Friday, April 17, 2015

Perfecting Men's Shirts - Pattern Review

I'm scared to sew men's shirts...but I think I'm just scared to sew shirts in general. At least for men, there aren't any bust darts to fiddle with. But I've come to the conclusion that unless I really try to come clean and practice sewing shirts, I'm omitting (or avoiding) learning and improving some basic sewing skills. In one shirt, I can learn how to sew a:
  • Collar
  • Collar stand
  • Front placket
  • Set buttonholes
  • Cuff placket
  • Cuff
  • Set-in sleeves
  • Patch pocket
  • French seams
  • Hand-basting
  • Interfacing placement
I have finally improved on the collar and collar stand now. After making a couple of vests, and unsuccessful shirts, I feel like I know what I need to look for in a good design and pattern. But before I could tackle a shirt, I really needed to test some patterns. This could require more than one muslin. (Sad but true.)

Here is an iffy men's pattern to start...at least for size 44 anyway. I note "iffy" because I can be pretty bad at reading pattern instructions when I'm tired. I want to err on my clumsy side. But this pattern had a lot of issues for me. I think that poor sewing instructions is equally as bad as poorly drafted patterns. In more Vogue Patterns that I'd like to count, I have found this to be the case.  Vogue V8759 was no exception. I'd like to hear if others had problems too.


The collar stand didn't fit the neck well. I had to trim it back nearly an inch to make it flush. The ease that they said it had, really didn't seem to exist. It said there was a four inch ease. But it really didn't measure out that way. The sleeve doesn't feel right in the shoulders. Even though it "looks" okay, it doesn't feel correct when on. It seems to pull at the back armhole. I had my brother-in-law, who is three sizes smaller try it on, and he still felt like the shoulders were uncomfortable. This men's shirt is on my female dress form...so disregard the feminine silhouette.

No buttons yet. I might turn this into a work shirt for myself. 

There are French seams in the back, but they are difficult to see in the photo.
One of the key pattern requirements I want is a different collar and stand for different sizes. I think when all the sizes are printed into one pattern piece, fit can be become a problem. I have difficulty cutting the exact size on those tiny size lines that are squeezed into corners. Does anyone else have this problem? Patterns where there are size-specific patterns make for better matching, and there is less room for error. This is one reason why I like StyleArc Patterns.

This Vogue Pattern was scrapped.

This is an excellent men's shirt pattern. I mean EXCELLENT. Not only did Simplicity give me separate and specific sizes for the collar. I found the instructions very clear. Also, many industrial sewing techniques were included into the instructions. If you want to pick up some good professional sewing tips...make this shirt. It is also true to size.

I want to mention that I have been happy with many Simplicity Pattern results as compared to other patterns.

This muslin may go to my eldest son, since he has much longer arms than my hubby.


Placket instructions looked intimidating, but after careful reading and following...it turned out.
Careful to match up the cuff pleats to the cuff size though. I folded it wrong on one sleeve,
and the cuff size was off. But that was a user error, and not the pattern.
I am still in the muslin stage for this shirt. The Simplicity pattern was a great fit overall, but it had not been tailored to my husband yet. Once I get that out of the way, and create a second muslin. Yes, you heard me, a second muslin. I sewed this linen shirt in a 44, and although it fit him in the waist, it was slightly tight in the collar, sleeves were too long, and the shoulders too broad. My hubby has a thick neck, narrow shoulders, short arms, and a large waist.

It the pattern alterations are successful, I will only have to do two muslins.  But I'm not going to hold my breath. I can't wait to cut into some beautiful shirting fabric I got at the Robert Talbott outlet. I also have Robert Talbott silk fabric for men's ties. That's another project that's happening soon. Stay tuned everyone...and happy sewing!