I started work on this shirt so long ago it almost seems amazing that I finished it at all! I was first held up by buying some machine feet for this project back in the beginning of April, and here it is in June and I’m finally showing it to you (though I did finish it over a week ago so it was technically May!).
I’ve made quite a few button-down shirts for my boyfriend James over the years, but after reading through Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing by David Page Coffin I had the epiphany that they were all really badly done and I couldn’t possibly ever go back to my old ways after that. Really, I cannot recommend this book highly enough – even if you never sew menswear, it is essential reading for all shirt and blouse construction.
So instead of using the old Simplicity pattern (OOP 5273), I thought I’d break with tradition and make my first long-sleeved shirt for him using BurdaStyle’s Jakob pattern. According to his measurements, I made a size 52 and it fits him perfectly. He also adds that he’s “a textbook 15 1/2” in dress shirts in case that helps anyone at all.
You’ve already read my troubles with the collar and sleeve placket and my surprisingly easy time sewing the sleeve-body seam and flat-felled seams, but overall, I think this would’ve been a much, much happier first proper shirt experience if I’d used cotton shirting instead of the incredibly soft but incredibly fraying linen/tencel blend we bought from Fabric.com back in August.
The black buttons James bought himself from a haberdashery shop in central London because his office is near to a bunch whereas mine is in a fabric and haberdashery hinterland. I was surprised at his choice of black over a neutral ivory or yellow, but he said he wanted it to be an accent as he’d only wear it with black trousers and an Express shirt of his used contrast black buttons and he loves the look of it.
I’m really very pleased about this sleeve placket – I drafted it according to the Shirtmaking book since the pattern just called for a binding. The cuffs have a fantastic clipped corner that look really sharp, and I borrowed a detail from one of his designer shirts and added a second button on the cuff so he can loosen it if he likes (or wears a big blingin’ watch!)
Here’s a detail of the sleeve-body seam that looked so intimidating in the book. Ignore the strained wrinkles – James was pulling on the sleeve to accentuate it while I took the photo but it ended up looking worse!
In retribution, I made him close the top button so you can see how nicely the collar closes! I often get that little space between the collar points all wrong so I’m very chuffed this turned out so nice and symmetrical, even if he never closes it in reality.
And finally, here’s a shot of the chest and pocket. He’s forbidden to ever put a pen in that pocket, even if it means wearing a pocket protector (oh let the IT jokes begin!).
As good as my word, I also finished up my two linen day dresses for myself, which you’ll see later this week. I’m also sewing up some bunting for the open days on our mooring this weekend (if you’re in London and want to visit, leave a comment and I’ll email you details) – I’m currently 12 metres down, another 24 to go! If you’re someone who just can’t throw away scraps, this is the best use ever…