A matchy-matchy Negroni


This shirt makes me both proud and ashamed.

I’m ashamed that it took me so long to get to. Kenn bought this gorgeous Liberty lawn last summer at Britex. It’s Liberty, so you know it was not cheap. We both knew I wouldn’t get to it right away, but I didn’t expect it would take me quite this long.

But what I lacked in speed I made up for in attention to detail.

With such a busy pattern, I knew that the only way I’d be happy with the front pockets would be to have them perfectly pattern matched. So I meticulously matched up the print on both the pockets and the flaps. The pockets just melt right into the shirt. And of course I matched the pattern down the front as well (which is much much easier to do, but seemed to impress Kenn just as much as the pockets).

This is a size small since, as you can see, Kenn is a very skinny guy.

And here is a photo demonstrating how quickly he gets annoyed with modeling.

But what’s important is that he’s already declared it his new favorite shirt.

Lessons Learned:

  • I should think about what I can and can’t live with. I spent quite a while matching up the pattern on both pockets. I sewed the first one on and… argh! I’d cut it slightly off grain! I’d spent so much time focusing on the print matching, I hadn’t paid enough attention to grainline. I’d already attached it and knew that Kenn (or anyone else) probably would never notice that it was a tiny bit askew, especially since it blended in so well. But I knew it was there, and I really wanted this shirt to be my best effort. So I took it off, recut, and made the darn thing perfect. And I am so glad that I did.
  • Details take time. Once I started on this shirt, I knew it would take a while because I like to sew in short bursts rather than marathon sessions. I gave myself over a week and I’m glad, because there are lots of little details on this shirt that make it perfect for spacing out over a week or two.

    I think this pattern is best given lots of breathing room so you can focus on one thing at a time. In fact, I think it would be perfect for assembly lining if you wanted to make a few at once, because there are so many little things to do. But the little details also make it really satisfying.

  • I don’t like my felling foot. There, I said it. I kind of hate the felling foot and prefer sewing felled seams without it. I guess some people love theirs and I’ve tried to love mine, but mine (the Bernina #71) seems pretty useless on thin shirting fabric. It seems better suited to heavy fabrics like denim or bottomweight fabrics. I ended up sewing my seams without it and probably won’t use it on shirts anymore.

I really love the Negroni, both sewing it and the way it looks. I’m even considering making one for myself over the summer, maybe in a nice chambray. I think it could be really chic on a woman, don’t you?

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 55


That is an amazing version, but YES – why have I never considered this as a make for myself? I’d love some shirts to go with jeans.


If I do one, I will let you all know how it goes. I think I’d make a few small changes for a lady’s version… perhaps raise the armholes a bit, shorten the sleeves, maybe even add a bust dart?


Would a ladies tutorial be a possibility? I’ve found your tutorials incredibly helpful. Also, oddly enough, those of didyoumakethat. There’s a skill in giving good instructions that even those of us lacking patience and practice can follow!


Amazing job on matching those pockets! They’re pretty much invisible!


I really really like this version…I have made it twice already but I think I have to make it a 3rd time, the first was too large, the second is…mmm…..I don’t know..something is wrong….It seems that I cannot get to the bottom of it…..and I still don’t get it about french seam….


It’s just me perhaps, but I like my pockets to pop out, otherwise, what’s the point? I’d personally would have added some cording and cut the pockets on the bias just to add some interest to the Negroni.


I’m with you on bias pockets for a little contrasting pop! But then the only fabric I’m “allowed” to use when I make shirts for my guy is plaid… if I could get him into a Liberty print, maybe I’d try matching up the pockets. But I greatly prefer plaid on the bias for pockets (and yokes!)

Sewing Princess

Congrats on the pockets especially…I feel the pain as last time I was matching lace! Can I say it’s tailor grade?


I love the design and it’s definitely on my wishlist of patterns to do. It was well worth all the effort put in to match all those details. The shirt looks wonderful and shows just what can be done with a really fussy, but beautiful, print.


Gorgeous fabric and exceptional workmanship! Kenn is a lucky guy!


You did a fantastic job on matching those patterns with the pockets. Wow, impressive! I have to sit back and give myself more time to do things. I am a marathon sewing and like to get things done in one sitting. Sometimes when things are more detailed I know I need to not be in such a rush.


I used to be a marathon sewist, but I find I’m happier if I give myself a week or more to finish things. At least for personal projects like this.

Miss Karen

What stellar sewing! Gorgeous shirt. All that matching was certainly worth the effort. Excellent work!


waw! That is impressive. I would not have had the same patience as you to match the pockets. Great job!!!


