Deer and Doe Melilot shirt
Lately, I just want to stick a collar on everything I sew. After years of making and wearing nothing but pull-on tops and tee-shirts, all of a sudden if it doesn’t have buttons and plackets and collar stands and cuffs, I’m not on board. Which is slowing down the project pile considerably, because making a shirt takes a while. So many steps. So many details. So much TIME!
I blame Hailey Benton Gates for the whole shirt obsession. A couple of months back I binged the entire first series of States of Undress in one sitting (waiting patiently for season 2 – when SBS, when!?) and as well as learning lots about fashion and freedom and the uncool ways in which women are exploited in a couple of countries I knew almost nothing about, I fell hard for HBG’s wardrobe. Especially the shirts. In a couple of scenes she wears the sweetest floral blouses buttoned to the top, and while I know that style-stalking a model/actress/writer who’s a couple of decades younger than you is a surefire recipe for pain and dissatisfaction, those shirts just stuck in my mind. She looks so great in them.
So I set my fabric radar to ‘HBG-inspired delicate floral’, and when I spied this Japanese Liberty in Nomura Tailor in Kyoto little shirt-related bells started ringing. I’ve mentioned before that I have a love/hate thing happening with Liberty (I love it, and the tiny prints and colours hate me and my face), but I convinced myself that a slightly larger print on a solid colour background could work and tried to contain my excitement at working with such gorgeous, soft, sheeny, polished, perfect fabric. There really is nothing like it.
I originally planned a Grainline Archer, but decided I needed a more fitted and ‘feminine’ (whatevz that means) shape and bought my first Deer and Doe pattern, the Melilot shirt. If truth be told, I actually made two shirts by the time this project was done. I’d read that the Melilot is a fairly straightforward make, and I get that it should be. But for some annoying reason, I ended up having to repeat almost every step twice – but only got one shirt at the end. Wah. It all started at sizing: I originally traced and cut the size 38 based on my measurements, but then looked up a few reviews (thanks What Katie Sews and the Drapery here and here) and worried mine would be too small. Thank goodness I did the research and cut a 40, as I don’t think I could have gone any smaller (should I have gone even larger?) and the sleeves on my finished 40 are a little short. Meanwhile, if anyone needs a fully traced pattern in a 38, message me…!
Once the second round of pattern pieces were traced and the fabric cut, the instructions were pretty clear – but I kept messing up on details. A couple of my French seams went too deep and those little frayed and fluffy ends from the first seam kept popping up in the finished seams. My first darts were a bit uneven and had to be done again. My tension was too, tense, and the underarm seams puckered. And, biggest error of all – I used cheap interface on my first collar, collar-stand and cuffs and it puckered and bubbled and was a total trashy disaster. I bit the bullet and bought some very, very good stuff from Stitch 56 and will never look back. There’s something vaguely ridiculous about investing in gorgeous fabric and slapping cheap interface onto it – I highly recommend you don’t.
The good thing about sewing one shirt twice is that you learn double the lessons from one project (how’s that for glass half full!). I’m still a real novice when it comes to button-ups, but I finally feel as if I’m making progress. My second collar was my best collar so far, and my sleeve plackets are a point of quiet pride (I usually get them back to front). I completely fudged the button placket which is meant to be covered, but like to tell myself I did it on purpose to show off these little blue buttons, and know that next time I’ll read the instructions more carefully.
As to whether the Liberty is working for me? I still don’t think it’s a perfect match, and yeah – it would look a bazillion times better on a gorgeous young TV host. But looking down at these flowery sleeves with their matchy little plackets makes me really happy and proud, so I think I’ll just keep wearing my Melilot. And plan the next one, because this shirt obsession isn’t going anywhere fast.