Finished Project · Sewing

Man in Blue

Sew Well - Men's button-up shirt made from #moodfabrics

I sometimes wonder what my go-to uniform would be if I were challenged to only wear one silhouette (one week one uniform, anyone?!).  It’s an idea I’m having fun exploring these days, though I haven’t come up with any easy answers so far.  Yet, when it comes to my husband, I know what his uniform would be – a blue button-up shirt and slacks.  And, thanks to this lovely chambray blue cotton poplin from Mood Fabrics and a bit of my sewing time, my husband has yet another blue shirt to add to his daily rotation.

Sew Well - Men's button-up shirt made from #moodfabrics

I’ve made this pattern, vintage Butterick 4712, several times now.  Each time I’ve made it, I’ve tried to create a unique shirt through my choice of fabric:  linen and silk, plaid flannel, solid and striped shirting, and now poplin. This poplin fabric is definitely a favorite, both in color and in feel. It’s described as both ‘cobalt’ and ‘chambray blue’ in color, and I’d say if you thought about a mix between cobalt and chambray, you’d be pretty close to the true color of the fabric.  It’s pretty perfect for someone who likes blue, like my husband.  These photos make the fabric look a little more vibrant than it really is, despite any attempts on my end to enhance the colors.  It has a slightly softer hand than the shirting I used previously, and it doesn’t wrinkle as much as the linen either.  It was my first time sewing with cotton poplin, and everything went so smoothly that I now have my eye on several other Mood poplins (hello polka dots, nice to meet you vibrant purple, how do you do crazy floral?!).

Sew Well - Men's button-up shirt made from #moodfabrics

Also, each time I’ve made this button-up shirt pattern, I’ve had a slightly different experience.  The first couple of times it took me awhile to work my head around the instructions for the front button placket.  Now that I’ve gone through the process several times, I feel confident experimenting with ways to better hide the interfacing and finish the seams, and I’m very pleased with the results here.

It’s not all rainbows and unicorns though.  One little hiccup came with the pocket.  My husband had asked for one pocket on the front left, which was easy enough to agree to make happen.  Since things seemed to be on the up-and-up after the positive placket experience, I decided to step up my pocket game.  After looking at a few of his ready-to-wear shirts and seeing that many of them had pockets with nice, soft, rounded corners, I set out to make a similar style pocket.  I made myself a little template, cut out my fabric, and tried to man handle the rounded corners into submission.  But, it just wasn’t working.  I even tried to see whether gathering the seam allowances using a basting stitch would help.  In the end I gave up, cut off the offending round corners, turned in the now straight edges, and called it a day.  Later I had wondered if starch could have helped.  Any tips out there for getting those neat rounded corners?

Sew Well - Men's button-up shirt made from #moodfabrics

Everything else went pretty smoothly.  I still remember how puzzled I was the first time I sewed together a collar and collar stand.  I was following Peter of Male Pattern BoldnessMen’s Shirt Sew-Along so I was already having my hand held at the time, but I still had to sit down with the instructions and go slowly step-by-step to make sure I understood the process. Now that I’ve gone through the process several times, it’s fun to experiment, try changing up the order of the steps (inspired by Andrea of Four Square Wall‘s tutorial), and trust that I’ll still get great results.

Sew Well - Men's button-up shirt made from #moodfabrics

I used the burrito method to get a nice finish to my yoke, and I used my stitch-in-the-ditch foot with my needle slightly off-center to get nice, even edge stitching.

Sew Well - Men's button-up shirt made from #moodfabrics

The sleeve plackets came together well, too.  Or, so I thought until seeing in these photos that this placket’s peak might be slightly off center.  Good thing no one’s grading this shirt for perfection!  My husband isn’t one to care about little things like that, and he certainly hasn’t said anything about the placket peak placement!

