A Harrison shirt to begin…

Just proving I really can lift my arm, the sleeve fits!

Well look at me, a new shirt and a new blog, all in one week! Now I will fess up, this isn’t technically my first shirt make. I made a Colette Negroni shirt for Mr PK a few months ago (post to come). While it’s far from perfect (unless twisted plackets become a “thing”, in which case I’m ahead of the game) it has proved a hit , worn regularly through winter.

But here’s the thing, my man is basically a walking mannequin. By that I mean he is such a standard menswear shape he can wear almost any RTW item with no alteration required. Tall and  lean, I didn’t really have any fit challenges with his shirt. My shape? Now that’s a whole new ball game kids…curves, bumps, squishy bits, flatter bits, its a virtual Himalayas for what is already a complicated piece of clothing to negotiate!

Hence, I haven’t actually worn shirts for years. A combination of generous chest , narrow shoulders and shall we say “lush” biceps mean unless I’m happy to flash my bra through a gaping bust or risk my arms falling off from lack of oxygen , they are a no go.

No gaping here thanks…

But no longer *insert wobbly but awesome arm fist-pump here,  yeow!!*. The very clever Jenny at the curvy girl nirvana that is  Cashmerette has come up with a gorgeous shirt that uses princess seams to create fit and room where its needed, without billows of fabric everywhere you dont.

I used the paper pattern (it also comes as a PDF) , which I traced off onto Swedish tracing paper. Currently I get this sent from the UK, but hopefully I can find a New Zealand supplier soon. It is so easy to use, I cut the pattern a size 18, but graded up to a size 20 for the sleeves. While its does look like a lot of pieces, it comes together quite easily, not least because of the GREAT instruction booklet.

Clear instructions

For less experienced sewers like me, clear precise instructions, both written and pictorial are essential. I have spent many years cooking and baking, including writing a food blog and teaching cooking classes, and one thing I’ve noticed is how a newbie will almost always blame themselves if a recipe fails. Now forgetting the eggs is going to make a cake a challenge to rise (??!) but I’ve also seen some seriously crapola recipes, with missing ingredients, confused or missing instructions and incorrect proportions that would be a challenge for anyone, experienced or not, to create successfully. Something as complex as a shirt needs a darn fine recipe, and the Harrison is a cracker.

The princess seams come together without too much drama *, as does the collar and stand, even the placket instructions are simple (I’ve ditched the twisted look for Summer 17). I used a soft cotton voile, which was nice and easy to sew, overlocking (serging) my seams . Obviously I made no attempt at pattern matching , I’m more wild flower meadow kind of girl anyway ….

So, the curvy:

Harrison shirt by Cashmerette

Size: 18, but I cut out size 20 sleeves

Fabric: Cotton voile from Spotlight

Difficulty: This wasn’t actually that difficult, the instructions are good, I think its a case of taking things slowly and not rushing the process. I hardly used my quick unpick, aside from a missed bit of the cuff seam when top stitching, which is great.

Next time: I would make the sleeve approx 2 cm shorter, they feel a wee bit long, and I would tighten the cuffs up.

Hmmm, a wee bit long, a wee bit loose

Fuel: This make was fueled by coffee (my sister left her Nespresso with us for a few weeks after Xmas!) , Xmas ham and episodes of Foyles War , those fabulous 40’s dresses…..

Will there be a sequel? Heck yes, I’m thinking rayon and linen versions….for starters…AND there is now also a shirtdress version , happy dance!

*** Open Kimono***

Ok, in the interests of full disclosure , I can confirm I made a load of absolute cock ups on this sew, all fully operator error (actually I blame my cat Tommy for distracting me constantly……)

Cutting out the wrong sized sleeve, despite having measured myself carefully

Stitching my seam on the outside of two of my front panels

Running out of fabric after above….

Ironing my interfacing on the right side of one of my collar pieces (really!!)

Cutting the bottom off my button front an inch too short

Hmmm, sewing impediment Numero Uno

Are you a shirt maker? What works for you, I’d love to hear!

Kristina xxx




  1. Love your shirt and your writings 😉


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Thank you!


  2. Kim Moran-Jones says:

    Love this shirt, beautiful fabric! Coincidentally, I am in the process of my first Harrison tonight. While I’ve made Archers and Granvilles before, they don’t fit all over, so I’m optimistic that the Harrison will.


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Oh good luck, make sure you post a pic so we can all admire it!


  3. Judy Cinerari says:

    As a fairly new garment sewer at the age of 55 I’m hoping to try the Harrison this year. Your review is very encouraging for beginners. I’m usually a quilter but after gaining 20 kgs due to some necessary medication I’m looking forward to a whole new wardrobe. Love your blog.


    1. plumkitchen says:

      That’s so kind, thank you! Be brave & go for it, you will have fun AND end up with an awesome wardrobe 😁


  4. ginpins says:

    Such a beautiful shirt you’ve made! And a lovely blog too! I’m trying to temper my out-of-control pattern purchasing, but may need to make an exception for the Harrison.


  5. plumkitchen says:

    Ha ha, I have a pile of pattern to try, but this one is definitely worth the effort!


  6. PsychicKathleen says:

    I’m now working on my second Harrison so I was excited to see your post. My first was really just a quick check on sizing – this one will be a complete practice run (I’m doing it with Jenny’s course too). Then onto my first REAL Harrison. You can see how cautious I was about shirts – EEK – so many fiddly bits that must all come together. I made such a rooky mistake (well not one to be fair but this one was a doozy!) I wanted to see how many flat fell seams I would want to do in my final version so cut out the whole shirt with an extra 5/8’s seam allowance to allow for these seams. I didn’t like the idea of Jenny’s suggestion for a flat sleeve insertion so I just sewed up my sleeves. Got the seam sewn, one side cut, folded one side over the other and was off to the machine when I stopped and just laughed. Really? Did I really do that? I sure did. So I’m still at the sleeve insertion stage but everything else is going really well and I completely agree with you! Cashmerette patterns are the best really for curvy women and Jenny is so generous with her instructions and online tutorials. Her course is brilliant too. If you’ve never made a shirt I couldn’t recommend it more.


    1. plumkitchen says:

      I make loads of mistakes, I try to remember its a learning experience & laugh about it (sometimes through gritted teeth!), keep at it!


  7. Tracey Ward says:

    Great shirt and fabric.😊
    And blog.
    I’m actually sitting with the Harrison booklet on my lap. Planning yes planning to read instructions first. Having not made clothes from a pattern I thought I might try something simplier first. Keep up the good work 😊


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Thank you! & good luck with the next project:)


  8. Margaret says:

    I love the “open kimono” list at the end–good to know that other sewists out there make a ton of mistakes and still end up with gorgeous garments!


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Thanks, like to keep it real! 🙂 🙂


  9. Margo says:

    In 50 years of sewing my own clothes I have avoided shirts and shirt dresses like the plague. UNTIL I saw the Harrison. I’ve made two of them now and am plotting sleeveless for our coming summer in Canada and next on the cue is a dress version. I’m glad to see your dress version in your other post as I was wondering how it would look with sleeves. Sleeves it is for me too for this first one! Thanks! That means I can make yet another version in sleeveless!


    1. plumkitchen says:

      Fabulous! I have another shirt lined up in a lovely red poplin (coming into winter here so I need colour!) then I really need to make a shirtdress for myself! Good luck with yours x


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s