Friday, March 29, 2013

I made a shirt.

I made a shirt. I broke down and bought a sewing pattern. I hate paying for patterns, but I can't draft one with that many pieces. It was worth it though. Evidently I have very wide shoulders; I can't wear women's button-up shirts (even several sizes too big), because I can hardly move my arms in them. Men's shirts fit me and are very comfortable to wear, but they're not made for shapely persons, and I wanted at least one well-fitting garment to throw into my work wardrobe. So anyway, counting the pattern, fabric, thread, and buttons, I spent about twice as much to make this shirt as they cost ready-to-wear, but I don't regret it because it fits me well, and is nice enough to wear to work.

The pattern I used was Simplicity 2447. While I don't especially like how it looks in the line drawings, I really liked the way it looked on the model. There's something (to me) about tunic-length shirts. It looks so streamlined. Or something. Also, I liked the bias-cut yokes.

I made my shirt out of plaid flannel, which as it turns out is frustrating to work with. Partly because the flannel stretches diagonally, and I mostly skipped the stay-stitching step, so my bias-cut pieces kept getting a little warped along the edges; and partly because I'm OCD and the plaid on all the pieces must match up.

Alterations I made to the pattern:

  • I flat-felled the seams on the front, back, and yoke pieces. I tried to do it at the armhole and sleeve seams too, but despite making 2 (!) mock-ups first, it was still tight across the back/shoulders, so I had to narrow-ize the seam allowances there, and they ended up not wide enough to flat-fell. Ergo they have less-than-beautiful raw seams which are semi-finished with zig-zag stitching (plus a 2-inch patch of an attempt at using my Turkish hem stitch disk).
  • I widened the back piece and the back yoke by maybe 1 1/2 inches. This (combined with making the armscye seam allowances narrower) made the shirt wide enough for me, but made the total neckline circumference bigger by 1 1/2 inches, so I also took in the shoulder seams starting at the princess seam, progressively taking in more as I got to the neckline.
  • I took in the side seams to make them more woman-shaped. I also took in the seams over the bust line to make them less woman-shaped.
  • Placket! I'm not really sure what the cuff was supposed to look like, but it didn't have a placket. I added them using this Magic Placket tutorial at Gigi Sews. Very easy!
  • And of course I had to lengthen the sleeves. I guess I have long monkey arms.
  • I widened the front band (is that a placket too?) and lengthened the circumference of the cuff, to make up for the gaps created by all the other alterations.
  • I ignored all notches, dots, and other markings on the pattern pieces. I just looked at my store-bought shirt to determine button placement and pleat size/placement.
  • I also kind of didn't really read the directions. I did read the part about the neckband and the collar, but other than that the pieces were self-explanatory enough.

Alterations I made but kind of wish I hadn't:

  • Where the side seams are split, I rounded the back and side-front pieces instead of leaving them to hang straight down. I like the flower-petal-y look, but since this shirt is somewhat loose around the hips, it just kind of looks weird sometimes. It also made the bottom very hard to hem, because it was so much rounder. I'm actually kind of embarrassed by my hemming job.
  • I didn't interface the collar, and interfaced both halves of the cuff and front band.

Alterations I will make next time:

  • Make the sleeves even longer.
  • Either don't round the bottom, or just make the whole shirt a little shorter.
  • Put interfacing on one half of the collar, cuff, and front band.

To be honest, I almost didn't finish this shirt. My shoulders must be ├╝ber wide, because even after making the whole back/yoke wider, it still wasn't right. With my arms down, it was merely uncomfortable. With my arms forward/up, it pulled behind/under my armpits to the point where I was paranoid I'd burst some seams. I very seriously debated which I'd more regret: not finishing what I'd started, or finishing and still not being able to wear it.

In the end, I undid the flat-felled seams in the armscye and sleeve, and just did regular seams (and with very narrow seam allowances). So now it fits, but the armscye and sleeve seams aren't very sightly on the inside, as I mentioned before.

Anyhow, I really like this shirt, and as long as you don't have man shoulders and monkey arms, then you should be able to make this with minimal, simple modifications.

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