A while ago, I decided to experiment during the lockdown and made myself an Elizabethan shirt (see here). It was not an ordinary thing that anyone would have wanted but I had the fabric and the time so I decided to make it. Initially, I thought this would be a shirt that I would only wear once in a blue moon but it turned out to be quite an occasional item. The shirt is loose, airy and comfortable, but above all it evoked a sense of romanticism regardless of what I pair it with.
While wearing it, I had always wondered how luxurious it would be if the fabric was silk. The voluminous shirt would billow in the wind and notch up the romanticism. This stayed as a dream for a while until just recently, when I was adamant that I should realise it. I went into my box of fabrics to search for any silk remnants I may have lurking around and found this beautiful cream silk I bought a very long time ago. Apparently it was seconds from a named designer but the seller refused to let me know who it was due to confidentiality but I kind of guessed who it was from the monogram woven into the silk. However, to avoid people assuming that I bought this shirt from the designer, I decided to use the wrong side of the fabric as the front, effectively, flipping the monogram.
While trying to make this shirt, I realised that I hadn’t draw a pattern! Shock! Horror! Why would I not draw a pattern? Then I realised it was because of the way the pattern pieces are. Essentially, apart from the gusset, everything is in rectangles. I was able to tear the strips from a piece of silk to get that pieces that I wanted. This meant that I didn’t need pattern pieces for the main pattern. It also sped up the cutting (tearing) process as I didn’t have to fiddle around with cutting soft silk.
The next step was to decide how I wanted to finish the raw hem. Should I over lock it or French seam it? I decided on the latter, as I wanted a couture finish. I had already used a luxurious fabric so I might as well have the best finishing possible.
I was initially worried about French seaming a gusset, and after a false start, I finally got the hang of it and it actually turned out quite well.
The only construction process that was difficult was the gathers. The pattern required a long stretch of seam gathered into a short strip for the neck line and cuff. In actually fact, the gathers equate to a reduction of more than double the initial length. It was quite time consuming to get the gather absolutely even and stitched down properly but it eventually came together.
In case you haven’t noticed, I went full opulence on this shirt by using real freshwater pearls for the buttons. I wanted to get some pearls for jewellery making as well, so this is killing two birds with one stone. After all, I might as well make something to the best standard that I can so I can enjoy wearing it.
I wore this shirt recently on a weekend away and the place that I stayed was an ancient inn visited by Queen Elizabeth The First herself, and rumoured to be haunted. Wearing a shirt that matched the time period of the inn must have made some guests wonder if I was an apparition.