Man’s (failed) shirt: Burda 7045

Here’s a cautionary Christmas tale.

If you offer to make a shirt for someone else, you need to make a muslin first. Yes, muslin making is tedious beyond belief, but if you don’t do it, you might spend hours making something like this:

photo

Only for it to be received like this:

shirt too big

I handsewed 12 buttons for this shirt, which I believe is the dictionary definition of ‘labour of love’, so I’m pretty gutted that it didn’t work out.

The pattern is Burda 7045. If you want to make your own version, heed my warnings:

  • Collar A looks normal on the envelope, but in reality is a monstrosity of David Frost proportions.
  • The sleeves are also massive, and the cuffs would fit round the upper arm of most men.
  • There aren’t any back pleats included in the pattern.
  • This shirt also doesn’t have a rounded bottom hem. I had to wing that.
  • However it DOES include neck measurements on the pattern instructions. Of course I found this out after I’d sewed this whole shirt. I didn’t even realise men bought shirts by their neck measurements – it never comes up in womenswear…
sleeve too big
Demonstrating the muckle sleeve

The back doesn’t look too bad. I did a narrow shoulder adjustment, but think it might need even more – are men’s shirts supposed to sit slightly off the shoulder?

gingham shirt back

It’s a real shame this didn’t work out, as the fabric was sent to me by Terry’s Fabrics and it’s a lovely, medium weight woven gingham. The small checks mean you don’t have to match up the side seams, and it feels really substantial. Tempted to buy more to make myself a blouse for the summer.

It’s nice to find a source for gingham in lots of different colours, as I find the stuff you get in fabric stores is often nasty polycotton.

So anyway, as Alex wouldn’t wear this, I tried to give it to my friend (also confusingly called Alex) when he popped round for a visit. He seemed to enjoy the shirt at first:

alex busting some moves

But 5 minutes after this he was saying the shirt made him ‘look fat’, so I fear it will never be worn (I made him take the shirt home anyway as it was depressing me to look at it).

There are two things I learned from this experience.

1. Always make a muslin first, as already discussed. I’m making my second attempt in this gorgeous Paul Smith cotton which can’t be wasted on another failure.

photo (1)

2. There is a gap in the market for a modern men’s shirt pattern! Every guy I see on the street in London is wearing a slim-cut checked shirt of some kind, but there aren’t any perfect patterns to make them.

This pattern needs to have back pleats, a yoke, a small collar with the option to button it down, and normal sized cuffs (with a cutaway edge). It should explain all the professional RTW methods like sleeve plackets, flat felling and the proper way of sewing the yoke.

Yes, I know I could collate all this myself, but wouldn’t it be handy to have it in one envelope? Colette have done a good job with their Negroni, but I don’t see many guys wearing this style of convertible collar, whereas the standard shirt is everywhere. Indie pattern designers of the world, I challenge you to come up with this holy grail!

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50 thoughts on “Man’s (failed) shirt: Burda 7045

  1. Ruthann Logsdon Zaroff January 7, 2014 / 8:54 PM

    Thanks for your timely post! My son, an utter clothes horse, has been begging me to make dress shirts for him, complete with French cuffs. I can’t believe no pattern company offers a pattern for one. He has about a dozen custom shirts he bought in China a few years ago, but they are all quite worn. I have been toying with using this pattern and Vogue 8889, hoping to find a happy medium, and maybe ripping one of his Chinese shirts apart to draft a pattern. He is very slender and prefers close-fitting shirts, so I will have to add darts or princess (prince?) seams. I have read through “Shirtmaking” by David Page Coffin, and will use his collar and cuff techniques. I know that in the 1970s Vogue had a classic men’s shirt with French cuffs because I made some back then. Funny that such a classic style is no longer available. I think your gingham shirt is beautiful, and would be quite comfortable, billowing sleeves and all! 🙂

    • dpcoffin January 7, 2014 / 9:18 PM

      Please check out pages 36-38 in my book before you bother to take any shirt apart for copying; it’s quite easy—and wiser, less distortion—to copy it with seams intact! Glad to hear you’ve found any part of that book useful. Good luck and HNY to all.

    • yesilikethat January 7, 2014 / 9:50 PM

      Wow, sounds like a challenge! Burda 7359 has vertical prince/princess seams in, could be a starting point? http://www.simplicitynewlook.com/b7359/#.Usx2OegjEcg

      David Coffin linked a great video above about tracing a shirt pattern without taking it apart, I’m going to try this next, definitely worth a try!

      My only tip would be to make a muslin first… 🙂 good luck!

