The BETTER Pattern...and Why

Thursday, June 11, 2009
This is the pattern I chose for Roger's shirt.

Winning Pattern

And here's why....

It is the most "elegant" draft among the group of patterns shown in yesterday's post (below). What do I mean by "elegant" ? It has to do with the shape of the pattern pieces.

The separate facing piece gives me the option of using a contrast fabric.

The yoke is curved enough to flow smoothly against the body, but not so much to "ripple" when it is joined to the back.

Now take a close look at the yoke piece (#5). Do you see the very subtle curve of the shoulder line? When joined to the straight front shoulder, it will raise the back of the shirt ever-so-slightly, allowing it to flow smoothly over the body's shoulder-blades.

Next, the sleeves...those beautifully drafted sleeves! A nice slope down in front, and just enough of a rounded shape along the back 2/3 of the cap. Why does this matter? For the short sleeve shirt I plan to make, this higher cap will mitigate a short sleeve's tendency to "wing out". With the coarse cotton fabric I've chosen to use for this shirt, this is very important because I cannot count on the drape of the fabric to help the sleeves fall in soft folds.

Finally, the collar. Notice its delicious curves! It will lay smoothly against the body's neck and collar-bone...and eliminate the tendency that some shirt collars have to "stack" (ride up on the neck).

Contrast the "elegant" draft above to this draft,
which is OK...but just OK.

Not Chosen

The main reason this shirt pattern was not chosen, is because it is "flat".
Flat yoke, flat sleeve cap, flat collar. In my opinion, the first shirt pattern is superior. While there is nothing really "wrong" with this pattern, the first one shown is just more "elegantly" drafted.

I was asked, "
Pam, If we take a "flat" pattern and add the little refinements you mentioned - curved front yoke seam, curved shirt back, more sleeve cap height - will we improve an ordinary pattern, or just make a serious mess of it?"

While you can make changes to a pattern that is already drafted, you need to be careful.
"LESS IS MORE." Small changes, like very gently curving the back seam (where it joins the yoke) can be done successfully. Bear in mind that this particular change will lengthen that part of the seam, and you will need to ease it to the yoke, or take up a bit more in the back pleat so that it fits the yoke. Adding height to the sleeve cap is possible, again if done with restraint. If drastic changes are made to the shape of the sleeve cap, changes need to be made to the armscye...and that's where making refinements to patterns can quickly get out of hand. Lastly, curving in the shoulder seam of the back yoke can be done, again, with needs to be a very shallow (no more than 3/16") "scoop"...otherwise the back will pull up oddly from the underarm point to the shoulder after the shirt is completely sewn.