Choosing what shirt or blouse pattern to make

Laurens summary of all our lovely patterns and tips on choosing the right one for you

Does anyone else find that sometimes lots of choice isn't always the best thing? And that it can just make it even harder to choose what to make and what fabric to use?

Well, I get that all the time! With a whole shop of patterns and fabric at my fingertips narrowing down projects choices is usually quite an indecisive process and I know you guys must feel the same! 

So today, I wanted to talk you though all of the different shirt, blouse and shirt dress patterns we stock. They are all indie patterns and I know there are loads more out there, indie and commercial, but hopefully there is enough variation here that even if you have seen a different shirt pattern, there will be something in my round up that its similar too. 

I've made a new YouTube video to chat you though them all along with showing you some examples I've made, but read on to see links to all the patterns along with fabric suggestions. 

I've split them into three mini categories to help break them down a bit more.

Classic Shirts

I've grouped these patterns as 'classic shirts' as they all have traditional tailored features that you would associate with a shirt.

So they have details including a collar stand and pointy collar, cuffs, button plackets and patch pockets. 

Top Tip - Remember to have a look at the finished garment measurements to help work out how fitted they will be. I chat a bit more about this in my video and give a few examples so check that out if you want specifics. 

Fabric tips

These type of of shirts work well with fabric that has a bit more structure to it such as cotton poplins or cotton lawns. You'll get a crisper finish on the details like cuffs and collars with fabrics that press well so avoid any synthetic fibres like polyester as they can sometimes just not take a crease like 100% cotton. 

Having said that, you can also make these garments in lighter weight fabrics like viscose, rayon or crepe de chine, it will be be a lot more tricky, but perfect if you are looking for a challenge. 


I've grouped all of these patterns together as they all still have a button placket down the front but they are either more casual in their designs or are missing other features that you would normally get in a traditional a collar. 

It's also from this group of patterns that I've made the most number of garments, which probably tells a lot about my style and that I generally wear more casual clothes all that time! 

Fabric tips

For this category of patterns, the fabric options are a bit more varied and some of the styles will lend themselves better to more fluid, drapey fabrics. For fuller styles like the Reina and Meissa or the bow option on the Oakridge, a viscose, rayon, crepe, crepe de chine kinda fabric with lots of movement will look best. 

Where as with the Melilot, kalle and violet, although you could use the drapy fabrics, cotton lawns also work really well too. 

Just a note - we are waiting for more stock of some of these patterns at the moment...a few of them are getting reprinted by the pattern companies, but if they are showing out of stock, we will be getting more. You can email [email protected] to be put on the waiting list for specific ones if you like and the girls will let you know as soon as they arrive. 

The Deer and Doe Melilot and Closet Case Patterns Kalle shirt are my favourites out of all of them and I've made several versions of each!

They both have kimono style cap sleeves or drop shoulders where its just an extension of the front/back bodice pieces. 

For all my versions of these blouses I've used cotton lawn, but you could use more drapey fabrics too. 

The Melilot is the easiest of the two as the back bodice is just one piece, whereas the Kalle has a back yoke and a large centre back pleat. This also means that the melilot is more fitted as well. I've made the full length of the melilot, which is a good length to tuck in, and I've made a cropped version too by just cutting it shorter. I think is also looks cute tied at the waist with high waisted jeans. 

The Kalle pattern offers more options as you can choose between cropped, tunic or dress length. I've made a few cropped versions and lengthened by both 5cm. My first version had the hidden placket and the stand collar and next time round I did a standard button band and rounded out the collar. I still cut out the pointy collar then just rounded it out. 

Find out more about my Kalle in the Summer Capsule Wardrobe blog series - link below! 

The Colette Aster and Sewaholic Oakridge do have similarities in that their necklines are finished with bias binding. The Aster has more sleeve options and has a V-neck line rather than the curved Oakridge one. 

I've made a few versions of the Oakridge, both have used Liberty tana lawn, and I left the neckline bow option off. These pictures are from the archive back in 2014 (I think!). 

