Paper Theory Olya Shirt

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Has it really been over a month since I last sat at the machine? Life (lots of the good bits and some of the not so good) just got in the way in February, so it was quite a challenge to get back to sewing, and the project I chose was a bit of a challenge in itself! Whilst I probably should've picked a make that would ease me back in, the Paper Theory Olya Shirt contains all the things that excite me about a pattern - precision, top stitching and insanely clever and unusual construction - and it was worth tackling!

Paper Theory Olya Shirt
Tara kindly sent me a PDF copy of the Olya after I posted Insta-musings of what I might make with this amazing fabric. It's rare that I buy a fabric without specific plans in mind, and maybe even rarer that I buy patterned fabric, but I was just so drawn to this very cheap (£2p/m) cotton/viscose/lurex woven mix when I saw it in Liverpool's Abakhan.

At first glance, the pattern could be mistaken for a fairly classic shirt, but inspect the line drawing more closely and you'll see some subtle quirks that make it quite the opposite - mainly the geometric cut of the front yoke and sleeve, and the fact that there's actually no front armhole! It's a crazy design that's quite hard to explain - I had to make it to understand it myself!

Olya Shirt and Shirt Dress line drawings

The construction notes are seriously thorough and quite refreshing in that they actually acknowledge the steps of the project that are challenging. This was a real reassurance when I did come into difficulty during the make, and I must stress that it was through no fault in instructions - this was just one of those projects where everything went wrong for me before it went right! There's also a super comprehensive online sewalong available here, which makes each step really clear.

Finished Olya!
The make throws you straight in at the first step with constructing the sleeve plackets. Despite accidentally sewing things the wrong way round, so my cuff opens the opposite way to what it's meant to, they're probably some of my finest plackets - they're just a little more awkward to fasten when wearing!

Backwards sleeve plackets

A full page of instructions is dedicated to producing the pockets that sit within the the seam joining the front yoke and body. I stupidly overlooked a step and sewed them in a funny way so I couldn't turn my pocket bags through properly. A quick bit of unpicking and a *proper* read of the instructions meant they were easy enough to fix!

Little flash of the very neat inside pocket
Topstitching the pockets down seemed to be more of a design feature so I opted not to as my fabric was already a bit fussy, but in hindsight, I think it would have been beneficial in holding everything neatly in place. I'm quite full busted so in this fairly fluid fabric, the pockets were destined to gape open over my boobs - not quite the 'eye-catching' look I intended! - so I've tacked them closed for now. I'm pretty confident they'll work out better in a plain and heavier fabric next time, with the addition of the topstitching and button closures.

Back view
The sleeve/yoke construction is really exciting to make. The pattern offers a full page of in-depth instructions on just creating the square corner that joins the front yoke/sleeve to the back body - something I was very grateful for because this is really some never-seen-before sewing stuff! The finished join creates a really cool silhouette and cleverly shapes the front - which I found to be quite accommodating for my bust.

Geometric seaming joining the back/arm/front yoke
Size wise, I sat in the middle of a 10 and a 12 for the bust and waist (smaller at the hips) but I opted for the size 10 based on the finished measurements and knowing that the style is a bit oversized. I like the fit of the 10 but think I think it would be equally great being slightly more oversized too.

I only spotted one thing to really watch out for... The shirt requires 11 buttons rather than the suggested 9 if you intend to use matching buttons for the pocket closures too! Luckily I didn't this time, but definitely something to be aware of for next!

It took a bit of effort to style the Olya in a way I felt comfortable with, and I now realise it's because I don't really have many (any?) proper shirts in my wardrobe - am I unconsciously identifying gaps now?! I think it has a real 70s vibe to it in these pictures (worn with Lander Pants), which I'm totally into, though I'm still undecided as to how I like it best, worn open as an extra layer, or buttoned closed... what do you think?

No way am I finished with this pattern just yet, especially now I've spotted a wardrobe gap to fill. I have a plain grey flannel lined up for version two, which I can definitely see becoming a layering staple - and a bit more in keeping with some of that Berlin style inspo I was gushing over last month. A block colour will be perfect for really showing off the cool style lines too. This time, let's see if I can get everything right...

Stay in touch!

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  1. great shirt and looks well both as shirt and open! can see how well a few of them would work for any wardrobe

    1. Thanks Eimear! I'm definitely going to make another one in a plain fabric next :)

  2. First saw this on Sewing Like Mad blog. I loved Mie's make. I love your version, too. I have to make this shirt.i agree with Eimear, your shirt looks good either way.

    1. Thanks Susan! Yes Mie's was one of the first versions I'd seen too and I really loved it :) It's a great pattern, I'd definitely recommend it! x


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