Do you ever have a moment where you have a useful and practical list of garments you need in your wardrobe, and then one day you’re just like ‘nah I’ll sew this other thing instead’? Probably. I think most of us do.

You ever make something practical like a white shirt, but you make a version that is in every essential neither season or particularly practical? Yeah, that.

I bought Simplicity 1166 originally for the skirt, which is a very practical and useful looking garment. Here’s your schematics

But I couldn’t stop looking at that shirt. Those weird square armholes! What would the sleeve pattern piece be like? Would it look terrible on me? Probably, right? Those huge baggy sleeves! The model is holding it down but they’re still giant. But… maybe they’d be cool? They’d definitely be interesting!

I like this photo because it looks like my cat is rolling his eyes at me.

One evening I couldn’t take the curiosity any more, so I pulled it out of the packet and whipped up a muslin. I figured it looked like an ease-y, loose shirt and I could probably get away without and FBA. I traced off a size 20 shoulder with a size 22 from the armhole down. Technically that’s below my full bust measurement by the sizing guide but the actual garment measurements indicate there’s many inches of ease in this one so I figured I could swing it. Here’s my first muslin:


That sleeve situation was out of control. The downwards diagonal was sitting right over my breast and making it super duper pouffy. It looked interesting, alright, but not in an elegant, cool way! The sleeves were also really really long. The model clearly has hers folded up about four turns in the photos.

I went back to the pattern and I raised the under arm up 2″, tapering to 1″ at the corner and down to nothing at the shoulder. I duplicated this on the sleeve and walked the seam lines until they matched up – I had a bit of trouble doing this because of the weird shape of the sleeve so what I found worked was to fold out a pleat at the top, flat part of the sleeve until it was the right length when I walked that seam. Then I shortened the side lines of the sleeve cap to the appropriate measurements. This helped with keeping the sleeve width the same, because I still liked that.

I also shortened the sleeve by seven inches. Seven. Inches! Oh and I tapered the front side seam out by 1″, because the sides were pulling and I still couldn’t be bothered doing and FBA, and anyway I didn’t need the width at the centre I needed it at the side. Here’s muslin two, it’s the white side:


Much more maneagable. You can see from the pulling that I really ought to have done and FBA but I still couldn’t be bothered and I had plenty of movement room so I figured I could live with some pulling. I was figuring that this shirt would be a nice casual topper for the weekends, a good throw over beach shirt or when I wanted something a bit dressier than a tshirt. I wasn’t aiming for a perfectly fitted dress shirt, so comfy and easy was more important. Instead I sort of cheated and I slashed and spread the front piece by 1″ (my notes aren’t clear if this was as well as or instead of the 1″ at the side seam), and I took a 1/2″ tuck out of the front and back shoulders to make the sleeve sit higher up on my actual shoulder. I also lowered the dart by 1″ – this was the first time I have lowered the dart wholesale instead of changing the angle or mucking around with it in some other way, and I am SO pleased by how it turned out. Spoiler alert: perfect placement:

Look at that perfect darrrt!

I was pretty over muslining especially for a shirt that I didn’t see much everyday use for, so I went ahead and cut into my fabric. The shirt itself went together pretty quickly. I had a BLAST sewing those pointy sleeves but also they were very tricky, and I didn’t do a super great job on the left front, it’s a bit puckery. Bringing the sleeves up and making them less dramatic plus my less than precise sewing because once again, I’d decided that near enough + a fun time sewing = good enough made them not quite as crisp as they could have been, and more rounded) means I’ve lost some of the drama and obviousness of that design feature. I figure it’s a fair tradeoff for a shirt that’s actually wearable.

Puckery sleeve corner

So yes, the shirt came together fairly quickly but I had a connundrum. I initially only cut out one sleeve because I wasn’t sure I had nailed the length. When I put in my shortened sleeve I was worried I’d made it too short. I’ve been thinking about the rolled/unrolled length and I wondered if I’d gone too far, so I cut out another sleeve that was a bit longer, and sewed that in. This took a bit of wrangling with re-drafting the cuff. The original shorter sleeve basically stopped where the sleeve had started to narrow, and for the longer sleeve I had to find a suitable spot to put the cuff. Here’s the shirt with both sleeves in:

Both sleeves are cuffed once. I couldn’t cuff the longer sleeve any more because the cuff was now too narrow. I’m not sure how the model managed to get it cuffed so high – presumably she has thinner arms than I and also probably knows that fancy way of cuffing where you end up with the cuff on the outside, which I saw one time on pinterest and totally failed to learn. Actually looking at these I can also see that the fronts are scooping up – I’ve noticed that in my finished piece and figured it was because I didn’t do that FBA and should have added length but I’m wondering if it’s not a cutting error on my part because the muslins aren’t doing that. The front IS shaped but not that dramatically.

