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A Long Overdue Cornell Shirt Review

TLDR: the Cornell Shirt slaps.

Funnily enough, the pattern, designed by Elbe Textiles, was featured in my very first blog post back in January 2021, when I started my website and wrote about my Make Nine plans. Needless to say, the challenge was a total failure for me and I haven't participated since, but only because that's just not the type of sewer I am. I plan one project out at a time, and otherwise like to let my fancies take the lead. To plan nine makes into the future is just not realistic for me, and the Cornell unfortunately got forgotten in the shuffle.

Three years later, and I'm just wishing I'd made it so much sooner; imagine the possible alternate universe!

I used my chest measurement to see where I lay on the recommended sizing chart, and ended up being between the AA and A sizing. But after looking at the finished garment measurements, and considering the fact that I typically like less ease in my garments, I decided to size down to the AA.

I was working with significantly less fabric than what the pattern called for--I'd originally chosen this beautiful tonal cotton/linen blend from The Fabric Store with a different, short-sleeved pattern in mind, so I had to be careful with my cutting layout. It helped that I'd already had plans to shorten the shirt after seeing @madeby_francesa's detailed mods on her Instagram post. In addition to shortening the front and back body pieces by 2", I also removed the same amount for the front placket piece to maintain the intended proportions. Finally, I shortened the sleeves by 1" because I love a little cropped sleeve situation, but I think I may have overdone it by 1/2", so I'll add that back next time. Otherwise, the fit is exactly what I was envisioning.

Ya'll, the instructions. I have never experienced such clear and thorough explanations of the construction process in pattern instructions before, and the entire making process felt so smooth and joyful. Plackets have been a slow learning experience for me, and I don't feel feel confident that I can knock a tower placket out of the park every time. Staring down the barrel of three of them initially felt daunting, but the combination of pattern drafting and the instructions' order of operations walked me through the three cleanest tower plackets I've ever sewn. I was sold.

The only place I went rogue was in doing a set-in sleeve rather than the flat sleeve method as the pattern suggests. I generally find set-in sleeves to have a greater range of motion and just generally feel better to me while wearing. It was a little tricky to pull off with the French seaming, but I took it slow around the curves and ended up with a clean finish.

I guess I did move the pocket in from where the pattern markings suggest, but I pretty much always eyeball pocket placement anyway.

This shirt just feels cool. The fabric is incredibly soft and has almost the vintage, worn in feel of a well-loved garment. The style lines are the perfect blend of androgynous academia, and the cotton/linen blend feels like a nice nod to vintage workwear. It's loose enough that I can wear a base layer underneath, like with the Nikko turtleneck, but I could just as easily throw this on with a pair of shorts in the summer and roll up the sleeves.

I definitely see myself making more, possibly sizing up one (or two!) in linen for a breezy, oversized silhouette, or extending the length to make a shirtdress. I am a sucker for a button up after all, so I'm excited to have another solid pattern in my handmade wardrobe repertoire.

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Thanks for the review of the Cornell shirt, this pattern has been on my list a long time! It looks really good on you! I agree Lauren's instructions are always great. She lives local to me so it's nice to support her too! @sam.icreations

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