Monday, February 10, 2014

Selfless Sewing: A Men's Shirt

Oh, hi there! Does anyone know how it's already mid-February all of a sudden? I have to admit that my new work schedule, paired with gloomy winter weather and short daylight, have made me into a bit of a hybernating creature for the last few weeks. But we've had glorious sunlight for the last few days (and I guess I'm starting to cope with my schedule), so I've started to wake up again!

I haven't done a lot of stitching, but I'm working on a sock, I've had a skirt cut out forever that is finally in the process of being stitched together, and there are another couple of Lolas in the plans. (I'm still a bit reluctant and scared to get started on work clothes. Trousers! Collared shirts! Argh!)

Also, I've finished a commission!
Well, actually I made it into a birthday gift. Made from that pink&white fabric in the top right corner. Wanna guess?
Nope, not baby clothes. Actually, it made for a rather stylish men's shirt for my stepdad.
Though to be honest, we're now calling it a (wearable) muslin. Since my stepdad lives 700km away from me, fitting was pretty much out of the question, so instead of taking his measurements, I traced one of his shirts that fits him rather well and took my measurements from that. At some point, I must have added a double seam allowance, though, because the new shirt turned out rather big, and the sleeves are almost ridiculously long...
He also chose the pattern for the shirt himself, it's Burda 7359, but we both overlooked that it doesn't have a proper collar with a collar stand (even though the model on the front wears a tie with it!), instead it features a rather huge and pointy one-piece collar that kinda reminds me of the seventies... or as my stepdad said, a pyjama. Oh well. At least it matches the oversized cuffs.
To make matters worse, I asked the lady at the fabric section of our local department store to recommend a good fusible interfacing for the collar of a men's shirt, but I think she had no idea since what she recommended feels both too thick and not stable enough, a bit spongy instead of crisp. I'm guessing it's more suited to thicker fabrics. Next time I'm going to the fabric store to buy interfacing, even if the department store is more convenient to reach...

There are quite a few things that I'm very happy with, though. I think the sleeve placket turned out exceptionally well, especially since I mostly just followed the Burda pattern instructions.
For the myrad of button holes, I didn't use my regular machine (the all-metal Privileg Super-Nutzstich from the 80s that I inherited from my great-grandma). Instead, I used the computerized but rather cheap AEG machine that I bought when I started sewing, because I realized that it has 5 different automatic buttonhole programmes! Also, you just put your button into the little button compartment of the buttonhole foot, and it matches the buttonholes to the size of the button. No eyeballing! I'm very glad I remembered that. Overall, it's a pretty cheap and crappy machine, it hates knits and heavy fabric / lots of layers, but it makes really nice buttonholes. Yay!
I actually wanted a white contrast band for the button placket as well, but I didn't understand the pattern well enough. What I did instead was add a contrast facing. Oh well.

I have now re-measured the finished shirt and the shirt I used for taking measurements, so I will be able to fix the fit for the next shirt iteration (incidentally, in the patterned blue fabric above). I'll also need to draft a regular collar - does anyone have a tip for a good tutorial for that?

So I'm hoping now that I got most of the stupid mistakes for sewing a shirt out of my system. Any tips on what I should look out for in the next iteration?

Happy Sewing!


  1. Hi, for a great shirt sew along go to peter from male pattern boldness! He did a sew along for collette's negroni shirt and shows how to draft a different collar. Your shirt looks great!

  2. The sleeve plackets are beautiful! It's hard to get the right size for someone who lives far away - version two will be perfect :)

  3. The shirt looks great, I love the neat button placket. So frustrating for you about the interfacing and the sizing, xx

  4. You did a great job, especially for a first go. It's so frustrating trying to get the fit right for someone who lives far away. I've run into that when making clothes for my mum and sisters (they live across the country from me). I'm sure you've probably found several drafting tutorials for a two-piece collar by now, but here are a couple:, The photos are out of focus in the Threads tutorial, but the information is solid.