Sunday, 4 June 2017

The Making of a TNT Button Down Shirt

I'm in love with button down shirts probably because I've finally truly shed my professional skin and have embraced the lifestyle of casual living. I've amassed a collection of RTW jeans, leggings, and skinny jeans that I combine with my me-mades tops, button down shirts and toppers.

Collection of button downs made this year

My Button Down Journey ~
I started this button down journey in September 2015 with Butterick 5678 and some chambray fabric. I picked this pattern because it had princess seams in the front and back giving me a fitted look but allowing me to make easy alterations because of those seams.

I made two versions of that button down but really wasn't happy with it. They fit tightly through my abdomen and bottom so that I never wore them buttoned up. Which kinda defeats the purpose of a button down, right? So I put the pattern on the back burner while I worked on some other things to beef up my wardrobe.

Late last year/early this year, I got the idea to merge Butterick 5678 with Vogue 7700. I was thinking that I could get a fitted front (from the princess seams) with a smock type back that would give me the ease I wanted and allow me to button up the shirt.

Working that pattern combo, I've made four versions. The first one was made using a Cotton & Steel fabric that at first I thought was a little too loose.

So I made some changes to the front pattern pieces to get a better fit in the front for subsequent renditions. I also chose a drapier fabric to change the way the button down hung. That resulted in one from a polyester crepe (my favorite

and a rayon version (my least favorite).

I also changed the cuffs from button up ones, to cuffs that I slip my hands through. Piping and lace became embellishments that I explored (version #4) in an attempt to find my perfect buttondown. Even after these four amazing versions I still wasn't satisfied.

Latest Version ~

I kept thinking that if I removed some of the fullness in the back but kept the yoke, I would have what I wanted. So that's what I did with this version. I also added some bias binding and buttons with history to this one because all of that print needed something to reign it in.

Construction ~
The only difference in construction was how I applied the cuffs. These were added to the sleeve, then the binding sewn to the bottom of the cuff and the side seam of the sleeve and cuff sewn together. I couldn't figure out a way to hide the bias binding in a seam, so I just sewed the side seam. Then added some stitch witchery to the seam to hold them flat against the seam. Not a pretty inside finish but it works.

A Little History of these Buttons ~
These buttons are from when I worked at Rochester Button Company, now defunct. One of the things that I was responsible for was designing the button cards that the sales people showed to prospective customers.  If we could dye a button, I started with the original and then showed dyed versions on the card. There were two great things about that - one, I used fabric swatches from my own collection to pick colors and two, I got to go to the dye places in the garment district.

It was fascinating to see the buttons dyed. Because I dyed a gross at a time, I always ended up with a couple dozen of my own. I don't believe any of those dye/warehouse places still exist in the garment district. Since all of the space that was located by 9th and 10th Avenues has been turned into either apartment buildings or hotels. However, if I'm wrong and someone knows if some of them survived, please leave a comment below. It would be interesting to hear about them!

A Few Pictures of This One ~
The skirt worn with this buttondown is a 
ponte skirt I made a few years ago.

...and worn with my Clarks black suede & leather sneakers

Conclusion ~
Honestly this will not be the last one of these and I will probably continue to mess around with the pattern pieces, as well as the embellishments. There is one more on my summer sewing list but I can guarantee you that some combination of this pattern & fabric will appear this fall. I love the way these make me feel, yet will fit into with my work environment. Maybe a little more dressed than the employees in shorts and flip flops but that's not a look I can really pull off anymore! *LOL*

Finally, I think one of my last posts said that I was going to work on another Lenox Shirtdress after this shirt was finished. However, after moving my spring/summer wardrobe to the front of the closet, I have a hankering to make a few Concord Tees. So that's what's up next on the blog! always more later!

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