the shirt and the Groke

First of all, a big THANK YOU to everyone I’ve met through this blog so far! Thanks for the conversations here and on your blogs (as well as Kollabora).

… And now let me bare my sewing woes to you. The topic today is shirts and why they are scary.

My shy ambition for this year is to sew myself a shirt. If you know Tove Jansson’s fantastic children’s books about the Moomintroll family, you will understand what I mean when I say that the shirt has become my Groke.

Pictured: me (the Moomintroll with the lamp) and how I imagine sewing a shirt (the Groke). Image source.

To put it plainly, I believe my imagination is making the shirt a more daunting project than it perhaps needs to be. The combined challenges of fitting and of careful construction could potentially make it really tough but maybe there’s a way to simplify things and make them appear friendlier?

Here are some shirts that have caught my eye as potential first projects:

Image sources, clockwise from top left: [1] and [2] — Burda Style Wardrobe Essentials, [3] — Tilly Walnes, Love at First Stitch, [4], [5] and[6]

  • [1] and [2] are the two Burda shirts from my silly screenplay post
  • [3] and [4] are basically one idea: Tilly and the Buttons Mimi Blouse, but modified à la this Burda pattern
  • [5] and [6] are two views of the Melilot blouse, a new release from Deer and Doe

I am smitten with the Melilot. I really wish Deer and Doe offered a PDF option for their patterns because buying a paper pattern and having it shipped to the US from France seems a bit extravagant to me (and no, I’m not judging anyone here; it’s purely a question of how I make sense of my own spending).

The Melilot seems to have just the right kind of simplicity. Camille’s just blogged version is absolutely stunning, and the two views both look excellent to me.

Not on my list are two notable patterns: Grainline Studio’s Archer (I don’t know why, other than the other shirts seemed simpler) and the By Hand London Sarah. The original pattern photos of the Sarah shirt didn’t appeal to me too much but the design has been growing on me thanks to the simplified versions — especially this one. (Machineless Sewist, the link to your version is inescapable here, that’s how great I find that shirt!)

Now, I also happen to own two McCall’s unisex shirt patterns, M6932 and M6613. (The pattern photos look a little bit like they’ve time-traveled from the ’90s to 2015.) Both were purchased at one of those big sales at Joann Fabrics ($1 each). Even with the Palmer/Pletsch tissue-fitting instructions I have no clue how to conquer the fit… So I’m mentioning them just because I own them.

Do you have any tips? Advice? Words of caution (maybe I should be scared of the shirt)? Stories to share? Feel free to link to your shirt sewing successes!


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I write about sewing, knitting, and may sometimes be tempted to talk about books.

5 thoughts on “the shirt and the Groke”

    1. It’s not just you 🙂 It’s a beautiful shirt and now I will blame you for feeding my shirt obsession! 😉 But, really, I appreciate your encouragement.

      I left a comment on Camille’s blog about PDF patterns — she’s part of the Deer and Doe team and since I find the Deer and Doe blog a bit confusing, I thought I’d ask her first.

      It’s interesting that there seems to be a strange assumed consensus in the online sewing world that no one really likes PDF patterns, which is just not true. I was happy to see team PDF coming out in this comment thread on Did You Make That.


  1. I LOVE the Melilot! I haven’t seen it before. I was lucky enough to pick up a Deer and Doe pattern at a shop in Boston before the EU raised taxes on selling overseas – or something? I’m not sure what changes exactly were made, but I know they resulted in higher prices for European patterns sold in the US. I’ve since checked the websites of different fabric shops around the US, thinking that I could order online domestically and save some money, but I can’t find a single shop that still stocks Deer and Doe.

    What do you think of Sewaholic’s Granville and Oakridge patterns? I haven’t sewn a proper blouse yet, for many of the reasons you mentioned. I feel like the Oakridge would be a good starting point, because it doesn’t have a collar stand (it doesn’t look like the Meliot does, either – I really want that pattern!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just looked up the two Sewaholic patterns. They’re interesting… I’ll need to do some thinking. But in all honesty, I’m trying to stop myself from impulse-buying patterns, so this “Melilot fever” is not sitting right with me. If they did sell PDFs, I’d likely have broken my “budget vow.” So maybe it’s a good thing they don’t?… No, it’s not. I really like PDFs as an alternative to paper patterns.


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