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Summer Sewing Challenge - Express Yourself in Linen

Great White Shirt

Handkerchief Linen shirt with originally designed, smocked, beaded, and embroidered inserts at the waistline and on the collar. Three quarter sleeve and pleated back with further embellishment.

In my humble opinion the ultimate linen expression is a Great White Shirt. With a stash of fine handkerchief linen at the ready and the Threads competition along to inspire me this was the design I developed. My base pattern is from Burda World of Fashion magazine, the May ’09 issue, pattern #110. I changed the sleeve design, making it a 3/4 length with pleats and embellishment The sleeves were a semi-nod to  Simplicity 3789 , a pattern I had previously made but had also taken creative license with the sleeve design. I further morphed the shirt design by adding an insert at the upper waistline.


I have been on a long time quest to incorporate smocking, which I love, into wearable, modern adult designs. On this blouse I did a large, shaped waistline insert that was smocked, beaded, and embroidered with bullion chrysanthemums. To not lose my efforts and emphasize the texture and embroidery, I used ecru thread, tiny off white pearl beads and Swarofkis crystals. This was all set off by lines of mini-piping above and below. I downsized this effort but used the same techniques to add a small insert to one side of the collar as well.

It seems I got on a roll with making the bullions and used them on the back of the shirt also. There , the BWOF design calls for a pleat. Three large bullion daisys were run down the pleat with machine pinstitching on either side of the pleat. At the very end of the pinstitching another bullion was placed, kind of like the period at the end of a sentence. Opalescent beads were placed in the center of each daisy.

Not to be ignored and to add some continuity, the pinstitching , as well as the mini-piping, were repeated on the sleeves to  emphasize the pleats. Again, a tiny bullion stitch was placed at the end of each line of pinstitching.

Because embroidery and pleated smocking can leave threads and knots on the back side, I backed my insert with a dotted lace netting. It was light, just enough to hide the handwork,  and I felt more appropriate to the integrity of the design. Each of the bullion daisies down the back pleat recieved a hand stitched lace motif to cover it’s nasties. The seams were stitched twice and then three thread serged. To do French seams on this shirt would involve the piping and smocking seam allowances and I felt the bulk and the VERY ravelly nature of the hanky linen just would not work with French Seams.

Where will I wear this? I can see this with some nice black jeans and black stillettoes, great for a Saturday night out  at our favorite steak house.


If you care to see any further construction details there are several posts on my blog that can fill you in. Google http://lasewist.blogspot,com/.

These pictures were taken on a 93º day with extreme humidity. Yes, linen wrinkles but that is part of the charm!


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  1. User avater
    Kate_W | | #1

    Gorgeous! Great design -- the smocking looks grown up. Um, I want one ...

  2. swetokra | | #2

    Your smocking is beautiful. nice to see it in adult clothing.

    there are so many well executed and creative garments I don't know how the judges will select. but yours gets my vote, even over my entry. isn't it nice to know there are so many people interested in sewing.

  3. User avater
    ShereeS | | #3

    So many lovely details! The smocking is just gorgeous...really great job on this blouse!!!!

  4. User avater
    trishapat | | #4

    It is nice to see such beautiful workmanship up close. Your perfectionism and attention to small detail is appreciated

  5. UnaHagen | | #5

    What a gorgeous shirt! Fine detail and skilled workmanship have yielded a garment that is still totally wearable.

  6. User avater
    rabaile | | #6

    I LOVE the detail pictures. Everything is just SO pretty. :o)

  7. User avater
    trishapat | | #7

    I just discovered your blog and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Great work, great writing and helpful info. As for your inquiry about other people understanding the textural delight of washed linen, the "bubble like" quality ... YES! I get it and I, too, love it ... fabric with a soul ...

  8. sewsalot | | #8

    I love this blouse. It screams couture. Love the grown-up use of smocking. (Who in the world would have thought to put it in a collar!?!) Love the piping, love the pleated details on the sleeves, love the embroidery touches. This entry was my choice to win the prize!

  9. SabrinaStyle | | #9

    What clever detail on the collar!

  10. User avater
    claireokc | | #10

    As usual a true work of art!

  11. User avater
    kerrybriggs | | #11

    Really beautiful shirt.

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