A boys linen shirt – colonial style

Happy Mother’s Day – for last Sunday!!  I am sorry I am so late with that greeting – but we have the kids and I have been struck down with a nasty tummy bug, which the Doctor told me is raging through the school at the moment.  My youngest had four days off school and my eldest is home with me today for the second day.  I am all better – and it feels great to be well!!

Anyway! – Here’s something I made for my son recently.


My 10-year-old had a school trip last week. It was to Old Government House in Parramatta, one of Australia’s earliest settlements.  He is studying Australian Colonial History this year.  I made him this linen shirt for the day – which turned out to be a bit of a battle!  The kids really enjoyed visiting , where they visited a classroom of the day, and experienced a very harsh teacher, with a cane!  The other mums did amazingly well with the costumes, there were a few admirals, a convict with a ball and chain, and lots more creativity.  The girls looked cute in their mothers’ skirts pinned to fit them with shawls and mob caps!


I chose the natural, unbleached colour as at that point in time, it is similar to what would have been available around that time.



I used the shirt pattern from Butterick 7064 (1985) , which we had used for the last thing he and I made together – the “Alex does Alexander Hoody and Tracky-Daks“.



I borrowed the hat and vest from a friend.

His corduroy pants came from the opshop and I cut them down and elasticized the bottom of them to give a Knickerbocker effect.

I made buckles from cardboard, tinfoil and tape – they were trashed by the day’s end – I would use sturdier card next time.  They worked ok – just threaded the laces through the buckle.



In the end, the shirt took hours!  I was totally over it after all the sewing (machine, not hand!!)  so I did the unthinkable and threw some velcro  in the place of buttons and buttonholes.  It might get worn again for a special occasion – the fabric did drape beautifully.  And I think it looked more realistic than the bright white shirts other kids were wearing.  I will get around to putting the buttonholes in when I can face getting out my domestic sewing machine out.  And my youngest son will be going on the same excursion so he will use it for that too!  Sorry it’s not pressed for the photo!



  • Work fast! Linen stretches and frays, don’t delay sewing after cutting
  • Definitely staystitch the curved armholes or necklines to stabilize it
  • Finish your seams = overlock, french seam, or bias binding – as you go!
  • Press as you go – it will look better in the end (this is true of all garments in my opinion)
  • Press it inside out so you don’t over press, and get shiny marks which don’t come out – very important!


LINEN – A NOTE ON LAUNDERING – Inspired by Steph

I don’t  recommend washing a length of linen more than once before sewing it up – linen loses colour very rapidly

And I would never leave it to soak – the colour will float right out of it!

I suggest hand washing in warm water, with a nice eucalyptus wool wash (Plain Packaged Brand  is just fine)  dry immediately in the shade

Read the rest of Steph’s great tips for working with linen here



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