my favorite liesl + co. patterns: recital shirt and classic shirt

Cindy has made no fewer than seven shirts from the Recital Shirt and Classic Shirt patterns. She sewed four of them by combining the two patterns (they are designed to have interchangeable collars) and then made a few from the patterns as written as well. Read on to see her enviable wardrobe of button-up shirts!

I’m Cindy Cooksey, and I live in Irvine, CA, with my husband of almost 50 years, Dave. I am a lifelong artist and fabric enthusiast.

Some of my earliest memories include trips to the Empire Silk Store with my mother, who would flip through the pattern books while I walked around looking at the fabric. Mom made most of my clothes until I learned how to sew for myself. I sewed many of my clothes in high school (think Peter Pan collars) and on into my 20s. I also sewed clothing for my children when they were young, then set it all aside to become a pen-and-ink artist. After many years of making drawings and not sewing anything, I became enamored with quilting. I have made original contemporary art quilts from the early 90’s up to the present. I have current work in a group exhibit called “A Better World” that is traveling around the country, but I have exhibited work nationally and internationally.

Almost 10 years ago, I became a grandmother, and I loved sewing for my two granddaughters. Now that my grandchildren are getting picky about what they wear, I am finding more satisfaction in sewing clothing for myself. It was through Oliver + S that I first heard about the Liesl + Co. patterns. The pattern directions are always so clear, step by step. I love them!

Cindy made these shirts by combining the Recital Shirt and the Classic Shirt pattern.

My favorite pattern is actually a combination of two patterns: the Recital Shirt and the Classic Shirt. I have made several blouses using them in tandem. I love the Recital Shirt for its wonderful fit, and I usually borrow the impeccable Classic Shirt collar and pocket. I love this versatility.

My first two blouses, made in 2018, were in lavender and pale green chambray, and I still wear them all the time.

Being only 5’1”, it isn’t easy finding ready-made clothing that fit me well, in the colors I like. And the shirt patterns from other companies were just not fitting me well. I always had to resign myself to shoulders that were too wide and rolled-up cuffs, because the sleeves were always too long. It is thrilling to finally discover great patterns that fit me.

Cindy made these shirts by combining the Recital Shirt and Classic Shirt patterns.

The third blouse is in a tomato red mixed cotton, and the fourth is in blue cotton batik, made fully from the Classic Shirt pattern. A few months ago, I used a tiny print on white cotton. These patterns work well with a variety of cotton fabrics!

Cindy made a stunning Recital Shirt.

The Recital Shirt with the tucks and tuxedo collar in blue is a recent creation. This was the most challenging blouse, due to the tucks. I tried using the recommended Saral carbon paper to mark the lines for tucking, but the marks didn’t stick to the fabric, which I think has a little linen in it. I also tried using a water erasable marking pen, but the blue ink was hard to see on the blue fabric. I finally carefully marked the tuck lines with lots of pins, and that worked fine. Then at the end when it was time to hem the blouse, the tucks made it hard to turn under the seam allowances neatly. I had to redo one side to make it more consistent with the other side. But now that it’s all done, I love it! Maybe I’ll try it again, with pure cotton fabric that isn’t blue.


Cindy made this Classic Shirt using a fun toile fabric.

My most recently completed blouse is perhaps my favorite of all. I used only the Classic Shirt pattern this time, with some black and white toile-like cotton yardage that I bought at a recent quilt guild rummage sale. There was barely enough fabric for the blouse, with the aid of some other black and white print fabric that I had in my stash. I used contrasting fabric on the pocket, on the inside and underside of the collar, inside the cuffs and on the sleeve placket. The variety of fabrics played together well, I think. Also, there wasn’t enough toile fabric to even think of matching scenes at seam lines or folds, so it makes for a playful, slightly quirky look, where the back end of a horse ends at the center fold, etc. I also made sparing use of 12-weight contrasting red thread (WonderFil Spagetti) in a few places: on the pocket, cuffs, and front and back yoke seams. The look is subtle, but I think a fun discovery to those who come close.

My next shirt is so far only in my head. My husband has some old dress shirts with worn edges on the collars and cuffs, but otherwise nice fabric, so I am itching to try recycling them into a cute blouse or two for myself. Will I use the Classic Shirt pattern or the Recital Shirt pattern, or a combo of both? I’ll let you know.


