Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm Sorta Bummed

I think the shirt I am making for The Carpenter is going to be too small. Sigh. It has been my dream to make a traditional man's shirt and I picked two patterns to make this a reality, an easy one and a harder one. The easier one was this one, McCalls 6044: What made it the easier pattern was that it had no yokes and no sleeve placket. I figured easier was better. I used a cheap brown homespun plaid I got at Joanne's for a very good price and painstakingly cut it out, making sure to match all the fronts, the front plackets, the pocket, and even the sleeves. The sleeves, by the way, are made up of two pieces - which is definitely different. The bottom part of seam where the two sleeve pieces join is where the sleeve opening is located - normally this is where the sleeve placket would go. But since there is a seam there instead, the instructions have you just fold under the seam allowances to finish them.

I'm not completely unfamilar with shirts. I've made at least a dozen men's shirts from this Kwik Sew pattern:

This Kwik Sew pattern does have yokes (which really aren't that hard to deal with), but has no collar stand, front plackets, or cuffs. I made my first collar with a collar stand when I made the Amy Butler tunic. Really, the only thing I haven't done on a shirt is flat-felled seams, cuffs, and sleeve plackets. I pulled out David Coffin's wonderful book "Shirtmaking" which I have had for years and read up. I also rediscovered that I had his video which demonstrates his techniques from the book. (I borrowed this video so long ago from VickiW that I owe her a fortune in late fees for its return!)
I decided after reading Mr. Coffin's instructions on flat-felled seams, I was going to have to do them without the special flat-felling foot. Using the foot requires a different seam allowance for your edges. For example, the piece that folds over requires a 7/8 seam allowance and the other side requires a 1/4 seam allowance. I don't have the patience to redraw all the pattern pieces to accomodate these seam allowance changes.
So I did all my seams with the standard 5/8 seam allowance, then I trimmed one edge to about 1/4 inch, then I folded the other edge over the smaller by hand and pressed to one side. To hold the seam allowances in place while I top stitched them from the right side, I used 1/4 inch wide Steam-A-Seam which was much better than pins. I got to practice this on the shoulder seams, the sleeves seams, and the side seams. Pretty cool, although kind of time consuming. The top stitched seams looked awesome, especially since I took Mr. Coffin's advice and shortened my stitch length considerably - probably to 22 stitches to the inch. Also, on the shoulder seams and sleeve cap seams, I edge stitched them as well. This definitely made it look more ready-to-wear and provided a very strong seam.
At this point I had The Carpenter try it on and I think it is going to be too small. His chest is 39 1/2 inches, and the size chart indicates that he would be a medium, but I still think it is going to be too small. I know what I should do: finish this shirt using David Coffin's techniques on the shirt cuffs and collar, and chalk it up to a learning experience even if it doesn't fit. Learning on this shirt will make the next one (the REAL one) go so much easier. That is what my brain is telling me to do. My motivation, however, has plummeted. I hate working on garments that won't actually get worn, otherwise known as muslins. No matter how much I learn from them.
Any advice, y'all????
Parting Shot: We went to New England a few weekends ago and we had GLORIOUS autumn weather. Here is a shot somewhere off the coast of Massachusetts, between Gloucester and Rockport:


Vicki W said...

Cut it apart and use the fabric to make napkins or something. Move on to the next one!

Summerset said...

That is a bummer. I'd go ahead and make the collar/stand and attach it, only for the practice. That way the next one won't be another practice one. Then make it into napkins!

Audrey said...

It probably doesn't fit because of all his muscles from his wood working. I would finish it up, since it sounds gorgeous and you are almost done. And then either find a guy it would fit and gift it to him, or think aobut wearing it yourself as a big casual overshirt.