A pale blue Seamwork Eugene henley

The final Christmas present I made this year was a long-sleeved top for James, using the Seamwork Eugene Henley top pattern and some pale blue cotton lycra jersey he’d picked out last time we were at Ditto Fabrics in Brighton. I’d inadvertently picked up a remnant of their cotton lycra jersey previously and James raved about the fabric so much that I finally just brought a scrap of it in to their Brighton store for Gill to fondle and ID for me! Luckily for him, it’s something they always have in stock in a bunch of different colours

The original pattern is for a short sleeved top, but James’s got a lot of teeshirts so I lengthened the sleeves to make it a bit more wearable for winter and a change from the usual button-down shirts he wears for work.

I’ve made quite a few Seamwork patterns over the past two years it’s been going – some I love, and others have been little more than wadders, to be honest. The instructions on this pattern left a lot to be desired – the order of construction was… interesting. I know I’d certainly opt to do all the fiddly collar work flat immediately after sewing the shoulder seams rather than waiting until the rest of the shirt is entirely sewn, like they suggested. But really, that’s personal preference, but the collar placket instructions result in a really bad finish, with weird edges left untopstitched and double-sewn in other places. I’d personally just use other instructions if you’ve got them – this shirt isn’t that unusual that you couldn’t just substitute in another.

But onto the positives – the back facing uses a piece of bias-cut woven fabric, so I used a piece of Japanese quilting cotton here, and made a clean finish with the interfacing (sew the interfacing to the cotton, right sides together along the bottom edge, trim the allowances, then flip to the wrong side to fuse). It’s purely decorative, but James really liked this detail and I think it sets it apart from a basic tee.

I’m glad I doublechecked the sizing against one of his favourite long sleeved tees from his closet before sewing the sleeve and side seams – this pattern is huuuuuuuuuuuuge! Honestly, I sewed the sleeves with 1in seams, and the body with 2in seams, and the end result is a good fit, but he would’ve been swimming in this had I made it as described (and for the record, I had printed this one at my reprographics shop so it wasn’t an accidental scaling error or anything).

The sizing of Seamwork patterns is something I definitely find to be unpredictable, in both the men’s and women’s ranges. I don’t know why American menswear patterns have a tendency to be ridiculously oversized, anyway – Seamwork’s previous Paxson mens knit top was true-to-size, which makes the fit on this one even more unexpected… Maybe they have different people doing the drafting each month or something, but I really wish it’d be more standardised. Definitely measure the finished pieces if you sew this, though. He probably could’ve worn the smallest size in the range and still been fine!

If you’d like to try Seamwork, if you use my referral link here you can get the first month for half price (with no obligation to continue), so for $3 you get two patterns of your choice from their back catalogue. So you can choose to make the ones I loved!


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  1. 1
    Patricia O

    I’m not a person who follows a lot of sewing blogs but I think you have hit on a valid point mentioning the inconsistency in grading in some independent patterns (well I know you are referring to Seamwork in particular but – in my opinion at least – it goes further than that – some ‘indie’ – patterns leave a LOT to be desired and not just in the grading!). I’m not a believer of the ‘indie good – big 4 bad’ school of thought – there are good and bad in both camps. I think for a blogger to turn designer they have to either to have some PROPER training or a natural aptitude (I’d put you in the latter group). How the heck (without going to Blogsnark or GOMI) does one make a constructive criticism of a blogger’s pattern without being deleted or criticised as a mean, horrible, vicious person who has probably never sewn anything in their life? Not that I have bothered making such criticisms but it seems that people who have tried to do so have not been very well received. I don’t want to name any names (they might be your friends and I don’t want to put you in an awkward position) but there was one young lady who was selling a pattern for a rectangle skirt for goodness sake – and it wasn’t a cheap pattern either!!! For the avoidance of doubt I’m not knocking YOUR patterns.

    Sorry, rant over, back on topic, I’ve bought stuff online from Ditto a few times and it has always been of a high quality. As for James’s shirt, as it seems the instructions were hokey you have demonstrated presence of mind in managing to substitute a method which works – and the colour is very nice. And a guy (or gal) can never have too many comfy yet presentable T-shirts.

  2. 2

    I love this Melissa, what a great top with some lovely details like the contrast facing. I have had similar issues with the sizing of Seamwork patterns. Some things have been a triumph and spot on other things have been a disaster with all kinds of problems. You’ve certainly made this one work though!

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