The Meissa and Reina are much fuller in their style than the other blouses as they have gathers at the back and front yoke. For that reason these styles will look better in a much lighter weight, fluid fabric with lots of movement like your viscoses and rayons. 

Having said that, I did make the Reina in a cotton lawn and it's ok, it just feels a bit more roomy as the gathers and extra fabric have that more 'tenty' feeling. I think it comes down to how comfortable you are wearing loose clothing.

For the Meissa, I used our Atelier Brunette viscose crepe which has a lovely drape. I think the fit just isn't quite right and I need to go back and change the shoulder and sleeve cap seam. The fabric drapes really well into this style though. 

Shirt Dresses 

A shirt dress is a lovely make for this time of year as I think they are great for layering and look really nice with a thick pair of woolly tights or leggings. 

Fabric tips - Depending on the style and details of the patterns you will be choosing between either a more structured medium weight denim type fabric or something with drape and movement like viscose/rayon but I'll touch on that as I talk you though the patterns. 

This selection has some more formal that others. The Lenox, Hawthorn and Matilda all have more fitted bodices and then skirts that flare out in varying degrees but I'd group them as 'fit and flare' styles. The Hawthorn is shaped with lots of darts whereas the Matilda and Lenox bodices are made up of panels and thats where the shaping comes from. 

I think medium weight fabric with more structure to them will look best in these styles. 

The Vintage Shirt dress is also fitted with darts and tucks at the bodice but has a more straighter skirt than the others. I've seen a lovely version of this that used a different fabric for the bodice and skirt which gave a nice illusion of wearing two separates. 

The Rosa has lots of those traditional shirt details and features, with panels giving the shape from the bodice to the skirt. You can add piping into those vertical seams, or use a contrasting top stitching thread on a classic denim, which will help to lengthen the body. I've seen quite a few versions of this dress that have used medium weight denim that look really good. 

The Alder has two variations and I've made both in quite different fabrics too. You can choose between a gathered skirt section or just a straight version - out of all the shirt dresses I'd say this is probably the easiest one. 

I think it looks cute with a belt for more waist definition but here is a picture without too so you can have an idea of the actual shape of it. I used one of our light weight denims and I'm really pleased with how it's come out. 

My other version of the Alder, I made when I was pregnant and I didn't make any adjustments to accommodate that, the fullness was enough to get around my big tummy, the hem lifted up a bit but I didn't mind and it means I can still wear it now. I usually wear it with a belt for extra waist definition. 

I used a viscose for this version which works better the the fuller skirt but I have seen versions that use a thicker fabric, it just comes down again to your preference and how comfortable you feel with lots of fabric and a looser style. 

I think its also worth mentioning the Kalle in this section too as it does have a dress option. I made a summery one in a rayon as part of the Summer Capsule Wardrobe series (which you can read more about in the link at the bottom). It's currently on one of the mannequins in the shop, but I think it would look nice with some leggings for this time of year too. 

The last two shirt dresses on my list are the Sewaholic Harwood and Nicola Dresses. They both have an elasticated waist which creates the gathers and provides the fitting. The Nicola also has a bow tie at the waist and two sleeve options. 

I'd say for both of these projects, you really need a fabric that has a lot of drape and movement like viscose, rayon, crepe de chine as the design really lends itself to that fabric. 

I made the Harwood a few years ago not long after the pattern was released and used a viscose fabric. I ended up not liking it as much as I thought I would. I think maybe the neckline was too night and that colour of blue is maybe too sharp for me. I'm used to wearing more muted colours, but after trying it on again to take these pictures, I actually think I might like it again! 

I hope you've found that useful and I know it still seems like there is a lot of choice but hopefully seeing them side by side makes it easier to spot the differences and choosing the best option based on fit, style and fabric choice. 

Sometimes the best and most tricky thing about sewing your own clothes is that the possibilities and choices are often endless! 

More posts

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The Closet Core Patterns Kalle

Part 3 - Cropped shirt and shirt dress

Sewing projects

Wardrobe building blouses

in an attempt to look a bit smarter!