So there I was, on a Saturday morning, saying to Mr. Guy “I really want to make you something, but don’t know what yet”. I have fabric for another Newcastle Cardigan (my first one here) but TBH I dislike the fabric – but he chose it and loves it so I will make it up. I have fabric for some Jedediah Trousers but haven’t traced the pattern yet. I also recently bought the Negroni Shirt but didn’t have any fabric for it – I always have a had time finding/buying/imagining “shirting” so have never bought any.
And then, I realised that of course I could use the linen I had set aside for shorts, for a shirt. Therefore, I can present: my first mens shirt.
I really did think that this was going to take me several days, even two weeks, as I carefully made a muslin and slaved over the tailoring details of a menshirt. I find it odd that I can say this took me only two half days, including researching by reading the Mens Shirt Sewalong by Male Pattern Boldness, and downloading David Coffin’s e-book on Shirtmaking (use the code SHARE20 for 20% discount over the next few days).
I actually didn’t do a muslin at all (because I didn’t have any spare fabric!!) but I did make sure the yoke fit well. This was the first version – I measured his back between both shoulder points (I use the tip of the acromion) then measured the pattern pieces and starting with a small:
It’s a bit tricky to tell because his tshirt doesn’t fit right on the shoulders, but the size small yoke wasn’t nearly wide enough – I unfolded the seam allowance and it was about perfect. That actually gave me exactly the medium size:
Other than that, I also added 1.5cm to the shoulder seam on the yoke, and cut away a bit at the neckline-shoulder corner. I held up my front and back pattern pieces (traced to a size medium, which matched his chest and waist measurements) and they seemed to fit well; I also measured his arms to make sure the sleeves would be long enough. Then I just got cracking!
I did make sure I took my time, getting the stitching square, my top- and edgestitching perfect, etc. I did have a problem with the collar being waaaaay too short, which confused me until I remembered that 1.5cm I added, and the fabric I took away at the neck-shoulder corner – this added a total of 6cm onto the neck seam, so I re-cut the collar (so I had no more mishaps like this dress, where the collar ended up being crazy ugly short. I wore this twice then took it to the op shop).
The good thing about sewing for others is that I really take my time, making sure I unpick and fix things that I would often let fly if I was sewing for myself (the bad thing is that sometimes I’m too scared to start; I’ve had some black merino to make my mum some leggings for almost a YEAR now). For this shirt I only needed my quick-unpick three times which is pretty good for me as my haste often breeds mistakes.
I must say, I am so incredibly happy with this shirt. It’s one of the best (if not THE best) thing I have ever made. The whole thing in constructed without an overlocker or handsewing, yet there are no exposed seams; the instructions for sewing the yoke are brilliant and easily enclose all the seams (why doesn’t everyone use this method? Gertie why does your shirtwaist dress involve so much hand sewing??), and the shoulder, sleeve and side seams are all flat felled.
I did a proper sleeve placket which went together very easily, and I narrow hemmed the bottom without the special foot. After trying it several times and then being shown another method by Mrs. C, I’ve come to realise that the hem foot is basically a gimmick, and it’s much easier just doing it with the normal foot; folding as you go, then trimming and folding again, leaving the iron for the very end.
I probably should have trimmed the neck/facing corner better as it isn’t pressing crisply
The inside is as pretty as the outside
(oops I took a photo of the uglier side – I forgot to pull the wee lever down on my buttonhole foot so there’s extra stitching)
You will have noticed the polka dots – I couldn’t help myself! I asked him whether he wanted the facing to be self-fabric, or the polka dot fabric I had left over from my latest Cambie (asked in a very leading way), and I decided to do the cuffs the same. I didn’t realise until later on that part of the facing would be visible when the shirt folds open at the top – but I like it! As Mr. Guy pointed out, it almost looks like a little bow tie. I also love the flash of spots when he rolls up the sleeves.
It fits extremely well, for having basically no alterations from the pattern. It’s a slim fitting pattern which is good for my slim-fitting husband. I’m glad it has no darts in it because I’ve taken David Coffins words to heart for a mens shirt – that darts are “merely evidence of ill-cut side seams” (this doesn’t apply in womenswear, obviously). Even the length of the sleeves and body is perfect – he can easily tuck it in and it’s not too long to be worn untucked. We decided to leave off the pockets as it looked so good without them.
Mr. Guy is also very happy with his new shirt – he’s already requested another “in parchment coloured linen with this exact texture”, not seeming to understand that it’s uncommon to find textured linen. I also asked him if he’d ever wear “crazy patterns” (although I don’t think he could quite pull this or this off) and he said “only if I match what you’re wearing” – ohh, be still my beating heart! I’ve been waiting to hear that ever since I found out about this couple who have worn matching outfits for the last 35 years (this is my favourite – I want a dress just like that!!).
You may have already recognised the fabric this shirt is out of; yes, we already have one matching outfit!
Couldn’t quite get the photo even as the camera was balanced on a spherical boulder.
So, there’s my first foray into mens shirt-making. Now that I have a pattern that fits (and it fits WELL), I’ll be able to easily make up more shirts. I have some fabric on the way, with which I’m planning to make a shirtwaist dress, so I might buy more to make us another matching outfit.
Pattern: Negroni by Colette Patterns, $18
Fabric: Navy linen, $3/m from sale = $6, plus polka dots leftover from a dress
Notions: Navy buttons, $4.20, interfacing and thread from stash
Total: $10.40 as is, $38.40 including pattern
Photos were taken at the Koutu Boulders.