Making a Very Important Vyshyvanka

I’m pregnant with my first child, a little boy. I really wanted to make something special for him that could be worn for special occasions & then kept or passed down later in life. As my husband is Ukrainian, the obvious choice was a vyshyvanka, (an embroidered shirt worn in Ukrainian national dress). I’ve made a pinterest board of some of my favorite examples (including some more modern examples) here.

I’ve never made a vyshyvanka before & had to rely on my husband explaining to me the ways he’d seen other women make them. Based on that, turns out there’s a few ways of making a vyshyvanka, with varying degrees of time & effort. The easiest way he described to me was to buy the embroidered panels & then affix them to an existing shirt. A more involved (but still relatively easy) option is to embroider the panels onto specific embroidery/needlepoint evenweave cloth & then cut out the panels & sew them onto a shirt. The most difficult method he described to me was embroidering directly onto the material used to make the shirt.

I have a beautiful (but unfortunately unfinished) example of this final method which my husband’s late grandmother made (isn’t her stitching simply exquisite).

It’s a vyshyvanka for a small girl, made with a soft cotton voille. The embroidery was done directly onto the fabric & then the fabric was stitched together to make a shirt.




Since I like a challenge, & I really wanted this to be special for the baby, I have decided to TRY make a vyshyvanky in this way.

For the moment I’ve purchased a small piece of evenly woven linen. It’s a little stiff at the moment but it should soften up once washed. I plan to wash it once the embroidery is complete. I’ve traced out all the lines of the pattern pieces onto the fabric with a contrasting thread so that I can plan the embroidery to fit perfectly with the shirt pattern.


I’m going to start with the central panels at the front of the shirt. It would probably be easier to start on the sleeves (also mistakes would be less obvious) but I haven’t quite worked out what the embroidery will be for the sleeves yet so the centre panel will be first.

I’m leaving the collar to be the last piece. This is because this pattern piece is slightly curved so I will have to slowly adjust the embroidery pattern to follow the curve of the pattern piece without making it look curved on the final shirt – this is going to be tricky to pull off.

Finally I’ve made a test section on a scrap of linen showing roughly what the central pattern will look like.


This is going to take me a couple of months to finish (hopefully I have it done before the baby arrives in October), so don’t expect a finished post for quite a while.