New top: Shirt No. 1 from Sonya Philip

I’ve known about the Shirt No. 1 by Sonya Philip for some time. I first saw the paper pattern in Drygoods Design here in Seattle a year or two ago and was honestly a little confused by the super-simplistic design flat. Then I noticed that some of Sonya’s patterns had been added to Creativebug, which I subscribe to. I really want to use more of my subscription classes – there are some really good ones, but I just never seem to get round to it – so decided this would be a perfect addition to my woven top investigations.


I was pleased to see there were a number of variations included with the class: a contrast yoke version (hello scrapbusting!), a bias-cut bottom version and a button-down front. The class includes the pattern and this is no small matter, and part of the reason I continue to subscribe. There are quite a few indie patterns I would otherwise purchase (Made by Rae has much of her output there too) and so the price works out for me.

shirt no 1

In case you’re not familiar with Shirt No. 1, it’s described by 100 Acts of Sewing as “a simple top with short sleeves… (which) is finished with bias tape facing”. And that is all true! The sleeves are grown-on, so there are very few pattern pieces.


I decided initially that I would use one of my Make Nine fabrics, which is a lovely lightweight cat-themed lawn from Miss Matatabi in Japan. I then noticed the button-down variation of the shirt and thought I’d try that at the same time with a green Avery linen slub that I got from La Mercerie a while back (one of those “it” fabrics) and have been dying to try out. Then, as I was cutting out the first two, I noticed that quilting cotton was also a recommended fabric, so reckoned I should give one of my small pieces a shot too and do a bit of stashbusting. This lovely red Cotton and Steel cotton was left over from another project and I love the colour. The post is a little more picture-heavy than normal because of the three shirts. Sorry if it gets a bit boring! 🙂20190911_175206




So what’s different about this particular boxy top? Well, the fact that you cut your own neckline for one! I know – doesn’t that sound nuts? Actually, it’s really pretty cool and it’s explained very well in the comprehensive class from Sonya. Although you get the pattern as part of the deal, you don’t get the instructions, so I can’t compare the detail, but given the clear and concise way she presents the video, I imagine they’re pretty good.




The class starts with a discussion on sizing, the pattern and cutting out your fabric, which is all good stuff and ideal for a beginner. The construction for the basic shirt is very simple: first you sew the shoulders and side seams. You then try the shirt on and figure out how deep and wide you’d like the neckline (you effectively make two backs to start with). Once you’ve done that, you finish the neckline with bias tape, before hemming the sleeves and bottom of the shirt. It’s all explained clearly, without waffle and the part where Sonya explains how to make bias tape will make the class worth it for many sewists on its own. I decided to get off my bum and use some scraps I sorted a few weeks ago and made a ton of different bias tape lengths, which I wound onto cardboard squares.


Obviously you can make your own mind up from my pics, but I have to say that this shirt turned out much better than I was anticipating. It looks like a super-boxy, shapeless tee, but somehow it wears much more flatteringly. I did go down a size from an XL to a L and this was definitely a good decision for the regular top. I should have done a FBA for the button down, however, because there is a little pull at the middle button. My own fault, and it would have been fine had I used the “proper” size. I did really like the button down option though – the placket was constructed very simply and Sonya made finishing the open neckline a breeze.




My only change next time would be to add a touch of length in the body – perhaps an inch as it’s just a touch shorter than I would like. Otherwise, this is a great top, a definite wardrobe staple and has shot right to the top of my woven tee/top collection investigation list. Well, maybe it ties with the Maya; not sure. It’s very versatile and I can definitely see myself coming back to it and making a few more.


As for the fabrics – I liked them all! The linen has a gorgeous drape and produces this low, almost square neckline, which I like immensely. The cat lawn is so light and ethereal to wear, it’s fantastic; the cotton I was worried was going to be way too boxy, but it actually contours somewhat and works!


Oh – and the time! I made all three tops in about 4hrs I think. I could make another in 30-45 mins I reckon. Beat that! Great stuff and I’m definitely tempted to try some of the other garments available on Creativebug – Tunic No. 1, Dress No. 2 and Pants No. 1. Has anyone else tried any of those? Any recommendations?


8 thoughts on “New top: Shirt No. 1 from Sonya Philip

  1. I haven’t tried any of these patterns – the cut-your-own-neckline is intriguing. I quite like grown-on sleeves in a woven top, too. I love the pic of your array of bias tape; occasionally I quite enjoy making some (though it isn’t often, so I have to take advantage when the urge hits).


    1. Yes, I feel exactly the same way about bias tape. I love it when I do it, or at least when I complete it, but I’m usually too busy making clothes to be organized like that. So I tend to reel off a load when I’m in the mood. The neckline surprised me. I was somewhat dubious, but it really worked out! And it was fun too. 🙂


    1. I’ll have to watch out for your version then! I have been going down a size in all these boxy woven tops I’ve been making. It’s mostly because my frame is a little smaller than my bust. Or to put it another way, I’m carrying a little excess weight. 🙂 So I find if I make the size corresponding to my full bust, I end up looking like a cube, with the top falling straight off my bust. That is the style, and that’s okay, but I find going down a size helps the shirt contour just a little. I haven’t even been making a full bust adjustment much (which I normally would) because of the ease factor and it’s mostly been working out for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All three of these tops look very good on you. I’m still struggling with fit. I make a muslin (that always has issues) and I either give up or lose interest. I continue to buy patterns and fabric though…. I feel like a sewing friend would be really helpful but I don’t have one. Woe is me – lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know what you mean – it’s tough to gauge your own body sometimes! I’m lucky that we have a great social sewing scene going on now in Seattle, so I have lots of people to meet up with. But even so, it’s a slow process getting to know your own body – particularly when it seems to be forever changing! (at least mine does). Whereabouts are you based Linda?


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