After I decided I wasn’t going to make my own wedding dress. I set to work on hubby to be’s shirt for the wedding.
I’ve made a few shirts in the past, some for me, some for Mr Man, so I figured this would be easy. I had a well fitting shirt for Mr Man already so all I had to do was cut out the long sleeved version and that was that.
When I looked closer at the pattern that I already had, it quickly became clear that it wasn’t going to be suitable – fine for a beach Hawaiian shirt, but not so much for a wedding. I wanted proper cufflink cuffs and ideally a collar with collar stays. So I found a pattern on sew direct – vogue 9220.
I made two full toiles for this, but I also cheated a little and made adjustments on one armhole, tested and then used the other armhole for a 2nd round of adjustments (the purist in me is mortified, you really shouldn’t do this, but I was running desperately short of time).
I’ve got to say this pattern was a NIGHTMARE to get the fit right.
OK first fit – cheater styley. Only one sleeve added and no collar, but it’s enough for me to already tell there’s a problem. The sleeve cap isn’t sitting in the right place and there’s a lot of pulling and creasing on the sleeve.
To be honest, I still don’t 100% understand what’s going on here. My initial thought was that the sleeve head didn’t have enough height on the pattern. Which was causing it to pull downwards. So I made the following adjustment on the sleeve height. Where red is old and black is new.
This meant I also had to either accommodate WAY more fabric from the enlarged sleeve cap into the armhole, or increase the size of the armhole by the same amount. I opted for the latter as I didn’t want to risk any gathering in the top of my sleeve head (I can live with it on a womens shirt but not on a mans). I did this by adding some width to the side seams on front and back and tapering out. (If you want a fairly fitted shirt you might not want to do this.
This second toile was made up in linen to better match the drape of the final fabric to be used.
I managed to mostly fix it but I was left with some excess fabric around the chest (sorry, forgot to take a picture!). I think what happened was, that now I had stopped the sleeve head pulling on the body of the shirt, the body of the shirt was laying as it should. But I could now see that this chest area was too big.
So, one problem fixed, has now highlighted another. This seems to happen ALL THE TIME in fitting and quite frankly drives me to distraction. It’s incredibly easy to fix what you thought was the problem only to realise it wasn’t and you’ve created three more problems. That, and you want to burn the whole dam project and throw your sewing machine out the window… not that that happened here or anything…. :/
So in actual fact I’m making this seem waaay more straightforward than it was. I made a few really complicated adjustments that ended up just causing more issues. After three tries I went back to the drawing board and completely changed tack, I put everything back to the original pattern (wishing I had taken better care of the original) and made a completely different adjustment. That seemed to mostly do the trick.
I had a hard time with this – it was probably my most challenging piece yet (we don’t talk about the abandoned linen jacket for Mr Man) but I learnt a lot doing it! I’m still really confused by armhole fit issues, I think one day I might experiment with each adjustment individually and photograph each stage to see the behaviour.
My advice to my past self would be…
- NEVER make more than one adjustment at a time – you think you’ll save time but you WONT and you will want to kill yourself.
- It’s Probably worth adding both sleeves on each time as this will also affect the fit fairly substantially.
- Keep your originals in tact and trace off from it when you make adjustments just in case they don’t work and you need to go back.
- START EARLIER – I mean goddamit Sarah what were you THINKING! Planning a wedding is stressful enough as it is!! I didn’t finish this shirt until the DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING!!! I’m getting heart palpitations just thinking about it!
All in all I think I’m going to try and make a real effort this year to not cut corners. I’m all about instant gratification and have a tendency to get impatient, but I’m realising (to be honest in all areas of life) that it’s usually better to be patient. Spend some time up front and you will reap the rewards later down the line
The Final product
I mean, all things considered, I think Mr Man looks pretty goddam good 🙂
How’s that for pattern matching!
… thou shall have a fishy on a little dishy.. though shall have a fishy when the booatt comes innnn…Ahem..