Color Blocking with White

 When I decided to challenge myself at the end of February to make a white shirt once a month I thought four weeks between shirts would be plenty....Wow....I can't believe how quickly the four weeks slipped by.  I'm going to have to pay attention and not waste any of my weeks.  It's easy to say, "I'll do it next week."  But when you only have four, you can't push it off too many times!

I did have to wait for my white fabrics to arrive, so I couldn't get too much of a jump on March.  I ordered several versions of white fabric from "Gorgeous Fabrics."  I had a hard time choosing, there were lots of lovely pieces, but in the end I restrained myself a bit and picked out four to get me started.  The fabric came right away, it was lovingly packed in tissue and plastic to keep it white, and Ann from the store sent me a very nice thank you email which I thought was extra special.  I felt a bit bad about unwrapping them and shoving them unceremoniously into the washing machine.

Here's what I got...

The bottom right hand corner is an ivory rayon twill.  It has lots of body and I already have an idea for how I want to use it.

Next to that is a soft cotton batiste.  It is very fine and sheer, almost a voile.  It is more lofty than the rayon and has a matte finish.

Next, a silk organza.  I really wasn't thinking about using it for the challenge, but I needed a new press cloth so I ordered it up to help get to the 'free shipping' level!  It might find its way into one of the shirts, we'll see.

The luscious stuff next to the organza is a silk georgette heavily embellished with tropical leaf embroidery.  I was afraid it might be stiff, but it is wonderfully soft and drapy...I'm going to have to think hard about what to do with this one.  Maybe just look at it!

And finally a great handkerchief linen.  It washed up beautifully, as did the batiste and the rayon, and has that telltale crumple that screams "I'm linen."

As I pondered what to do for my March project, I realized that it is the detail that distinguishes a white shirt.  It would be easy to end up with a whole closet of the same shirt.  With that thought in mind I, decided to use both the linen and the batiste.  If they were two different colors I would say that I was going to 'color block' them to add interest to my shirt, but I'm not sure what you call it when all the fabrics are the same color?  Anyway, that was the concept I was going for.

I chose my cut-on-sleeve, pull-over top as a starting point.  I made the yoke seam before cutting out the pattern which gave me nice clean edges to work with.  Because the batiste was so sheer, the seams became a focal point.  I spent a lot of time measuring and folding to get them relatively the same width.  I was planning to use a twin needle to do the top stitching, but the zigzag that is created with the bobbin thread actually showed through the sheer seams, so I ended up doing double rows of single needle stitching to finish the seams.  The neck is finished with a bias facing of the batiste and I added linen cuffs to finish the sleeves.

I am very happy with my "color-blocked" white shirt.  I think the two fabrics are great together and the seam detail gives it some interest.  I think I will enjoy wearing this one.  No rest for the wicked...on to April!


Gone Fishin'

 I am quite excited about my white shirt challenge, which is basically an excuse to order up a whole bunch of white fabrics.  I find a lot of inspiration from actually holding and draping the fabric, so until my box-o-yardage arrives I will have to find other projects to keep me entertained.  

When I was at my fabric store hunting up stuff for my first white shirt, I couldn't resist a cotton print that was perfect with a piece of batik that I had hauled with me from Michigan.  I also found a really soft dark chambray that had to go into the backpack as well.  I was on a roll after my shirt so I pulled them out.  I can't remember where or when the fish fabric came into my stash, but it seemed like a good one for KW.  When I saw the greenish one with "water drops" on it, I thought it was meant to be.

I only had a 1/2 yard of the batik and the same of the water drop print, so I needed to pick something that wouldn't need much fabric.  I have been wearing an Ethel Designer Top (Style Arc Patterns) a lot since we got to Key West and the design lines are perfect for mixing and matching.

It's a pretty straight forward project, figuring out which fabric to put where took longer than actually sewing it together!  I  used the selvedge of the water drop fabric to accent the triangle piece of linen at the neckline.  The batik is a really nice weight for this top, the cotton is a bit heavy but I think it will be OK.  Note to self, choose very soft, drapy stuff for the next one.

