After finally coming up with over a dozen wearable pieces using simple panels and directions, I decided to tackle my very first collared shirt.
As many do when faced with a difficult task, I totally procrastinated attempting to make a collared shirt because I perceived it to be so complicated, taxing, and I was sure my end result would be a complete disaster on the first try…
But…, everyone starts somewhere, right?
Sewing is certainly teaching me how to get over difficult tasks through constant trial and error and the pain and suffering of seam ripping. I really wanted to create sweat pants, but I decided it was time to make a real shirt.
While pattern shopping, I found Sirena Patterns on Etsy. They have an array of PDF sewing patterns, and I immediately set eyes on the Sitka Short Sleeve Shirt. I thought it would be a great introduction to the collared shirt since it is oversized with a straight hem.
Sirena Patterns is currently the only pattern company in Puerto Rico, and it is owned and operated by fashion designer Tommie Hernandez, who was the brains behind the styles featured in Nuestra Belleza Latina 2012, Miss Universe Puerto Rico, Miss World Puerto Rico, and Miss Puerto Rico Teen. Her official site offers an academy, magazine, and a marketplace for patterns and notions.
The Sitka pattern comes with easy to follow directions in both English and Spanish. There are also pictures to go with all of the steps.
Sirena Patterns is easy to order from with great customer service and easy to trace PDF patterns.
Making it Unique
Even though this shirt is a simple oversized button up shirt (and I was likely to mess up somewhere along the way), I still wanted it to be wearable and uniquely mine.
To help me out, I watched a video on YouTube by Mariah Pattie called “WORKSHOP: The key to *actually* sewing your own clothes (how to plan & build a hand-sewn wardrobe),” and it was loaded with all sorts of great advice about sewing a wardrobe. Definitely watch it because it breaks down wardrobe creation in a satisfying a practical way!
Among many of the tips the video presented, the one that stuck with me was the part about defining and embracing details that personally stand out to you, as opposed to copying an entire look. It forced me to think about specific aspects of clothes that I liked such as textures, decorative pieces, ornamental details, and cuts and angles.
I decided to make this shirt a linen shirt with decorative wooden buttons. I would take into consideration my love for greenery, and the buttons would showcase a modest design.
I had a stash of green linen I had bought from Fabric.com before its demise, so I decided to use it to create the shirt. The color was a little off from the original website photo, and the linen was quite fine, so I did not mind diving head first into using it. Who needs a mock up?
This linen is weirdly cool. It changes color like a chameleon, going from olive to lime to army to neon green with a simple shift in lighting.
Using buttons from Lyanwood
Lyanwood on Etsy had these beautiful mandala patterned buttons for $3.00 for a set of ten. They measure 0.51 inches in diameter.
A mandala is a “geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism” (Oxford Languages, 2023). It can also be a symbol in a dream, “representing the dreamer’s search for completeness and self-unity.”
I definitely identify with the latter definition. The symbols are meditative and remind me to always strive for inner peace and self actualization.
Sewing it together
I don’t know how, but I did make the button bands a little longer than they were supposed to be. Fortunately, I was able to simply cut the excess pieces off.
I gave all of the pieces an extra half inch of seam allowance so that I could use French seams. I currently do not have a serger, so I make do by increasing seam allowances when I cut out fabrics.
Linen, especially linen this light, can be finicky. It wrinkles and misshapes easily, so I had to iron often and pin my pieces together carefully to ensure that they stayed in place.
My collar almost came out perfect. I added too much seam allowance to the collar pieces, and ended up having extra fabric around the collar, leaving a tear on one side. I did a patchy job sewing the piece together, but next time I will know to make sure the collar fits the neckline.
I also almost had perfect buttonholes! I accidentally cut too far into the fabric of two out of five buttonholes.
What I learned…
This original project taught me a few things:
- Don’t be afraid of harder projects – The most obvious lesson learned is that I now roughly know how to sew a collared shirt. However, the bigger lesson is the importance of challenging yourself. I knew that if I did not pursue harder projects, I would be stuck making baggy, shapeless clothes for the rest of my life. I learned how to sew a collar and make neater buttonholes (despite the two I messed up).
- Measure carefully and often – I learned that a sewn project can be forgiving — so long as the fabrics are measured carefully and often. My pieces still were not perfect, but I did take more care to measure and cut my pieces than I did for previous projects. You have to look closely to see any obvious mistakes in the shirt.
- Be neat with solid colored fabrics – I have said this before, but I repeat: “sewing with solid fabrics will remind you to be neat with your stitching because mistakes are more visible on solid colors. I learned what top stitching was and it made the shirt look a whole lot neater.
- Build your clothing around unique and interesting features – For me, this was not just a green linen shirt. The features gave it character: the texture and color of the linen combined with the mandala buttons made this shirt somewhat of a reflection of my soul; my love for nature and peace.
The Final Verdict
I give the Sitka Short Sleeve Shirt Pattern a 10/10.
I give my Sitka Short Sleeve Shirt Interpretation an 8/10.
I almost gave myself a “7,” because it is not my favorite piece so far and I am a little irate about messing up the button band. But, when I thought about it the color is gorgeous, the shirt is mostly in proportion, and the mandala buttons combined with the green threading make this shirt rather mesmerizing to look at.
As each day passes by, I like it a little more. I just look forward to the weather improving so that I can wear it while running around in the sun!
Hernandez, T., (2023). Sirena Patterns by Tommie Hernandez. Retrieved from https://sirenaelite.com/
Oxford Languages, (2023). Retrieved from https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/
Ahhh, good for you for sticking with it and embracing the imperfections! <3 And that green linen is gorgeous, it really makes me want a dress in the same fabric (even though like you I have to French seam my linen and it takes forever…lol).
Thank you!!! Yes, the hardest part about sewing is definitely embracing imperfections. I wish I could tell you the exact linen name, but I can’t find it anymore. 😭 French seams can be a pain, but they’re worth it to not have the items fall apart! 🤪
You are brave to take this on. It is true we learn from our mistakes! I love that green!
Thank you! I’ve often been paralyzed in many projects that I want to make by wanting things to be “perfect.” Sewing things have taught me to accept mistakes as learning opportunities.