Thursday, April 8, 2010

Steampunk Oxford Shirts with Ruffles

I've been sewing shirts lately.  I always wanted to know how to make an oxford shirt, so I thought I should start there.  Since I'm a big fan of steampunk fashion, I tried to steam them up a bit with sewing details and my fabric choices.  I've made three so far, all with Victorian ruffles and tailored for a woman's figure.  I like the way the vertical seams around the waist mimic a corset but way more comfy!

The fabrics mostly came from my old quilting cotton stash, which has been sitting rather lonely for the last few years.   It's been fun riffling through my collection, seeing how some of my tastes have changed over the years.   I collected several tropical prints, but I didn't use any of those in these shirts.  I chose stripes, hand dyes, black, brown, and a new Jane Sassaman gothic print (above), and a few other prints, some reversed to show the "wrong" side.

The fabrics are pure cotton (even the interlining) and the ruffles on two of the shirts are pure silk charmeuse. So soft!  I even used the silk in the inside of the collar and cuffs for added softness right where you want it.

I did my best to finish all of the seams nicely to make them last.  I found ways to tuck away every raw seam... Well, except where the sleeve meets the shoulder.  I checked out several shirts in my and my boyfriend's closet, and I learned that most shirts have an interlocked seam at the sleeve cap.  So, I sewed the seam twice (1/8 inches apart), and then picked a fancy overlock-type stitch on my sewing machine, and sewed over the raw edges to finish them.  The front plackets and cuffs (on the long sleeved versions) are finished with snaps that I set on my professional quality snap setter.  I am super happy with how these shirts came out.  I definitely want to make more some day.

What I learned: I finally learned the mystery of the contruction of a shirt collar.  You make them from the top down.   In other words, you sew the collar (or ruffle) first, baste that to the interfaced, outside piece of the shirt stand (the part that sits right next to your neck.  Sew the inside shirt stand to the outside stirt stand, catching the collar in the seam.  Flip the stand inside out revealing the collar (or ruffle).  Now, you sew the whole collar/stand to the shirt: first by machine for the outside seam (of the stand), and a second time by hand for the inside seam (of the stand). Voila!  Easy as pie.  Not really.  It takes me a good long while to sew a collar, but slow and steady wins the race.  These are all available in my Etsy shop in the "Clothing" folder.  I almost forgot to mention, I can now sign all of my clothing with my new woven tags.  They say "beAd Infinitum: hand made by Gwen Fisher" and have my little infinity sign with a needle, thread, and a few beads.  You can see one in the last picture.


  1. The shirts are great! I am going to have to check out your etsy shop!

  2. Really beautiful. I love the mix of fabrics: great use of small, odd but lovely pieces. What pattern did you use?

  3. Thanks. I used McCall's 5522 for the purple one, and then started modifying it for the others.


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