I didn't have much in the way of scraps when I was finished.  Pretty close to a zero waste project!

When I washed the chambray it turned out really soft, but felt more like shorts than a shirt.  I can't remember the last time I have had a pair of 'denim shorts' ....

I started with my PJ bottom pattern.  The softness of the fabric meant that an elastic waist wouldn't be too bulky, not the usual case with denim shorts.  I made some fun pockets, which are impossible to take photos of...trust me they are adorable!  Back pockets...

Front pockets...

Another pretty straight forward project, although I did struggle to get the length right.  My husband kept rejecting them as "too long."  (He's admittedly a leg man 😏)  I did want a pair of 'shorts' after all.

...And they look great with my fish shirt!  Score!

Now I just relax until my white fabric shows up!


A Little Challenge for 2021

 2021 has been looking suspiciously like 2020.  The main similarity being the inability to plan anything!  I do realize that there are yogis out there who spend their whole lives trying to be present in the moment, but the present moment does not inspire me right now!  I need a heading, something to point my compass at....nothing monumental or earth shaking, just a little something out there in the wilderness to make my way toward.  Since traveling is still a big unknown it can't be an anticipated vacation, or visits with friends and family.  After considering a few options I landed on a sewing challenge.  What and when I sew is pretty much in my control and that is what I need, something that doesn't depend on "acts of God" or the whims of politicians.   I have been having a bit of trouble getting my 'sewjo' going and thought some kind of challenge for myself would get me moving and keep me going.  

I thought about joining in on the "make nine" challenge that many people do, but it requires that you choose nine patterns and nine fabrics that you want to make over the year.  This is just not possible for my brain.  I never really know what I will be sewing until I'm doing it.  The idea of choosing NOW what I want to be sewing in September?...I don't see it.  

I have a sewing buddy who got herself a whole bolt of white linen.  She wants to make a pile of white shirts.  Ever since she mentioned this it has been rolling around in my head.  I decide I would do a 'white shirt' challenge this year.  I made a few last summer and it was fun and challenging to make each one it's own thing.  I love playing with different textures and weights of fabric, the style possibilities go on and on, and choosing white fabric on line is much more doable than trying to match colors!  I am targeting one shirt a month...doable but not strict...I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't get 12 in the year.  In fact, since this is March already I only have 10 months left anyway! 

This idea took shape during the last week of February.  If I was going to start in February it was going to have to happen right away.  C'mon sewjo don't fail me now.  Not at the starting line!  I masked up and made a quick trip to my corner (literally on the same street) fabric store and came up with a white canvas duck cloth.  ...I said it was going to be a challenge!  I also found some metal buttons and twill tape, here we go.  Talk about staring at a blank canvas...😏

The weight of the fabric suggested a shirt-jacket of some kind.  I pulled out my Tabula Rasa pattern as a starting point.  I love the sleeve of this pattern and it would work well with my canvas.  Topstitching also came into the plan...back to the corner for heavy duty thread.

One of the things I really like about the Tabula Rasa is the sewing order.  I like getting the collar and front details finished before adding the bulk of sleeves to the mix.  

The metal buttons had little slots that I threaded the twill tape through.  I stitched the tape to the center front between the buttons.  I got all six buttonholes perfect in the first go!!!  Too bad they were all 1/2" to low for the buttons!!!!  Argggggggg.  The sound one makes when ripping out five perfect buttonholes!  

Once the fronts, back and collar are ready, the sleeves and side panels are connected and the seam is done in one pass from the front hem over the shoulder to the back hem.  No fussing around in little confined arm holes.  This construction method is also great for adding topstitching details.

I added some extra topstitching to define the pocket....(hard to see it with all the white!)

So there you have it, the first of my white shirts (I'll have to come up with a catchy name for my challenge, maybe for March.)  A white canvas shirt-jacket.  I think it will be perfect for breezy evening walks to the beach.  

I'm not sure if it will continue the rest of the year, but having this little challenge got me motivated and sewing in the last week of February.  I'm already ruminating about the March shirt.  We'll call it a good start!