Making the Catch A Wave Shirt

It’s late and I’ve been working on a bunch of side projects (Kate’s ruffles series, anyone?? so awesome right now, and I can’t wait for my turn!). I’m tired and a little discouraged because something “innovative” I’ve been working on turned out to be a ridiculous mess and I’m feeling humbled. Sigh. Thus is a the life of a creative. You dream, you draw, you design… and then sometimes it’s a big flop.  Other times it’s a success, and you go to bed riding a high and thinking I Am Sewist, Hear Me Roar!

Tonight I’ll just go to bed dreaming of how to get that waistband right and wondering why, oh why, I didn’t cut the ruffles just a tad bit smaller.

Before I hit the sack and dream of different ways to sew things, I thought I’d take a look at a past project that really was a success. Do you guys remember when I made that Catch A Wave shirt for Sew-Vivor and then ended up winning the whole thing? I’ve had a lot of emails about that shirt in the months since, and I always promise to write about it “soon.” Well, tonight is soon. I need to look back over this project, y’all, and remember how good it feels to get it right sometimes!

You may remember that this project was a collaboration with my husband. The incredible man actually sketched this out on a scratch piece of paper, handed it to me and said, “That would make a cool shirt.” I told him, “I don’t think I can sew those curved seams.” He said, “Sure, you can.” And that was that.

Over the next two days I redrew the image larger, so that it would fit on the back of the Oliver + S Sketchbook Shirt. I planned ways to cut the pieces, selected which colors would go where, diagramed how to piece it all together. It was one big mathematical puzzle and IT WAS AWESOME.

And–shockingly–it worked out perfectly. My heart hammered the entire time I sewed it, but folks, it worked.

I made a few other alterations to the shape of the shirt as I worked. I altered the yolk to accommodate the wave (you can see how it curves with the wave at the bottom and is lower on one side than the other). I also took out the pleat in the back and narrowed the body for a slimmer fit.

The collar is also two-toned, with a blue for the under collar and black for the upper. I reeeally love that little detail.

Overall, this shirt (and my creative failures tonight) have taught me something. One, don’t be afraid to stretch yourself and dream big. Two, sometimes your ideas will succeed and sometimes they won’t, but you will always learn more from the failures. The only way to truly be an innovative designer is to push past your own limits and try new things. If you don’t, you’ll never do anything “new.” You’ll never create anything you haven’t already seen before.

I don’t know about you guys, but I always want to create something unique. That’s the drive inside me, the thrill of the chase.

So, I guess with that I’ll head to bed. In the morning I’ll start another day and tame those ruffles and be oh-so-thankful for this life of loving and creating and sharing.

Thanks for reading! I hope you were encouraged. I’d love to hear: what have been some of your failures and some of your successes? What have YOU learned through them?

Until next time!


  1. says

    Such an awesome shirt, Caila! You are so talented. I always get nervous about cutting and piecing pattern pieces but I love how this looks and really need to give it a try. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. says

    It is beautiful and I love how you jump right into new techniques and materials. So excited for your run at PR&P for that reason – you push your creativity!

  3. says

    This is such a sweet post. Makes me appreciate you even more for your honesty. Jo always tells me that the difference between a good painter and a great one. The good one stops when it is good enough and the great one stops when it is a masterpiece. Watching you for a year now I know that you won’t stop until it is a masterpiece. (If it doesn’t work out I think even master painter throws a few canvas’s out the window).

    Thanks for the tutorial on the waves. I might try and use this technique on Ryders outfit for week 4.
    With Love,

  4. says

    I very narrowly avoided a fail today! I should have done a test first to make sure what I was doing was going to work, but I was in a hurry. Luckily it turned out AMAZING, and I can’t wait to share. Fails suck, but they make the successes that much sweeter.

  5. says

    I was just thinking about this… how we often learn so much from failures, in life lessons but so true for sewing too! I think it might be a way The Lord uses these “mistakes” to humble us and realize how much we need His help… even in creative endeavors!
    Ps. I was esctatic to see your name on the PR&P line-up, I promise to vote for you! Hope you win! Xoxo
    Under His Mercy

    • says

      Amen, Lisa! I always appreciate your perspective and your encouragement so much. As always, thanks for commenting!! 🙂