OH NO! A Shirt I will Never Sew, because...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

 OOPS!  I totally misread Vogue 8759 pattern's online photos and diagrams!

You may now give me 10 lashes with a wet noodle...be gentle.

 And  I should know better...that's why I started drafting my own shirt patterns in the first place...sigh.
Once I had a chance to really examine this pattern up close and personal...well...there were some design details I was not expecting.  Not they are necessarily BAD details...just different than the way most mens shirts are drafted.

I compared V8759 to my own hand-drafted "slim-cut" shirt pattern with a shoulder-sleeve seam line that stops just a tiny bit below the arm/shoulder joint. This Vogue pattern has a longer shoulder seam..in other words, the sleeve will be more dropped than I prefer.

Then there is the yoke. At first glance in the online pattern catalog, it seemed to be fine..though I did notice that the front "yoke-drop" seemed a bit shallow...and that can be OK.   However, until I looked at the pattern closely and measured it.... I didn't realize that the yoke seam only drops a very scant 1/4" down into the front. In other words, like a ladies blouse, the shoulder-yoke seam on this men's shirt pattern will virtually ride right along the exact shoulder line, instead of dropping/sinking down into the front the way most mens shirts do.  Additionally, the overall width of the shirt body is larger than my hand-drafted "slim-cut" shirt, and also larger than other printed patterns in my stash.  I do realize that these are the decisions that the Vogue pattern designer made, and I respect that. But it is a look that I do not prefer.

The Vogue 8759 sleeves seem fine...narrow enough, and the armscye is as high as my own "slim-cut" draft. They are 2-piece, and the sleeve plackets are reminiscent of the way casual sport coat/blazer vents are drafted.

So...am I going to take the time and fabric to sew up a test garment of a pattern with style lines I do not like?


Sure, I could re-draft the parts I do not like....but I already have slimmer-cut men's shirt patterns that I have drafted by hand...why take the time to change this one?

Should you use this pattern? 

It's up to you. It is not a "classic" men's shirt...and that's not a "bad" thing. But it is not as slim-cut as the envelope photos seem to show, and the yoke is not the "standard" angle or depth...and that may be fine with you. I know that my husband Roger would not like that yoke-shoulder seam as high as it is on this pattern...he is a classic-cut shirt kind of guy. I can design, draft, and sew a shirt with a narrow body for him, and add design details like funky pockets, angled seams, and even bias cut sleeve hem bands...but a yoke that rides that high on the shoulder?  For Roger?  No.   And I cannot use this pattern for my clients, because it is a commercial pattern (and besides, I really do not like that high shoulder).   Your man might be different...in fact he probably is!   Mine is very picky about yoke depths and things like that because he happens to be married to a classically trained Shirtmaker who has strong likes and dislikes..and opines about them often ;)

So while this pattern is not "horrible"...I am not happy with it, so I am not going to use my time to make it. And please remember...this is just my opinion, for what it's worth. Your opinion about these things are probably quite different than mine...as they should be...because we all have different tastes.

Next Up...the New Vogue Shirt Pattern!

Friday, July 29, 2011
I finally received this pattern and plan to start sewing the test-garment (the muslin) this weekend.

Since this will just be a test of the pattern, I will not use fine seam finishes for this first version of this shirt. After stitching, the seams will be pressed then serged and topstitched. My goal is to evaluate the cut and fit of this pattern. However, I will be using very nice fabric...this beautiful  navy and dark red gingham cotton shirting bought from Gorgeous Fabrics.com  quite a while ago. Why high-quality fabric, but short-cut seam finishes?  Well...it is just my preference to always work with nice fabric.  After all, this fitting garment might very well may end up being what I call "weekend-wearable", if not for my "test-model" (otherwise known as my dear husband Roger), then for one of my friends.  And anyway...I bought enough of this fabric for several shirts :)

So...stay tuned. Barring any emergencies, I will update you with my progress of important and/or tricky parts along the way, including any "surprises"...good or not-so-good !

Side note-- Thank you all for the get-well wishes via facebook for my Mother-in-Law...who was recently in an awful head-on collision auto accident and is still in the Trauma Intensive Care Unit.

The scourge of enforced casual

Thursday, July 28, 2011
I noticed an interesting story buried inside yesterday's Evening Standard about Peter Bingle, a PR man, who was banned from Soho House (one of London's new breed of modern private members' clubs) for wearing a suit. All very strange. It seems that Soho House, in keeping with its role as being the members' club for people in the creative industries, has decided to not only permit, but actually enforce a casual dress code.

How incredibly naff.

