Linen, Liberty and Nell
A Verb for Keeping Warm is a new-to-me pattern line from a yarn, fabric and dying bricks-and-mortar shop of the same name in Oakland, California. Their about page explains more:
Spinning, dyeing, knitting, felting, weaving, and sewing are all verbs used to describe how communities have created cloth, garments, and other fiber-based goods. Such acts embody love and creativity. And such objects provide protection from the elements and keep us warm. Our company honors these traditions by offering a wide range of textile related raw materials, such as fiber, yarn, and fabric, along with classes to instill the skill and practice of creating your own clothing and warmth.
To me, that just sounds like one big, long hug from a dear old friend.
Enough of the warm and fuzzies, I’m here to tell you about the Nell Shirt. I can’t remember how I stumbled across this pattern (there are very few versions of this shirt on the internet or social media) but the interesting collar and cuffs drew me in. I purchased the paper version of the pattern from Caitlan at Indie Stitches.
The sizing of the pattern is a little different to what I’m used to… it relates to the bust measurement of the finished shirt. I made the size 39″ (which allowed for 2.5″ of ease) and I’m happy with the fit. This is one of those rare pattern that fits me out of the box without any alterations!
Let’s talk fabrics. The grey linen is a remnant (yes, another remnant!) from Tessuti and the Liberty is from my stash. Although grey is a colour I can wear, I tend to lean toward brighter hues, so for this make (and I was aiming for a wearable muslin) I added a splash of Liberty to brighten things up. To say I’m a little pleased with the outcome is an understatement. After I finished my Nell Shirt I tried it on and I didn’t want to take it off.
The pattern is well drafted, and it came together nicely, but at times it did seem like a labour of love. It’s fair to say that I often sew simple patterns with only a few pattern pieces that can be sewn up in a few hours. This is not one of those patterns, and I must confess that I got a little shock when I was working on the front bib lining and the instructions said ‘finish by hand’. Perhaps sewing patterns including hand stitching should come with warning labels for lazy bones like me?
On reflection, I actually really enjoyed being challenged, and dare I admit, a little out of my comfort zone with this make. For the first time in a long time I had to read, rather than skim, the sewing instructions. The instructions are grouped into sections and are easy to follow, but they do assume a certain level of skill. I did find it a little confusing how to sew the v-front, but the lovely Lara talked me through her way of doing it and it worked a treat (yah for sewing friends!). One super small thing that was missed in the instructions… please add ‘back lining armhole edge’ to the list of pattern pieces to be overlocked or zigzagged before you begin sewing.
Speaking of the back lining, I also deviated from the pattern to sew down the lower edge of the back lining. I have a ‘thing’ about unfinished raw edges on necklines with facings. Sewing them down helps me sleep soundly at night (sad but true)!
One tiny disappointing thing about my shirt is that I followed the instructions on the pattern piece and cut the back lining from the main fabric without reading the cutting information. Those cutting instructions on the inside cover were a little more detailed and suggest you cut the back lining from either the main fabric or the lining fabric. The back lining would have looked better in Liberty (see photo above) but it’s not a deal breaker.
In my opinion, it’s all the little details that make the Nell Shirt a winner. The gathering at the bottom of the front bib and the sleeves, the interesting collar (both front and back), the cuffs and the shirt-tail hem. The contrast collar and cuffs are right up my alley and didn’t disappoint.
I can definitely see more Nell’s in my wardrobe. I might even dip into my Nani Iro stash for version number two. And as a reminder for myself for future versions:
- Understitch the collar and cuffs seam allowances to the main fabric (I will always wear the shirt with the linings on show)
- Hem the front and back pieces before joining the side seams for an neater shirt-tail hem
After success with Nell, I’ve just ordered the Uptown Top Pattern.
Pattern: A Verb for Keeping Warm’s Nell Shirt (paper (US readers), paper (Australian readers) or pdf
Fabric: Linen remnant from Tessuti & Liberty from the stash
Alterations: Sewed down the lower edge of the back lining
Accessories: Boots from Florsheim