Tuesday, September 25, 2018

a workhorse pattern...using workhorse fabric...Burda's 'Grandfather shirt' from April 2010, 2015, and 2018

As unglamorous as it is, sometimes there is a workhorse in your wardrobe that you made without too much thought the first time, had to remake because you wore the first one out, and golly, have to make a third time because it's proved to be a wardrobe staple.

That's the case with a white cotton batiste Burda shirt I sewed in April, 2010 pictured below. It's rare for me to wear something into a fraying rag, but this cotton was too delicate for a shirt I reached for every week and laundered to death. There was just something about the formal pin-tucked front and the simple 'grandfather collar' that I felt was an old-fashioned classic and could take any scarf or any necklace. And because it was homemade, I tended to grab it when I didn't want heavy housework activities to risk damaging a more expensive silk blouse or expensive shirt. And it died a noble death.

So in 2015 I dyed some sturdier IKEA cotton a pretty sky blue and remade the grandfather shirt for pennies, also pictured below, correcting the sleeve length and figuring that the sturdier cotton would hold up longer. Because it really is a no-nonsense workshirt that has stood up to all kinds of kitchen, garden and laundry abuse, I was rather surprised to see a few weeks ago that the edges of the interfaced button placket are sprouting little holes from three years' wear and tear along the interfaced fold.

Now I'm really a cheapskate, so when I realized that my beloved blue shirt and I were enjoying our last autumn together, I grabbed some more IKEA cotton I'd previously dyed to toss over a dressing table during the 'Pink and Blue Pantone Season' two years ago. I prefer blue but what the heck. This shirt is often the first step of my day after pyjamas and before a midday swim at the public pool, then shower, real clothes and lunch. This is not a fashion statement, it's a uniform. Pink will match the dawn sky.

So here we go again—a pink 'grandfather' shirt so humble it will be worn non-stop on those mornings heading into the kitchen for a long cooking-and-freezing session for a mob of visiting musicians, for an afternoon weeding the last of the summer chard, or a morning scrubbing, dusting, ironing or vacuuming.

I made one more improvement on the pink version. I usually roll up the sleeves, so I remembered to finish these with French seams. This clean finish is usually reversed for see-through fabrics but it'll take the shirt up a notch from homemade looking. And I took even more care with the tucks and topstitching.


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