Bright Sanders Button-up Shirt

Hi all! Well, it’s been a difficult start of the year has it not? Between the storming of the Capitol by fascists and the government in my own country (rightly) falling as the culmination of years long scandal in the tax department- all the while my country is in lockdown, it feels like January really wanted to make sure we all knew that 2021 is really just a number change and not much else. On a scale that’s not on par with an attempted coup, my partner had a minor accident a few days ago resulting in some late night first aid phone calls, bandaging their finger while they are trying not to faint (from haemophobia, not blood loss, just to reassure you) and reading more about open flesh wounds than I had hoped to do throughout the whole year. You know it is going to be one hell of a year when you go out to top up your first aid kit, masked against a pandemic, while your phone is beeping you updates about an attempted coup and your own government’s failing. I know that everything is rubbish worldwide, but I hope that on a smaller scale January has been kinder for you. We had our first snow fall of the winter this weekend. It wasn’t much and it won’t fix the world, but it felt like a gift, one of those things to hold on to.

I wrote the bulk of this post before this week with the idea to post it as my first project post of the year as it is so delightfully cheery and colourful which I felt was a good thing to start the year of with. I still think making colourful things that bring you or the people you make it for some sort of happiness and distraction are important…even in all that is happening now. There is of course only so much a happy make can do but perhaps it will bring a small smile to your face while we try to get out of this mess.

When I finished the Negroni shirt, I mentioned that my enthusiasm for sewing for others than myself had not, as expected, evaporated because of the slow struggle that shirt had turned out to be. By the time I posted that, I had in fact already turned my mind to making another button-up. Well, guess what this post is about and what did not take me half a year to stitch up?

This time around I started by showing the recipient a few patterns, accompanied by tech drawings and examples of shirts stitched up by other sewists. In that way, he could make an informed decision as to what he wanted and what features he preferred. In the end he leaned towards the Sanders button-up by Elbe Textiles because the front yoke and hidden pockets made it stand out from retail shirts. It became a done deal when I found the perfect fabric which would really profit from the hidden pockets.

Sanders has some classic button up features, such as the pointed collar and stand, the enclosed back yoke and the separate button band. Other details make this shirt just a bit unique; the in-seam breast pockets with optional pocket flaps, back panels that include some gentle shaping and the front yoke. The latter screams to be used to play around with prints or colourblocking. It also features a neat loop hanger in the back.

Sewing this shirt was a breeze in comparison to the Negroni I made last year. Mainly because both the pattern wording and the construction itself were a lot more straightforward. Less important, but part in why this project moved along faster than the Negroni, is that there was a semi-deadline for it (the world would have been fine if I hadn’t made it, but it would be a bonus if it did work out).

The pattern comes together fairly easily for a shirt. While there are quite a few pieces involved, the techniques used are quite straightforward. The pattern doesn’t use flat felled seams, though you could of course add them yourself. Instead the pattern uses a sort of mock flat felled seams, where you seam, finish the seams and then top stitch down the seam allowance. The burrito method used for the lined yoke is also one of the more simple ones I’ve done. I don’t know if that’s because at this point I’ve done quite a lot of them or because this is indeed a simpler construction, in any case it does the job and gives a clean lined yoke finish.

Pattern includes quite a bit of (optional) topstitching. Along with the usual suspects that you’ll find on anything resembling a shirt -the collar, the stand and the button bands- this shirt also includes topstitching on the back and front yokes, the back panels, pocket flaps and the aforementioned mock lapped seams. Luckily I quite like topstitching! I think it creates a more finished and crisp feel, which I think was what the designer of this pattern also went for.

I made the pockets about a cm or two smaller than per pattern, for no other reason than to fit them on the fabric. You hardly notice though, as the breast pockets are still plenty big. Funnily the owner of Elbe textile issued an improved version of the pattern with minor modifications after I stitched this one up and one of the changes was a slightly smaller pocket. I made the optional button flaps, because it’s a detail I like on button-ups and to give me another place to play around with the funky fabric.

Now we have been talking about the pattern and sewing process, let’s address the pink -ahem, yellow-orange-and-blue- elephant in the room: the fabric. The intended shirt wearer usually wears flannel or corduroy shirts during the Autumn-Winter season, so that is what I looked for first. To my mind these are timeless fabrics, but I can have a hard time sourcing them for sewing. This year is one of those years were the pickings in fabric stores were slim. The recipient had told me that if I found something special, I could show him to see what he’d think.

