Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please! It’s time for a Pattern Throwdown. Three will enter the ring, but only one will emerge victorious!
Our contenders are:
- Itch to Stich Mila Shirt, sewn at a 20D, graded out a bit at the hips ($12 PDF)
- Cashmerette Harrison Shirt, sewn at size 20ef, graded to 22/24 at waist/hip ($14 PDF)
- Hey June Cheyenne Tunic, sewn at size 2XL, graded out a bit at the hips ($10 PDF)
Your referee is Jennifer W. from We Bought a Manor. Weighing in at “none of your business,” she is a rectangle from the front, apple from the side, and all party in the back. Her measurements are:
- Height: 5’5”
- Bust: 48 inches
- Waist: 44 inches
- Hips: 54 inches
- Bra Size: 44D
- RTW: Size 20-22
- Usual Sewing Size: 20-24
A few important notes from the referee before we begin:
I’ve sewn a bunch of button-down shirts over the last year, and I thought it would be fun to pull them out of the closet and compare them head to head. But there are a couple of things you should keep in mind:
- The Cheyenne and Mila shirts are sewn from a rayon challis fabric, while the Harrison is sewn from a poly sanded silk (which is a bit thinner and more sheer). But they all have a similar drape and so are pretty good for comparison.
- Sewing button down shirts can be tricky – especially with slippery fabric. My Harrison was made from super-shifty poly, and I ended up taking a slightly-too big seam allowance that makes everything a shade smaller than it would normally be – particularly in the bust. I also accidentally cut a couple of pieces off-grain, which creates some pulling/wrinkling that wouldn’t otherwise be a problem. On the Mila, I accidentally dried the shirt in the dryer and it shrunk quite significantly – probably a whole size smaller than it was originally. So please imagine more ease overall on both the Mila and the Harrison.
- I’m photographing all three shirts without any styling and wearing a simple pair of black leggings. Let the record show that this is a fair fight.
- In all the photos below, the Mila shirt is on the left, the Harrison is the middle, and the Cheyenne tunic is on the right.
Let the throwdown commence!
Round 1: Pattern Quality and Instructions
Winner: All three!
All three of these patterns are excellent right out of the package (or the downloadable zip file, as I choose to use PDF versions rather than printed patterns). Here are some of the things that I like:
- All three versions come with a copyshop option – I hate taping PDF pages together and I find that I get a better result with a large-format print job.
- All three patterns come with detailed sizing (including finished measurements), fabric requirements, cutting layouts, detailed diagrams and clearly written, detailed instructions.
That said, depending on what you prioritize, there are two differentiating features you should consider:
- If cup sizes matter to you: The Mila shirt and Harrison shirts both come with cup sizes (A – DD, and C-H, respectively), which I am increasingly coming to expect from my patterns. The Cheyenne doesn’t come with separate cup sizes, although I find that it’s drafted generously through the bust. I did NOT do an FBA on any of these patterns.
- If options are your priority: the Cheyenne tunic comes with two different looks: a full button-down and a pop-over version. It has two sleeve options, and a shirt and tunic length. The Harrison (full button down) and the Mila (popover only) just come with one look each.
- If you need extra hand-holding: the Harrison shirt has a (paid) video instruction class that I hear is excellent. The Cheyenne tunic has a detailed sew-along on the Hey June website. All three patterns are well-covered on the blog-o-sphere if you are looking for additional feedback and inspiration photos.
Round 2: Neckline and Shoulder Fit
I love that the Cheyenne has two views – a traditional button down collar with separate collar stand, and a dropped neckline with no collar and shaped half-placket. On the full button down version, I find that the collar size is perfect for my thicker neck, with enough breathing room so that I don’t feel I’m choking. The Harrison and Mila both have a snugger fit at the collar and are slightly tighter through the shoulder area, although not especially uncomfortable. I always wear my collars open, so this doesn’t affect me much in practice, but is something to consider if you like your button downs buttoned up to the top!