  2. Maria December 18, 2013 / 4:46 PM

    I’ve just made some Burda trousers (using OffsetWarehouse.com fabrics actually!) and the fit was also horrendous – the crotch is sooo long and the waist band is super small for the sizes it says. Luckily I fitted as I went along, and I realised most issues so rectified most problems. Are Burda patterns usually that bad?

    • yesilikethat December 19, 2013 / 10:54 AM

      I normally find Burda patterns have a better fit than the other big companies – although their trousers do tend to have a ridiculously high waist/long crotch. Maybe they are designed for superleggy German ladies!

  3. Kelly December 15, 2013 / 7:50 PM

    Aw, that’s too bad. The shirt looks great not modeled! This is probably a crazy suggestion, but what about Grainline’s Archer? My husband is on the small side, so I don’t hesitate to use women’s patterns for him since I have them anyway and it means fewer alterations, so maybe this might be totally useless for a more average-sized man.

  4. Miss Demeanour December 14, 2013 / 9:31 AM

    There are no failures only deviations from the original plan, which become the previous plan before it all went postal. So all you’ve done is taken a more scenic route to the end point and I for one salute you *salutes* I also agreed whole heartedly about the shirt pattern as I’d love to rock a pair out for my brothers Grimm and they like to wear just the kind you mentioned as in fact do I.

    • LinB December 16, 2013 / 6:14 PM

      Agreed. No mistakes, only “design decisions.” You could take in the sleeves down the length of the arm, so that they are not so flappy. And, I’ve recently seen vertical “fisheye” darts on some high-end shirts aimed at younger men, to taper the body of the shirt, front and back. Don’t know if this solution appeals to you, esp. since the gingham would highlight the darts.

  5. Anne in Japan December 14, 2013 / 6:48 AM

    Oh dear… I am on Day 4 of making a ‘surprise’ Christmas Negroni. I am now rather more anxious about whether he will like it now… (He’s away, which is why I can do this in secret.) Though he isn’t terribly fussy about clothes so there’s hope there… It’s my first time to make a man’s shirt and it is blinking difficult and fiddly! However, the Negroni pattern instructions are fabulous and making it up has been full of fears which were later shown to be groundless. I recommend it as a learning process! I’ve also been using the sewalong posts on Male Pattern Boldness as extra clarification/encouragement and they are brilliant, too. He has posted an alternative collar which would probably be more acceptable – so you don’t have to do the one that comes with the pattern. (I have – and I think it looks fine – but will my chap..?)
    Anyway – your shirt looks brilliant – well done for finishing it! I think I have another day or two to go yet… I am terrified that the buttonholes (last thing bar the buttons) will come out badly and screw up all the work so far! Wish me luck!

  6. David Coffin December 13, 2013 / 5:13 PM

    PS: If you like everything about the Negroni except the collar, swap in the collar from the Burda after tweaking it to taste along the free edges. If the necklines are different, it won’t be by much, and you can just trace off the Burda’s neckline to see the exact difference and fix it.
    dpc

  7. David Coffin December 13, 2013 / 4:54 PM

    Hey, your shirt looks great…flat. So you’ve obviously got the making part handled. For the fit, it’d be a shame to wait for a better pattern to appear, for which you’d have to make—and probably adjust—a muslin anyway (or at least do a tissue-fitting, as demo-ed here: http://goo.gl/lWrX98), when it’s so easy to make a pattern from an existing, already tested and approved shirt: http://youtu.be/YRLCHj2mDFE. If there’s no shirt in the closet that’s exactly right, start with one that fits as desired in the shoulders, since all the other areas/details are easier to adjust than the shoulders are; the other parts are all just length and width issues while the shoulders involve angles as well. Adding darts and/or a back pleat is also super easy, no need for a pattern that includes them. And getting the collar right doesn’t need a muslin or a new pattern either; just cut half-collar test shapes traced initially from some existing model on white paper and hold them up over a worn shirt for approval and tweaking. The main factor I think is getting the recipient involved early on; you’re standing in for a custom shirt maker after all, not a catalog or a RTW shop, and the more you know about their preferences up front the better. Finally, the best custom shops consider the customer’s first shirts to be tests, so why should we amateurs imagine we can get everything right the first time?

    Here’s a few more links worth exploring…

    An excellent sew-along:
    http://goo.gl/sloHKY

    A bunch of great videos from a custom shirt maker:
    http://goo.gl/3A4S9d

    The only problem with making somebody a shirt they really love is that they’ll want more, so be careful what you wish for!

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 5:02 PM

      Wow, thank you so much for commenting – I have your book and it’s awe-inspiring! These are brilliant tips. Good idea to remember that it’s just the start of the custom shirt process and not to get discouraged at an early failure. I didn’t even think of mocking up the collar like that but it’s genius. Thank you again!

