Monday, 10 January 2011

Shirt Making

One of the things I have really enjoyed making recently is a shirt for Mr Marmalade.

Is the cigarette absolutely necessary do you think?
It's from a vintage pattern I bought a few years ago (which was then too big!) - the only 'western style' shirt I could find anywhere on the interweb at the time - the picture on the front isn't exactly compelling is it?  But I didn't buy this pattern because Mr M. is into line dancing or Country music.  I had to look past the illustration with my own vision, because a Western style shirt can easily be made to look like a Rockabilly shirt, which is the look we're aiming for.

back yoke and top stitching detail
Because I was ill over the entire festive season,  I couldn't get out to buy something - we only ever buy a 'token' for eachother, because we like to go to the sales in new year to treat ourselves to something 'luxury' for the house, like a new TV - .. anyway .. I couldn't get out, so I made this shirt, but because I was lacking energy and short on time and because there was no opportunity for a fitting, I didn't make it with all the detail given - this wasn't a problem because the yokes are separate pieces added on top of the basic shirt design!  

So I made a 'simple' version with a view to customising further versions once I am used to this pattern, how it goes together, and how it 'fits' Mr. M.  

To get a good idea of how the shirt would fit (and indeed IF it would fit!) I smuggled Mr M's favourite shirt into my sewing room, and measured first the pattern against the shirt, and then the actual shirt pieces as I went, just to make doubly sure.  When it was more or less together,  I did a 'test fitting' on Jimmy - he is as tall but not as wide as Mr M these days!  Here he is wearing one of his dad's old suits and the aforementioned smuggled shirt..

he's only 15!!
Actually, the new shirt fits both of them too!  On Mr M. it's a 'fitted' look - which is what he likes, and on Jimmy it's a more 'tailored' look, which is what he likes!  

Madge is modelling this shirt - she's still wearing my bra!
The shirt is made from a lovely black cotton/viscose dotty shirting fabric with one way stretch.   I added quirky details with some left over silk (from the party dress) and red top stitching.  I wanted to add at least one pocket but I spent nearly a whole day trying to work out the pattern instructions to no avail, so I made one up and stuck it on the left breast - 

Inside with red spotty silk on the collar and back yoke
The most difficult parts to attach were the cuffs... I'm sure there's an easier way than the method presented in the instructions which say that the sleeve is sewn up before the cuff is put on - VERY FIDDLY (and as yet unfinished) ... I am sure this step could be done before the shirt sleeve is sewn together.

In summary, I enjoyed making this shirt because:
  • There are no curves to negotiate which is a welcome change for me and makes things much easier!  I could cut this out in a morning, and have most of  it sewn up in a day.
  • I love topstitching
  • The creative scope from just one pattern, is quite infinite! There is an obvious 'formula' to making a man's shirt and so this pattern - now that I know it fits perfectly -  can be customised over and over and over with different details.  I can combine different fabrics, add piping, make different shaped yokes, different style pockets, add embroidery or transfers, make the sleeves shorter, change the cuffs, use buttons or poppers and many other details.
Here are some inspirational pictures which I shall be using for future manifestations ....

Click to enlarge


Twiggy said...

Wow Julia that is looking great. I fancy making some simple shirts for Twigle for the Summer. Living in a house with two chaps (like you do:) I have a yearning to make them clothes, but can't see Twiglet wearing a pillowcase dress with applique flowers!!
I must say Jimmy is one good looking young man - I blame the parents :)
Happy New Year
Twiggy x

Dragonfly said...

Hi Julia

Sorry to have been so totally rubbish at commenting lately! I just wanted to say though, that your passion for sewing just oozes out of your posts. I am determined to try and sew something to wear this year!

Love the Man Sewing label too ; )

Billie Jane said...

I used to make shirts for my man many moons ago... we had regular 'bad taste' shirt bbq's in the summer - all the guys wore the most outrageous 'hawaii style' shirts... Steve often won because I bought the material in Holland (really fond of bright colours over there) and made his in extremely 'bad taste'.

Good grief but I wouldn't have recognised Jimmy - I think it's the food that does it... stop giving him food!!

Eugenia Woods said...

Your blog is wonderful! Great shirt!

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Nice shirt! I love the red topstitching, great detail!

DSG said...

I've been looking for that shirt pattern like a possessed on the net. I want to make one for myself. Do you have the pattern round here in your blog. I've been unable to find it if so.

By the way, is the first time I'm in your blog and I found it very cool.