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Sarah Shirt Sewalong: Hacking & embellishing

If you've been following us for a while, you'll know exactly how much we love a good pattern hack. So much so that when we're dreaming up new sewing patterns, if a design is not infinitely hackable, it won't even make it past the drawing board. If, like us, you enjoy getting down to some frankenfrocking, or if you've always wanted to but been wary of rewriting the rules, get your hacking hats on Sewalongers, and keep reading! We've rounded up a selection of tangents we see our future Sarah Shirts heading along...

*To be taken to all the posts in the Sarah Shirt Sewalong, please click here*

Go long

With just a simple extension of the side seam, you can take your Sarah from shirt to dress without so much as a bat of the lids. Make it maxi without increasing the volume by cutting across the shirt front and back pattern pieces and extending to your desired length (we'll be showing you how to lengthen and shorten your pattern pieces in the alterations posts coming soon). I've got my sights set on a long sleeved, charcoal grey sandwashed silk tunic style dress, a soft and crinkly linen mini Sarah to keep me cool in the Summer (kinda like image 4 below), and a belted maxi rayon version along the lines of images 2 & 3...

image source 1 // image source 2

image source 3 // image source 4


Cut-outs, inserts, and all the added volume you want

As I mentioned in our last Sarah Sewalong post, if you're thinking of making your shirt from a solid colour, you get to really go wild on shape and texture. I love the idea of exaggerating the already voluminous swing shape by widening the shirt back piece and making a pretty feature of pleats or gathers where it meets the yoke.

If extreme volume isn't your bag, why not flash some flesh instead with cut out shoulders or a sheer lace yoke?

Clockwise: image source 5 // image source 6 // image source 7 // image source 8


Put that in your pipe and smoke it

It's no secret that I'm a huge lover of over the top embellishments such as pompom trim and fringe, but even I know when less is more (not that often, let me tell you). A flawlessly sewn swoosh of contrast piping is elegant and striking without being fussy, and lends a simple shirt a polished finish.

image source 9 // image source 10


DIY collars

Possibly the most effective way to easily jazz up a plain shirt is by embellishing the collar. Literally all you have to do is punch the word "collar" into Pinterest and you'll quickly find yourself overwhelmed by the options. Embroidery, studs, hand sewn jewel appliqué, crochet or lace trim, scallops - you name it, you'll find a DIY for it.

Clockwise: image source 11 // image source 12 // image source 13


Collars continued

Or, if you're feeling more inclined to hack rather than embellish your collar, there's a world of possibilities there too. We think the long, billowing sleeves of Variation 1 would look particularly fabulous with a pussy bow collar; or take the short sleeves of Variation 2 down a more utilitarian road with a no-fuss Mandarin collar.

image source 14 // image source 15


Supersize me

Bigger is very often better, and most definitely so in the case of this super fabulous Pierre Balmain blouse from 1950! We'd love to see a Sarah of such epic proportions (literally!) worn with a Charlotte Skirt for some serious vintage glamour.

Blouse: Pierre Balmain, 1950


Up next: We'll be diving right in and tackling some common adjustments that you may need to make to the pattern, such as a full bust adjustment, and lengthening & shortening certain pattern pieces. Make sure you've boned up on how to take accurate body measurements, and how to print at PDF sewing pattern first!

Comments on this post (3)

  • Mar 14, 2016

    Ohhh can you do a tutorial for the pussy bow collar? I LOVE shirts that have those kinds of collars!

    — VaseyDaisy

  • Feb 26, 2016

    I have never tried a pattern hack. I love the idea of widening the back for extra swing though.

    — Ros

  • Feb 24, 2016

    Eek! Have only just realised this sewalong was happening. Think I’m just about in time, so I’ll run out and get my pattern printed today.

    This’ll be my first attempt at a shirt. I’ve done tops before, but nothing that buttons up or has a collar. I’m thinking of making mine longer but not as long as a dress, more of a tunic, perhaps with a rounded or dipped hem.

    I’m also not sure about what to do on the sleeves, as I normally wear short sleeves or roll my sleeves up. I’ll probably do the long sleeves so that I can wear them turned up, as I don’t much fancy figuring out how to do a three-quarter sleeve.

    — Becca Reho

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