The Gray Shirt Debaucle

Simplicity 2741, with design alterations, for my husband. After the PR wardrobe contest a few months ago, I wanted to take some time and make some special, detailed, unique garments for him. This one is a gray linen field shirt (he’s an ecologist) and has given me no end of trouble.

I made the pocket pattern piece 2″ wider to create a 1″ pleated pocket a la safari shirts everywhere. Then a pocket flap pattern that was the same width as the finished pocket plus seams and another 1/4″. The pocket flap isn’t wide enough to cover the pocket without the extra 1/4″. I made no less than six pocket flaps. Please notice one is a different shade of gray.

Why, you may ask? I estimated when buying the fabric. When I work with linen, I wash it no less than three times and dry it between so it has a nice softly rumpled hand. I washed the first yardage, pressed, cut out the shirt.

Oh shoot. Not enough for the sleeves.

Not to worry, I can go by work to pick up more. Enough for sleeves and cuffs and another pocket flap. By that time I had made five flaps, only one was suitable for the shirt. I sewed the button plackets, the upper collars, the back pleats and yoke and topstitched the whole thing with a double line of Presencia cotona thread.

Then I bought more linen. And washed. Not once, not twice but thrice. I think I ran into grief because I hung the second piece of linen out on the wash line. In the sun. Not on my shady under-house line. Cut the remaining pieces, carefully marked. I had actually made another pocket flap and put it over the shirt when my heart stopped.

It is a different shade of gray.

At that point, the shirt became a UFO. Maybe not a full-fledged UFO, I can not abide those. I left it lying on my project table for a week.

Last night after work I picked it up, determined to finish it. I gritted my teeth and finished the front, then sewed the fronts to the yoke and topstitched them. I’m not sure how I’ll make the shirt work, but it must. My first thought is it wash the finished shirt and hang it in the sun for a while. If that doesn’t help much, I will dye it.


  1. Well, you could consider this shirt your "trial" shirt. Once you worked out all the details, you could make a dozen without any problems at all. Keep at it. It will be worth it.

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