Now, if you ever spend some time in the male department of any clothing store you quickly get an idea what to expect in any of them. You see a lot of the same and it’s not always terribly exciting. The plus side of this is that’s it often easier to find better made clothes with higher quality fibres (I have a much easier time finding a RTW woollen sweater in the male section than the women’s, for example). His shirts always have lined yokes, whereas non of my RTW shirts do, not to mention the great pocket divide. The flip side is that lots of men clothes, while better made are also less inspired, whereas the shirt wearer in your life doesn’t have to be! So when I spotted this fabric while scrolling in my search for suitable fabrics I knew I had a potential candidate. I was not prepared for how well received it would be though, because when I showed him the fabric it was a done deal.

Because of the unique style and how the design was placed on the fabric I wanted to have a good think as to how I wanted the pattern placing on the shirt to be. I had enough fabric to be able to play around a bit with the layout to get a patterning distribution on the shirt that he liked. To do this I drew some basic line drawings of shirts so we could roughly colour in some placements and make a decision based on that. It’s not exact science or whatever, but it did help to give an idea as to what direction we wanted to go.

I cut everything on a single layer of fabric, to improve cutting precision. To the same goal, this enabled us to better line-up sleeve, back and front pieces. Beforehand I had a bit of a hard head in how the matching would work out with such a fabric but in the end I’m really pleased with how it turned out, particularly the sleeves and shoulder and yoke pieces worked out well I think.

The fabric is a linen viscose mix with the pattern digitally printed on it. Because of the lighter weight of fabric it’s more suited to warmer weather but layered under a sweater it works year round. Because of the fibre’s characteristics it shows wrinkles from a day’s wear better than other fabrics would do but meh we both can live with it. It pairs really well with the Riddari sweater I made him a while back. Ha, it wasn’t intentional or whatever but it’s funny to so how my makes for him apparently adhere to such a cohesive colour palette. It will be fun to see it being worn more on its own come the warmer weather in spring, but for now it’s equally nice to see it pop over a knitted sweater.

I initially was going to go for simple black buttons, because the fabric is the star and I didn’t want the buttons to compete with that. However when I went to get them I found out that due to covid the habberdashery I usually go to, while open (this was before lockdown), wasn’t selling buttons. As a solution we decided to take the buttons of a summer button up that wouldn’t be worn for some time (that we could then replace with other black buttons before summer rolls around again). However when I tried it with one of the buttons… it just didn’t look good and instead of unassumingly blending into the shirt as I wanted, the stark black buttons really drew the eyes. In hindsight it’s obvious, as black is just not a colour that features anywhere in the fabric. I decided to look through my button box to see if I had something suitable. Now is perhaps a good time to mention that I did this whole scramble for buttons in the last hour of the evening before the deadline – the rest of the shirt was long done. At that point, I found these gold toned brass buttons that I scavenged off of a buttoned skirt earlier this year. These turned out to be perfect, much better suited to the shirt and the shade and colour values. I was so relieved to have found something fitting the style and when I matched them I couldn’t believe I ever looked for anything different than this.

I will admit that the end results has a bit of the “It’s the time of the season” late 60’s early 70’s psychedelia vibes, more so than I expected it to be. Especially with these photos in the woods it’s as though he is late for the recording of his version of “Whiter Shade of Pale” or “I’d love to change the world”. Dang, we should have really gone for it and handed him a tambourine and made him do dances no-one understands among the trees. In any case, this household definitely can work with those vibes so it’s all good, but it’s funny how environment can draw out certain aspects.

We are both really pleased with this shirt. The fit and the construction are an improvement of the first shirt I made him which makes this overall just much happier finished make. The fabric is kind of the star and I think almost anything I would have made in it would have been an eye catcher but I think it coupled with this shirt pattern is a particularity well suited pairing. Who knows maybe, this will become a go to shirt pattern in the future. I’m the most proud of the effort put in the pattern placing and how that worked out. It really made a difference to go the extra mile for that I think.

That’s it from me. I hope you are all well and until next time. xxx

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