A Sunny Recital Shirt by Liesl & Co Patterns
As soon as January has passed, I can look ahead to Spring. All of a sudden (despite it still very much being Winter) I want to start sewing things for my Spring/Summer wardrobe. So for my next Felicity Fabric make I picked this bright sunny yellow cotton called ‘Bella yellow‘. It’s soo pretty and I instantly imagined it up as a gorgeous shirt to kick start the long awaited brighter season.
Bella has a warm yellow (not quite mustard) background with tiny white flowers covering it that have a warmer orange centre, kind of like daisies I guess! It’s a light to medium weight cotton, but not quite as heavy as a quilting cotton and it has the width of a dressmaking fabric at 150cm so you can fit a few more pattern pieces on width wise too. The fabric is excellent quality and washed, dried, ironed and cut all beautifully. I couldn’t wait to start sewing with it!
I did quite a bit of browsing online before I settled on my perfect shirt pattern: the Liesl & Co Recital Shirt. Liesl & Co is a new-to-me pattern company but I’m not sure why this is as their designs are just beautiful. They have a few different shirt patterns but the Recital Shirt appealed to me straight away. It has two versions: one with a pleated tuxedo style front and the second has a very distinctive collar with a super cute ruffle trim. I chose the ruffle collar version as I could see this fabric working so well as a pretty frill and it looked a bit more casual than the tuxedo style version.
One of the (many) excellent things about this pattern is that is comes in different cup sizes (as do quite a few of their patterns). This really is a godsend when fitting as you’re much less likely to have to do a small or large bust adjustment! Win eh? So, based on my measurements I fit pretty well into a size 2. If anything it was going to be a teeny bit roomy at the bust but I didn’t mind this so much as I knew I could always take it in a little if need be. One thing I did notice about the bodice pattern pieces though were how long they were. Comparing them to the length of one of my favourite shirts that I already owned, I decided to shorten the bodice pieces by 2 inches (I’m just shy of 5′ 2″). This was the only change I made to the pattern pieces as I thought I could always tweak the side seams if they ended up a little big or small.
The next great thing about this pattern that I LOVE is the fact that if you buy the PDF version (which I did) it tells you exactly what pages to print for your size and style. It really bothers me when I print a whole PDF out and there are multiple blank pages between the pieces because of the sizing or there are pattern pieces printed that I really didn’t need for my version, I get that this is quite a lot of effort for a pattern company to work out but saving a few sheets of paper was a big plus for me!
The instructions for this pattern are also absolutely brilliant. I have made a full shirt before with collar, sleeve plackets and cuffs and muddled through with ok-ish instructions (Melilot Shirt I’m looking at you) but these are in a league of their own! They’re fantastic! All the steps are super detailed and the drawings (not photos) are so clear as to what goes where. There was a little bit of head-scratching at the points were the ends of the collar and cuffs are finished but I just read the instructions really carefully and it made sense when I thought it through. I really think Liesl & Co have nailed the instructions for this pattern, and I don’t believe that’s just because I’ve got a bit of experience from sewing for a few years now! A confident beginner could definitely have a go at this pattern.
However the one bit I did find quite tricky is gathering the frill collar edge up to fit it to the collar stand. It was physically quite challenging to make sure that the frill was gathered around the curve of the collar stand and right up to the collar edge, it took me a fair amount of time and a bit of trial and error to ensure I was happy with the gathers before I sewed them in for real but I’m pleased I took my time with it as I love the final effect of it.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Liesl & Co blog is a fantastic resource and has lots of pointers for how to up your sewing game if you’re looking to take it to the next level. For example there’s a great post on ‘9 Tutorials for button shirts’ which contains tutorials on how to add a bar tack or gusset to your shirt side seams, as well as how to finish your seams with faux flat felled seams – which is what I decided to do with my version!
This fabric is perfect for making a shirt, I’d really recommend using a cotton at least for your first version as it really helped me get all the details perfect. As mentioned previously I used faux flat felled seams on the inside as I was really keen to make sure the inside looked as great as the outside. I’d not attempted these before but using the tutorial on the Liesl & Co blog made it really easy and I love the professional look it gives the insides! I even managed to finish the curved armhole with a flat fell seam by running a gathering stitch around one of the seams before turning it under and easing it into the armhole to finish it. Something I wouldn’t have even thought about doing a year or so ago but I’m really enjoying taking my time with the insides of a garment as well as the outside with recent makes.
You might also notice I chose to use a coordinating cotton fabric for some of the shirt details: the collar and cuff facing, the inside yoke and half of the sleeve placket. I love that you can see another bright, coordinating fabric peeking out from the inside! The instructions also point out at what points you can use a different fabric which is really handy. I finished my shirt off with a ‘Ta-Da!’ Kylie and the Machine sew in label which I felt was quite apt as I am really, really chuffed with how this make turned out!
The fit is almost spot on with it only being a little roomy at the bust. The shoulders and neckline feel really comfortable and I’m glad I took up the pieces by 2 inches as the length is perfect. If anything the sleeves are a just a teeny bit long but it’s pretty minimal.
I followed all the instructions for where to apply interfacing bar one: the collar facing. I was a bit worried it would all just end up too bulky so I just decided to interface the main collar stand piece. I’m quite glad I did this as the collar ends do end up a little lumpy with all that frill gathered inside it despite it being trimmed nicely. The buttonhole was a little troublesome to sew here too so I ended up sewing one manually with a zigzag stitch on my machine instead of the automatic one step button hole function I would normally use. The one step buttonhole worked a dream for the 12 others though!
So there we have it, to say I’m pleased with this make is an understatement. I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone by using the flat fell seams to finish the insides and I’m glad I took a bit longer with all the details as I have a garment I will definitely cherish for a long time!
I’ll definitely be making another Recital Shirt in the future, maybe not for a while but I’m excited to try a lighter weight cotton like a cotton lawn next time.
You can follow along with more of my makes on Instagram at @holsstevens