Thursday, January 24, 2019

Olya Shirt by Paper Theory

In recent times I usually only make a blog post if I have a lot to say or if I have a relevant tutorial I want to post together with the pattern. That might not be the case with the Olya Shirt from Paper Theory. I simply just think that pattern deserves a blog post, ha. It's on my top 10 of favorite things I've ever sewn, maybe even top 5. 
Actually I do have a tutorial I want to post with this pattern but I forgot to take the photos while sewing this shirt (doh!), but luckily I needed the same technique for the next thing I sewed, so I'm going to put it in that post instead and link from this post. You can find the tutorial HERE.

I knew immediately that I wanted to make the Olya Shirt from Paper Theory as soon as it released. I absolutely love clothes with interesting details and the Olya Shirt is full of them.
I'm a big fan of Tara the woman behind Paper Theory. She works as a freelance pattern drafter in London's fashion industry and I cheer and swoon when she's showing the clothes that she drafted the patterns for.
She knows her stuff and it shows in her patterns.

This is a size 10 with no changes whatsoever. 
For my next one I would probably add like 0.5-1 cm in length to the sleeves. I have longer arms than average, so that's a normal pattern alteration for me.

I had so much confidence in this pattern that I cut straight into this nani IRO Beau Ying Yang Kokka cotton lawn with these gorgeous big subtle silver dots from Miss Matatabi.

And I'm glad I did. Although the thin nature of the fabric definitely added another challenge layer for me. Everything shows, also my insides. E.g. I played around with different finishes for the pocket bags and suddenly I noticed that one pocket bag was 0.5 cm longer than the other. And as you can see, that would really have shown. No other option than fixing it, ha. But I'm so happy for my pocket bags with French seams. Which btw is also what the tutorial is telling us to do. I should really pay closer attention to those, ha.

And although I (clearly) didn't study the tutorial in detail, I did notice that it's soooo good. Very clear illustrations that will take you through the tricky parts. Maybe this shouldn't be your very first shirt ever, but as soon as you made one or two regular shirts, you are good to go. You are in good hands and will learn a ton with this pattern....besides getting a glorious shirt of course.
On top of a fabulous illustrated tutorial, there is also a great sew along, which you can find HERE.

Let's talk about those cool details. The whole sleeve and top part of the front bodice is one pattern piece. In other words made for stripes. You bet I have my next one planned already in striped fabric.

Here is a close up so you can see how the yoke is set in with the sleeve. Seriously, how cool is that! And this is where I think you should have a look at an alternative tutorial to the one the pattern is providing you with. Our techniques and result is exactly the same but I'm just swapping the layers. I absolutely didn't have to make that tutorial for you to understand that, ha, but a pivot tutorial is good for many situations, so I thought it was a great thing to add to my 'collection' both here on the blog and on Instagram under the hashtag #miessewingtips.
This isn't a matter of right or wrong. Just a matter of what I think is the easiest way to get the same great result.
The pivot tutorial is HERE.

And the classic sleeve placket. Ah, I REALLY love sewing shirts.
It's absolutely essential to slow down when you sew these things. It's not because it's super hard to figure out how to sew these things. The hard part is that the seams depend on each other. So if one seam is sewn wonky, then the whole result becomes wonky. So take your time and measure and check your seam allowances, and you will be just fine.

I mentioned on Instagram that I was properly challenged when sewing this shirt. And I just want to make sure that it doesn't sound like I think I can sew everything easily. There are plenty of things like ball gowns, classic blazer jackets or pants fitting etc etc etc that can challenge me plenty. But that's just not something that I think is that fun to sew. THIS is fun for me. Everyday clothes with cool cuts and details. Challenging drafting where I have to check the pattern pieces an extra time to see how they even go together. But at the same time getting a final garment that is extremely wearable. That I love! The Olya Shirt tics all the boxes.

A view from the back with the double layered yoke and back pleat. Classic shirt details.

