Willamette Shirt

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I’ve been discovering more and more blogs devoted to garment sewing and it seems like those bloggers have got things down. They offer so much information about fabric sourcing, garment construction, alterations, etc. and of course it’s all in this beautifully organized format so that you know exactly what you’re reading about. And I’m over here like, “So I made this thing. And it was good.” Like that’s helpful at all, ha! Well, bear with me folks, as I try to get better at this.

The project coming at you today is:

Pattern: the Willamette Shirt by Hey June Handmade
Fabric: a viscose shirting from Joann Fabric
Size: 8
Will I make it again? Yes, definitely.

Well, I started the process of making this shirt clear back in March…and didn’t finish it until Labor Day, so you do the math. I lost steam along the way, but it wasn’t really the shirt’s fault.

Okay, to be truthful, making the shirt was kind of a scramble. When the weather started to warm up, I realized that all I owned were sweaters (it’s a real thing when you get rid of most your stuff and move to Alaska), so I wanted some short sleeve shirts to wear and when sewing clothes is this lovely new hobby you’ve picked up, you tend to think, “Well, gosh, I guess I could make that.” I’ve never really liked shopping anyway. I saw the Willamette pattern, appreciated its versatility and went ahead and bought the pattern. We were expecting some visitors so I knew I needed to hurry things along. I picked up some fabric (it’s super soft, by the way) and cut out my pattern pieces but time ran out so I shoved it all into a plastic bag where those pieces didn’t see the light of day for months.

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It’s an interesting thing picking up a project after months of neglect, especially after all the important decisions had been made. It made me think, “Why did I pick this fabric again? Why is this piece cut out on the vertical instead of the horizontal? What was I thinking?” I basically decided this shirt was going to be a disaster.

But it was supposed to be a wearable muslin anyway, just something cheap to make sure the fit was okay before going ahead with a higher quality fabric. So of course I decided to sew it up anyway.

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I don’t mean to sound dramatic or anything, but there is some serious wizardry in the construction of this garment. There was a moment in sewing the yokes where I thought, “I am going to have to unpick every last one of these stitches, there’s no way it’s going to turn out okay.” But it was perfectly okay: no seam ripper necessary.

The instructions were totally clear and helpful. This was my first time making a Hey June pattern and I will definitely be back for more. It’s  a high quality, well thought out pattern with great instructions.

Now, about the fit: when I first tried it on, I felt like it was way too big. I had been nursing when I measured for and cut out my pattern but had lost weight (or at least inches) since then. I’m all about oversized shirts, but I was worried it just looked frumpy. I’m really glad I decided to just wear it for a day, because it turns out I really like it. It’s gotten a tiny bit smaller in the wash and tucking it in for some outfits helps tame its volume. When I make my next one, I think I could safely go down even two sizes, but truthfully, I’d be down to just sew up another size 8.

For me and where I’m at in my sewing journey, I think wearability is a huge part of whether a pattern is a success or not. And in that aspect, the Willamette has been a success. I sometimes forget about it since I hang it up instead of throw it in a drawer with all my knit tee shirts, but when I do remember I own it, I’m happy to wear it. It’s versatile: I’ve worn it with shorts, leggings and even with a skirt to church. I have no complaints that being a stay at home mom has no dress code but sometimes it is nice to not wear a tee shirt.

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