Joan shirt sew-along – 1 Planning

Planning & 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.

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

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 also 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

What to think about when designing your version

This 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 “apples”.

Some design considerations:

  • Sleeve tabs and back box pleats creates a more casual look
  • Inverted box pleat and no sleeve tabs makes it more soft and feminine
  • Pockets pleats look more bold
  • Plain pockets has a more classic vibe.
  • No pockets at all draws the attention to the shoulders and gives an elongated impression


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 we have everything we need in place when it’s time to start sewing.

So, let’s go!


  • Size – Taking your measurements and decide what size you’ll sew
  • Fabric – Different qualities and weaves that works with Joan
  • Tools – A checklist of everything you need from start to finish



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 at home. You can download it from the Adobe website for free:

What I’ll use:

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 finising.

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:

More on how to prepare your fabric in part 3.

signature flaming needle

Next up:

Part 2: Printing and adjusting the pattern

  • Pattern – Selecting file format
  • Printing – Avoiding common printing issues
  • Blending between sizes – The easiest way to adapt a pattern
  • Cutting out the pattern – What to think about beforehand
  • Pattern adjustments – Most common adjustments

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