Pete and Repeat

Or, Perkins and Reperkins. I binge sewed the Ensemble Patterns Perkins shirt this past summer and I’m finally catching up here! I sew a lot of pattern repeats, but this shirt showcased one of the wider varieties of fabrics I’ve used to sew one pattern, and I hoped it might be interesting to compare the finished projects. My first post showed the cropped, gathered view in breezy semi-sheer polyester. Here’s that same view in lightweight but opaque 100% cotton.


Okay, you caught me – this is 10% a thoughtful comparison of one pattern in many fabrics and 90% me saying LOOK AT THAT PRINT!! Like my first Perkins, I sewed this in a fabric I bought from TMOS. I am KICKING myself that I didn’t buy more. I bought 1.5 meters for the princely sum of $5.47 and if I could ever find it again (impossible, at a guess) I would buy 3 or 4 meters more.  


That’s some aggressive fruit! ❤ Fear meee!

I actually got this Perkins from the leftovers of my 1.5 meters after making a tee, so when using stable fabrics where print direction doesn’t matter, I think you can really cut the pattern pieces any which way and be successful. The only pieces that aren’t backed or lined in some way are the shirt front and back – the plackets, collar and collar stand, yoke, pocket, and sleeves all have added support/structure.

The pocket placement might seem too low on the cropped view. Hold fast. It’s not too low. It’s just right. I doubted and was justly smote (by having to unpick and re-sew the pocket where the markings indicate; I’ve been smote-er).


I used cotton lawn to line the sleeves of this and the next Perkins, and I used the lawn instead of interfacing as well. I’m of two minds about this. On the ‘pro’ side, I was able to cut the cotton lawn very efficiently with nothing leftover for my scrap box. Also, it’s never going to get that wrinkly surface that interfaced pieces sometimes develop after going through the wash a few times. On the ‘con’ side, unless you baste it to your pattern pieces (I didn’t), it’s a pain in a neck to actually sew. The solution (baste it!! Obviously, baste it!) didn’t occur to me at the time. I also managed to stack my collar pieces wrong, which is how my lawn ‘interfacing’ ended up as my undercollar –


Who knows what terrifying carnivorous fruits lurk within these collar pieces?

The stiffer cotton adds volume, but because it also weighs a little more, it floats away from my body less. So the silhouette is similar to my polyester Perkins, but the movement is quite different. Sisters-not-twins. So this one is their brother, maybe!


This is a different view – regular length, no gathers. The sleeves and collar are the same for all views (well, there’s a tied-in-the-back collar option, but it’s very very not for me).

The first time I posted a Perkins shirt review I was so buzzed on my finished shirt that I forgot to talk about the instruction booklet. I puzzled it out and I love my shirts, but the instructions are confusing. The first two pages of sewing instruction show steps 01, 02, 01, 02, 03, 01, 02, 01, 01, in that order. Each sewing stage restarts the numbering and the views are jumbled together. Again, after sewing two views, I’m happy as can be with the drafting and my finished shirts, but the instructions share certain qualities with a funhouse mirror.

That said, this was my third time sewing a Perkins shirt in a span of weeks, so the actual construction held no mysteries for me. But the fabric was another story!

I used cotton twill for the outer pieces and it came out of the washer and dryer so, so off grain. This would be less than ideal even if it wasn’t marked with a grid that would make any error on my part super duper obvious. I cut everything on a single layer, skewing my pattern pieces to match the skewed grid. Then, after cutting, I pulled the cut fabric back on grain. I had to pull hard! This is so counter to the usual way to treat cut fabric! It felt wrong, like throwing away a book or eating a sandwich in a bathroom.

Luckily it worked! I didn’t start with a ton of faith in the process, so I cut the yoke and the pocket on the cross-grain instead of trying to pattern match.


I also decided this shirt would button left-over-right, instead of the intended right-over-left, because I liked the shirt front better without the off-center vertical red line visible on the placket.

I French-seamed the side seams on both these shirts, by the way. I needed to use cotton lawn to line my fruit shirt because I didn’t have enough main fabric, and I chose to use it for my plaid shirt because it was lighter and cheaper than my main fabric. And it reduces bulk in the underarm seam.


Once again I’ve taken a winding road to a similar Perkins silhouette – the body of the regular view is a lot less full, but this twill holds much more structure! Well, why fight it, I guess?


The plaid one is my favorite so far, but that might be because it’s the warmest one. I haven’t tried a fabric that didn’t work as a Perkins shirt – I don’t have plans to add a fourth to my wardrobe right now, but you never know, I might find a fabric I can’t resist and have a totally new favorite come spring!

Pattern: Perkins shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 8

Supplies: leftovers from cotton Hemlock tee, TMOS; 2/3 yard of black cotton lawn, Gather Here, $5.90; 6 buttons, Gather Here, $2.00

Total time: 5.5 hours

Total cost: $7.90

Pattern: Perkins shirt

Pattern cost: NA

Size: 8

Supplies: 1.5 yards of Classic Plaid Twill in Hunter and Black with Red by Sevenberry, 2/3 yard of navy cotton lawn, Gather Here, $28.78; 8 buttons, Gather Here, $4.00

Total time: 5.75 hours

Total cost: $32.78


Not just repeats, but freepeats. Three free repeats. Thfreepeats!!! That is, uh, a misty word to try and say aloud.

