Monday, August 16, 2010

The Perfect Shirt

I appreciate the comments on the gold silk. I really want to make some sort of shirt with it but not an entire "shirt dress". The comment about a tunic length got me to thinking about all the shirt patterns I have used of the years and those that I have bought but never used.
When I started making shirts (as opposed to blouses) for myself, I used one pattern exclusively. It wasn't a true shirt like a tailored man's shirt but it was good enough to make many (dare I say dozens) of shirts over the years. It's the McCall's 8053 on the right. It has a proper two piece collar and nice long shirt tails, for when we used to tuck our shirts into our skirt or pants. It doesn't have a separate band on the front, for both buttons and buttonholes. Instead, it does what many of the women's shirt patterns do and that is, fold over the front into a facing, which flares out at the top and has to be ironed down with each washing. It is also very wide and boxy and goes straight down, with no darts.

On the other side of the photo above is Simplicity 9210. This is what I've been using lately (and for some years) to make what I call the "camp shirt" (or I suppose you could call it a bowling shirt). It has a one piece, spread collar. I like the two piece collar because it looks more formal or dressy and can take a tie (I sometimes, used to - rarely - wear ties). The camp shirt also has the facings. It is square but it does have bust darts to give it a little shape. And the bottom is hemmed straight across with vents at the bottom for ease of movement.
The next pattern on the right is Simplicity 9877. I started making this very fitted shirt when I started leaving my shirt tails untucked. Despite the cowgirl motif in the main photo, I have used this pattern successfully for quite a few cotton/Lycra shirts and I wear them a LOT. It has a one piece collar that has the shape of a two piece. That means when undone, it sort of looks like a two piece but it doesn't do up (at the very top) square enough to wear a tie. It has separate bands on the front that are interfaced and topstitched and look more like a tailored man's shirt. It also, despite it being so fitted, allows my arms to move. (That sounds strange but I went through a couple of patterns which were sized correctly but for some reason, I couldn't stretch my arms out in front of me.) I have made a few of these shirts with vertical stripes and they work, even with the deep darts in front. But for the gold silk, I didn't want the stripes to be interrupted like that.

On the left is McCall's 5630 which I have never used. I bought it because it is billed as "perfect fit" and it has a two piece collar, front bands and a slight shirttail hem. But it has body darts and I am not convinced I want to use those for the gold silk (because of the stripes in the fabric but also, I think the finished look should be a little loose).
Next is Vogue 2634 which I had to have because those women just look so lanky and elegant. I can be elegant (given the right circumstances) but I'll never be lanky. It has a very long, tunic length option, a two piece collar but no front bands.
Finally, we have a pattern that is very 80s but which I love in spite of its shoulder pads, gathered sleeves and tucks. Of course, it is very Vogue and so the photos look so elegant. I only had one shirt made from it and it didn't have the shoulder pads and I never made the cool neck cummerbund and I really got it for the neck detail. Because I like to wear ties. Plus, it has a French cuff option and one of these days, I'm going to wear cufflinks too. [I just like the look of a tie and cufflinks and I can get away with it because I'm pretty small and fairly feminine (how's that for non-commitment and lack of superlatives?)].

What's next for me is to compare pattern pieces to determine why some patterns restrict my arms (I didn't include those patterns above because, in my opinion, they don't work). Then I want to combine the best parts of the patterns that do work, to make a shirt that will be "the perfect shirt". It will have a two piece collar, front bands, hopefully no darts (I'll allow bust darts if I have to) and be loose-ish but not boxy. For the gold silk, I would like a long body but a straight hem, so I can wear it out like a tunic but tuck it in if I want. I will make the first prototype of this perfect shirt using some piece of some fabric I have squirreled away over the years and if it works, the gold silk will be next. I've been mulling over this puzzle for ages. It's very much like the mulling I do when I try to come up with what will be for me, the perfect bicycle. But that's another story.


Marty said...

My vote is the Vogue 2364. It just looks so classy a chic. In fact is it still in print? I'm always on the lookout for a good shirt pattern. I think I have some of the others, too. Not the fitted one-I'm way too round in the bottom for that one-LOL!

Bethany said...

WOW! That is some pattern analysis :)

Carrotsandsmarties said...

Love your choices - I have multiples of Vogue 2634 - watch the size of the armholes - I find the body fits well, but the armholes are huge... seems to me that pattern is sized for very tall people. I am 5'4" so not totally short, but I have altered front and back to decrease the length of the armholes and the distance from the collar to the bustline. (which necessitated changing the sleeve head aarrghgh)

That fuschia silk blouse is BEAUTIFUL.
Love your blog

Rose said...

I'm looking forward to seeing the perfect blouse. It sounds great. I've made V2634 and love it. The armholes worked fine for me. As usual, I made a size smaller in the shoulder and armscye so that could be the reason. I do have skinny arms so I'm surprised to read that Elaine found the armholes hugh.

JuliaR said...

Marty, you'll have to go looking for the Vogue pattern - I never mark on them when I buy them, so I don't know how old my patterns are. And this one is a size 10, so I can't even fit (properly) into it!

Thanks Bethany!

Elaine, although the 2634 is a size 10, I can still get it buttoned up but it just pulls across the bust horribly. But I didn't think the armholes were too big - they didn't show my bra, so that's a good thing. Maybe that's because it is a size too small?

Rose, I may have to go looking for the Vogue 2634 in a larger size, if the McCall's 5630 doesn't work the way I want.

Anonymous said...

I just ran across your blog and saw your comments about the shirt not working in the arm and back area. It may not be that you need a larger back (or it may be that you do), old fashioned clothes tended to have the armholes fitted higher and this seemed to give one more room to move. This may be why your western shirt fits better.

Felyneluvr said...

As well as writing a great blog, you take beautiful photos!