Despite my own best efforts not to finish this shirt, I did, and in good time for Boy’s birthday party on Saturday.  Phew!

johnny be good shirtBefore I get into the review of this shirt, let me just remind you that this shirt was upcycled from a shirt gifted to us by our friend, Martin.  The fabric is a thick and temperamental cotton, that acts like a very brattish polyester.

But…it’s wonderfully soft and cosy and Boy, who normally throws a fit of the screaming ab-dabs when you ask him to wear a shirt, couldn’t wait to get it on, and didn’t want to take it off. So it’s a win, as far as I’m concerned.

I did change the buttons.  On the original shirt they were a yellowy cream button and really looked a bit odd against the lilac/pink/blue fabric.

shirt buttons

The new buttons are a variegated lilac that I found on our local market stall.  I like them much more.

shirt buttons

Oops…a bit blurry, but you get the idea, no?

And, in one final change, I “drafted” a mandarin/grandad collar by simply folding the collar part of the pattern up and using just the stand to cut my fabric.  I did, of course, remember to add a seam allowance to the top of the collar!

johnny b good

The pattern is Shwinn Designs Johnny B Good shirt, and, I’ll admit I have mixed feelings about this pattern.

johnnybgoodLet’s start with the good:

  • The tiling on the pdf is really good and the pattern tapes together quickly and cleanly.
  • The drafting of the pattern is excellent.  I found all the separate pieces stitched up perfectly.
  • The sizing is good too.  Boy is a small 5 and this shirt fits him now but has room to grow into.  In my book this is perfect.  If I’m sewing something for the kids I’d like it to last more than a couple of weeks!

However, this pattern does have some challenges:

  • I found the instructions to be a little less than straightforward and clear.
  • I thought the sleeve placket is a little long.  It reaches right up to the elbow. This is, of course, just a matter of personal taste.
  • I also thought the sleeve placket to be placed just a little too far towards the front of the sleeve.
  • There are no placement marks for the buttonholes on the sleeves.  The idea is that you place them where you’d like them to go, but, personally, I would have preferred them to be added on the pattern.
johnny b good

I think this shows how far forwards the sleeve placket sits on the sleeve and also how high up the sleeve it goes. Please ignore the shoddy buttonholes. 

Despite the things I’m not fond of with this pattern, I will be using it again.  I think I’ll adjust the sleeve placket to move it more to the back of the arm, and shorten the placket a little bit.  

I plan to measure this shirt to get a really good idea for button placement and mark them on the pattern.

And lastly, I  think I’ll redraft the hem of this shirt to give it tails rather than a straight edge.  I think it will look really cute.

Once the pattern has been tweaked there’s one other thing I’ll change. I’ll use better thread so the topstitching isn’t quite so shocking.  I’m eternally grateful that this fabric hides a multitude of sins!

However, all my gripes are moot.  Boy loves his shirt, which is nothing short of a birthday miracle.


And yes, that is a bus cake.  As his party was held on the play bus (officially making him the coolest boy in the class…who knew?) I really had no say in the matter.

bus cakeHe loved it 😉