Hey, guess what? My blog is one year old today. 🙂 Speaking of threes, is this a good time to mention I have a posting schedule? 3x a month, on days ending in 6. I didn’t want to announce it anywhere until I was sure I could sustain it*! Anyway, in the 35 posts that I’ve shared so far, some pattern repeats have already appeared – and here’s two more.

*’I’ is a strong word for an endeavor in which every photo not of my boyfriend is by my boyfriend. ‘We’, this is a ‘we’ project.

First is the Stellan tee, a free pattern from French Navy. The first time I sewed this in a slinky-ish rayon knit, but these new two are in a sturdy organic cotton knit that the Stoff & Stil website strongly implied was for  babies, but don’t I deserve nice things as much as a baby?! I’m not sure they ship to America, but my German-citizen-sister does. Thanks sis. ❤ My particular fabrics are out of stock, but their printed jersey selection is darn cool and the quality is super…BEEFY. Seriously, is there a funnier fabric word than beefy?  

First up, beefy tigers. The tigers are toddler-approved. Since this is printed jersey, the wrong side shows on the cuffs, but I quite like the contrast. I always wear the sleeves rolled, but this is how the shirt looks uncuffed/untucked.

Secondly, beefy bananas! This is a talk-to-me shirt. Strangers tend to talk to me anyway (they do not find me intimidating for some reason?), but a banana shirt causes an epidemic of chit-chat – all friendly! I sewed these two tees back-to-back and made the same changes to both. I lengthened the neckband about 4”, sewing it in flat after one shoulder seam was sewn, and then trimming the excess. Also, um – I followed the directions. Just for the hem! Last time I could not get it to turn neatly. This time I actually sewed the foldline as instructed, and surprise…it folded! I continue to skip the neckline binding, though. I yam what I yam.

Professor Boyfriend says I can’t wear the banana shirt with these pants because “One is French vanilla and the other is vanilla bean!” but what does he know?

This cotton jersey presses well, stays cuffed, has good recovery and is easy to sew. However, those same properties mean that the neckbands could use an ironing now and then. WELL, THEY WON’T GET IT. I’m not going to iron a tee-shirt. Nevaaaarrrr!  

But look at my happy banana accident! It continues across the wrinkly neckband! Complete coincidence, the banana gods must be smiling.

For the tiger tee, I sewed the side seams and then the hems; for the banana tee, I sewed the hems and then the side seams. I think I slightly prefer the banana treatment for ease of sewing.

From here on out, please ignore my straps – since these photos were taken in a public area I needed a layer beneath the tees so I could change in the middle, and since I was getting weird show-through from the double layer of hems, I decided to photograph the pants with just my slightly ratty RTW cami.

So let’s talk about pants, bay-bee! These are the Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants, and I love them, as I loved them the first time I made them. I still haven’t solved my main fit issue though, i.e., the front pockets. I’m pretty sure I need a protruding stomach adjustment. The overall width is okay (you can tell because the side seam is hanging straight) but the front waistline dips a little instead of sitting level. I’m happy to make another pair though, and trial that adjustment! They fly together and I feel very happy and comfortable in them.

The fabric I used is something mysterious from TMOS. It’s quite heavy. It almost feels like indoor/outdoor fabric but it’s not waterproof and it burns like natural fiber. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s coated, though. The pocket linings are a scrap of shirting cotton, and the leather button is from my flea-market stash. I have a healthy chunk of this mystery fabric left but I don’t have a plan for it! Any thoughts?

I only made one change to this pattern, which was to grow-on the fly extensions. However, I forgot to extend the pocket bags to match! See those short lines of stitching to the farthest left and right? Those are keeping the edges of the pocket bags in place. Luckily they’re not visible when the pants are zipped. Also, I only changed thread color once (I like tonal topstitching) and it was to match the zipper tape – at the time I readily acknowledge it was a pain in the neck to rethread for, like, two 6” lines of stitching, but now I think it was worth it. Mm. Tonal.  

I quite like these patterns and garments as a benchmark, actually – a year ago I never would have worn wide cropped pants or exuberantly printed tees, and yet I have not travelled so far that I don’t appreciate a $0 pattern price tag.   

Also, my basket-weave button matches my basket-weave shoes. Ladies, gentlemen, and others, I feel I have ARRIVED.

See you on a six-day!