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  1. Lisa

    I am a buttonhole-phobic, so especially admiring of your lovely collection of me-made shirts, which I’ve been too chicken to make. very lovely!

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thanks! I was hesitant to start my first blouse with the Liesl + Co patterns because I have plenty of failures with other patterns. But these patterns are very clearly written, once step at a time. I hope you give them a try.

  2. Bos

    They look impeccable! A delight to see. Chapeau!

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thanks so much!

  3. Maryam

    Wow, how lovely .
    I really like the blue cotton batik shirt.
    Keep up the good work .

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thanks! I wasn’t sure if I’d like it, but I do. I have used batiks in some of my art quilts.

  4. Elisabeth

    Beautiful shirts, and they all look great on you!

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thanks, Elizabeth!

  5. Erica

    I have admired your polished and excellent fitting shirts on the L+Co Facebook page. So lovely to “meet” you and see the collared versions all here! I, too, am hoping to upcycle (? or recycle) my husband’s Jermyn St business shirts that are a bit too frayed in the collar for him to wear but otherwise in very fine condition. I have been hoarding them in my fabric stash. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thank you. As a matter of fact, I am working on a shirt now made with three of my husband’s old shirts. He wears a lot of blue, so it all matches pretty well. It’s definitely worth a try, so I hope you give it a go with your husband’s wonderful old shirts.

  6. Phyllis

    Hi, CIndy,
    I love your shirts! I also love the Classic Shirt pattern, and have made two for myself and two for my husband. Your fabrics are delicious.

    There’s one part of the pattern I always skip over, though, because it’s confusing. That is the part where you’re supposed to fold back the sleeve placket opening from the cuff (and the collar from the shirt opening) and re-sew the seam before going on to complete the curve of the cuff. If you’ve made the shirt so many times I think you’ll know what I’m referring to. Can you give me any insights about that step? What’s the big deal about just sewing it around in one step?

    Anyway, your work is beautiful and inspiring!

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thanks, Phyllis! I think it makes a difference, to go the extra steps for doing the collar and cuffs. The size of the under-collar piece is slightly smaller, so it’s meant to have the seams go to the underside. The collar really looks sharp done this way. Same for the cuffs, although I admit sometimes I do them the easy way. Have fun!

  7. Marge Gammie

    Wonderful shirts. The classic shirt is my favourite pattern and the collar and instructions fantastic. I love the great fit you have. I envy your wardrobe however, I am 5’8″so they will be a little short of me. I loved reading your post.

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thanks, Marge! One wonderful thing about the Liesl + Co patterns is the great range in pattern sizes, to adapt to every figure. I’m glad you like this pattern, too!

  8. Judith Baer

    Nice article and beautiful work as usual. You inspire me to start sewing for me again. I miss seeing everyone but it’s nice to see what you are doing.

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thanks, Judith! Nice to hear from you. We miss you.

  9. Wynn Lare

    Started a year ago, committed to ‘go through my stash’, once and for all. Some fabrics from over 20 yrs ago.
    And a pants pattern I drafted in fabric 25 yrs ago: with a narrow-bias waistband, no zipper or buttons. Just one interlocking clip on the side where one of the two angled, deep, front pockets provided a ‘vintage type closure’.

    Then the PANDEMIC!

    Which has given me time to actually do this!

    Being delivered your blog through Google, key words are tipping the algorithms and are SPOT-ON.

    I am ready to start making shirts out of novelty cottons.
    They will mostly be the same.
    I have narrow shoulders also like yourself.

    And a long waist.

    These two ratios keep me from ‘just buying off the rack’.

    Your shirts ARE BEAUTIFUL!

    I am so happy to find a ‘comrade’.

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thanks, Wynn! I hope you have fun on your stash-busting adventure in sewing.

  10. Ingrid Maples

    These are beautiful and so are you!! I just now ordered the pattern for The Recital Shirt! Thanks for the inspo!

  11. Suzanne Lise Furth

    I love Cindy’s blending of the Recital and Classic shirt patterns! Each of the shirts has it’s own personality, my favorite being the toile-like fabric, what wonderful whimsy!!

    1. Cindy Cooksey

      Thanks, Suzanne! I still love these patterns. Now Liesl has a new blouse pattern I’m excited to try, for Spring. The Geneva has a different neckline and different bottom edge. Also the Verdun is another great pattern for tops. Thank you for posting.

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