The Camp Shirt

If a piece of clothing gets too “fiddly”, my son just won’t wear it. If it has too many buttons, is difficult to pull over his head or pull up its done. Zippers on pants are even pushing it. He just wants to pull things on and go. But he loves these camp shirts. I think it’s because the camp shirt walks that fine line between easy and fiddly very well. The neck line is open enough that he usually just pulls them on and off without even messing with the buttons. But there are only three, so when he absolutely¬†must be bothered with buttons – it doesn’t take too long to button them up.

I also make these shirts exclusively out of light cotton shirtings. Which are wonderfully cool on hot summer days. Even more cool than cotton knits. And absolutely cooler than any synthetic fibers, which I tend to stay away from.

This is a tried-and-true pattern that I picked up last year. This is the fourth time I have made it. This time around I sized up to a size 7 mainly for the length, the size 6 still fits him around the chest. But I like to get two seasons out of clothes when I can. I also used a wonderful cotton voile fabric this time. This is a very, very light cotton that I used some traditional menswear techniques on because my serger would have eaten this fabric for lunch.

The pattern I used is Butterick 3475. This pattern is classic, and has probably been in the Butterick repertoire for a while, judging from the 1990’s style illustrations. But its a great pattern that sews up very quickly. This pattern is great for a beginner.


The fabric that I used was picked up from Mood Fabrics in NYC the last time that I was there. I went in specifically looking for some cotton shirtings to use for this pattern. And I wasn’t disappointed. This is one of three cotton shirtings that I picked up that day. And it also happens to be sold through their website. It is a Blue and Gold Cotton Voile by Marc Jacobs.


And here is the finished shirt:


And the back:


Because this fabric is so light, I chose to use some traditional menswear techniques on the shirt to keep it feeling light. I didn’t want the serged seams to distort and weigh the fabric down, yet the edges needed to be finished or they would unravel mercilessly. I chose to use French seams and some hand stitching.

Here is the whip stitching that I did on the collar. I could have pinned the collar over the seam and stitched in the ditch from the outside, catching the collar. But I didn’t want to distort the fabric, so I used a very simple whip stitch to secure the collar and the top of the facings to the body.



For the seams, I chose to use the classic French Seam. They look so much harder to sew than they really are. Any good sewing book will explain how to sew them and there are a million online tutorials, so I won’t go into much detail on how to sew them. They are very easy utilizing a 5/8″ seam allowance. First sew the seam WRONG sides of the fabric together using a 1/4″ inch seam. Then turn the fabric RIGHT sides together. Press the seam flat and sew the seam again (sewing each seam twice) with a 3/8″ seam allowance. You will have encased your first seam in the second and created a French Seam! Here are some pictures:


These photos are of the inside of the shirt:



And a close up so you can see the seam allowance on the edge of the seam where the first 1/4″ seam allowance was made:


I did interface the facings and the collar using Pellon sheerweight fuseable interfacing. And I just turned the fabric on the edges of the facing and topstitched to finish those edges:

Topstitched facing:


From the wrong side, you can see the light interfacing:



So this shirt did take longer to make than usual due to the special treatments that I gave it. But it was worth it to preserve the integrity of the fabric.

And then, as usual, all interest was lost in the photo shoot:




I have been doing some sewing for myself and husband as well. So I will share some of that next time.

Thanks for reading, and happy sewing!




One thought on “The Camp Shirt

  1. wow….brilliant…as usual…and the boy, what can I say?….he makes me laugh even when he is being all serious….can’t wait to see the other clothes you are working on…well done Mash’Allah

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