Posted on 16 Comments

Sewing outside of the comfort zone

Sewing two new shirts

So I shared part one of this story, in which I sewed a shirt that made me very happy. Here now is part two, in which I sewed a shirt that leaves something to be desired.

I got it in my head recently that I wanted a red gingham flannel shirt. My inspiration pieces were things like this.


The thing is, I have never liked the way I look in button-down shirts with collars. I thought maybe I could try to re-create the look but in a more loose and boatnecky kind of way.

This, mind you, is a very different silhouette than the shirts I was using as inspiration, but in my mind’s eye it still worked really really well.


In addition to experimenting with flannel, I also wanted to try making the sleeves long. Simplicity 3835 comes with short sleeves and elbow-length sleeves, but nothing long. So I measured from my elbow to my wrist and added that many inches to the bottom of the elbow-length sleeve pattern piece.

New gingham flannel shirt.

That’s about the only part of this experiment that I can really say makes me happy. These sleeves are perfect.

The shirt as a whole, though? Big thumbs down from me.

New gingham flannel shirt.

For one thing, I think this fabric sewn up in this style looks more like pajamas than a shirt. In fact, if I had more of this fabric, I’d probably make matching bottoms and call it a day.

Also, I don’t know if it’s the camera angle or if it’s this shirt, but geez – I seem kinda busty. I’m sure that’s not helping things.

I tried to find some way to wear this that didn’t make me unhappy, but I had no luck.

New gingham flannel shirt.

By itself, it just looked frumpy. With both of the sweaters I tried, it was still unattractive, plus trying to get long flannel sleeves into the arms of a light sweater is no small feat – too much friction!

I feel like my best bet is to shorten the sleeves to at least elbow-length. I think that will help a bit, but it’s a shame because I am so happy with the way the sleeves look (as long as you ignore the rest of the shirt).

I might be able to take it in on the sides and make it more body-skimming, but the truth is I really like the loose, drapey nature of this pattern. I just wish it looked more loose-and-carefree and less frump-city.

What do you ladies think? Is this shirt a lost cause? Or can you imagine some way that I can turn it into something I will like wearing?

Posted on 16 Comments

16 thoughts on “Sewing outside of the comfort zone

  1. Do not, I repeat: DO NOT do anything to those sleeves! They are perfect. I love a long sleeve. I would NEVER have thought “pajamas” until you said it. I think the shirt just needs something to break up the fabric between the sleeves 😉 What about adding a pocket? Or ruffles? Or maybe just some fun chunky jewelry or a scarf? It really looks comfy & I like it!

    1. Haha, you feel really strongly about those sleeves! 😉 I do really like the length of them, too. They’re just how I like them, coming over my wrist and onto my hands a bit. And the shirt *is* pretty comfy. There is just something about it that makes me feel like it’s a bit “much” and I can’t put my finger on it.

  2. GAH! Or an applique!! I know this is a kid’s shirt, but, I LOVE the idea of it on an adult-sized plaid flannel! Check it out:

    1. Ok, that is super cute. It would totally interfere with the drapiness of the shirt, though, and it’s already not as drapey as I’d like it to be.

  3. I see what you’re talking about with the “busty” comment. It looks like the fabric is hanging pretty much straight down from your bust and that might be exaggerating it. Is there anything you can do to cinch in the lower half a bit and see if that helps?

    1. I’ve tried that before with this style of shirt, and it just makes everything worse. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

  4. I think it looks just fine and warm for chilly winter days! But if you just don’t feel comfortable in it I would definitely use it for PJ’s. Just pick up a pair of bottoms somewhere,

    1. Thanks for the feedback. It is definitely comfortable enough to be pajamas!

  5. I love the red and white checks paired with the coziness of flannel. Just a thought….What if you cut the shirt up the center front, secure the elastic neck by either simply sewing a folded over seam or adding a fabric strip down each side. You could add buttons or not. Then wear it as your outer piece with the tee underneath.

    1. That’s an interesting idea… If I did that, I could also pull it in at the waist a bit to give it more of a curvy silhouette. I’d really like to use it in the way that I had originally intended, but if I can’t get it to work, your idea is definitely worth exploring!

  6. I like Robin’s idea, too! I think the issue is the fabric has too much body. It makes it stand away from the body instead of draping. If you cut up the front it will take off some of the tension and it might drape more. Pulling it in at the waist would take out some of the bulk, too. Interested to see what you come up with! The fabric is really cute – don’t give up yet!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement! I decided that it’s just too much fiddling for me right now. I can wear it as-is and be comfortable. I just won’t wear it anywhere that I want to look super amazing, LOL! I haven’t given up on making it work, I’m just postponing the task until I feel more experimental. I think you have to be in the right frame of mind to completely re-work it.

  7. I think it is a problem with the neckline. With the gathers up top, it is not going to drape the way you want. Something like a priest’s collar migh work well, possibly in a contrasting color to refocus where the attention is on the shirt.

    1. By the way, you can use a strip of fabric (cross-grained, possibly) to bind the top of the shirt and still have the neckline you prefer. I just think that a more defined collar would be helpful.

    2. Thanks for the suggestions. I wore the shirt all day yesterday and decided that it is alright if I wear a light sweater. I’ve accepted that it will be fine and comfortable for hanging around the house, but I just don’t think flannel is going to behave the way I originally wanted. And to that end, I went shopping and got some really lightweight cotton gingham so I can start from scratch on a new shirt.

  8. […] the red gingham shirt and all of the great advice you gave me? I very much appreciated our conversation about that, and […]

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