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:
Only for it to be received like this:
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…
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?
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:
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.
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!