Scoopy front and weird wibbly arms. You can see how much less dramatic the batwing sleeve effect is compared to as drafted

As you can see, I ended up going with the short sleeve. I threw it out on instagram and was initially leaning towards the longer sleeve because it seemed like a more familiar silhouette. I was also suggesting having the shorter sleeve but a smaller cuff to bring it in. In the end the instagram opinions were pretty evenly divided, so I had to think for myself! Terrible. The deciding factor was how off grain the sleeves looked. I checked and double checked and they’re definitely cut on grain although it’s possible I introduced a grain error when redrafting things and the grainline isn’t where it should be on the pattern itself. The sleeve is a totally unconventional shape so it was hard to double check or intuit it. In the final product, though, I think the weight of the cuffs is pulling it straight.

I’m really glad I went with the shorter sleeve. I think it suits the silhouette better and it’s going to make it more wearable as a casual shirt, which is what I wanted. I’m trying to up my weekend-wear game. I did use some cheap fusible interfacing and it’s made the cuffs a bit bubbly, so i won’t be using that again but I don’t notice much in real life.

I wish I’d thought about the front length. Even without the dip, it’s short, because I think it’s meant to be worn tied up. But for me it’s a bit too short to do that without flashing some belly, which I am not against exactly but it’s also not generally the look I’m after.

Tied up – you can see my white undershirt because it’s cold and I’m wearing layers.

I feel like everything about this is hitting me in exactly the wrong places. Perhaps if I lengthened it a few inches so the tie was wear my waistband is? I’m not sure. The buttons are in slightly award places too, I think – I found my high bust point and put one there and then used the button distance gauge that simplicity provided. Because the buttons are so big and therefore so far apart it’s a bit tricky – really I want all the buttons about 1″ lower because then I’d get extra coverage at the stomach and the top button would be in the way when I open it – as it it prevents the button band from folding out to sit neatly. But then I’d have gaping over my bust!

The back when tied and the pulling back sleeve – this is why most sleeves are curved I guess!

However in the end I think I like this shirt best of all tucked in:

Which makes the shorter length just perfect. Even if I do kind of look like a nurse

Perhaps the nurse effect would be less dramatic with one of my bigger skirts. But you know, I’m kind of into it! I can actually see myself making this again, although I might reign in the collar which turned out to be kind of gigantic and also weirdly swoopy and pointy. Which I would have known if I had paid attention because it’s like that in the line drawings. I don’t notice it as much in these photos but irl it seems so dramatic – maybe because it’s right near my face so I can see it all!

Seriously look at that, those points are hanging over my shoulders!

I sewed the sleeve cuffs with flat felled seams, so that whatever way they are there’s a neat finish. It took a bit of braining because I initially put them in the wrong way so they are a bit overworked and frayed a few places and I had to satin stitch them down, oops. I did take some closeup photos but they all turned out a bit crap so I won’t show you. I need to work on getting better detail photos. Anyone have any tips?

I also finished the facings with overlocking and I tacked down the back neck facing because it kept flipping up.

I could stand to shave a bit off of that collar at the back, too…

Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough that I’m going to synthesise the important detailed here:

Pattern: Simplicity 1166 “head back to the 1950’s with this great vintage simplicity pattern. pattern includes button up blouse, bra top with crossed back, and full skirt with buttons. simplicity sewing pattern.”

Fabric and notions: White broadcloth from Spotlight, 4 3/4″ white buttons from Lincraft

Size made: Size 20 shoulder, size 22 armhole and down


  • Brought armhole up 2″, tapering to 1″ at turn, and 0″ at shoulder. Duplicated on sleeve, keeping original sleeve width.
  • Took a 1″ tuck out of the shoulder width
  • Spread front by 1″
  • Lowered the dart by 1″ using this method
  • Shortened sleeve by 7″, redrafted cuff to match it

Changes I would make next time: Straighten out front so it doesn’t dip in the middle; take more care about the sleeve corners; reduce width of the collar points.

Things I like:

  • I love the shape of the collar before it gets too drastic at the ends
  • The ease-y fit is a bit outside of my usual shape but I am really digging it
  • I am just in love with Spotlight broadcloth, it’s such a nice hefty fabric and it behaves so well
  • it’s a casual shirt but it makes me feel fancy!



2 thoughts on “Piper shirt

  1. Hello! I’m currently working on the Sinplicity 1166 skirt. This is one of the few references I could find for the skirt. It’s been really helpful since I’m a biginner sewer. I was stuck a couple of times but I managed to figure out some steps by watching YouTube tutorials as well. Also, I had trouble with the pleats with the size 6-14 pattern (14). Now I’m at the waistband area and the instructions seem a bit complicated for me. I hope to finish it soon.

    1. I hope you are going ok! Whatever way you do it will be fine – it doesn’t have to be perfect or to be done the way the instructions say to be good! I can’t recall off the top of my head how they say to finish the waistband, but if you are still stuck let me know and I’ll see if I can help.

      I have heard from enough people now that I think I can safely say the pattern is not drafted properly! For future reference, my advice is to do this: Mark the pleats but don’t sew them up. Match the centre back notch on the waistband with the centre back and pin. Match the fronts of the skirt and to the notched on the waistband and pin, match the side seam notches and pin. Then just fold the pleats to take up the extra fabric. Mark or pin them however seems logical to you and sew your new, bigger pleats. Then sew the waistband on.

Whadya reckon?

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