A Manly Shirt that you can sew in a day

IMG_4632The last thing I sewed for my son was a vampire cape, black satin (of course) with a stand-up collar and red lining. That was awhile back. So when he said he would like a new shirt, I jumped at the chance to sew for My Only.

Of course, once committed, I worried. The fabric…the pattern…what to choose…how to choose. After all, we do want to please, right? But then, one day while traveling through the lovely town of Sisters, Oregon, he agreed to wander through a fabric store with me. That’s when I knew things were going to be OKAY. In his usual decisive fashion, he found a fabric he liked in record time. One store. Five minutes of browsing. Choice Made!! (If only I could shop like that.)

IMG_4641The fabric that caught his eye was a nice white cotton, decorated with colorful bicycles. Since he’s heading to Washington D.C this fall to be a congressional intern, he was all over this fabric. Bicycles to him meant – – Bicycle Commuters! Alternative Transportation Policies!

The fabric choice was easy. Finding a pattern? Not so much.
 Did you know there are zillions of men’s shirt patterns out there? Perhaps, I’m the only clueless one, but I just have to say, I was shocked at how many choices there were. The Big Four offered many, which is great and (almost) to be expected, but many Indie pattern designers are in on this too, which means there are so many possibilities, you can’t help but find something that works. Honestly, when it comes to sewing pattern options, the choices are endless. Isn’t it a great time to sew?
IMG_4637 Back shot of the yoke
At first glance, many of the versions looked similar. On closer examination though, you find there are subtle differences in the cut of the bodice, the collars, even the sleeve cuffs!! Then, when you try to pair the patterns to the needs of the man you are sewing for, things can get rather….mmmm….complicated. If you quiz that man, you might be as surprised (as I was) to discover that, although they seem to be fashion novices, they are VERY interested in shirt design. They have very specific needs. It can’t be too boxy, but not too fitted either, or too baggy because then you can’t tuck it in if you want to. And don’t make it too long, or all that fabric will be in the way, but don’t make it too short either. The pressure!
After looking at a million and one patterns, and reading the many helpful opinions posted on Pattern Review.com (thanks to all!), I finally settled on McCalls 6044. This shirt has a back yoke, which gave it a bit of interest. Also, the pattern received High Marks from those who were sewing for guys who liked a slim fit, but also had an athletic build (This seems to be the key to success – -whether or not your guy likes a slim fit or a loose fit).
Bullseye! The pattern was perfect. The only variations I made was to take the curve out of the yoke seam and to add collar buttons. Also, I added french seams so that the shirt would survive through many, many washings.
This pattern is a winner!  The shirt is cut so well, it works alone, or under a jacket. And the pattern is very straightforward and easy to sew. The only modification needed was to take in the side seams a little. This I can do!!  And the best news of all, from cut-out to final press, it was only about six hours (much less if you don’t have fitting issues, or if you just finish with an overcast stitch instead of french seams).
When all was said and done, the shirt fit, the fabric passed muster, and I believe this shirt will actually be worn on Labor Day to a barbecue. The shirt is a versatile style that looks good all by itself, or under a jacket. How great is that?
Thanks for stopping by. And Happy Labor Day weekend – –  I hope you find time for a bit of sewing!