Note: Saint shirt

The Saint shirt is my second make from the new fabulous sewing book SY by Ann Ringstrand. It’s an oversized style with large cuffs and a pretty large collar. This is classic menswear interpreted for our time: Unisex, modern, and with interesting details.

Saint shirt and Base trouser, both from the book.

Shirts are among my favorite garments to sew. I like to make them, and I like to wear them. If you have read my blog before, you may know that I’ve made quite a few shirts lately, including several versions of another shirt pattern. You can read about them here. I could have found a contender for that pattern, Agnes, in this Saint shirt, but I definitely have room for them both. What I do know is that I want to make at least a couple more Saint shirts in other colors and fabric, too, to have a few choices. Shirts are long lived in my wardrobe and worth the time and investment.

Illustration from the book.

This version is made in a very crisp cotton poplin. The fabric is so densely woven it was difficult to sew, and every little needle hole stayed where I put it, so I had to take real care to get it right the first time. I used an 80 Microtex needle to be able to punch trough, and even then it was hard. On the other side, the fabric is light, soft and perfect for a shirt, so my struggles were soon forgotten.

The pattern has three sizes, S, M and L, and is intended to be unisex. The sizing is generous so I sized down to a small and still have lots of room although the measurement table put me in an M. Since the shirt is very long (89 cm), which is verging on dress on me, I shortened the bodice by 4 cm. The sleeves were shortened by 3 cm. They are still plenty long, but I wonder if the proportions are a little off now? It seems to me the cuff should start a little closer to my wrist, not above it? On my next version I’ll try with a slightly longer sleeve to see if I like it longer. The problem is, I find too long sleeves very uncomfortable, so there is a fine balance to it. I could of course shorten the cuff by a smidgen instead to mitigate this.

Usually I only interface the top collar, the outer collar stand and one side of the cuffs, but I decided to do both this time. The result is very crisp and looks good in this fabric. I think the collar could look a little limp if it were softer, and I’m unsure if that would just as well. The size of it demands more structure than a smaller version, am I right?

I had few challenges during the construction except for the sleeve slit. This is the first time I’ve sewn a shirt with a two-piece sleeve, and I like the look a lot. The instructions are not helpful, they plainly states to “sew the sleeve slit”. I tried to figure out how to sew it with a french or a felled seam to hide the raw edges, but I just couldn’t figure it out, so I ended up with overlocking it. I really prefer finishing shirts without any visible raw edges, so if anyone knows how to do this, please let me know.

My Saint shirt turned out just as I imagined, and I definitely have room for another white shirt in my wardrobe, it’s been on my mind for a while. I like the large pointed collar and the oversized cuffs a lot, they make it a little special. Another detail I am crazy about is the pocket which is asymmetric and placed lower than usual. To me, that’s the most important design feature on this shirt – why I feel that way is difficult to explain, but it definitely feels both right and a considered choice. The pocket placement was the first thing my friend mentioned as a great feature when I showed her the shirt, which proves my point. Is it because it balances out the long front? I think so.

In the book, Ann Ringstrand shows an example of the Saint shirt made from several old shirts in plaid, in different fabrics. It looks really cool and very fun to make. I don’t have a collection of old shirts to choose from, so I have to start looking for them in second hand shops. It feels like a perfect new kind of challenge with a long term perspective, and I’m on it.

Pattern: Saint shirt by Ann Ringstrand
Fabric: Cotton poplin from Sømsenteret, Oslo
Size: Small
Time: 6-8 hours
More about the book SY and my other makes from it here: SyAnnRingstrand


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