I posted this tip on Instagram about how I was taught to sew a collar band. I did show the Olya shirt as an example but I realized that I never checked how the tutorial is telling you to do it. In other words, it wasn't a statement or disagreement. I literally just thought you would find it useful after I sewn it, so I posted it. Now while writing this post I went to check and the tutorial is saying the same thing. Do the final top stitch from the inside collar band. Now I feel dumb that I didn't mention that too when I posted on IG. I like to give credit when credit is due! I'm sorry about that.

Another cool detail are the pockets. The openings are hidden in that horizontal seam and the pocket bags are on the inside. 

Also, I have posted several posts about buttons, buttonholes, placements and other shirt sewing tips over time. Here are links to a few of them. Sew buttonholes before adding the collar/collar band. Placement of buttons in buttonholes. And another post about button placement in buttonholes. A tip for stitch length when sewing the collarband.

I can't wait for the weather to warm up a bit. At the moment this shirt would just be hidden under layers of wool and that's not fair, ha. 

Go get your own Olya Shirt HERE.

Thank you!


  1. What a lovely shirt! I've been thinking about trying this pattern for a while (I love all Tara's designs...), it's so refreshing to see patterns with something different, like the sleeves here. X

  2. It’s lovely! And Thankyou for the tutorial. I feel that your blog is a rabbit hole, with each link containing another tantalising lead to follow..... a wonderful rabbit hole! Thankyou x

  3. While I am absolutely not prepared to hand you the warm weather, despite having a few days of over 40C recently, I do hope you will get to wear this beauty out soon! It is a crime to hide it underneath layers of warm clothing. This shirt looks stunning. Every detail is so cool, and your sewing is so beautiful. The shirt looks fantastic on yu Mie.

  4. This shirt with all its incredible details looks so fantastic! Your sewing always has me in awe and admiration, and makes me want to sew everything. I am looking forward to challenging myself with this pattern one day -- that is, after I get through all the other patterns you have inspired me to try out!

  5. Mie, this Olya shirt is my favorite. The fabric in combination with the pattern is perfection!!!

  6. Mie, this Olya shirt is my favorite. The fabric in combination with the pattern is perfection!!! It looks incredible.

  7. I'm just about to embark on this one and I wonder if you could explain how you chose your size. The pattern seems to have oodles of ease - did you size down and if so by how many sizes. I'm tempted to go down two sizes but I don't want a fitted shirt - I just don't want anything too voluminous either. I'm sewing with a viscose crepe - that'll be fun eh?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Hi Julie. I'm not the best person to explain how I chose sizes, haha. I'll try to explain why. My bust size is quite small (and so is my waist) but because I'm tall (5'10" / 178 cm) my general frame is bigger. So if I only picked sizes by looking at what size my bust and waist size indicate, I would often end up with too small tops. Now there is another element to this. I generally like my clothes loose fitting, which is why it works for me to size up a bit. But this is not a definitive rule for me. I always look at the style of what I'm making. IF I were to make something completely fitted, I would indeed pick the sizes that fit my bust and waist (or hips if we are talking pants) and then instead add width to shoulders etc. So picking a size ALSO depends on how you like your clothes to fit. AND of course how much ease the designer has added to the style. Just because the designer has a certain fit in mind (and adds ease from that perspective) does not mean you blindly has to follow that lead. Picking sizes for oversized/loose styles can definitely be tricky. I've found that this trick helps me somewhat: I find the FINISHED measurements (if I remember correctly the bust and waist is the same for the Olya Shirt because it's a square/non-fitted style) and then I use my measuring tape to form a ring around my body with that finished measurement. That gives me some idea about how loose it will be. OF COURSE the drape in the fabric will play a big role. This is just an indicator. But I find that it helps me decide if I'm on the right path. Making a muslin would be the next natural step or take a chance (and do lots of fittings along the way). I hope this helps.


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Thank you!