Frances Tobin of The Maker’s Atelier is perhaps a little bit different from other pattern makers. She creates patterns based on current styles, in her own words “on the premise that the simplest shapes, in beautiful fabrics, make the most successful clothes.” The resulting patterns are quite unique and with a distinct aesthetic. Then she continues to develop the patterns almost indefinitely.
The website has a journal which is a well of ideas for how to make more from the patterns. I love this feature and wish more designers would do the same (I know many do, but not to this extent). The idea of making several versions from the same pattern has great appeal to me and is a source of endless imagination. I spend hours thinking about the possibilities – it doesn’t matter that I can’t possibly make them all.
Last year I ordered The Box Shirt pattern but never got around to actually make it, but when I bought a very lightweight striped linen last spring I finally knew exactly what to do. A menswear inspired pyjamas has been on my wish list for a long time, and I knew it had to be very minimalistic and in linen or cotton. The Maker’s Atelier journal has several suggestions on how to make this pattern, among them a pyjamas in silk. I loved the idea and the suggested simple alteration of a pull-on pant pattern to complete the set. There are many patterns that can be altered this way, and since I already had the Fibre Mood Benita pattern this was the obvious choice.
The shirt is made with almost no alterations to the pattern. I cut a size 12 according to my measurements and shortened the sleeves by 5 cm. They are still fairly long, but I like this length. In general I don’t like having my hands covered, but I think this is perfect. Another small tweak I made was to finish the facings with Hong Kong binding, and I used french seams throughout for a neat finish. The shirt ended up being excactly as I envisioned, the pyjama top of my dreams! The fit is brilliant – not slouchy, not too long, and the sleeves are narrow enough. The overall fit has enough ease everywhere. When I move in my sleep I don’t want my sleepwear to be restrictive or so wide that it twists around my body, and this shirt is just right.
You can’t buy pdf-patterns from The Maker’s Atelier, only printed. This is quite frustrating for me because the cost of getting hold of them is prohibiting when postage from the UK to Norway is added to a relatively expensive pattern. Still, I’ve bought a couple of patterns and will probably buy some more because I like them so much. The few I have are precious and will never be cut into, I have to trace them to avoid having to repeat buy them. This goes for most paper patterns I have – you only have one chance if you cut into them, whereas a pdf can be reprinted infinitely.
I’m very pleased to finally have a shirt pattern with a notched collar in my possession with great fit and lots of hacking potential. This shirt could easily become a silk blouse, a shirt dress, a tunic, a short sleeved summer version and so on. By adding cuffs or altering the hem you can achieve very different results. The Box shirt is frequently featured in many different renditions in The Maker’s Atelier Magazine, a brilliant quarterly publication, so if you are looking for inspiration, look no further.
This project concludes my shirt making theme for August. In total I managed to sew three versions of the Agnes shirt, A Morningside shirt, an Indira Shirtdress, this pyjama shirt with matching Benita trousers (coming to the blog tomorrow). I’m very happy with my results and have managed to focus on improving my skills plus making a dent in my fabric collection and trying three patterns I already own, but previously haven’t used. I thoroughly enjoyed having a themed month and will continue in September with a focus on outerwear and jackets. Having a theme has spurred my enthusiasm for sewing again, and I highly recommend it. The key to success is, to me at least, not to be too literal about it and make room for more spontaneous projects, too. Sewing as a hobby is about having fun, after all, so no musts are allowed.