Community · Sewing

Men’s Shirt Sew-Along: Adjusting the Pattern

This February I’m sewing along with Male Pattern Boldness and a bunch of other talented seamsters. We’re all making men’s shirts. Mine is for my husband, and here’s a reflection on my efforts to sew well.

More tape than pattern?

Last night I took my first go at pattern surgery for the men’s shirt Sew-Along.  Since the shoulders seemed wide, I began with the yoke and took it in a half an inch on each side.  I wasn’t sure where exactly the net loss should come from, but I took it in just outside of where the neck meets the shoulder.  I made the adjustment by simply folding in the yoke pattern a quarter of an inch (which is doubled to a half an inch by the fold) and ironing the crease in place.

Taking in the yoke a half an inch on each side (you can also see the beginning of the square-shoulder adjustment, discussed below).

I next increased the length of the sleeve.  Though I thought at first that my husband only needed a half an inch extra length, when I compared his sleeve to that of a ready-to-wear shirt that fit him well, the ready-to-wear shirt had much longer arms.  Plus, the sleeves will now be a bit shorter since they’ll start higher due to the width taken out of the yoke, etc.  I cut the traced sleeve pattern (not the original!) along its lengthen/shorten line and taped it to more pattern fabric, adding a total of an inch and a half.

The best method for lengthening a pattern is to start with the lengthen/shorten line.

I then started into to the front of the shirt, and here’s where things got crazy.  I used a traced pattern piece so that I wouldn’t have to cut the original pattern.  The first alteration I wanted to tackle was the square-shoulder adjustment.

The method for a square-shoulder adjustment.

I raised the shoulder a quarter of an inch using the photo from the Singer Sewing Series for Home and Fashion, which should hopefully account for the needed net gain in the shoulders to relieve the puckering seen in previous photos.  I’m not sure exactly how much fabric I needed to add here, so I’m trying to be conservative.  Then I added an inch and a half total to the length, to match the sleeve.  Next, I mirrored the quarter-inch doubled fold in the yoke along the length of the pattern.  Finally, I cut the bottom edge of the shirt to match the curve in a ready-to-wear shirt of my husband’s.

I repeated these adjustments for the other front and the back.

I’m not yet brave enough to cut into any of the fashion fabric.  Instead, I’m faking the alterations by I pinning them on the muslin as best as I can so that my husband can try them out tonight.  I took in the width from the yoke and around the shirt…

The shoulder pinned in a doubled quarter of an inch.

…and added length to the sleeve.  I don’t know how to easily match the square-shoulder adjustment in the muslin; I might have to take that one on faith right now.

Not adding that second cuff was fortuitous.

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