SHIRTMAKING ADVENTURES #3: the Honeycomb shirt

Do you find that the first paragraph is often the hardest one to write?

You want it punchy and fresh and inviting, so that your readers, enticed, will keep reading rather than just scrolling through the pictures. I so very much struggle to put a first good paragraph together, so much that it’s often what delays my posts of weeks on end.

I don’t think this silly obsession of mine with introduction paragraphs is worth having blog posts languishing in my draft folder so I’m hereby giving myself permission to jump straight to the point, forgoing with the initial chit-chat. Please welcome my Honeycomb shirt!

Honeycomb front view

This pattern is the latest release of Cocowawa Crafts, an indie pattern company run by one of my best friends & Sewing buddy, Ana. If you haven’t met her I’m really sorry for you, she’s a true ray of sunshine and you would only do yourself a favour by following her on social media. She’s super social and has a brilliant youtube channel, an bubbly Instagram account where she hosts the lively Wednesday Sewing Hour Chat and has a blog packed full of tutorials and sew-alongs. These are only my favourites but she’s well versed in social media so you’ll be able to find her on your favourite platform.

However, with a very gamine style and a super relaxed fit, I’ve never quite managed to wear her designs well… until she released the Honeycomb Shirt & Dress. The moment I saw it I knew that was my chance. I told Ana how excited I was and beautiful soul she is she immediately gifted me a copy.

I got to work pretty much immediately (which for me means about a couple of weeks later), thanks to some really handy scraps I had in my stash. I so love shopping my stash! I have the habit of chucking fabric straight into the laundry bin when I buy it, so when I get the sewing bug I can just cut & go.

In this case I used some leftover shirting from my Alex Shirtdress (£3 xmt by Shepherds bush, I had about a mt leftover) and approximately a 70 x 50 cm of embroidered batiste my auntie gave me ages ago. She used to work at a very posh interior design company and every season they would update their fabric samples she would run the leftovers by me and my mom, who took first dibs to make soft furnishing. This is way before I started sewing garments… but my mom and I were very crafty already and always had use for fabric scraps. Especially since we often scored exceptional dupioni silks, velvets and beautifully embroidered canvas.

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As for what concerns tools, the two guest stars in this make are my edge guide foot*and my overcast foot*. New additions to my sewing arsenal and worth their weight in gold.

I might not have mentioned this here yet, but I don’t own an overlocker and I am not looking forward to. I resolved to learn as many couture finishing techniques as I can and not having an overlocker is the best motivator to stick to this resolve. However, sometimes I just can’t be bothered, or maybe I am short of time and don’t want to delay wearing my make until I have puzzled out how to finish that particular seam… so I cheat! The overcast foot makes a decent impression of an overlocker: when doing zig-zag over an edge, and especially when using soft or thin fabric, the thread will inevitably scrunch up the fabric into the edge, creating a very unprofessional looking ridge. Using zig zag scissors helps somewhat, but I haven’t found it a satisfying solution as the resulting seam is often a bit rough on the skin. This foot instead is built so that it loops the thread around a metal bridge, which prevents the thread pressure from pulling the fabric inwards. Is much more complicated to explain than to use, I assure you. The edge guide foot is brilliant for sewing parallel to a seam, to another line of stitching or to an hem. It works only on very close lines (within 1 cm), but it makes for really straight lines and I am finding this my greatest ally when topstitching or edge-stitching. It really has helped me tackle things like button bands and collars without having shaky knees!

As for the process, I followed the instructions point by point, when once I got stuck (with the collar) I jumped to the sewalong and that was it. Not odd googling of obscure techniques.

Due to size of my batiste, I had to put a seam into the ruffle. But it’s not noticeable so I don’t mind. MOST seam are frenched, including armscyes. The only seams I have not frenched are the waist seam connecting the shirt to the ruffle (because I wasn’t sure french seaming on gathers was going to work, and because it was too late at night to find out); and my left sleeve seam… because I forgot.

I have sewn size 2, which is one size down according to my measurements. However I checked the finished measurements chart and I was quite happy with the ease I was getting with size 2. Initially, sewing up the sleeves, I was concerned they were going to turn out massive. As I was putting on the shirt on Giselle the Dressform to check it was sewing up straight, that my front aligned properly etc… They looked so oddly oversized I started playing with the idea of pleating them.

Truth is, when I actually put it on I realised that my invisible arm was nowhere near as fleshy as my real arm and was very happy with the size they were. With that much ease you need a generous armscye and bicep to make sure the shirt doesn’t end up pulling in odd places.

Still I couldn’t resist rolling them up a little!
Honeycomb rolled sleeve & ties detail

The only very odd thing is how short my waist ties are compared to all the other versions I have seen online. This is a mystery I haven’t yet been able to solve (not even by speaking with the designer herself!) so it will be down to my next version to see if I might have cut my ties pieces wrong, as I suspect I have misunderstood the sizing information and cut them pretty much half the length. To be honest I could re-cut them.. but life is shorter than my ties and it’s time to move on!

Especially since I’ve worn this shirt at least twice I week since I finished it, with the only exception being when it’s in the wash. I have rarely received so many compliments on a garment and I just love the blend of classic lines and romantic details and it’s been an absolute godsend in this heat. I’m thinking a mini dress version in broderie anglaise would be lovely for my summer holidays! If you have any fabric suggestions please send them my way.

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*neither of these posts are sponsored and my machine is a Husqvarna. 

2 thoughts on “SHIRTMAKING ADVENTURES #3: the Honeycomb shirt

Add yours

  1. The blouse looks lovely, so fresh.
    Thank you so much for yesterday’s picnic. And, also, thank you for posting about the armscye because I was making a toile of the Honeycombe and thought I would have to make loads of adjustments due to my wonky body and the armsyces coming up so big thus I abandoned it in despair. But I did not toile the ties and so didn’t take into account that it would pull things in so there maybe hope yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t vouch for a sleeveless version as I don’t often sew sleeveless and have no armscye reference for that style, bu the sleeved version is perfect as it is. I have a generous bicep but I’m pretty average in the armscye 🙂

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