Headless shirt

I failed in two attempts to get good photos of this shirt, and then realized maybe it was my face that wasn’t photographing well. I try not to make a habit of cropping myself out of photos, because I want my kids to see that I was present, but today it’s really just the shirt I wanted to show. I think it’s this icky cold that’s keeping me from making a pleasant face for the camera. (Not that pleasant expressions are my forte when I’m healthy. Usually I look like I’m facing a firing squad, except in my driver’s license, where I look like I’m playing poker with a serial killer.)

So, here’s my headless-and-legless shirt:

I found the buttons in my stash when the shirt was nearly complete. I can’t believe how perfectly they go with the fabric. The vintage fabric and buttons were both from my mom.

I hope the crease near the waist washes out. I did already iron it. The fabric sat folded on a shelf for a very long time, so it’s possible the crease will be permanent.

This was my second try in two weeks to get the fit right for a shirt using “Pattern Master Boutique” pattern-making software. My last attempt was a disaster–it turned out I’d failed to notice a whole menu screen, including all-important options for dart placement. The Empire waist was up under my armpits. I tried to keep this second design simple in case it also failed, but I’m much happier with the fit. I did add tucks to the sleeves because I didn’t like the way they hung.

Pattern making software is ripe for operator error:  You can choose the wrong fabric, add too little ease, choose an unflattering style, or do all of the above.  But it’s also great fun to have so many options.

PMB recommends making a fitting muslin, and I’ve done that before with some of my earlier measurement sets, but this time I wanted to jump right in and work on a wearable project. I’m sure there are lots of things that could still be tweaked to get the fit perfect, but for now it’s close enough to make some more clothes that will at least fit better than anything I can find at the mall. It’s been a long time since I’ve made myself anything wearable, and I’ve had several things turn out very unwearable, so it’s nice to get a taste of success. Now I just have so many ideas of things to make that it’s going to be hard to decide where to start.

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13 Responses to Headless shirt

  1. Kristina P. says:

    It’s very cute! I love the Peter Pan collar.

  2. Virginia Wood says:

    It’s a very good fit, a darling fabric, and the buttons are wonderful! I think the person inside it is darling, too.

    I will confess that I do little sewing for myself, specifically because I spend so much time on whatever it is I’m sewing and I am almost never happy with the results. I have two shirts I’ve bought that both fit beautifully and are all the things I like about a shirt. They are both destined for the “make this into a pattern” basket. I’ve found finding a good fitting article of clothing, and then using it as a pattern to be a much better choice for me to make than choosing something from a pattern book

    • zstitches says:

      I think copying is a great approach when you can find something retail that fits well. Unfortunately I haven’t found much lately that I would want to copy, which is why I’m motivated to sew for myself even though it’s SO much less recreational than sewing for my girls.

      You might already know this, but in case you don’t, there’s a great tool for making patterns from finished clothes. It’s called a pinpoint tracing wheel because its points are longer and sharper than a regular tracing wheel. To use it you spread your pattern paper over a sheet of cork or foam core or a tight industrial carpet, then lay the shirt you’re copying over that, then trace the seams with the pinpoint tracing wheel, which will show as a perforated line after you lift the shirt. Then you add seam allowances and you’re good to go. I know a great tool for adding seam allowances, too–it’s a rotary cutter with an offset guide, so you use the guide to trace the seam line and the blade cuts the specified distance away. Or for 5/8″ seam allowances I’ve heard it also works to rubber band two pencils together. Let me know if you want links for the tracing wheel or offset cutter or the book where I learned these tricks. (I guess this could be its own post–maybe some other day.)

      • virginia wood says:


        Those are excellent tips for pattern copying. None of those tips are ones I’ve ever heard or found (not that I’ve been listening especially well or spending time on the internet looking for sewing advice).

        I probably ought to take another sewing class as there are so many new “gadgets” and so many great new sewing techniques to learn.

  3. Virginia Wood says:

    I meant to tell you, Zina, that I took some of my inheritance money from Grandma Hall and bought myself a nice sewing machine AND a serger. They were floor models, so I got a good price. They are being serviced right now, which is a good thing, as I have so much to do before Saturday’s Stake R.S. Training session. I have an idea that once I actually get them, I might not surface for air for quite a while!

    Aunt Ginger

    • zstitches says:

      How fun! I hope there are some long quiet sewing days in my future.

      • virginia wood says:

        Also, I meant to mention that when I saw your blouse I counted the buttons while thinking, “Good grief, she had to make eight button holes.” Now, you might have deduced that I own and sew on a machine that doesn’t have a button hole feature. I assure you, the new machine does! I got a “new” Bernina 830. It has lots of tricks, especially machine embroidery tricks. I’m excited to learn how to do some fun machine embroidery on my grandkids’ clothes!

        • virginia wood says:

          Good grief! I can’t even count let alone sew a good buttonhole.

          • zstitches says:

            LOL. Seven buttonholes is still a lot. I think you’ll love your 830, I’ve heard that it’s a great machine.

            These buttonholes did give me some grief, which made me wonder if the alignment is off on my machine or something..

  4. Mrs. Organic says:

    I can’t believe how perfect the buttons are! I love the collar, too.

  5. Rachel Sue says:

    It turned out really cute. I wish I had adorable buttons floating around my house. . .

  6. Jen says:

    Just lovely. Way to go!

  7. Megan says:

    To echo the prvious comments, I think the shirt looks great! I just fixed my sewing machine (it was something really obvious, but took me four months of pndering to figure it out! At least I didn’t pay for someone to tell me I had some wires crossed) and I’m looking forward to trying some simple sewing projects again. If you have time, I’d love to have the links to the gadgets you were mentioning. Otherwise I can google them myself someday.

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