This month, I decided to go for an understated urban cowboy look.
At Mood Fabrics in New York City, I found not one, but two beautiful Japanese chambrays in denim-y tones. (To see Mood’s online selection of cotton chambray, click here.) I used to get denim and chambray confused. Both use colored yarn in the warp and white yarn in the weft, but chambray is a plain weave and denim is a twill.
I decided to make a Western-style shirt and to combine the two chambray fabrics, using the darker of the two for the front and back yokes (cut on the bias), collar and collar stand, cuffs, and pocket flaps. (My inspiration was this denim shirt from Levi’s Vintage line.)
The pattern I used is one I found on eBay, Simplicity 6955, which dates from 1966. I made Version 2, which has shaped front yokes. I added a shaped back yoke, as well as Western shirt-type pockets. I also narrowed the collar to give it a more contemporary feel. (TIP: if you’re combining different fabrics that are going to be washed and dried together, make sure you thoroughly pre-shrink them before you use them.) Finally, I removed the back pleats and added a sloping shoulder adjustment to keep the shirt looking trim, as opposed to blouse-y.
In addition to combining the light and dark chambrays, I lined my inside collar stand, cuffs, and pocket flaps with some Liberty-style cotton shirting left over from my Mood Sewing Network January project (a good reason to save your fabric scraps). I also finished the hem with bias strips I cut from the same floral fabric. Custom details like these are one of the joys of sewing your own clothes, don’t you think?
Naturally, a Western-style shirt needs pearl snaps. Dritz sells them in 12-packs. They’re not hard to attach, but they do require careful measuring: once they’re hammered in they can’t be adjusted like a button can.
Here’s the finished shirt, which is extremely soft and comfy. I think the chambray looks even more beautiful after washing and drying (i.e., slightly rumpled).
I don’t usually wear cowboy-inspired clothes but this shirt is subdued enough that I don’t look like I’m headed to a rodeo. Not that there’s anything wrong with THAT.
See you next month!