      I am a bit worried that if I get the fit right I will become an in-house shirt maker…I guess it’s a risk worth taking though 🙂

  8. helen December 13, 2013 / 4:53 PM

    I’m planning on making a man’s shirt, thanks for the tips on pattern!
    Like the Terry’s fabric link, I haven’t thought about them for clothing fabrics, just furnishings. Will take a good look.
    Sewing on a pile of buttons is a right old drag.
    Good luck with the next attempt, the fabric looks lovely.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 5:07 PM

      Yes they have some nice cotton fabrics in there, and loads of different coloured gingham. Great novelty fabrics for kids stuff too. Thanks for the support for my next attempt! 🙂

  9. Colleen December 13, 2013 / 2:10 PM

    I like it! I’m so sorry it didn’t work but maybe it’ll work someday for somebody. 🙂

    I, too, am a huge Negroni fan. I’ve made two now, one for my husband and another for a coworker who was leaving. For the coworker I sort of guessed his size and it came out perfectly and fit him. Maybe I was lucky but I think the pattern is pretty forgiving — try it out for your guy.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 5:17 PM

      I’ll have to get a copy in the New Year and give it a go. That’s very nice of you to sew for a coworker! They must love you. Sometimes I buy biscuits for the office but that’s about as far as it goes…

  10. Bridget Mahoney December 13, 2013 / 1:41 PM

    My guy is very picky about his shirts. It’s got to have clean lines and a close fit. I’ve started tailoring ready-to-wear shirts for him- even slim fit tends to be a bit baggy and the arms are always a smidgen too long- but haven’t found a pattern to make one up from scratch that he’d like. I hope one of the pattern companies listens to your suggestion! Sewing patterns for men in general is a big hole in the market.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 1:49 PM

      Definitely! Peter from Male Pattern Boldness has talked interestingly about this, I’m hoping the rise of indie pattern companies will help to fill this gap.

  11. Ripple Dandelion December 13, 2013 / 12:10 PM

    To further illustrate the foolishness of men: my husband would probably think this shirt, as modeled, was “too tight.” He is a fit and reasonably tall fellow, but he wears everything so big! If I make him something that is the least bit fitted, he smiles and says nice things and never wears it.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 1:48 PM

      I guess men have much less choice when it comes to items of clothing so they are really picky about the fit of the things they do wear…

  12. HouseOFpinheiro (@HouseOFpinheiro) December 13, 2013 / 9:29 AM

    maybe get one of his old shirts as a start? You done a fantastic job, shame he didn’t like it.
    Im in the process of making huh his christmas present and I’m having a feeling he won’t like it and I’m procrastinating to finish.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:49 AM

      I know the feeling. Good luck with HRH’s present! I’m sure he will love it 🙂

  13. sewlittletime December 13, 2013 / 8:35 AM

    No sure why but phone wouldn’t let me finish last comment! I totally agree re shirt patterns. The choice is awful. I was looking for a slim fit shirt without a “western” look and with a proper collar stand and nothing! Maybe Thread Theory need to get onto it! I took apart and old shirt of hubby’s and traced the pattern from that, although it’s so old that it wasn’t totally reliable as a template.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:49 AM

      That’s a brilliant idea. The choice is so bad out there, you’d think it would be a pattern essential.

  14. sewlittletime December 13, 2013 / 8:32 AM

    Oh no! How annoying! I scored some jasper conran shirting in a remnant sale in Berwick St and with a fussy hubby like mine I was definitely making a muslin! Also mens shirt making can be fiddly. Altho the muslin is fine there are Def some things I would change on another version.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:49 AM

      Thanks Claire. I am going down two sizes and might try the fish eye darts if that doesn’t work.

  15. Alice Keen December 13, 2013 / 7:42 AM

    oh I do feel for you. Fails are bad enough, but all the work that goes into a shirt…and it looks perfect. What a shame. I hope your next project goes well and makes you feel better.

    I have your Paul Smith fabric too. I put it in the tumble dryer after a pre-wash and it’s come out very very slightly bobbly on the surface, so be careful if you dry yours. It’s not ruined but it looks well worn and I haven’t even cut it yet (it’s for the asymmetrical skirt in the winter vogues)

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:48 AM

      Oh dear, thanks for the heads-up! I will wash it on a gentle wash and see if that helps. Shame as it looks like such nice fabric.

  16. Marsha December 12, 2013 / 11:30 PM

    My suggestion: Get different men! Ones who will appreciate a truly beautiful handmade shirt instead of nitpicking everything!