Wow, the pockets are completely camouflaged! How exactly do you make sure everything matches up?

I’m so glad to hear you say you prefer to sew in installments. I always imagine pros like you to be turning out a finished shirt in a few hours. It can take me weeks to sew a simple top! But I know things work out better when I take my time and stop working as soon as I start getting tired/impatient.


Here’s what I did:

After cutting all the pieces except the pockets and flaps, I laid out the shirt fronts right side up, with the placement marks for the pockets clearly marked on them.

I then took some large scraps of fabric (make sure they’re big enough to have a few pattern repeats on them). I found the area of the pattern where the top of the pocket should match up with the shirt, and carefully folded it under and pressed.

I laid the scrap on the shirt front, matching up the pattern right along this top fold. Now it’s easy. Just position the pocket pattern piece between the marks on the shirt, on the scrap fabric, with the fold line on the pattern piece aligned with the fold of the scrap. Then cut the pocket from the scrap and repeat for the other side.

I don’t know if this is clear without photos. Perhaps a tutorial next time. :)


After I make one for my husband, I’m totally going to make myself a Negroni. I love western style shirts, and unlike my husband, who will probably want his in some respectable looking print, I can go crazy with mine.


This is beautiful. I made my husband one of Alexander Henry’s faux Liberty lawn from last year — Fulham Road — and it, too, is gorgeous. I think the Negroni should be made with really beautiful fabric — our guys rarely get to wear shirts with luscious print and feel. I really love the way you melded the print — what an expert!


I have some of that fabric line. It’s so cute. I’m not sure what to do with it, but perhaps a Negroni for me would be nice! The one I bought is a little bright for Kenn.


Love this post! Wow, great job on the pockets. A chambray ladies version would be fantastic. I think I want one for myself now. Thanks for the inspiration (yet again).


WOW. it’s gorgeous Sarai, looks amazing. and I never thought of making myself a negroni… why not?! :)

Krista McPhee

I’m a fairly “new” clothing seamstress. Mostly I’ve quilted and craft projects. Anyhow, do you have tutorial and matching up prints?


You can see my comment above for how I did the pockets. I’ll try to do a tutorial one of these days!

There’s also some info in my book on matching prints along seamlines, though not specifically on pockets.


That! is a labor of Love! and a Love of the labor!
First, the choice of that Liberty of London lawn, stunning, is one that I have admired for so very long and it is gorgeous as a man’s shirt!
Of course the happiness of executing something to a very high standard of exacting detail is a great reward all by itself. Gifting it to someone is a double joy!
You rock, Lady!


Thank you, Violet! Kenn picked out the fabric himself, and I think it’s SUCH a great choice. Bold print, but subtle earthy colors.

I need to write a post about sewing for others. I’ve been thinking about it a lot while making this shirt.


This is so, so gorgeous. I was just talking with my husband this weekend about his current favorite shirt – a floral Liberty for Target – and how he wants more like it. I mentioned the Negroni pattern, but the poor boy tends to glaze over when I gush to him about sewing projects. He’s a very visual person, so I’ll show him these pictures and he’ll understand what I’ve been prattling on about. :)

Tasha Miller Griffith

Awesome job with the matching! It looks great! You are inspiring me to make my husband a shirt, which I haven’t done in quite a while, even though I made a pattern from one of his favorite ones already . . . this one is a style he would also like.

I like to sew a little bit every day too. I rarely feel like I can justify a whole day of sewing for myself (the perils of being self-employed) but the upside is that I do each part fairly carefully and have time to think about the next part before I do it. I tried “dashing off” a top right before we were leaving for a friend’s wedding in January (sewing the buttons on the plane, etc.) and I was kicking myself, I made a couple of really stupid mistakes, and although they don’t show, I prefer my usual slower but better job!


Yeah, I think the self-employment thing can make it hard to find large chunks of time. Plus for me, my sewing area is not at home anymore, so sewing on the weekends would mean going to work. :)

Tasha Miller Griffith

:) I try hard not to think of sewing as work, even when I’m sewing for sale. I want to find the thing I love enough that it doesn’t feel like work. My studio is still at home, even though it’s a little cramped, I can go there any time and work on “fun stuff”, an upside I hadn’t thought much about.


WOW, I am very impressed. The shirt looks wonderful on Kenn. I have been eyeing this pattern for some time, this may have been the shove I needed.

