Skyhold Casual – Part One

My Inquisitor’s casual Skyhold shirt has been the bane of my life for the last six months or so.  I’ve gone through three different patterns and multiple tweaks, and I think I have four versions of the shirt in varying stages of completion packed away in my sewing box, having discovered some fatal flaw with the fabric or the fit.  In October, I thought I was virtually finished.  I had painstakingly hand-sewn meters and meters of piping, sewn the body together, finished the bias tape around the hem and down the front, messed about with the edging for the armscye and my sleeves were ready to be sewn on.  And that’s when disaster struck.

All of the pieces fit perfectly individually, but once the sleeves were sewn onto the body, suddenly nothing came remotely close to fitting.  I took the sleeves off again, double checked the fit, pinned the sleeves on and after carefully checking again, I sewed the shirt back together… and it still didn’t fit. So I took it apart again, scratched my head in frustration and packed everything away in my craft box to take with me the next time I went to visit my mother.

My mum is a very talented seamstress and has a small business making re-enactment clothing and equipment so when I drove down to housesit for a few days, we had a look at the shirt together when she got home.  We decided to start from scratch – new fabric, new pattern, new bias tape and piping.

Everything seemed to be going well, until I came to attach the sleeves again.  The problem seemed to be exactly the same one that I’d had with the previous pattern and I couldn’t see any reason for it.  The pattern had been made to measure and the two of us had triple checked all of the measurements.  I had allowed a generous seam allowance so that the finished shirt wouldn’t be too form-fitting but also wouldn’t be a shapeless sack.  I couldn’t wrap my head around why the shirt fit so well without the sleeves, and the sleeves fit my arms perfectly while unattached or pinned on, but once sewn into place kept on causing problems.

I unpicked the sleeves yet again, double and triple checked that all of the parts fit nicely on their own, pinned the sleeves on and checked again.  Everything seemed fine, so I spent another evening stitching them back on only to find that the fit was even worse than before.  On the fourth attempt, I managed to achieve a fit that wasn’t perfect but also wasn’t causing the shirt to bunch up, and with November’s MCM Birmingham at the end of the week, I decided that it would have to do for the time being – I would enjoy myself at the convention and see if I could fix whatever the issue was before the next one.

As it turned out, I ran out of time and planned to spend the drive to Birmingham sewing the clasps and embellishments onto it, only to find that I had packed the shirt, the buttons and the clasps but my miniature sewing kit was missing in action!  I ended up wearing a blue long-sleeve tee-shirt under my Hunter coat instead, and while I had lots of kind comments, I was really disappointed.

Things got busy over the festive period and I got distracted by other projects, so I didn’t get the shirt out again until this week.  By some miracle I have managed to lose just over a stone in weight since my mum and I took the last set of measurements, so I could actually do with taking it in a little bit.  But the problem seems to have been that something somewhere in the sleeves must have been a fraction too tight and it was throwing the entire fit, which now appears to have resolved itself!

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