The one gripe I have is with the Mila shirt – even before I accidentally shrunk the shirt, it wanted to slide back on my shoulders so that the front pulls up and the back hem dips down. I think I may need a forward shoulder adjustment, which I’ll try next time. (If you have this problem too, check out this thread – lots of good ideas to consider.)
Round 3: Bust Fit
It’s no secret that I love the fit of the Cashmerette block, especially at the bust line. Once again, the Harrison gets it exactly right – between the cup sizes, the double-princess seam, and the extra-close button spacing, there is absolutely NO GAPING. Even with this version that I sewed too small, there is no peeking through to my bra, no matter how I flail around. (See my other version of the Harrison in classic pima cotton shirting.)
Of the three patterns, the Harrison is definitely the most “close fitting” through the bust, so if you like a bit more room, you might prefer the Mila or Cheyenne, which have a bit more design ease through the bust area. Speaking of which, the bust fits on the Mila and Cheyenne aren’t bad either – although if I were to make these patterns again – and who am I kidding, of course I will – I will move the buttons a little closer together and possible do a small FBA on the Cheyenne.
Round 4: Waist and Hips Fit
All three patterns have gentle shaping in the waist, skimming out gently over the hips. I’m giving the “win” to the Harrison shirt here simply because of its more inclusive sizing – instead of having to eyeball an additional couple inches of ease like I did with the Cheyenne and the Mila (because I was topping out at their biggest size). If you are comfortably within the provided sizes, any of these patterns will probably work for you.
Round 5: Arm and Sleeves
There are two aspects to discuss in this section – the design features and the fit. Let’s start with the features:
- The Cheyenne and the Harrison have tower plackets for a more traditional look. The Cheyenne has a 1-piece placket while the Harrison uses a 2 piece placket. Both work, but I found that the 2-piece approach in the Harrison gave me a better, crisper result.
- The Mila has a bias-bound placket, which is more delicate and feminine. All three plackets require some attention to detail, but are relatively easy to accomplish well if you take your time and use fabric glue.
- The Mila and the Cheyenne come with sleeve tabs, which I adore, since I usually wear my sleeves rolled up.
And now, the fit:
- The Cheyenne tunic comes with two different sleeve options (full length and three-quarter), and I’ve tried them both. The full length (shown in these photos) is too long for me – I need to shorten them about 1.5 inches. Again, I’ll usually wear these rolled up.
- I did something wonky to the sleeves on the Mila shirt – I mistakenly shortened them too much and then accidentally dried the shirt, which shrunk the sleeves up ever more. Now, they are basically three-quarter length and can ONLY be worn rolled. But that’s my bad, not the fault of the pattern.
- The Harrison sleeve is the perfect length, bit is a teensy bit too snug through the upper bicep. I think I may take a slightly smaller seam allowance there. If you have a similar problem bit need more room, Cashmerette has a good tutorial for a full biceps adjustment.
And the Champion is…
Eh, I kind of suck at making a final decision. Honestly, I love all three of these patterns and they all have a place in my wardrobe, with multiples already made. If push came to shove, however, and I was thrown on a desert island with an unlimited amount of fabric but only one of these patterns, I think I would choose the…
While the lack of cup sizes is the biggest drawback to the pattern, the fact that it comes with two distinct looks makes it my favorite. And just to give you a sense of the other view, here are two shirts I’ve sewn up in the dropped neckline version, with three-quarter length sleeves. One is in a bulky plaid and the other is in a soft double-gauze. And I have another brushed flannel houndstooth version cut up and ready to sew in the original button-down view with the full collar and full-length sleeves. No doubt about it – the Cheyenne is a keeper!
Next time on Pattern Throwdown…
I am working my way through a couple of stretch woven “pull on” pants patterns, and have similar plans for a pencil skirt throwdown. I realized that I also have three shirtdress patterns sewn that can be compared in the spring. Two identified holes in my wardrobe are also raglan shirts and a go-to sweatshirt pattern. Any preferences on what I tackle next?