The Liberty Shirt (as a Vest) in Ramie Abstract Print

Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt Front
Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt, modified to be a vest, front view.

I love remaking tried-and-true patterns because the tricky bits and fitting are easier.  At the same time, no matter how many times I remake a pattern, I always seem to learn a few new lessons. The Sewing Workshop Liberty Shirt Pattern, which I have made three times before, continues to delight, surprise, and challenge me!

While this was my fourth time making a Liberty Shirt, (yeesh, you can tell how much I love this pattern!) it was my first time sewing with Ramie. The vest went together well, thanks to The Sewing Workshop’s great instructions and my previous experience, but, at the same time, the Ramie did add some unexpected pros and cons to the familiar process.

Reasons I Love Ramie

The first thing I liked about this ramie was that, after machine washing and drying it on high, it did not shrink or fade at all! Plus, while the unwashed ramie is a little stiff, once run through the machine, it takes on a very soft and luxurious texture like a washed linen. Secondly, the vest’s mitered corners were pretty easy to execute in the ramie.  Linda Lee (the pattern’s designer) has THE BEST instructions for mitering corners, even when you’re joining hems of different widths. Seriously, I would buy this pattern for the mitered corner instructions alone!

Look at the Beautiful Corner!
Look at the beautiful mitered corner!

Ramie Challenges

First and foremost, this pattern usually includes buttons, but – because this fabric has NO stretch, and I neglected to make a bust adjustment,  I am unable to button this vest. In fact, I skipped adding buttons and buttonholes altogether.

I first made the Liberty out of a Chinese silk my father purchased in Japan in the 1950s, and then from a rayon, and, lastly, using our Brussels Washer Linen. They all turned out a little tight in the bust, but not tight enough to convince me make a full-bust-adjustment on the pattern. However, the ramie’s natural lack of stretch combined with the direction of the digital design, left absolutely no wiggle room.

Look Ma...No Buttons!
Look Ma…No Buttons!

In order to showcase the painting-like design on this fabric the way I wanted to, I had to cut my pattern pieces out sideways, which means the straight-of-grain is going around my body.  As you are likely aware, there is no stretch along the selvedge (straight-of-grain) in a woven fabric. In my defense, there isn’t much stretch along the cross-grain of this fabric, either, and I thought it wouldn’t make a difference. Too little too late I realized that the only way this garment was going to successfully circumnavigate my body was by unflattering-ly squashing down the ‘Himalayas’ if you know what I mean.  

Lesson Learned: this pattern + this fabric = a full bust adjustment!

Fabric Showcased, but no Stretch!
Fabric Showcased, but no Stretch!

My second challenge with this fabric were the French Seams. After I sewed the seams wrong-sides-together and trimmed them to 1/8”, I had trouble pressing them open. Ramie is made of nettles, and I swear those nettles were clinging together for dear life! They did not want to press open, so be prepared for this difficulty when attempting something with the ramie yourself.

My Pain is Your Gain

Now that I know must make a full-bust-adjustment on the Liberty Shirt Pattern if I intend to use the ramie, I’m going to make a video on how to adjust the bust in a garment that has no darts, as well as a video on how to sew French Seams! If you want to watch those videos, and all our other sewing and quilting videos, subscribe to our YouTube Channel, and hit the notification bell to be notified whenever we upload a new video!

All In All

Though it doesn’t button, I love my new Liberty Vest! It flows wonderfully and the digital pattern is a work of art I get to wear! The ramie – like any fabric – has it’s tricky eccentricities, but the results speak for themselves, and I can’t wait to work with it again!

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