was such a project further on in the post, but for those of you remembering that I mentioned starting this shirt, I just wanted to get it out of the way that yes, this indeed took me the better part of the spring and summer.
Before I go into the process further, lets first get the pattern details in here. Pattern is Negroni by Colette. It was later republished in Walden, a sub-brand Colette ran for a while. I think the idea for that collection was to add multiple menswear/unisex patterns to it at the time, but other than the three patterns it started out with that never materialised. This is an older pattern, from Colette’s starting out days. This pattern truly comes from the advent of indie sewing companies and the birth of the community and marketplace that grew into the vast phenomenon that is is today.
At the time the pickings in indie patterns were extremely slim in general. For years it was literally the only men’s shirt on offer from indie sewing companies and only one of the few options of men’s sewing patterns in general out there. Over the years this has expanded somewhat, particularly Thread Theory has done a lot in that regard, though it has long ways to go before it is on par with the availability of women or children patterns. The increasing awareness of the massive issues with holding to the rigid gender divisions that have dominated fashion and sewing (and society in general) for so long is increasingly leading to more companies rejecting that binary and offering more unisex options and branding and that’s great.
I bought this pattern way back when I was a fledgling sewist. I think it was one of the first sewing patterns I bought, and my sewing and garment knowledge was limited. I think I bought it from a sewing shop that folded at the time, mostly because it was a good deal and I didn’t have a pattern for shirts yet. So it has been in my pattern stash for a long time (the fact that it’s an actual paper pattern is a sign!). Fast forward to the start of this year – years of skill and taste development later- and I decided that it was time to try my hand a sewing something for someone else. It was to be a shirt, because that is the main wardrobe staple of the person I was going to make it for, and it was going to be the shirt that had been waiting it’s time so patiently for so long.
Negroni has a casual fit, meaning it has some ease but it’s not oversized. The shirt has a convertible collar which I’m more familiar with as being called a “camp style collar”. The collar also features a collar loop, which I left off. There is the option for either short sleeves or long sleeves with sleeve plackets. It has two front pockets with flaps, and uses flat felled seams throughout. Finally the shirt has a facing instead of a button band. The buttonholes are sewn on the self fabric of the main shirt pieces.
It is very noticeable this is one of Colette early patterns. I found some of the wording in the instructions a bit odd and it had issues ranging from “well this is a bit unclear” to “headscratches”. I didn’t find a lot in terms of finished projects in the blogosphere ( in part cause this is an older pattern and some will have vanished) but those that I did find bumped into the same issues I had, so weren’t a lot of help in terms of finding explanations. Nothing that I couldn’t figure out eventually but it did take the wind out of my sails and was part of the reason why the project took me so long. It is odd cause I don’t remember having those issues with other Colette patterns, and Seamwork (which grew from Colette) is one of my favourite pattern makers. So I really think it’s a matter of being one of their early publications, when the company itself was new and didn’t have the experience yet.
The pattern also has some odd construction methods as well. For example the yoke is lined, but in an odd way with a lot more steps and words needed to get you there than for instance simply following the burrito method. The latter is a staple of the sewing community now, but it wasn’t back then so I guess that is the reason it follows such a odd method. I definitely don’t think what most do is always better, but in this case I do think there are simpler and cleaner ways to sew a shirt yoke.
I also had an iffy moment when one of the pocket flaps started disintegrating while I was still sewing the thing. I don’t know if it was the fabric being fragile or a doubtful sewing job on my end or a combination of the two. While I was able to unpick it and redo it, it was again one of those things that didn’t boost morale of faith in this shirt.
Fabric is a 100% cotton brushed flannel in dark grey with a white and sky blue plaid pattern on it. Which was very pleasant to work with, other than the iffy pocket moment. I used blue black mother of pearl buttons, nine on the shirt and two for the sleeves. As with my flanel Hinterland dress this will be a very cosy and toasty make to wear in the coming colder months.
I’ll be honest, even without the instruction blibs I wouldn’t have picked this pattern to sew if it hadn’t been in my stash. Simply for the garment features itself; I prefer a standing collar, especially on more traditional cut shirts such as this one, as well as separate button bands. Before cutting my fabric these things gave me some doubts over maybe just going with the Fairfield shirt or one of Elbe textiles shirts, but it had been in my stash for so long so it seemed fair to give it a go. While I don’t think I will soon reach for this pattern again, I don’t regret it either. I’m not advising against this particular pattern either, but I would say to have a good look at the tech drawings and features to see if it is what you want before you commit.
I’m a bit in two minds about the finished outcome. I’m proud to have finished sewing my first proper garment for someone else, to have persevered with it despite construction issues and to have ended up with a wearable shirt. At the same time I definitely recognise this is not my best sewing work, the process was a struggle, the fit can be improved and just the aforementioned preference of certain features over the ones used in this patterns. But perhaps given that it’s my first time sewing for another person that ended up with something that is being worn regardless of my objections of what could be better I should maybe just hush the perfectionist voice for a bit and move on.
I expected it to maybe be the complete death of my newfound enthusiasm to make things for others but it hasn’t. I’m honestly super excited to have my first sewn garment for someone else in the books which has also seen it’s first days of wear already. On that wave I’ve even started preparations for another shirt, using a different pattern and a fabric with a very different vibe, so I’m excited to make that happen
I do hope it won’t take me another half year!