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:48 AM

      I like your suggestion! Sadly they do come in handy in other ways so I don’t think I can swap them just yet…

  17. yosami December 12, 2013 / 10:03 PM

    I hate doing muslins but I’m so glad I did one for my coat – that was also a Burda pattern and it was horrendous! If you need a laugh, check out my post about it! Anyway I found a really good men’s shirt pattern in ‘Cut’ magazine – http://www.cut-magazine.com – issue Nr.9. It’s by designers Samsoe and Samsoe and it has a back pleat and yoke etc. The magazine is in German but it has very detailed pictoral step by step instructions and comes with the pattern. I would like to make it but I think it’s beyond my current skill level, maybe future me will have a go! The magazine has a couple of free patterns and is a trendy, fashionable artsy mag for creatives.It’s described as a do-it-yourself fashion magazine! I think it’s worth checking out! Issue 8 of the mag has 3 patterns and I want to make them all!

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:47 AM

      Thank you, great tip!

  18. MadeByMeg December 12, 2013 / 9:46 PM

    Bummer! Sewing for someone else is always so difficult, especially someone you love and put in so much effort for! Have you checked out Colette’s Negroni Pattern? I haven’t sewn it up yet, but I trust indie pattern makers so much more! Also, I have a suspicion that Thread Theory may eventually come out with a good men’s shirt pattern, too.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:46 AM

      Alex isn’t keen on the convertible collar and I am too lazy to draft my own…shame as it looks like a nice pattern. I think Thread Theory would do so well with a comprehensive, modern men’s shirt pattern. Really hope they go for it!

  19. Bryanna December 12, 2013 / 9:01 PM

    It looks wonderfully sewn, nonetheless. I took a craftsy.com class on making a classic tailored shirt. It walked me through all that technical business like plackets and cuffs.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:46 AM

      I must check out some Craftsy classes, haven’t taken any yet. I have never sewn a proper placket and they give me The Fear.

  20. Lindsay December 12, 2013 / 8:54 PM

    Well, well done to you. Making a shirt for a man is a herculean task as there is always going to be something…. First shirt I made for my man he wanted a fat collar. I drafted the whole shirt for him… he put it on and the first thing he said was ” on the next one can you make the collar a shade slimmer”. I near self combusted. Since then there has been a few more shirts, the most successful being a pattern from a fav shirt he already owned. Oh and a felling foot is a gift from the gods, foot 71 for Bernina.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:46 AM

      That’s a brilliant story, people who don’t sew just have no idea! Well done on making more shirts for your man after that incident. I would love a felling foot, might treat myself in the new year…

  21. Rach December 12, 2013 / 7:52 PM

    Oh no! It doesn’t look that bad though?? I know what you mean, most men’s patterns haven’t had a style update since the 70s… Maybe By Hand London could be persuaded?

  22. gingermakes December 12, 2013 / 7:22 PM

    Ack! Men! I really don’t think it looks bad on Alex, and it definitely looks nice on Other Alex. But once my guy gets it in his head that something “looks funny” (heaven help us all if he thinks he looks fat– that induces a swirling spiral of depression and a refusal to eat anything but turkey for two days) it’s all downhill. I’m not feeling encouraged about making him a shirt in time for Christmas (and of course, it’s plaid). I was going to use McCall’s 6044 and just measure a shirt that fits him well already.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:45 AM

      Good luck with your shirt! I just realised it’s 11 days until Christmas so my chances of making mine in time are shrinking rapidly…

  23. Charise @ CRUNCH compass December 12, 2013 / 6:43 PM

    I actually don’t think it’s terrible and can’t believe Alex wouldn’t wear it after all your hard work! Kudos for all the handsewing – that part I agree would be terrible 🙂

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:43 AM

      Thanks! 🙂 To be fair, I know how fussy he is with his clothes, which is why I put off making this for so long…

  24. whatkatiedoes (@whatkatiedoes) December 12, 2013 / 6:39 PM

    I do recommend the Burda Jakob. We had no fitting issues (besides collar and cuff size reduction) and it’s got everything on your list bar a back pleat. I’m just making Josh a second one for Christmas and I’m doing sleeve plackets per the Colette Hawthorn sewalong which fit in easily.

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:43 AM

      I’ll have a look at that. I’ve got a men’s shirt pattern in an old Burda magazine but I couldn’t face tracing it off and making a muslin too…

  25. Susanne (@susanne_trego) December 12, 2013 / 6:36 PM

    Aww, too bad about the fit! McCall’s 6044 isn’t the worst pattern ever. Though I did have to make up my own way of flat-felling, and I’m not sure it counts as slim fit, since I never bothered sewing the buttons on when I finished the sewing a year and a half ago. (Ringing endorsement, eh?)

    • yesilikethat December 13, 2013 / 9:42 AM

      Ha ha, I have the same unenthusiastic feeling towards shirt sewing (and buttons in particular). I will check out the McCalls shirt.

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