I have nothing against private clubs that permit a casual dress code. I am myself a member of both a 'traditional' private club, and a more modern one. The latter suits me when I want later opening hours, trendier cocktails, and not to have to wear a suit and tie. The former has a very different role. That's all fine, but one of the things I like about the more modern club is that I also know that if I happened to turn up in full white tie, neither the staff nor any of the other guests would so much as bat an eyelid. I simply cannot understand the sort of institutional insecurity that leads a private club to actually insist upon a casual dress code.

It is, of course, an attitude deeply ingrained in the creative world that Soho House was formed to serve. I should know, I work in the industry myself, and there is certainly an attitude in some quarters that casual dressing is not just permitted but actually required. Happily, though, this sort of pretentiousness seems to be losing traction and a few agency types, perhaps inspired by Mad Men, are beginning to see that dressing smartly doesn't prevent you from being 'cool', creative, or whatever it is they aspire to. Hopefully, people are finally beginning to ditch the idea that the suit represents conformity, The Man, being boring, and so forth. Instead, they may start to see the infinite possibility for variety and self-expression possible with good tailoring.

Perhaps then, Soho house will also appreciate that, by enforcing a casual dress code, they are pandering to exactly the sort of stale, desperate, conformity that they were, presumably, trying to keep out.

McCalls 6354...in Navy Batik

Monday, July 25, 2011

A new blouse for Jill in Blue Batik :)

Stitching up this pattern is so fast and easy!
I did make a pattern modification.
As I hope you can see, I split the cut-on 
cap sleeve to give it some movement.
I also added a self-fabric bow at the CF waist to give the appearance of a drawstring.


And since she really liked the first one I made from this bright flowery cotton lawn I decided to make another.  I hope she likes it in Blue Batik just as  much!

Redesign + Pattern Drafting + Sewing = A New Blouse

Thursday, July 21, 2011

 What do you do when your dearest "Daughter-from-another-Mother" asks you to fix a faded plaid RTW blouse she loves, but that's seen better days and has never fit right in the first place? 

Well...here's what I did:  After determining that the  tight back yoke could not be altered, I took a good look at the blouse, drafted a pattern by hand, and made her a new one :)   

[Side note--Jill loves batik, so I unearthed a piece that has been aging in my stash for a long time.]

Well, to be precise I made a "fitting muslin", that I hope will be wearable. Yes...sigh...I know there is really no such thing as a wearable muslin (Gorgeous Ann, I felt you cringe, lol).  However I expect she will at least be able to wear this around the house while she plays with her 2 little girls.  

And I'll make her a few more from different fabrics, including some contemporary plaids from which I will cut the yokes and pockets on the bias :)

Oh..one more thing..... the moment my back was turned while I was moving things around in my studio...my forms decided to get a little frisky...It must be the heat, they are usually much better behaved ;) 

LOL, Get a Room!

McCalls 6354...Summertime, and the Sewing is Easy

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I made this top for my lovely 26-year old "adopted" daughter Jill, 
and I am thrilled with how it turned out! 

The pattern is McCalls 6354...and the fabric is soft Cotton Lawn.

It is super-simple and oh so fast to make...always a plus if your sewing studio is not air-conditioned :)

Fabric choice is important with this style...too stiff and it could look like a "scrub top".  A soft fabric is the way to go with this one, in my opinion.    

The pattern envelope photo makes the shoulder line appear curved, when in fact it is quite straight. That's not a problem, but I could tell Jill wasn't thrilled about the sleeves when I made and fitted a muslin of the style on her last week.

So I made some minor design changes.  I chose to bind the cross-over neckline, rather than use the bias-tape-as-facing method described in the pattern instructions, and I added a bias-tube bow at the CF waist to give the illusion of a drawstring.  Also, I "split" the cap sleeve at the shoulder seam by about 2 inches, so that it would flutter a little bit when worn.  Here's a close-up--

Yes, I could have curved the shoulder seam, but that would have meant fitting another muslin...and I wanted to keep this top fast and easy.

 Will I make this top again?  You bet!   
The next one will be for me...in soft, floaty, washed silk dupionni  :)

Giveaway WINNERS !

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Thanks to all who enetered the Giveaway of products from 

Because of the great response 
to this Giveaway, 
I decided to draw 4 winners !

 And they are...
  • Faye Lewis
  • Kai Jones, Happy Valley OR
  • Alethia H, Augusta
  • Melissa F, London 
 Will the four of you please send an email to me at  
OffTheCuffStyle "at" Yahoo "dot" com  
with your Full Name and Shipping Address ? ...and I'll get your goodies shipped to you as soon as possible!   Thanks, ~Pam

Jackets and ties

Thursday, July 14, 2011
The other day, I got one of those bits of drive-by snark that most bloggers in this genre occasionally find left in their comments. Style is so utterly subjective that you don’t need to look far to find someone who disagrees with you, and little further to find someone who’ll express their disagreement in a short, uninteresting, and anonymous comment. Normally I’d ignore it, but this particular one suggested an idea for a post, and I’ve been short enough on posts of late that I thought I’d worth writing.

