December 7, 2012

Check mate

Thank you for all the nice comments on my coat!
The succesful completion of a big project like this has really helped with my sewing mojo. Nevertheless, I decided to take on a simple and fairly un-selfish project first: another shirt for E.* (my apologies for the focus issues in the close-ups. the light was terrible)

I always keep an eye out for fabrics which would work for fis clothes but menswear stuff is so much harder to find. And his taste isn't very adventurous. So, despite owning an overflowing stash, I immediately bought this cotton flannel when I found it at the market (could be a cotton polyesther blend, the burn test revealed a bit of synthetic in it). It's lovely and soft and has the right weight and hand for a winter shirt. They were selling several designs, so I may go back for more. The only, rather serious, drawback was the width of this fabric: 90 cm. I needed more than 3 m for this single shirt and I'm very good at cutting fabric economically. Luckily, I noticed this issue when buying and got 4 m. And the (lack of) width was reflected in the price.

As usual, I used the shirt sloper I made for E years ago, using the "tailored shirt block" from Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear. Like most times, I added a convertible collar instead of a classic collar and stand because E prefers it in wearing. And I completed the look with pockets with flaps. I chose not to make a contrast button band this time (so I had to be extra careful about matching the horizontals at the front).

Of course, I played with the checks a bit. I took care with the placement of the back darts, matched the horizontal lines at side and underarm seams, at the sleeve plackets and, as mentioned before at the front.

The back yoke, cuffs and pockets and flaps were cut on the bias. I stabilized the yoke by giving it an on-grain facing. For the cuffs and flaps, I used fusible interfacing and on-grain facings. Only the pockets themselves at 'unsupported' bias cut bits but I took great care in pressing them in shape and sewing them on the (on-grain) shirt fronts. 

A little detail, because it may be helpful to some of you: I like the look of rounded shirt tail, but I don't like fiddling endlessly to hem them. And I don't like the badly twisting hems you often get on such shapes. I often use this very simple cheat's trick: take (store bought) bias tape and sew along the bottom of the shirt (right sides together) in one of the folds, press to the inside of the shirt and topstitch along the edge. Et voila: an effortlessly curved hem.

* Of course I know a man's shirt doesn't count as an easy project in everyone's book, but I've made so many by now...


  1. A very handsome shirt. I am with you, I have made so many shirts for my hubby that they aren't hard anymore:) The hard part is finding fabric for them.

  2. Simple project!? Oh Lord, I only wish! You are an inspiration.

  3. Love the details, great shirt. Lucky man!

  4. Nice one. Shirts aren't easy to make though they don't have darts or curves to handle, they have lots of details and

  5. hi, id like to ask you about drafting the sleeves pattern, i am also using winifred aldrich book 4th edition and i got stuck on sleeves. In 0-2 it says sleeve legth75cm +6cm minus cuff6cm and yoke width33,5cm 75+6=81-39,5=41,5cm that doesnt make any sense... please help me.. :(

  6. Hi Arvin,
    I can't find an email adress or blog via your profile (maybe because of the switch to Google+) so I'll reply here.
    I think your problem is not with the shirt block instructions, but with the different measurements used in this book. Your calculation itself is right but I agree the result makes no sense. I think you should take a good look at pages 9,10 and 11. The 'sleeve length for shirts' is measured from the nape of the neck to the wrist over a bent arm. This results in the largest of arm or sleeve measurements used in this book and it's why you have to substract yoke width. I think this is done because men's shirts are loosely fitted and should provide a good range of movement for the arms.
    I guess you are using some other arm length measurement.
    Also 33,5 cm is a rather large yoke width, both the book's standard sizes and the shirts I've drafted are under 30 cm. If this is for a particularly broad shouldered person, it's absolutely fine, if not, check the half back measurement and the first 9 steps of drafting the body section.
    Best of luck with the pattern and feel free to comment or email if you have any more questions.