Sunday 12 October 2014

Selfless Sewing: A Men's Shirt

A while ago I made this shirt for Lescha. It was my second attempt. The first one was a slight disaster which escalated when I stitched and opened the buttonholes on the wrong side of the button band. As I don't want to relive this nightmare, I'm not going to show you version 1 (which is wearable - and Lescha does - after I closed the buttonholes and stitched them on the right side).

May I proudly present Lescha's purple shirt:


Fabric: Black/purple oxford shirting bought in Goldhawk Road. It frayed a bit, but was otherwise a breeze to sew. I interfaced the collar, collar stand and cuffs with fusible canvas which I bought from English Couture. The plackets are interfaced with fine cotton. I got these two interfacing plus Bondaweb (which I didn't use) in a Shirt Interfacing Starter Pack. 

I had the hardest time ever to fuse the canvas to the fabric. Although I used loads of steam and pressed with my whole weight on the iron there are patches on the collar and cuffs where the interfacing came off after washing the shirt. It's so annoying. So if you have any tips, please share.

Pattern: It's Burda style pattern 7045 which comes in three versions - aka three different collar types. Lescha wanted version A which has the classic collar.

Alterations: I made four muslins (if counting shirt No1) before I got the fit right. Leschas main problem with RTW shirts is that he always has a massive fabric fold at the back joke right under the neck. I quickly figured out that this was due to his square shoulders. So I made a square shoulder adjustment on the yoke following the instructions of "Fit for real people". It essentially involves the addition of a triangle of fabric to the yoke at the shoulder points.

To make the shirt more tailored I took it in a lot at the side seams. Here I just took a tailored shirt he owns and likes as a guideline to have an idea how fitted the shirt should be. As shirt No1 was to tight over the chest and in the back I added 1/4'' on the back, front and yoke pattern (that was after I attempted a FBA on a MEN's shirt, haha, didn't work well). I know that on the photos it still looks like the shirt is too tight but Lescha said it isn't. I think the shine caught by the camera makes it look worse on the photos than it actually is.

I raised the sleeve cap as well a couple of centimeters. Because I had done the square shoulder adjustment, I didn't had to worry about the added circumference of the cap. I just kept measuring and changing the sleeve cap until it fit into the armhole. (The massive crease you are seeing here is not my doing. Lescha always irons it in.)

You can see that he has plenty of space at the back now. Thus his forward arm movements are not restrained.

I also changed the sleeves. I made them a bit tighter at the wrist and 1" wider at the underarm. I couldn't find instructions how to widen the underarm only (and not the wrist and biceps area). Thus I cut off the wrist and biceps on the pattern leaving me with the underarm. I spread the underarm by 0.5" left and right to the center and then attached the now to small wrist and biceps pattern. I then tapered the seam lines so that they fit. Leaving me with a sleeve pattern that had a bulge in the underarm area :)

Construction: I didn't follow the instructions - except for the placket. Lescha had lovingly gifted me with the Craftsy class "The classic tailored shirt" a year and a half ago. So I followed the instructions of the instructor which are great and very detailed. Thanks To the class I didn't have to handstitch the yoke but could use my sewing machine. I handstitched however the under-collar and the cuffs to the shirt. Which was not too bad and didn't take long.

The only time I used the instructions were for attaching the placket because this type of placket is not covered in the Craftsy class. My second attempt turned out much better.

So how about you? Have you attempted the "art" of shirt making? I will be making another one soonish - Christmas present :)


  1. Great shirt! It looks like you've got the fit down really well on this one. My husband irons his shirt sleeves like that too... it drives me mad!

  2. Wowsers! What a brilliant shirt, you really are a fitting expert.

  3. Looks like all your hard work paid off again - you always do such a good job with fitting!

  4. Wowsa! That's a gorgeous shirt! I really like the fabric. Man, you always are so meticulous with fitting, I am jealous! I wish I had your skills :) Your post reminds me that I have a shirt lying around somewhere which needs to be fitted.... ;)

  5. The shirt looks great and the fit really is spot on! :)

  6. Wow - I really love this shirt - looks brilliant :-) I have never tried a mens shirt but I really want to try after seeing your version

  7. Very nice work! I really love the fabric you used!

  8. Ooh that looks brilliant. I'm in the middle of a shirt for my brother. I used one of his existing shirts that he liked the fit of and made a pattern from it. It's made it a lot less stressful without worrying over fit. I hope I finish it as beautifully as yours

  9. This looks wonderful - I need to take some lessons from you in unselfish sewing!

    I hope you don’t mind, but I nominated you for The Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award – feel free to take part or ignore at your own free will!

  10. Wow! Great shirt! I love that fabric!!! Although I don't have any tips for you with the interfacing :( I do think, however, that your stitching is perfect on this!

  11. This is so cool. I am such a huge fan of their work. I really am impressed with how much you have worked to make this website so enjoyable.
    custom dress shirts online

  12. What a nice shirt! I should really make one for my husband, too. I take sewing classes, and we learned about interfacing that you should not use steam, but press each part of the interfacing for a while (and use a piece of think cotton in case you are worried about burning your fabric). The time you need to press depends on the type/brad of interfacing, but I believe it can take 10-20 seconds, but steam should be avoided at all costs ;-) Good luck, hope it will help!


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