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Jul 22, 2018

INSIDE OUT? My New Reverse-print Hawaiian-style Shirt!

Friends, I'd had roughly three yards of a super-saturated Alexander Henry hibiscus print (quilting cotton) in my stash for a while now.

I purchased it deeply discounted ($3 a yard) at It's a Material World, the forever-going-out-of-business fabric store on 39th St.  The store is a mess but I've found some wonderful things there and it has been on my fabric-shopping circuit for the last nine (9!) years.  If they ever really do go out of business, and it's inevitable given the direction things are going on that street (with both Chic and Steinlauf & Stoller moving to other locations and Paron's closing entirely), I'll miss them a lot.

I don't know what I thought I'd make with this fabric: it's really too orange-red and vibrant for my coloring.  But after making a series of quilting cotton shirts these last few weeks I was on a roll, so I decided to make yet another shirt, this time for myself.

I opted to use the wrong side of the fabric on the outside of the shirt. Evidently this is a tradition with Hawaiian shirts, and I've used this technique once before in a pair of tractor shirts I made a couple of summers ago.

I cut my left and right fronts without any attempt at matching the pattern across the front, but after looking at the two sides, I decided the design really wanted to be matched across the front, so I recut the right side.  I could have left it as-is too.  But since this wasn't going to have an applied button placket down the front, there wasn't going to be anything breaking up the pattern; it's less visually jarring to have the pattern match, don't you think so?

I used Vogue 8889 (below) to make this shirt.  This is a fitted men's shirt pattern with a covered-button placket.  I'm not sure it's still in print but it's not hard to find online from various sellers on eBay and Etsy.  I've used it a few times over the years.  It has side front and side back pieces for shaping so there are a lot of seams to sew.  On my latest version I simply sewed the seam, serged the raw seam allowance, pressed the allowance to one side, and topstitched from the front, creating a faux flat-felled seam.  Nobody will ever know the difference and it's an ideal technique, especially on quilting cotton.  It's much faster too.

I had a good contrast fabric, also an Alexander Henry print, which I found at the Chelsea Flea Market.  I used it for the inside yoke and inside collar stand.

And here's the finished shirt.  I like it!

I think I'm done making summer shirts for this year.  It does feel good to sew from my stash and make room for new stuff--and there's always new stuff, right?

BTW, MPB Day is just three weeks away, so if you intend to come and haven't yet RSVP'd, please do so (instructions in the original post).  I hope you can make it.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. Wrong side – great choice. The shirt looks great on you.

  2. brother had a genuine Hawaiian shirt that was made with the wrong side of the fabric the concept...yours looks terrific on you...see you on 8-11...looking forward to it..........

  3. I love the muted tones of the wrong side of the fabric. Who says it is the wrong side? The matching of the floral pattern-impeccable! You wear it well.

  4. Glad to know that even you will use a serger for a shirt! No one but you knows that it's a faux felled seam. I love it. I especially like that you found the perfect companion fabric at the flea market. It's a great summer shirt, and yes matching the pattern looks much better.

  5. Seconding all comments about those muted colours - really highlight your face and smile.

  6. Love the pattern matching. It’s beautiful. It took my breath away when I saw the picture on Instagram. I’ve seen many reverse print Aloha shirts, but yours is truly a beauty.

  7. I just spent a very enjoyable period of time, (who watches the clock anyway) sipping a refreshing strawberry lemonade and reading about the shirts you have made for yourself and Michael. This is some beautiful clothing you have created. The workmanship is splendid and shows the care with which you sew. You have every right to be proud of these garments.
    I also enjoyed reading your commentary, you have an off the cuff sense of humor that may not be obvious to all and there were quite a few smiles as I read.
    I've long since forgotten what season I am and just go with the colors that enhance my limited beauty but those two picture of you with the fabric draped really prove the difference color can make.
    Loved everything I saw and read today.

  8. So much nicer with the flowers matching - well worth the extra effort. Cool fabric combo too.

  9. I’m new to your blog, but man can you sew. I can’t wait to be as good as you. I inherited a machine and have done crafty things so far. Now I’m venturing on garment sewing. Starting with shirts first. What men’s shirt patterns do you recommend for an intermediate sewist, new to pattern sewing? George V.

    1. I'm a big fan of vintage patterns, so if you know your size (they're mainly one-size per pattern), they're a great, inexpensive option. I like Buttericks from the 1970s, but honestly, they're all good.

  10. I have read of quilters simply reversing a few fabric pieces within their quilt blocks in order to get a more varied, yet still unified quilt.

    The shirt is great. Easier on the eyes!

  11. Fabulous. My mom taught me to match, match, match. I would often come home from classes to find that she had ripped out my work and made me redo it. I learned to sew by osmosis while lying across her lap as an infant while she sewed on her singer featherweight.


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