the call of the white shirt

This shirt, specifically. I have to share the pattern photo again, because it’s a rare treat:

Photo from the book Burda Style Modern Sewing: Wardrobe Essentials.

So much going on there… The pattern book, however, is pure gold and I plan to sew my way through it.

And just to clarify, I made the women’s shirt, not the robe the gentleman is wearing, nor any of the other incredibly distracting things in the photo. It’s not just me, right? There’s an overload of possible narrative in that photo. The collection to which it belongs is apparently called “Honeymooners” but it looks like a vaguely adultery-related scenario. So much tension. Will she escape through the French door?

Where was I?

The shirt. It looked deceptively easy but I wouldn’t have done it without Tea‘s help. I can’t thank her enough. Burda instructions did not alert me to the unusualness of that collar (no surprise there) and the line drawing doesn’t show the way the collar stand attaches to the collar. Need I add that there is no diagram included with the instructions?…

Tea made this beautiful version of the shirt as well as a black one with a scalloped collar, which is not on her blog, but it’s equally lovely and Tea’s photos of its tricky collar saved my sanity.

I’ll try to pay it forward — here’s my crummy photo of the collar and collar stand:

Collar stand sandwiched inside the collar. Interesting concept but fiddly to sew.

This was a wearable muslin, again. I cut the pattern pieces out and basted the shirt together before committing to the final placement of the shoulder seams and bust darts.

In the end I left the shoulder seams as they were but moved the darts up by 1.5 cm (or 5/8″ if you prefer). My one complaint fit-wise is that the armholes fall a bit low, which limits mobility a bit. (Non-complaint but a fit-related fact: I did my obligatory broad back alteration on the back. For details of this fit alteration see this post.)

Le look total Burda book: the shirt paired with the skirt from this post (from which I removed the offending pockets)

Confession time: I am trying to embrace white shirts but I have two major hurdles to overcome. Hurdle #1: the fear of spilling everything on myself while wearing white; hurdle #2: memory of high school and college exams to which I usually wore an outfit such as pictured above (long story — the TL; DR version is: school/academic culture demanding more formal attire).

I’ll need to work on figuring out some clever pairings to deal with that second issue. The answer is probably some pants I have yet to sew…



More details:
 Voile Button-Down Blouse from Burda Style Modern Sewing: Wardrobe Essentials
Fabric: white cotton voile from stash (long live shopping the stash!)
Notions: thread, 6 buttons, lightweight fusible interfacing, bias tape for the collar stand finish.
Seam finish and other details: first time trying flat-felled seams (not perfect but not terrible either, I think); shirt hem turned up to basting lines, then stitched; rolled hems on facings.
“Fun” fact: inserting the curved ends of the collar stand into the collar took multiple tries and corrections.

You may have noticed my button placement choice. I decided not to take the buttons all the way to the top — I didn’t like the way it looked on me. I went for this camp collar effect instead. What do you think?

Pattern verdict: So far, I really like it, even though I’m not sure what to wear it with and that strange collar stands out from my neck quite a bit.


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

19 thoughts on “the call of the white shirt”

  1. Im all about making white skirts right now but I still don’t know if I am responsible enough to wear them! I love the look of this pattern and your version. I think the real secret to wearing white shirts is just having multiple versions of the same one!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Happens to me all the time, mostly by autocorrect hellbent on making me seem semi-literate.

        You have a great point there about making up many white shirts rather than just one. As soon as I put this one on I was really enchanted with its white-shirt-ness. I’m dreaming of a white linen shirt now; one serious obstacle is that I’m on a self-imposed fabric buying ban.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with you on white shirts. They look great on others but make me feel like I’m at school, or similar. My recent Kalle is an improvement down to shape and fabric but if I wear it with anything other than jeans, I feel like a waitress.


    1. Yes! I find it difficult to shake off those associations and memories. But I got a good tip from Tea (with whose help I figured out that collar): bolder color or pattern on the skirt or pants — that might just work!


  3. I’m with you on white shirts. They look great on others but make me feel like I’m at school, or similar. My recent Kalle is an improvement down to shape and fabric but if I wear it with anything other than jeans, I feel like a waitress.


  4. I’m totally in shirt mode at the moment. I have the Quinn to make up, but also recently won the OkiStyle Joker shirt which I am OBSESSED WITH! And am planning an Inari top hack. Oh yes, spring is around the corner.
    Love your white shirt. It’s is everything: chic, crisp, effortless. I want one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Burda photo shoots are hilarious! You’re right, there’s so much going on here. This shirt has been on my list for a long time- I like how yours is kinda casual but put together. As a shirt lover, you really can wear them with everything! Jeans, skirts, dressier pants, under pinnys etc. I wore so many gross shirts in high school but as they were polyester abominations more resembling potato sacks with collars than actual clothing it didn’t diminish my love for a well cut shirt!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I try to err on the side of caution and secrecy about day to day activities (and my face), so you might have guessed perhaps that my day job puts me in contact with young people (yeah, what kind of job could that be… hmm…). I need to figure out some good bottoms for this one so as not to feel like I’m giving myself an exam 😉

      Give this one a whirl. I didn’t muslin, just basted this one together before sewing it properly, and it worked out. But if I make it again I think I’ll raise the armscye a bit.


  6. That pattern photo is very strange but I’m with you, the shirt looks great! I think your version is lovely too. I really like the idea of white shirts but struggle to wear them as it reminds me of waitressing – a job I never enjoyed much!


    1. Thank you! I need to try this shirt with a bold-colored bottom item. Alas, nothing like that in the wardrobe right now, as if I needed more reasons to buy fabric 😉

      You have made some gorgeous skirts in bold fabrics and prints, so that might help you redefine the white shirt for you 🙂

      Seems like such a simple bit of advice but I don’t think I would have stumbled on it myself if Tea hadn’t said it. I don’t really do bold colors off my own bat.


  7. I actually love white shirts, I have not made any but have 4-5 rdw which i wear constantly. Don’t be afraid wearing it , it gives such a sophisticated look and I belive you’ll love it. This collar looks like the collar of the Factory Dress but only on the outside, I see the construction and the pattern is totally different from the inside, probably Burda went for a more tailored look as the constraction of the Merchand & Mills pattern was very easy.


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