As for sewing one for yourself, go for it!!! I would love to see the results, I have been scouring the internet and pattern books for the perfect shirt lately and am yet to come up with a winner. I need one for the beach as a cover up, several in really light weight fabric for Summer and a whole bunch for Winter in cozy fabrics.


Beautiful shirt with fantastic attention to detail. I’m currently sewing a Negroni for a friend and I’m using black cotton so it won’t be as much of a challenge as using a Liberty print, but I’m going to jazz it up with some embroidery at the back and I’m enjoying planning out the details. I too am a bit by bit sewer, but that’s because I have a 3 yr old and a 10 week old, so it’s kind of enforced rather than by choice :)


Wow! If you had shown me any of the photos taken from the mid-distance and asked me where the pockets were, I would have flat out denied there were any. Isn’t it amazing how a busy print makes the eye just scan past the details?

On the flip side, this is something I try to remember when I am tempted to make a dress with interesting panelling or detailing out of a print fabric. Sometimes it’s sad to ‘lose’ these things in the big picture. But in this case, of course, it works just like you wanted – the Liberty fabric speaks for itself!

Bold Sewist

Wow SUCH attention to detail – and the end result was totally worth it. Fabulous!


Really fabulous fabric, and the workmanship is indeed outstanding! so feel no shame at all!
I may take longer to do projects sometimes, but in the end it is truly worth it~

At this moment I am contemplating doing a full fitted slip cover for a couch and loveseat.
There is nothing wrong w/ the color , we bought the set b/c of its ” bones” and knew it would be re done when we wanted change ( very very good set made in USA!) But, now it will take me a LOOOONG time to get fabric swatches,
I am making that my winter project for next year I do not want to stress out over it and I would,,,,, I have learned to pace myself in life and not push so hard on anything,,,,
Sewing like gardening which I love,,,, is a balance of time, patience and joy!
Good Sewing~

Nyssa Jayne

If you did a Negroni shirt for yourself, would you share with us what alterations you’d need to make for the ladies, such as bust and waist adjustments? I would definitely use it, as a classic shirt is not something I can buy commercially made myself (button gape anyone)?


Yes, I will let you all know! Luckily, I think I’d start with the size small, so I can try Kenn’s on to get an idea of adjustments needed.


Wow. I had completely missed those pockets – at first *and* at second sight! Well done!

Meanwhile – those post couldn’t have been timelier! Just last night, I was wondering whether I was really the only maniac who’s obsessed with cutting pattern pieces on the grainline and aligned! I had just spent two hours and a half (yes, you read that right) on cutting a simple front and back piece for a shirt.

Trouble was: the fabric was stretchy jersey, curling up at the sides *and* boasting a striped pattern… And yes, I was obsessing over having the stripes horizontal throughout and matching them up at the side seams and at having the grainline not going from left to right and back again but straight from top to bottom.

Next time, I go for a solid ;-D
(Unless… you or anyone knows a magical tip to make jersey behave on the cutting table? ‘Cause I *do* like that nautical look. Quite a bit!)


Is the problem that it curls along the ends and selvages, or it curls when you cut it? Do you use pattern weights and a rotary cutter? I find those two things very very helpful for jersey in particular.


Thanks for your response :-)

To tell the whole tale:
The jersey curled at the cut ends – and then everywhere where I cut it. The selvages were stiffened with a glue-like residu.
I used pattern weights to hold the fabric down and scissors for cutting (I am not confident enough with a rotary cutter.)

What caused the greatest trouble, however, was not the curling but the stripes being not at a right angle with the grainline. So I gave the fabric some good tugs at opposite corners, like I’d read – only I am not sure if that’s the way to go for knits too? It helped a bit, but not everywhere. I mean: I could have a straight grainline at one place, but 5 inches to the left and right of it, the grainline veered off course again. Plus the stripes, in their own direction, rippled up and down as well. I tried weights, I tried pins, I

In the end, I just took a clear plastic ruler and tugged ever so little at the fabric left or right, all along the ruler, and then drew the grainline. Then I pinned it down onto another fabric (a sturdy woven cottong), making sure the drawn grainline remeined straight. Then, I took a “drawing triangle” (not sure what you call this in English, but it has one 90° angle), put one side of it next to the grainline and then tugged every other stripe into perpendicular submission, using the other side of the triangle as my guideline, and then pinned the stripes down as well.

