William Morris Shirt
Project by Alex Holt
Like most people, I am a massive fan of William Morris Prints. The designs have a timeless appeal which is a rare quality in such a fast-paced design world. I took the opportunity to push myself with this project by making a bowler shirt. I expected some challenges during the sewing process, as this was my first time making something this complicated, but I did not anticipate how tricky collars and facings are to construct. Before this particular shirt, I had attempted this pattern 4 times, 3 of which turned out to be failures.
I purchased the pattern from monopatterns on Etsy which can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/848373543/bowling-shirt-sewing-pattern-pdf-sizes?ref=shop_home_active_2&crt=1 . The loose style and cropped hem make this pattern flattering on everyone, but if you prefer a longer length shirt, there is nothing stopping you from lengthening the sides of the bodice pattern pieces.
I began by cutting out all the pattern pieces on my fabric which was folded in half lengthwise. I prefer to apply weights to the pattern piece and then trace around the pattern with a rotary cutter, as I am too impatient to draw around it and then cut it. I took the time to overedge all the pattern pieces which took longer than constructing the shirt. I never used to overedge when I was a beginner, but now I am at the stage where my final garments look more polished, it is definitely worth the extra time so the items I make last much longer.
Constructing the bodice and attaching the sleeves was so quick and easy, I was naive in thinking I would have a finished shirt on my first attempt. I went back and forth to Youtube and the instructions to try and figure out how all the layers fit together. I eventually worked out that the bagged-out collar is pinned to the neckline first at the notched points on the shoulder seams. I decided to tac the collar using the largest stitch length on my sewing machine so that it made laying down the next pieces easier. I then attached the front facings and the neck facing together to create a full facing piece, this was placed on top of the shirt and collar, right sides together. It was then time for the tricky part. I lined up and pinned the front facings to the shirt starting from one side. Once I got to the inner corner of the neckline, I had to pivot the facing so I could continue pinning along the rest of the neckline. This stage required a lot of manoeuvring and repining, to make all the layers lie flat and line up at the correct notch points. I then sewed the facing, shirt, and collar together with a 1cm seam allowance, making sure the pivot point lay as flat as possible to avoid puckering. I also ensured the edge of the collar was caught in the seam allowance, so the facing and collar were united correctly. I was not completely successful in avoiding the puckering at the pivot point, as it was very tricky to get the layers to lie flat, but as I make more shirts my technique will improve. Also, once the collar is folded down at the end, you cannot even tell the collar is not perfect.
I love this bowling shirt pattern so much I have already made 3 shirts! If you are new to constructing shirts, the collar and facings are difficult to work out, but this particular seller was incredibly helpful and sent me a video demonstrating how the pieces are attached. There are also lots of Youtube tutorials on Bowling and Cuban shirts you can refer to.
By Alex Holt for The Craft Cotton Company 2021