Pattern: Stellan tee

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: M

Supplies: 1 meter of organic cotton (tigers), $17.30, Stoff & Stil; thread, $1.91, Michaels/1 meter of organic cotton (bananas), $17.30, Stoff & Stil

Total time: 2.5 hours/2 hours

Total cost: $19.21/$17.30

Pattern: Peppermint Wide-Leg Pants

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: F, with adjustments

Supplies: 2.5 meters of heavy linen/cotton canvas (?), $15.19, TMOS; zipper, Sewfisticated, $1.40; thread, Michael’s, $1.79

Total time: 4.75 hours

Total cost: $18.38

Perkins shirt

The Ensemble Patterns Perkins shirt is my first autumn-facing sew! Which Perkins? Sue? Maybe! Sorry Sue, it’s mine though!

One of my weirder acquisitions from The Man Outside Sainsbury’s was this devastatingly cheap, semi-sheer windowpane fabric, which I thought was cotton until about two seconds after buying it. Then I realized it was definitely a mixture of petroleum and cotton candy (so fake! So fragile!). What, am I not gonna sew it though? NO.

Also did I mention I went to TMOS?! Professor Boyfriend and I had one unscheduled morning in London (we were there for three days, mostly to see his family) and luckily some of that family lived not too far from Walthamstow, so I was able to squeeze in fabric shopping. Sadly I didn’t make it to Ray Stitch as recommended by the outstandingly stylish Beck, or Liberty of London (I wanted Liberty bias tape!), but next time I hope!

This fabric was a pain to work with, but dare I say worth it? I like the windowpane, it’s light and flowy, but most importantly, I feel really proud of myself for handling it!

I made a batch of homemade spray starch, but it wasn’t a good fit for this synthetic. Pressed on cool, the starch didn’t stiffen; any hotter, and the starch left a toasty spot on my white fabric. I didn’t even try iron-on interfacing – all I could picture was melted, shriveled plastic.

Instead, I underlined both collar pieces, collar stand pieces, and plackets with scraps of cotton voile. I actually cut the pattern pieces from my voile, and then sewed them to my uncut main fabric within the seam allowance, before finally cutting the main fabric to match. Almost like block fusing! Fussy, but I don’t regret it!

 I cut the inner sleeves, yoke, and pocket lining from scraps of white linen. They’re slightly different temperatures of white but I used up a lot of odds and ends. I also hemmed the shirt with voile bias tape. These scraps did triple-duty – they added a little much-needed structure, prevented the print from showing through on the sleeves, and concealed most of the seam allowances.

Cutting in general was a marathon! This fabric had a deeply held anti-staying-on-grain position, but the woven grid pattern helped me tug it more or less into shape. The MVP of cutting was actually the sheer nature of the fabric, since I could cut one piece, move it, and easily see, align, and pin the grid. Then, and I can’t repeat this enough for thin, malleable, shred-y fabric, STAY-STITCH EVERYTHING.

Actual sewing was not so bad! I was racing the clock on those 3/8ths seam allowances as the fabric tattered before my eyes, but except for some fabric dragging when I topstitched, a new sharp needle got the job done with only, OH YOU KNOW, constant stress (but then an equal and opposite satisfaction).  

And then a lady in Trader Joe’s said she liked it so it was ALL WORTH IT!

Oh, here’s another thing about my shirt: at least one of these sleeves is sewn wrong. I rather suspect they both are. I know this seems like a mathematical impossibility but thanks to the linings, I can put in one fashion fabric correctly and one wrongly, and one lining correctly and one wrongly…on opposite arms! Booyah! None of my fabrics had a right side/wrong side and the fashion fabric shredded right down to my stay-stitching line, notches too; halfway through sewing the second sleeve I realized they weren’t symmetrical anymore but it’s anyone’s guess which piece ended up where!

It seems to not matter, somehow. Yes let’s agree it doesn’t matter! By the way, if the fabric requirements seem a little high for this shirt, it’s because of the sleeve linings. I didn’t realize the so-called ‘magic sleeves’ were lined until my first instruction booklet read-through. It briefly threw me for a loop but I love it, in fact. It doesn’t make the sleeves too heavy, and it seals everything up all pretty inside.

If you want to use a different fabric for the inner layer of the sleeve, yoke, and pocket, you can subtract ½ yard from the main fabric requirements, and buy an additional 2/3 of a yard of your lining choice. It takes slightly more because you can’t fit it in around the edges of other pieces, but you can choose something cheaper/lighter – or in a case like this, solid and opaque, to prevent print show-through.  

The only seam that isn’t finished beautifully, if you follow the instructions, is the underarm/side seam. I opted to use narrow French seams as I figured this shirt could sacrifice an extra 1/8” per seam – the total  ½” is not a meaningful absence by volume. Also, I recently learned French seams are called English seams in France, which is pretty delightful.

I think I can ju-uu-st about squeeze into this, despite making it ½” smaller around. :} I love my new shirt. I’m afraid to wash it in case it rips, dissolves, melts, or turns out to have been a dream all along. But don’t worry, Mom, I’m still gonna.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this bizarre gem, courtesy of Professor Boyfriend!



Pattern: Perkins shirt

Pattern cost: $12.00

Size: 8

Supplies: 2 meters of windowpane mystery fabric, $4.86, TMOS; 6 buttons, $3.00, Gather Here

Total time: 7.75 hours

Total cost: $19.86