When I had covered most of the fabric this way, I finally had more or less straight grainline and perfectly aligned stripes, so I could at last put down the pattern pieces in confidence. I also drew the stripes onto both pattern halves and when I turned them around for the mirror image, made sure the stripes matched up with the other half of the pattern piece. (I don’t like to cut knits on the fold, as they tend to shift and you do not see how the lower layer is behaving whilst cutting. So I draw the whole pattern piece onto a single fabric layer.)

But it took me a long time to device this method and also to apply it – by midnight I had only cut those two pieces… not even the sleeves yet. It feels like it was causing me a little too much trouble to make it worth it. I was tired and frustrated and wondering whether I was perhaps a bit too focused on the whole straight-and-perpendicular issue (and yet, I knew I couldn’t have done otherwise…). Which is why it felt so good to see that there’s other people out there who care about such details :-)


Wow! You were really committed to getting those stripes lined up!! Sleeves on the bias?

Next time maybe try a pattern with gathering (spelling?) on one side so the stripes only have to match on one side. I’ve made many tops like this, very flattering.


I’ve heard some folks use spray starch on the edges of the jersey fabric to keep them flat while cutting and sewing. Washes right out. I’ve not tried it ‘though.


Thank you, Alice – I will definitely try this to tame the curling! :-)


That shirt is so good looking! I think what I like best about that pattern is that the collar goes right onto the shirt without a stand. My nemesis…the collar stand. Still trying to perfect it, but I’ll use this pattern instead, methinks.


Great shirt! Ack, that Bernina felling foot. I’m with you; I suppose I need more practice and there’s a trick to it but I gave up on it, too.

David Coffin

Late to the post, I know—sorry! But fwiw, I can well imagine being annoyed by an 8mm felling foot, which is what that #71 Bernina is, when working on shirting fabric or lawn; these are too flimsy to flow through that wide a foot smoothly. For shirts, I use a 4mm or 1/4-inch felling foot; trim the allowances down to 1/4 and 1/8-in. with the wider one underneath for the first pass, and don’t let more than 1/8-in. feed into and get folded by the foot when sewing. Sorry to hear anyone’s struggling with techniques from my book, and always happy to try to help via email, etc.

Nice shirt, btw:)


Thank you for the tips, David! That’s incredibly helpful. And what an honor to have you here!


I’m glad to hear I’m not alone my felling foot frustrations. After reading Coffin’s book on Shirtmaking, I thought it was practically heresy to sew a shirt without one. But I find I get much better results without it.

PS: Love the Negroni. It’s so hard to find stylish patterns for men.


I felt the same after reading his book. I’d love to hear from other people who have success with it, but for now I’m sticking to the other methods.

I’m glad you like the pattern, and I agree about the lack of menswear patterns out there. I really enjoy designing for men and do hope to do more.


This turned out great! Amazing attention to detail.

I just picked up this pattern for my mister, but I thought it would be good to use a zipper instead of buttons for a casual summer look – would that be easy to do, do you think?


I don’t think it would be too hard. It would definitely make it look more jacket-like, I imagine.

Patty Jakob


I wanted to buy your negroni shirt pattern but is not available…when would it be for sale again?

I follow your blog and love what you guys make. It is a very useful place to visit for all of us sewist out there.

Ross Hoodies

The shirt suits older men if you ask me. It wouldn’t go well with youths or men aged in their twenties. Kudos to the lady for being able to match and sew the pocket onto the shirt. However, I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or not as the pocket blended into the shirt. It basically camouflage into all of the patterns and I honestly don’t know whether a pocket is necessary now. I think the pattern will look much nicer on a dress. There’s too many designs on it and as far as I know, most guys like simple designs.


I would really, really LOVE a Negroni for ladies. I wear almost exclusively button-up shirts, and I have a terrible time finding them at times, and usually then they’re a similar color to something I already have. I long for shirts in beautiful patterns I see in fabric stores, but I as yet have not found a satisfactory pattern that gives me the trim, slim, made-for-a-lady type shirt I long for.

Tips on adjusting the male pattern would be lovely, any suggestions for good patterns out in the world would also be stellar…



I am smack dab in the middle of making this Negroni.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out how the collar gets lined up and attached based on the instructions in the pattern book.

Do you have a tutorial, or is there a video, or, do you have more pictures of the shirt during the process?

Once I finish this one, I am going to get started on another one!

(p.s. I am a performer and I am hoping to start making my own clothes for stage and resale.)


I’m afraid we don’t have a detailed sew-along for the pattern, though I’m planning to do one. Since I don’t know what problem you’re having, perhaps you could get help via our flickr group? You can post photos there of exactly what’s troubling you:

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