The Paper Theory Patterns Olya Shirt is a challenging twist on the traditional Oxford button-up. Read more for my review of this sewing pattern.
I absolute LOVE sewing button-ups. My husband and I both have several button-ups that I’ve made in the past, but have always used the same sewing pattern. I decided to branch out and try a different pattern to make a set of black and white linen button-ups.
Linen button-ups are my favorite and they’ve been missing from my wardrobe for a while now! In my search for the perfect pattern to complement a lightweight washed linen, I found that the Paper Theory Patterns Olya Shirt was the perfect fit!
My Decision to Sew the Paper Theory Olya Shirt
My primary reason that I chose the Olya Shirt is that I preferred this set of button-ups to be a bit boxier with lots of ease in order to style it various ways. However, I didn’t want TOO much ease. The recommended size based on my measurements was a size 8, so I sized down to a 6.
My second reason is that I want my button-ups to look “casual but polished”. I found a few inspiration photos on Pinterest of my ideal button-up style, and this sewing pattern fit the look just perfectly.
Lastly, I chose the Olya Shirt because it is constructed a bit differently than a traditional Oxford button-up – a new challenge for me to tackle! The front yoke and sleeve are one single pattern piece, so there is no armhole to set the sleeve into. The shoulder and sleeve seam are sewn in one continuous seam.
Pattern Review & Sewing Experience
Alright guys, here is where the honesty in my review comes in: I was INCREDIBLY frustrated sewing this shirt. I am sure I am the odd man out on this one as I have seen so many gorgeous Olya shirts made by the sewing community. This is definitely not the pattern designer’s fault. I probably just had a difficult time interpreting the instructions.
What I found easy – the sleeve plackets, front button placket, collar, and sleeve cuffs. These don’t differ much from other button-up shirts I’ve sewn. What I found challenging – sewing the continuous shoulder and sleeve seam and the pockets
Sewing the Pockets
Let’s start with the pockets – the pockets in the Olya shirt are designed as pocket bags. They aren’t sewn on the front exterior like many other button-ups. I’m not used to doing this technique outside of side seam pockets in dresses, pants, or skirts.
The pocket bags connect the front piece and the front yoke portion of the yoke/sleeve. They are then turned to the inside of the shirt. Turning the pocket bags gave me a hard time as you have to clip the corners to get the seams laying correctly. If you don’t clip, the corners of the pocket opening will look puckered.
Also, the finished seam of the pocket bag sits inside the pocket. Capturing that seam while topstitching so that it doesn’t show is crucial for getting the pocket right! As you see below, the front of my Olya Shirt ended up turning out fine but I did have to do some surgery via hand-stitching. My seams ended up sticking out at the corners of the opening.
Sewing the Shoulder and Sleeve
As far as sewing the shoulder and sleeve in one continuous seam, this step requires lots of fabric manipulation. As you see below, the shoulder and back armhole turn at a corner. The Olya Shirt pattern calls for clipping the corner of the shoulder and sleeve piece to pivot the fabric at that corner. Again, I don’t know why this was so hard for me. You have to be really careful not to clip too much. You might end up with a hole at the corner. Can confirm that I did that.
I also found that I had to sew a much softer corner by adding a bit of a curve to it so that my corner didn’t end up too “pointy”. I had to redo this after trying my shirt on and seeing that my corner stuck out. By sewing a softer corner, I was able to get my shirt to drape across my shoulders the way I wanted it to.
My Final Thoughts on the Paper Theory Olya Shirt Sewing Pattern
Although my sewing experience was frustrating, I absolutely love the style of the Olya Shirt. It complements a lightweight linen fabric perfectly! It can be dressed up or dressed down, which is ideal for my very casual office environment that I work in. And no, I’m not talking about my forced home office situation due to COVID – everyone wears jeans in my office!
I think that sewists with more familiarity in garment construction can sew this with no problem. I would also recommend sewing a traditional button-up shirt prior to giving this pattern a try. It helps to be familiar with all the different elements of a button-up shirt. But hey, if you’re an adventurous new sewist and want to give it a shot you should totally go for it!
I hope that this sewing pattern review is helpful as you sew your Paper Theory Olya Shirt. If you have any questions for me, feel free to comment or send me a DM on Instagram!
August 2020 Update – I Made a Black Olya Shirt!
I decided to give the Olya Shirt another try and with the lessons I learned from my first shirt, I made a black washed linen version! I made no changes other than having an easier time the second go around. Here are some photos of how it turned out.