Joan shirt sew-along – 1 Planning

Planning and gathering supplies

Welcome to the first part of the Joan shirt sew-along!

Part 1 is all about visualizing the finished shirt and gathering the tools and supplies we need to sew it. 

It takes some planning to create a garment you’ll love and want to wear all the time. In fact, preparing is about 80% of the time you’ll spend making the Joan shirt. 

Don’t worry.

Designing and planning your finished garment is fun and inspiring.

In the end, when you have your perfectly unique shirt, you’ll be glad that you did. Trust me when I say; the more you prepare, the more you’ll love your results.

Take one step at a time and you’ll soon be wearing your super comfy shirt.


Table of Contents

Joan shirt view A
Joan shirt view A
Joan shirt view B
Joan shirt view B

Shirt features

The Joan shirt has a v-neck, a narrow, slightly curved hem, a moved forward shoulder seam, and two optional sleeve slit finishes. 

View A features:

  • pleated pockets
  • sleeve tabs
  • back box pleat
  • snap closure

View B features:

  • plain pockets
  • optional sleeve tab
  • inverted back box pleat
  • regular button closure

The shirt is slightly fitted over the bust but still has enough ease over the tummy and hips so you can breathe, sit, and move without feeling conscious about clinging fabric around your waist.

The intentionally visible shoulder seams and the front darts creates a visually structured silhouette, the Joan shirt is designed to suit both straight and curvy body shapes, especially the body shape popularly called “apple”.


Design features to consider

In order to know what design elements to select for your version of Joan, you want to consider the effect you want the features to have on you i.e. how you want it to look and what parts you want to highlight.

How to think about the details

  • Sleeve tabs and back box pleats create a more casual look. 
  • The dart style lines together with the rolled-up sleeves create a visually more narrow silhouette around the waist
  • Inverted box pleat and no sleeve tabs make it look more soft, feminine and sleek because there’s no place for the eye to get caught
  • Pockets pleats look bolder and plain pockets have a more classic vibe and are a matter of taste
  • No pockets at all draw the attention to the shoulder seams and give an elongated impression
  • Regular buttons look more formal than snaps both options enhance the vertical design lines 

Between the 2 back pleat options, 4 pocket options, 2 sleeve options, and 2 sleeve slit finishing options, there are a lot of variations to choose from and make your Joan look unique, so don’t let the suggestions in the line drawings limit you.

Play around and have fun with the design process! 

After designing all the features of your shirt, it’s time to get into the planning phase to make sure everything we need is in place when it’s time to start sewing.

So, let’s go!


Start with measuring yourself and decide what size or sizes you’ll print. 

For the Joan shirt, you need your bust, waist, and hip measurements. This shirt is somewhat fitted over the bust so it’s the bust measurement that’s most important as it determines the size you’ll make.

Use the other two measurements to check and decide if you’ll need to alter the pattern in any way.

If you need a reminder of how to take your bust measurement here’s a guide to help you:

Learn more about how to adjust the pattern in Part 2.



The best fabrics for the Joan shirt is flowy and rather lightweight, like cotton or cotton blends, or a viscose/rayon. But you can also use a lightweight twill, denim or chambray or even silk.

I don’t recommend using a too sturdy fabric for the Joan, they tend to stand out from the body and look like a tent, and that’s not the effect we’re striving for. The fabric you chose should be drapey and soft to the hand.

My favorite fabric to sew the Joan shirt is a woven viscose with no stretch, but I’ve also gotten excellent results with cupro, which is heavier and therefore a great choice for cooler seasons.

Viscose/rayon is slippery to handle. To make life easier you can use a few different aids which we’ll go through in the tools checklist.

Different fabrics
Tencel poplin, Cotton gingham or Viscose/Rayon challis all work with the Joan shirt.


Here’s a checklist of everything you need for a smooth sewing experience when sewing the Joan shirt:


  • A sewing machine with an overlock or zigzag stitch
  • Machine needles suitable for your fabric
  • An Overlock/serger (optional)
  • A walking foot (optional) type of presser foot for your sewing machine
  • A straight stitch throat plate (optional)


  • Fabric – Check the yardage chart in the instructions how much you need for your size
  • An iron
  • An ironing board 
  • A pressing cloth – I like to use a sheer cloth e.g. silk organza, so I can see what I’m pressing through the cloth
  • A roller cutter or a pair of sharp scissors – sharp blades are more important than what tool you’re using
  • Basting thread – a contrasting color to your fabric is easier to work with
  • Tailor’s chalk or self-erasing marking pen – that doesn’t make permanent stains to the fabric
  • Fray check (optional)
  • Spray starch (optional) bought or homemade – to stabilize the fabric so it’s easier to handle
  • Measuring tape 
  • Pins, weights or clips – whichever you prefer


  • 11 snaps or regular buttons, 12 mm/ 1/2 in diameter
  • 0.5 meter / 1/2 yard fusible interfacing suitable for your fabric
  • 1 spool of All-purpose/Sew-all thread in a color that matches your fabric

You’ll also need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print the PDF file.

You can download it from the Adobe website for free:


My version

For this sew-along, I will be making a straight view A with a box pleat as pictured in the view A line drawing above. I will use a regular sewing machine for the seams and an overlock/serger for finishing.

The fabric I’ll be using is a very flowy 100% viscose/rayon from my fabric stash. Wearing flowy fabrics both looks and feels great, especially in warmer weather, but sewing it can be fiddly. 

To curb the slipperiness I’ll use spray starch bought at the grocery store. I’ll stabilize the whole fabric after I’ve pre-shrunk it in the washing machine but before I cut out the pattern pieces.

Supplies for sewing
A straight stitch throat plate, a walking foot and some spray starch (Swedish brand)

You can also make your own starch, there are some good tutorials on the Internet.

You find more information on different ways to apply spray starch in this article in Threads Magazine:

Read more about how to prepare your fabric in part 3.

Your next step

If you haven’t already, it’s time to: 

Download, print, and, assemble your pattern

When you’re done you can move on to Joan shirt sew-along Part 2, where we’ll cover some pattern adjustments you may want to make to make the pattern fit your unique body. You’ll find the post over here:


Sew great

signature flaming needle


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