Navy buttons and a neatly turned hem complete the shirt.  Speaking of hems, that’s another spot where I’ve tried different methods to see how to best get nice, neat results around all those curves.  I’ve tried folding up a quarter inch twice; serging and then either folding up once or twice (using the serging as a guide to get a nice, even fold); and using bias binding as a hem facing.  I’m curious what other methods for hemming a shirt are out there?  What is your go-to method?

Sew Well - Men's button-up shirt made from #moodfabrics

Finally, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve made a pattern, I’m still pretty much guaranteed to learn something new with every make.  This time around the lesson was about pre-washing cotton.  I only pre-washed this 100% cotton fabric once, and since it’s now been worn many, many times since it was first finished (see what I’m saying about his ‘uniform’ – he likes blue shirts!) and, thus, washed many, many times since that first pre-washing, it’s now noticeably smaller, particularly in the length.  It still fits, and he can easily roll up the sleeves whenever the missing length starts to bug him, so it’s not a big deal, but in the future I plan to pre-wash my 100% cotton fabrics at least three times before I cut into them.

What about you – what are your big take homes on making shirts, wearing uniforms, or pre-washing cottons?  Any good tips out there?!

This post can also be found on Mood Sewing Network. I used my MSN allowance towards the purchase of the fabric.

Also, since I still think of this blog as a sewing diary of sorts, I’ll confess to having made this shirt last fall in a pregnancy sewing frenzy. I miss those days of sewing freedom, but I also wouldn’t trade my time with baby girl for anything right now.

15 thoughts on “Man in Blue

  1. Nice shirt! I wish I had time to sew for the men in my life but it’s all taken up for me sewing. Someday! So in e you did that with all that’s going on

  2. Lovely shirt. I admit I’m also a sucker for blue men’s shirts. Tip for the pocket: Yes, starch will help. I’ve also recently been given this tip which is so obvious I kick myself for hot realizing it earlier…make a template of the finished pocket in cardstock. Lay it on top of the pocket fabric (right side down) and iron the pocket around that cardstock to achieve the finished shape.

    Lovely job and thanks for sharing.

  3. I’ve just made some Oliver and s Pyjamas with rounded pockets. The instructions have you doing a basting stitch at 1/2 inch all the way round the pocket (I.e.the fold under line) and then basting stitches at 1/4 inch round the corners which you use to gather up the additional ease when folding the fabric under.

  4. i second miriana and ramona! i did a pattern with rounded pockets that had you stitch all the way around the edge at the folding point first. With that line of stitching it was much easier to fold it in the right place around the corners. also i saw this on a quilting website, but thought it could work – make a cardboard template of the finished pocket, then wrap some foil around it. then press the pocket edges around the template. when you press it the foil heats up and helps set the fold.

  5. I think Peter of Male Pattern Boldness posted a tip for hemming the shirt when he did his shirt-making course at FIT.
    Thanks also for your previous post on photography.
    Love a man in a blue shirt! Lucky man – the colour and fabric – wonderful. A perfect example of love in action.

  6. The secret to pre-shrinking the fabric is to wet and dry it 3 times. The dryer acts like a compactor, more so than the washer does. And yes, now that I’ve met your husband and seen these photos, I can see why he likes blue. It likes him, too!

  7. Looks great!! Very professional, and such an amazing color. I wish I could sew for my husband, but he loves his uniqlo tees more than anything I could do. I have been thinking of painting or stamping cats on some of his plain tees, though…

  8. For nicely rounded corners, cut another pocket out of scrap fabric. With right sides together, baste the two pocket pieces together along the folding line — try using a contrast color for visibility. Turn inside out (so now the seam allowances are on the inside and the right side of the fabric is facing out) and press. You may want to clip your seam allowances a bit, if that helps them curve more beautifully. You can also try using the rounded tip of a long metal cake-frosting spatula to push out the seam while you press. Remove the basting stitches and discard the scrap pocket. This technique also works great for getting two pockets to match/mirror each other perfectly: cut two from your fashion fabric, then baste together, etc.

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