The One-Day Shirt Challenge

Men's shirt in (not quite) a day

Was flunked. Maybe if I’d started first thing in the morning… maybe if I hadn’t had to go with The Boy to the doctor’s in the afternoon, or “make” (aka heat up) supper. Maybe if I hadn’t had to go out to the store for a new iron (yes, my venerable Value Village iron went to that great laundry room in the sky yesterday… it shall never spot rusty water onto a crisp white fabric again). But as it was, at bedtime I was sewing the first sleeve in, and there was no way it was going to get done without staying up ridiculously late (never good for sewing).

Back gathering

I’m glad I didn’t try to rough it out—tonight I can face the challenge of altering it, since it is still *huge*

mandarin collar

I may or may not have mentioned that the pattern, which I picked up at Value Village for a buck and had never been cut, contained only two sizes: XL and XXL. My sweetie is many things, but an XXL he is not. However, his chest measurement (40″) indicated that he should be a L—so I figured I would try my hand at grading down the pattern, since I was tracing it anyway. Yes, this was all yesterday morning.

I used my vague recollection of the Selfish Seamstress’s tutorial on resizing a pattern to shrink it down. Despite my misgivings this worked remarkably well—aside from a couple of length issues (how did I grade half the sleeve differently from the other half?) which I mostly caught at the pattern stage, everything fit together about as well as patterns usually do, given my limited cutting skills (read: patience). Better than some of the Burda 9610 pieces, actually.

So he tried it on before bed last night (one sleeve only) and… it’s huge. Sleeves too long, shoulders too wide. Actually, one or the other… the sleeve length would be fine if the shoulders weren’t so wide, and vice versa. The yoke is designed to droop over the shoulder… but not, I think, that much. None of this, of course, was obvious until I had finished all the interior seams and attached the sleeve. Grr. So I’m thinking of hacking off about an inch on each side of the body (have to check how this would affect the gathers). This should make the shirt itself less ridiculously bag-like, and shorten the sleeve up a bit, too.  If I’m particularly clever, I’ll even remember to do a french seam on the sideseams this time around, too… On the other hand, the neck is perfect.

Cuff & sleeve placket; a little Becky Home-Ecky.

I didn’t really pay much attention to the instructions, but they seem to be very thorough and aimed at beginning sewists. This may explain the ridiculous amount of ease in the shirt (aren’t “beginner” patterns usually humongous?). The gathers are actually quite soft and subtle—not nearly as ridiculously pouffy as I thought they might be.  The cotton voile is a brat to iron but a dream to sew with—I was event able to  edgestitch the cuffs and front placket down without it looking totally ridiculous on the other side (Fortunately there’s lots left over. The pattern called for up to 4 m of fabric, but I don’t think I used more than 2). The cuff and sleeve placket are fairly “home-sewn-ish”; the cuff’s a bit too narrow and the continuous-lap placket is not quite right for a men’s dress shirt. I will maybe try to change that next time. Yes, there will be a next time. He still wants the shirt out of knit. (shudders)

On the up side, he says he’ll never complain about paying $50 for a shirt again after seeing how much work goes in to one…

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The One-Day Shirt Challenge

  1. ali

    Ah! I feel your pain. I tried–once, and never again (but don’t tell him!)–to make a shirt for the boy. It just about killed me. I’m such a drama queen, I know, but really, I gave up (which I never do) and I don’t even want to look at it again. :(

    But it sounds like you’re back on track — and what a great find (the hat book!)

    • Yeah—I have been wanting to sew him stuff for ages (he is odd-shaped and picky about his fit and style, so has a hard time finding the perfect clothes) but have generally been hesitant due to his perfectionism. This is actually my second attempt at making him a shirt; the first was a couple of years ago and it did not go well at ALL. But this one is looking good—the right pattern and the right fabric made all the difference (even if the pattern wasn’t the right size!)

      And yeah—the hat book is cool!

  2. Pingback: Syo’s Sewing | Tanit-Isis Sews

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