Thursday, July 25, 2013

Men's shirt pattern adjustments

Confession: I've never blended two sizes on a pattern. When I sew for myself I cut the smallest size and adjust as I'm sewing. When I sew for AB, if something doesn't fit just right I don't bother to fix it because she'll grow into it eventually. So when it came time to draft customized pattern pieces for my husband's Negroni, I was oddly terrified. 

Yesterday I talked about David Page Coffin's book, Shirtmaking. The book is fabulous and mentions that the most important part of a well-fitting shirt is the shoulder. The rest can be adjusted based on personal preference. 

My muslin was certainly too short in the shoulder point, and too tight through the chest, but fit fine through the torso. Here's how I developed my new pattern pieces, starting with piece A (shirt front).

I already had a Large pattern piece traced because of my muslin. I traced the XLarge and placed it behind my Large pattern piece. This photo shows the bottom of the armscythe and the top of the side seam. Checking where I marked on my muslin, I needed to grade from XL to L starting about where the notches are in this photo.

I don't have a French curve so I freehanded a line starting at the end of the armscythe and blending down to the notch. Then I cut on the line, as you can see in the photo above. I repeated these steps for the back pattern piece, double checking that the line I drew was the same shape as the line from the shirt front.

Here's how the new back pattern piece looked once cut it out. Since the whole chest area is XLarge, I did not have to make any adjustments to the yoke pieces, I could use an unaltered XL piece. However, I did have to change the shirt front facing piece because it runs the full height of the shirt, which was now slightly different.

I really only needed a bit more length in the shoulder area, which I added on to my original Large pattern piece.

To recap:

Piece A (shirt front) is a blended XL/L.
Piece B (back yoke and yoke facing) are XL.
Piece C (shirt back) is XL.
Piece D (front facing) is a blended XL/L.
Piece E (collar) is XL.
Piece G (long sleeve) is XL.
Piece J (cuff) is XL.

If you make any adjustments to a Negroni or any shirt pattern, make sure you track the domino effect that it will have on all the pattern pieces. Since the chest was XL, that meant the sleeve needed to be XL, which meant the cuff needed to be XL...on and on. Go slowly and double-check your work, especially before cutting into your real fabric!

At this point, it might have been wise to make a second muslin...but I'm not all that wise. I got to work with my real fabric. Check back next week for the big reveal!

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