Wool Challis Men’s Shirt with a 70’s Vibe!

Men's Wool Challis Shirt Peter Lappin

There are two ways to purchase fabric: 1) with a specific project in mind, or 2) because you’re blown away by its beauty and you decide what to do with it later.  I’m usually in the former camp, but last summer I stumbled upon a stunning wool challis print I couldn’t resist.  Why was I even looking in the wool challis section of Mood Fabrics’ New York store when I didn’t even know what wool challis WAS? Kismet, I guess!

(There’s not a lot of wool challis available currently at Mood Fabrics online, so please call the store if you’re interested in purchasing some.)


Notice the elegant woman’s face (below). This image (and surrounding flora) is from Czech illustrator Alphonse Mucha (b. 1860 – d. 1939). How did it end up in this largely abstract fabric design? I don’t know, but I love it!


Wool challis, while lightweight and soft, isn’t really a summer fabric, but it’s perfect for fall. I decided to use my fabric to make a dress shirt for the holidays. And get this: I made the entire shirt (minus buttonholes) on my vintage 1924 Singer 66 treadle!

I used my tried-and-true vintage Butterick shirt pattern (4712) and made only a few minor changes: I narrowed the collar (so it wouldn’t look so much like a disco shirt) and I used black cotton shirting from my stash for the inside collar stand, both for contrast and to prevent potential itching.  Mother of pearl buttons add a touch of elegance.


This shirt is not my usual style for sure, but I love the palette of dusty rose, purple, tan, and black, as well as the unabashedly “trippy” print.  I don’t think I’m going to bump into anybody wearing the same outfit!







It’s fun to sew out of my comfort zone from time to time, either with an unusual fabric, challenging techniques, or both.

I don’t know why wool challis is so rarely used for men’s shirts (while wool flannel, for example, is popular) — maybe it’s the drape or the preponderance of wildly patterned prints often found in this fabric. (Wool challis is usually reserved for men’s ties or scarves.) It’s a puzzlement…

Happy Holidays, everyone!




  • Michael
    November 14, 2014

    I had a shirt with a similar print in the ’70’s, and in the photo with the hat you remind me of Jimi Hendricks. Bravo on the great combination of design and fabric.

  • Janine
    November 14, 2014

    Beautiful, I cannot imagine this fabric made into anything BUT this shirt. Wow, are you going to have a good time at your holiday parties this season! Love it!

  • Ginger
    November 14, 2014

    How fun! I love this fabric as a shirt!

  • Cheryl
    November 14, 2014

    This is amazing…and especially that you made it “the old-fashioned way” on your treadle machine. Does it itch at all?
    Do you need to wear an undershirt with it?

    • Peter
      November 14, 2014

      It doesn’t really itch; I may wear an undershirt since it’s largely a cold-weather shirt.

  • Alice
    November 14, 2014

    Terrific shirt! I love wool challis…there’s never enough of it anywhere in a color I would/could wear. Have found wool/cotton blend challis in the past…still itched.

  • Rick
    November 15, 2014

    Peter you look great in that shirt. I love it.

  • Cennetta Burwell
    November 15, 2014

    Wow! That shirt is to die for. I want it. Great job Peter. Cennetta

  • Suzanne Marquart
    November 15, 2014

    Fabulous shirt, hat and jacket. You look like a million bucks. I’m sewing on a 1946 Kenmore this week and thought I was reaching back…but you one-upped me! Like all your creations. Suzanne

  • Dante
    November 15, 2014

    WOW!!!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE that fabric!!!!!!! and of course you are a MASTER at sewing shirts!!!! Really a master at sewing everything! I always follow your blog and deeply admire your sewing skill, fabric choices and discussions! This wool challis is to die for!!!!!!!!! I am so curious what it feels like! sounds like a dream and I LOVE the print on the fabric!!!!!!! Excellent work Peter, as usual!!!!!

  • Jet Set Sewing
    November 15, 2014

    It has a 70s vibe, but since it’s wool challis instead of those old-school poly knits, it’s breathable, so you don’t have to worry about heat stroke at the disco. It’s fun!

  • Lori
    November 15, 2014

    I really like this shirt, Peter, it is fun and the perfect fabric for winter.

  • Sallie
    November 16, 2014

    What fun! I always look forward to your posts, Peter! You never fail to amaze me! This fabric is just too dreamy – I really love the way the print and colors get broken up throughout the shirt.

  • Peter
    November 16, 2014

    Thanks, everybody!

  • Diane
    November 17, 2014

    Not only did you do a terrific making that shirt, it is a wonderful color for you. You really look terrific in this shirt.