I thought I had some men's shirt patterns in my stash, but all I could find was a vintage short sleeved number that I thought would look too old fashioned on him and two copies of a pattern (V2209) that looked like a shirt pattern but was actually a trouser pattern (Vogue, that was a very misleading picture! And why do I have two copies?).
I tried to get something other than a Vogue pattern for a change, but when I rushed in to Lincraft in my lunch break they didn't have the Burda shirt patterns I liked in stock. It's fine though, I like the pattern I got - Vogue 8889 - and it has potential to make many different flavours of shirt. If I ever have the energy, that is.
What I wanted was a hybrid: the long sleeves of version C (picture below on the left) and the no tucks casual look of version A (picture below on the right). But with a regular button front rather than the plackets shown. And made to fit a 75 year old...
|version C, V8889|
|version A, V8889|
|tech drawings, V8889|
Shirts can be a lot of work even straight out of the pattern envelope, but I knew it would be a better birthday present if it actually fitted him :). Lincraft only had V8889 in the too small size (34 - 40, whereas I think my dad should start as a 42-44 before adjustments), perfect for learning more about fitting!
My dad's partner measured him and emailed me the numbers, and then I went looking for information on fitting shirts. If you ever make a shirt and want to know how to make it really fit and how to sew all the details beautifully, I found an amazing resource - the shirt making tutorials on Pamela Erny's blog! I used this tutorial to adjust the pattern to fit dad's abdomen, and I read many other tutorials here that I didn't put into practice - sadly I just felt too pressed for time to master new tricks.
Before I go too much further, let me show you the finished shirt on dad:
Oh and this is how dad's RTW shirts usually seem to fit. I kind of like that he looks sad here (the "before" picture, of course) then happy in the shirt I made!
If you'd like to skip the waffle and see a beautiful version of this shirt, head over to kbenco's blog, but otherwise please read on :)
The process started way before I got near the sewing machine, of course. First up I shopped my stash. The fabric I chose is a recent purchase from The Fabric Store, and it's a medium weight linen. I'd pre-washed it as soon as I'd bought it, so it was ready to go.
The next step was to review the pattern size against dad's measurements. My results don't always show it (I often run out of time at the end), but I tend to be an over-analyser:
- I read Vogue's information on what size to choose for men...
- I checked the stated measurements on the pattern instructions for the size I was using as a starting point (size 40 - allegedly two sizes too small)
- I reviewed Vogue's ease chart to understand how loose they meant by "loose-fitting" (although this is the ease chart for women - I haven't found similar for men)
- For a more accurate assessment of ease, I measured pattern pieces and added up the numbers to get the actual circumference measurements for the shirt around the chest, waist and hips as well as the neck, and compared these to the measurements in the size chart (15 cm ease in the waist - wow!)
- I scribbled out a matrix of all these numbers against my dad's measurements so I could work out how much I needed to add where
And then it was time to think about fitting, to think about my dad' shape, and to decide where to adjust the pattern. I drafted new collar (9), collar band (10) and under collar band (11) pieces because I wanted the collar to be 9 cm longer than drafted: 7.5cm extra length and 1.5cm ease. I widened the back and yoke by 3cm, and in retrospect I shouldn't have made this adjustment as dad doesn't have particularly wide shoulders, and doesn't have a particularly wide back (d'oh). I modified the side back (7) and side front (8) pieces substantially, adding 2.5cm to each on the side seams at waist level, tapering to 0.5 cm under the arm and 1.5cm at the hem. I widened and lowered the front neckline to fit the collar, and omitted the button placket (and piece (11)). And then I used this very exciting tutorial for a 'portly' adjustment :), with the front (1) sliced parallel to the grainline, up to about chest level, then rotated to create about 5cm extra width on the hemline.
Phew! Two weeks had nearly passed - time was running out! So I quickly sewed the shirt together sans collar and sleeves, and dad got to try on this very incomplete, unfinished shirt thing on his birthday. It was a bit snug across the chest, and some of my flat fell seams and top stitching didn't look too good, so it was unpicked and sewn back together with smaller front seams and a new edge stitching sewing machine foot.
Much better. New deadline? Dad's birthday lunch, 10 days hence.
Off to work, home to play with the kids, suggest homework, make dinner, supervise baths, put them to bed, AND collapse on the sofa... Time flew past and I didn't pick up the shirt until the Thursday night before the Sunday lunch. Everything took longer than expected, and I skipped checking the sleeve lengths :( and just sewed like a sewing maniac. On the morning of the lunch I sewed even more frantically, and learnt how to get the machine to do the buttons for me - placement per one of Mr UpSewLate's business shirts - and yay! I got to the lunch late, but the shirt was finished and even ironed.
And I'll leave you with just a couple of detail pics. The collar, where you can see that a machine sewn button looks alright:
And a sleeve placket and cuff. I think I last sewed a sleeve placket over 20 years ago!
I'm so tired!
My current sewing project is a pleated pair of pants, and it's not going well at all! I think I chose the wrong fabric to start with - it's thick and has no drape - and I'm not really sure how pleated pants are supposed to fit, though I do suspect that the dropped front crotch, tight back crotch, and puffy hips I've currently achieved are probably not quite right... I might have to morph these pants into something else!
Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope your projects are working well :)
See you soon
- Gabrielle xxx