Sewing: two prototypes

a pair of shirts in muslin (fine cotton cloth) and a denser/heavier white broadcloth.

In the last few days I have produced the bodies of two of these shirts. My goal is to learn how to make this shirt well and fast — I’ve avoided learning to make a shirt so far because I haven’t liked any of the designs of any of the shirts I found in the pattern catalogs.

Historically I have not had much luck making shirts, either. I’ve had several failed efforts, mostly at the beginning of my sewing career and I’ve been discouraged to try again — at three and a half yards of fabric per shirt, you’re starting at a cost of $45-50 before my labor gets added in. Ruining such a thing partway through the making is a) too easy and b) was too common; and to go through all the work and get it right, only to have the shirt not fit, was heartbreaking. But this one? I like this one. And it fits.

Why? First of all, it doesn’t rely on knit fabric or stretch fabric, which I consider a bane of modern fashion. A woven fabric has some body and solidity to it, and it’s sturdy. More than that, I’m a big guy — the last thing I want is a shirt that clings to my skin. I want a shirt that has some room in it and that isn’t constricting or limiting. More than that— I want a shirt with the full range of sizes between XS and XXXL already worked out. This design doesn’t have that, either — but it’s a lot closer than any other design to that ideal.

Third, it has buttons. But not twenty of them, and not the tiny ones. I can use 1/2″ buttons and they don’t feel off-sized. I don’t have to strain my eyes sewing on 3/8″ buttons and making buttonholes to match. (Sewing secret! You make the buttonholes first and then match the buttons to the holes!). And there’s only four buttons.

Fourth — Do you just print of the size of the shirt is based on the adjustment of the size of the pattern pieces. Some shirt designs, you have to actually adjust both the pattern pieces and the sewing instructions. That’s not true here.

All in all I think it’s a great design of shirt. We will see what The Lady thinks of the design when she comes home. But I think I look good in them, I enjoyed making them, and I look forward to making them again. That may be enough reason to continue. Next up, short sleeve version.

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