Monday, April 1, 2013

More Then Dresses: I Made A Men's Shirt!

Frank Eugene Johnson's Vintage Wool Pendleton Button Up
I was at Hawthorne Vintage when I found the blue plaid Pendleton I used for my Peony as well as this more manly plaid wool. I decided it was high time I created something more intricate (well, not necessarily more intricate, but tailored in a way that I was less accustomed to) and I purchased the Colette Patterns Negroni Pattern

I was also gearing up to make my Sew For Victory dress, which has a button-up bodice. I was nervous to try a shirtwaist dress for the first time using a vintage pattern. As always, the instructions in my Colette Pattern Booklet lead me through this Negroni project with ease and when it came time to make my Doris Dress, it was a breeze! 

Not having a definite buyer for the shirt (and having only just 3 yards of fabric) I went ahead and cut it out in size small. As it turns out, small men's Pendleton shirts are in high demand in PDX. I found a friend who was interested in buying this shirt, even though I didn't have enough fabric to make full-length sleeves. Yes, it is a bit awkward to have a heavy shirt that has short sleeves, but as my mother said, "They usually end up rolling the sleeves up anyway." 

So my friend Gene ended up buying this shirt and it looks fantastic on him. As with my Sew For Victory dress, I waited for a few weeks after the project was complete, hoping I would snag some professional photos of my model in his garment. At this point I am just too excited about sharing this piece to wait any longer, so I'll tell you about how this shirt was constructed. 
Would you please just look at that plaid matching?! I do wish that the instructions had called to cut the pockets on the bias, as I've seen others do with their Negroni pattern. I had a bit of a tough time getting the corners of the pockets perfectly (and evenly) rounded but all in all I think they're ok for a first attempt. You heard right, somehow these are my first flapped pockets!
This is the monogram I added for Gene, his proper name is "Frank Eugene Johnson the 5th." I think it is pretty bad ass up close, but it kinda blends into the plaid from far away. Well, I do like subtlety. 
There was something about the little triangles you sew on the inside of the pockets to hold them down that just really got me. They're so cute! I don't think you can even really see them in this pic, but they make me ridiculously happy. The magic is in the details.
Ugh, look at that yoke plaid matching!! Braaaag. Even the pleats keep the plaid pattern in line. I am so stoked about this shirt. Can you tell? 

I had a picture of what sewing the yoke looked like, but my iPhone deleted it. I really wish you could see what a mess of fabric it looked like. It was one of those moments where you're looking at the instructions, then back at your project, and you're like "Whaaaaaat? Am I doing that right??" And you just have to go with your gut and hope for the best. 

So, in order to sew a yoke on a shirt, you've gotta roll the shirt back up to meet the outter yoke, then pull the yoke lining around that and sew the two yoke pieces together. Yoke. Does that make sense? Well, I ended up having to squeeze so much thick wool fabric between the small yoke pieces that I had to switch to a zipper foot on my machine and just barely managed to get a .5" seam allowance. Then I had the terrifying job of turning the piece right-side-out. That's the moment where you pray your gut decision was the right one. I pulled and pulled and then, suddenly, there was my complete shirt back! Oh, the joy! I danced around the room for a bit then pressed the seam, thoroughly enjoying my plaid matching. 
I was running our of fabric (because I bought it at a vintage store and couldn't just go get more) so the facings are composed of four seperate pieces rather than two long strips. It added a tiny bit of bulk, but its still pretty inconspicuous. 
Oh man, these are close-ups of the hem and the facing of the buttons. Love! I wish it were a little bit easier to see all of the construction details but they all get camouflaged in the plaid. 
Catch-stitched facing. 
Hand-sewn reinforced buttons. I saw this done on a coat to allow room for the bulky layers to fit inside the button-closure. Sew the button on loosely so it has some give, then wrap your thread around it to reinforce it. 
"Nerdy Girl Vintage" prototype tag. 

I hope you like this shirt as much as I do! Hopefully I'll get a shot of my model in it soon. For now, I am pretty excited about how great the shirt looks on it's own. I can't wait to make full length sleeves. My goal was to practice cuffs and all of that as well, so you'll probably see more shirts from me soon. 

Happy sewing!!


  1. You did a great job, it looks very professional!

  2. Nice job, but I did notice the pockets and flaps do not match the plaid. Was that intentional?

    1. Yeah. If you match everything up too much, they get camouflaged. I wished afterwords that I had cut them out on the bias instead.

  3. Nice mans shirt. Many moons ago I would sew up plaid flannel shirts for my farmer husband. At that time it was less expensive and I could get the sleeve length he needed by making it myself. Didn't worry so much about the pockets. But I did match the major seams. Those shirts looked and wore much better "store bought". Lots of detail in a mans shirt but fun to make. Try the long sleeves as the cuffs and details are fun. You can be very proud of your/his shirt!

  4. With the rise of metrosexuality in the early 2000s, men's tee shirts took on a tighter, sleeker look. Fashionable tees became a staple of a man's wardrobe, allowing style-conscious gentlemen to express themselves through shirts sporting creative art and cheeky slogans and this is really an awesome stuff.