We’re changing things up a bit this season! Rather than a style tour as we have done in the past, this spring we’ll be sharing more about your favorite seasonal fabrics. As we kick off a new season of sewing follow along to learn more about specific fabric types, including sewing tips, pattern ideas, and wardrobe inspiration. Don’t worry! We have twelve amazing sewists joining us along the way to share their stunning makes and thoughts about the fabric they used!
To kick things off, we’re taking a look at a timeless group of fabrics that are a staple in most wardrobes—shirtings! Not only are these woven fabrics easy to sew with, they are also suitable for a wide range of garments and available in a seemingly unlimited number of options. Any way you cut it (pun intended), shirtings are a definite winner!
But what are shirtings? This term covers a broad group of fabrics that can include any light to medium weight woven with more structure than drape. They are typically cotton, linen, or a natural fiber blend and have a soft but stable hand/feel (think classic button-up shirt). While “shirtings” is a rather general term, more precise names include “Oxford”, “poplin”, “chambray”, “sateen”, among others, which tell you how the fabric was specifically woven or finished. Other fabric types such as lawn, voile, and double gauze/cloth, also fall under the definition of shirtings with a few other unique characteristics.
The structured nature of shirtings make them an excellent choice for a number of different garment types and styles. From shirts and blouses to dresses, skirts, and more, the wardrobe possibilities are endless. A few of our favorite garment choices include button-up shirts, woven tees, and casual dresses. This spring, especially, we love tiered layers and statement details that show off the shirtings so well!
We are excited to have Simone (@intenselydistracted) and Marissa (@sew_help_me) joining us today with two gorgeous spring makes featuring different types of shirting! In chatting with them about their outfits and experience with the fabric, here are a few of their thought about sewing with shirtings and more details about their makes.
Details about Simone’s Outfit—Fabric: Multi Stripe Reversible Double Cloth, Pattern: True Bias’s Rory Jumpsuit (She sewed a size 0 based on her upper/full bust measurements and the finished garment measurements and shortened the inseam 2″ for her height.)
Simone commented, “Cotton wovens are my absolute favorite to sew with because they’re stable and easy to work with. I started out sewing with wovens so I definitely still gravitate to them.” She has used shirting for just about every type of garment, but her favorites continue to be button-up shirts, gathered dresses, and structured tops. Two of here favorite patterns are the Gilbert Top from Helen’s Closet and the Kalle Shirt from Closet Core.
For her Rory Jumpsuit, Simone selected a reversible double cloth and used a mix of both sides of the fabric. She notes, “I love using the contrasting sides throughout the project. It gives me enough flexibility to change up how I use the fabric without a lot of pre-planning, which is not my forte. Double cloth is also super soft and comfortable to wear, which is always a priority.” Her finished jumpsuit not only shows off this shirting beautifully but also finds a great balance of comfort and stye!
Details about Marissa’s Outfit—Fabric: Garden Floral Cotton Poplin, Pattern: Sewing and the City’s Essex Dress (She sewed up a size 2 and made a few adjustments to bodice, including raising the v-neckline and lengthening the skirt after a tissue fitting of the pattern.)
Marissa says she loves working with shirtings because they aren’t slippery and “can so easily be persuaded to do what you want it to with a bit of steam.” She noted that the soft cotton poplin she selected is also very breathable and adapts well to the changing temperatures of spring and summer, especially in her native midwest. As an added bonus, she found it is wrinkle resistant too. Win, win!
“Blouses/tops and daily wear dresses” are some of Marissa’s favorite garments to make with different types of shirtings for herself, as well as her daughters. She is also a big fan of details on her makes. For her Essex Dress, she notes, “The addition of bias binding to the flutter sleeves of this dress allows them to keep their shape and be a real statement!” Marissa’s goal with her project was to create the perfect Easter dress, and we think she nailed it!
New to sewing with shirtings? Or want to set yourself up for even better success? Here are a few tips to help you out! To start, Marissa recommends, “It’s always important to prewash and dry your fabrics as you would your finished garment and then iron your fabric before cutting.” Pressing is also important with each step of sewing. A clapper and other pressing tools can be invaluable to help you get that professional-looking finish.
Simone also suggests taking your time when prepping your pattern pieces. Since there is less room for error when working with these stable wovens, accurate cutting and precise markings are very important. She says, “The prep time can seem tedious, but it’ll be worth it.” When it’s time to get sewing, we recommend a mid-size universal needle (80/12 or 90/14) and a shorter stitch length. If your fabric is tightly woven or lighter weight, you may find a sharp/micro-tex needle gives you better results. Sew a test swatch to see what works best!
As you shop for shirting fabrics, you will be amazed at the wide variety of options! You’ll find different textures, prints, and styles, all in a rainbow of colors. Don’t be afraid to experiment with something new or to mix-and-match a couple different choices in the same garment. This spring, we are excited to offer a wide variety of colorful yarn-dyed plaids, playful floral prints, and more! Check out our curated selection available now in our shop, along with lots of great matching indie patterns. Find your perfect combination for a spring button-up, tiered dress, or other favorite garment to enjoy this season!
Watch for our next post in our spring kick-off series with a closer look at jersey knits later this week!