The comment was along the lines of ‘never wear a jacket without a tie' [Edit: I got this the wrong way round previously, meaning that the rest of the post made little sense. doh].

Well, it’s not terrible advice. To look their smartest, men should always wear a tie, and jackets tend to look better with something to cover the expanse of shirt which is otherwise on display.

The problem I have with this ‘advice’ is the same problem I have with any subjective opinion stated as an objective rule. Do jackets look better with a tie? Yes, often, but not always. Does that mean it’s somehow unacceptable to wear a jacket without a tie? Of course not. Suits look pretty bad without a tie in my view, as the smartness of the suit sits uncomfortably with the casualness of an open collar. The same isn’t necessarily true of a casual jacket or blazer, worn with jeans or chinos and brown shoes. Such an ensemble may have been unheard-of forty years ago but times move on and men, at least those who wish to look stylish and not merely ‘correct’, move with them.

Jeans, a shirt and a casual jacket is now the default smart-casual for most men, and a perfectly good option it is, yet it would look positively odd with a tie (I’ve seen it done, and it’s not a good look). Similarly, a man who works in a fairly casual environment, such as myself, can get away with sometimes wearing chinos and a tweed jacket without attracting anything but polite compliments. If I added a tie, I suspect I would tip over the edge into pomposity or even eccentricity.

The point always worth bearing in mind when dealing with people who insist on this sort of thing is that ‘rules’ for dressing well are often most beloved by people with no particular natural sense of style. I know I occasionally come across as dogmatic, but I suppose that is the nature of writing a blog like this, and I do my best to couch all my comments in terms of advice and guidelines, rather than rules for rules sake. Someone, I forget who, once said something to the effect that a man is not well dressed if he is not appropriately dressed. Stick to the dress standards of the 40s, and you may look smart but rarely stylish, and often simply odd. Accept that times change, but be guided by the best from decades past and don’t bend too easily to passing fads, and you are far more likely to be genuinely well-dressed.

V8759...A New Vogue MEN's SHIRT Pattern !

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I am so pleased that Vogue has decided to introduce a new mens shirt pattern!  And at first glance, it looks like a winner. I have ordered it, and will make it up as soon as it gets here...but in the meantime, here are my first impressions of Vogue 8759--

As a shirtmaker, the first things I noticed about this shirt are the slim sleeves, the over-all slim cut delivered by curved side seams, and shoulders that are not dropped.  That's the good news. But the design has alot of details going on in the back, and not much happening in the front (see line drawings below). That unbalance can be easily changed by adding another pocket, or adding a separate front button placket rather than the "French" front placket shown. Remember, that's just my opinion...many men prefer a very "clean" shirt front.

Here is the back view--

Details to notice are back seams instead of pleats, and that the back yoke appears neither too narrow or too wide. A yoke that is too narrow causes a shirt to ride-up in back when the wearer is seated, and a yoke that is too wide (deep) looks boxy gives a shirt a sloppy look.

Here are the pattern line drawings--
Something interesting to note is the back sleeve seam that incorporates the placket..here's a closer view--
I am going to reserve comment until I see how (or if) the inside of the placket is clean-finished.

So, as soon as the pattern arrives, I'll stitch it up and give you my thoughts along the way :)

Pam takes a break...and oh yeah, New Buttons have arrived!

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's time for me to take a break from Blogging for a little while.  After sewing 9 identical white shirts with many design details over a span of a few very long days, I need some time off from the sewing machines.  You know I'll be back soon....but in the meantime, I'll be enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation from one of my jobs.

^ Click photo to Enlarge ^

Which brings me to my second job as the "Empress of Interfacing"  {Big GRIN}  at  Fashion Sewing Supply.   New "Buttons-by-the-Scoop" are here and ON SALE :)  More colors and styles have been added to both the light and dark assortments of our shirt/blouse size designer buttons. The scoops are generous...well over 150-160+ buttons per scoop. They are ON SALE for a limited time...and they ship at a low price too!  Find them in the Designer Buttons Category.

One last thing...  We've never had a mid-summer Interfacing Sale but are considering having one this year.
If you want to be sure not to miss it, and any future sales...be sure to sign up for our  Fashion Sewing Supply newsletter, in the tan box to the left. And don't worry...we only send our newsletters 4-6 times each YEAR, and you can "opt-out" at any time ;)