Sewing a Men’s Shirt –
Throwback Thursday

Sewing, Sewn No Comments

Long before I started this blog, I was already blogging passively: I knew I wanted to start a blog eventually, so I already took lots of pictures of my makes, even though I didn’t have anywhere to post them yet. The other day I went through all my old photos and found these pictures of my first ever men’s shirt. Time for another Throwback Thursday!

So, call me selfish, but I think sewing is the most fun when you make things for yourself. I usually don’t sew for others – let alone for free – but when I do, it’s primarily functional things or presents for my closer family. So, sewing a shirt for my last partner was pretty special.

I made it back in 2013, after I got accepted into design school, as a thank you for all his love and support during the six months of craziness that preceded my application. I remember being super excited to sew a men’s shirt and, looking back, it is definitely one of the sewing projects that I learned the most from.

Muslin and Alterations

After purchasing the pattern I recognized that it started at size 48 while my guy was a size 46 according to the size sheet. So I cut out all the pattern pieces and graded them down just one size (which was actually easier then it sounds). Next up I made a muslin, using all the muslin tips from one of my craftsy classes – The Couture Dress. After fitting, I made some minor alterations for narrow and slightly sloping shoulders. Just from the muslin process, I had already learned so much about fitting and pattern alterations!

The actual sewing

And then I started cutting! My guy had chosen these two blue and green checked cottons and I made notes in my sewing sketchbook about where to add details, i.e. I used the smaller checked fabric on the inside of the back yoke, the inner collar band and the back of the front band. To create a nicer effect (and to avoid any fiddling when matching the checks), I also cut the outer front band and back yoke on the bias

Since I had never sewn a men’s shirt before, I took yet another craftsy class – The Classic Tailored Shirt by Pam Howard. To say I loved this course would be an understatement. I learned so so much and simultaneously lost my fear of bigger sewing projects. I wish advanced classes like these would be available in my hometown. As you can see from the in-progress pictures, I worked very accurately – tailor’s tacks and all.

The finished shirt

These photos are as old as May 2013 and as you can see, the only thing missing from the shirt are the buttonholes. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures of the finished piece, but I think a shirt with added buttonholes is not all that hard to imagine. Oh, and I absolutely loved the result! Back in 2013, it was the best garment I had ever made, regarding quality of sewing, fit and details. One thing I found particularly fascinating was the fact that every seam was neatly finished without me using a serger or one of those ugly zig-zag-finishes.

It might sound ridiculous, but this was the first time I actually understood the use of flat-felled seams. You know how different kinds of seams are explained at the beginning of every sewing book? Well, I always used to skip those pages as I didn’t understand what I would even use them for. Now I find it fascinating to learn about new seam finishes and techniques.

And now …

Some years later, I made another shirt which you can see in my 2014 roundup post. So, how about you? Which sewing projects did you learn the most from? Have you ever made menswear? And did the men in your life wear it? I’d love to hear about your experience. Also feel free to add any additional resources on shirtmaking in the comments.

All the details:

Pattern:  Burdastyle Jakob
a classic button down shirt with a simple yoke at the back
Fabric:  A soft cotton bought at the Dutch fabric market in Hamburg
Fitting Alterations:  Graded down the shirt one size, made adjustment for narrow shoulders, made adjustments for somewhat sloping shoulders
Further Alterations – Shortened the sleeves, added a sleeve band
– Made the collar less “sharp”
– Cut yoke, front band and sleeve bands on the bias
– Cut inner yoke, inner collar band and button placket in a contrast fabric
– Added a pocket flap, adjusted the size of the pocket to the size of the wearer’s phone
Challenges – Understanding the horrible (!) instructions included with the pattern
– Aligning the checks of the fabric
Sew Again? I’d definitely sew shirts again. It was so much fun!
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