Last summer, my husband brought home enough fine shirting for 3 shirts purchased from Mink’s Haute Couture Fabric. The store, one of the last of its kind in Montreal, was to close and all fabric was being discounted.
Even on sale, these weren’t a bargain. Not wanting to make any mistakes with Marcel’s fabric, I decided to practice by making a wearable muslin. I chose an amalgamation of pieces from ‘Les Chemises’, a french translation of a Japanese book. This book offers patterns for 26 variations of 2 designs; each of 2 shirt patterns has several collar and cuff options available. I chose the classic shirt #1, but substituted #8’s spread collar and #9’s pleated back.
I often research upcoming projects fairly extensively and purchased a shirt from a thrift store with details I liked. I suspected that I might find sewing secrets and I wasn’t disappointed. A few of the techniques are rarely seen in sewing books, and one method for making the cuffs was pretty revelatory as far as I was concerned.
In my opinion, what sets a shirt apart from others lies in the details. With that in mind, I added slots for collar stays and planned my topstitching carefully. For best results, I used mercerized cotton thread and a microtex needle (80). I also used frixion pens extensively whenever curve or a point was to be stitched.
Despite all my efforts, there is still some crooked stitching. But this is a wearable muslin, so I decided to give myself a break and accept the problems.
I have to say that I quite like the fit of this shirt. Marcel is 6’2″ and tall sizes aren’t as common in Canada as they are in the US. Casual shirts are especially difficult to find, and Marcel usually has to wear a larger size in order for the sleeves to be long enough. I expected to lengthen the body and the sleeves, but found that the body length was quite long. Something to keep in mind when making up this pattern for other statures. As for the sleeves, I added an inch. When adapting a pattern for short or tall sizes, it is a standard practice to add or remove 1-2 inches to the body and 1 inch to the sleeves.
I will make at one more shirt before cutting into the better fabric. I thought I might use another pattern and laid one out to examine it, but decided against it. It wasn’t a bad pattern, but it’s nice to find a shirt pattern for men with a trim fit through the arms and shoulders. This pattern’s sizing is limited, however: I used XL for Marcel, who clearly isn’t on a man who wears XL. The size range covered is 35 1/2″ to 38 1/2″ (actual body measurements, not finished). I would expect grading the pattern would be quite feasible to perhaps a 42″ or 43″ chest, although I would warn to be mindful of the body lengths.
Next, I think I’ll talk about that cuff technique. Stay tuned – I think you’ll like this one.