Historical Hand-Sewn Shirt

A Virtual Class with Sarah Woodyard

The 19th Century shirt, a multi-purpose garment traditionally worn by men, was a garment which clothed commoner and aristocrat alike. Today, this historical piece of clothing is a familiar sight on the fashion runways. Well-loved by designers, it stirs our sense of nostalgia, playing more of a starring role in collections – having graduated from its supporting role of the past.

In a unique project-based class with hand-sewing scholar Sarah Woodyard of Sewn Company, participants will have the opportunity to connect to history and construct this 19th Century shirt completely by hand. These shirts were the original “no waste” garments, cut intentionally to save fabric. This shirt is practical and sturdy yet beautiful, rooted in a tradition of functional hand sewing designed to impress while withstanding constant wearing and washings.

The detailing on this shirt is exquisite. In recreating this garment, participants will learn to measure their own body and cut the garment to fit. They will also learn gathering, historical counted top stitching on the collar and cuffs, buttonholes, a uniquely woven reinforcement detail at the sternum, and a cross stitch monogram. Participants will come away with a new confidence in hand sewing, and amazement in what the hands can do.

Fridays, April 14th, 21st, 28th, May 5th and 19th


12pm – 2pm ET*

Virtual class on Zoom


What To Bring
Refer to the class materials list below

Basic seaming is helpful to take this course but beginning hand sewers are most welcome!

*All live sessions will be recorded and shared with those who register, for added scheduling convenience. Access to these recordings will stay live, long after the course ends to ensure a finished result.


A kit for this class is available for purchase. If you would like to purchase the kit, choose the “Virtual Class with Materials Package” from the drop down menu at checkout.

If you would like to use your own materials you will need the following:

  • 3 yards Medium to heavy weight 59” wide (5.3 oz to 7.1 oz) linen or hemp
  • 50/3 30 M Londonderry linen thread
  • Basting thread
  • Two buttons, one for each cuff
  • Beeswax
  • 1 1/4th superfine pins
  • Dressmakers shears
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Size 7 sharps needles
  • Thimble
  • Pencil
  • Measuring Tape
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Illuminated magnifier (optional, but very helpful)

The course will consist of:

– Five live, virtual sessions with artist Sarah Woodyard
– Access to a private platform group for questions, sharing, and additional access to the teacher.

As with all long-form Tatter classes, a community will naturally form as we make this custom garment. There will be tremendous support along the way from Sarah and your fellow sewists. Additionally, participants will have access to the private platform to share photos and questions between our virtual sessions.

If you would like to join but have minimal hand sewing experience, do not fear! We also offering a Beginner Hand Sewing class that will get you comfortable with sewing by hand.

We have two scholarships available for this experience. To be considered for the scholarship please email [email protected] with some information about yourself, your making practice, and why you would like to participate.

Sarah Woodyard

Sarah Woodyard is inspired by the labor of historical dressmakers. She spent seven years apprenticing at the Margaret Hunter Millinery Shop in Colonial Williamsburg to learn eighteenth-century mantua-making (dressmaking) and millinery (accessories). After completing her apprenticeship she became a Journeywoman mantua-maker and milliner. Sarah holds her M.A. in Material Culture from the University of Alberta. After ten years of sewing and interpreting at the Margaret Hunter Shop it was time to take this knowledge into the twenty-first century. She opened Sewn Company in 2019. Sewn Company arises from a legacy of hand-stitchers past and present. Through Sewn she teaches historical hand-sewing to historical sewists and modern makers. She is currently taking commissions for hand-sewn items both historical and modern. She is passionate about preserving the skills and stories of hand sewing, through research, design and education. www.sewncompany.com

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