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:


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!

Summery white shirt (but no summer yet): McCalls 6512

Thanks to everyone who responded to my last screed on blogging and narcissicm, all the comments were so interesting and insightful.

I started this site because I wanted somewhere to rant on in tedious detail about all my obsessions, which I keep from my friends to avoid boring them into a coma. I really enjoy getting feedback and comments, which were mentioned as reasons for blogging, and I do find this site keeps me more motivated and creative.

The bleeding edge of online fashion has long ago left the bog-standard world of blogs to jump to specialist Tumblr sites, Pinterest, and other innovations, which means that the really interesting and specialist stuff can begin to explode (witness the huge number of sewing blogs that have sprung up in the last couple of years). When blogging becomes just another normal method of communication, the novelty of it doesn’t matter so the content becomes more important. More types of people get involved, so there’s so much more variety. Which is great if you are both incredibly nosy and love reading, like me.

Anyway, enough waffling. here’s my latest creation, McCalls 6512. I can’t rave enough about what an awesome pattern this is. Here’s a line-drawing of the magnificence:

Check out that sexy saddle sleeve! It’s like a superhero hybrid of a raglan and kimono, I think it may have magical powers. The styling on the envelope is rather terrible as usual with McCalls, you can see it here.

Here it is in REAL LIFE.

I sewed version A almost straight out of the envelope, but I lengthened the sleeves a couple of inches, the body 1.5 inches, and then had to bring in the underarm/sleeve seams by about 1cm. I did french seams throughout, except for the pesky sleeve/body join.

The fabric is a lovely embroidered cotton voile, from my favourite Edinburgh fabric shop.

The awesome pockets and sleeve tabs make it look super professional. I’ve had absolutely no unsolicited compliments on it, and I suspect that’s because it looks like I bought it in Next. Which gives me mixed feelings. Would it make more sense to sew items that are less generic? In other news, I’m not happy unless I have something to worry about.

The hem line is nicely curved, and the shape is loose-fitting but not baggy.

‘Try and look natural Kathryn. Oh never mind.’
Bun enhance
Extreme elbow close-up

Because it’s a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, it comes with lines on the pattern telling you where to do a FBA, a swayback adjustment, and a few other fitting things. The instructions are also really good. The sleeve parts do look a bit like a strange jigsaw puzzle when you first try and put it together, but it all makes sense eventually.

I’ve already relied heavily on this top for Me-Made-May. I know that having a basic white shirt is one of those boring women’s magazines recommendations, but it does actually turn out to be very useful! Who knew?

McCalls 6512 shirt
This is my ‘looking into the distance pose’. It’s not very good.

Apologies for my posing ‘skills’ and general air of blotchiness in these pics. Obviously I’m not as narcissistic as I thought or I would try a bit harder with the old photos, but there you go.

I am definitely going to make the version with the long sleeves and bow next. YOU MUST BUY THIS PATTERN. If not you’ll be filled with regret when it inevitably goes out of print, and you have to buy my copy on ebay for a vastly inflated sum. Do it now!