Contour Shirt with a "Set-Back" Collar...Design and Drafting Notes

Thursday, September 29, 2011


This shirt of my original design, is the latest made for a client who prefers a slim-cut shirt, or what is known to Tailors and Shirt-makers as a "Contour" shirt.  This contour shirt is made from cotton poplin sateen shirting fabric that has a slight ombre effect. It features a banded angle-edge pocket, a cross-cut front button placket, and sleeves with wide cross-cut plackets and an inverted box pleat at the cuffs. Additionally, the cross-cut collar has been designed so that it "sets back" on the stand about 3/4" more than usual.

So...what is a "slim-cut" (contour) shirt?   What it isn't is a precise set of steps and measurements that are set in stone.  The specs of "slim-cut" (contour) will vary depending on the designer and who is doing the drafting.  I start with with my regular shirt block with straight side seams, then I take out some of the fullness by curving the side seams.  I raise the armscye point, then finish by correcting and smoothing the new curve.  When the armscye point is raised, it makes the arm "hole" smaller, so a new sleeve with a smaller-circumference (slimmer cut!) needs to be drafted.  I draft the sleeve with almost no ease. Yes you read that right...I draft the sleeve with no more than 1/2" of ease. It just isn't necessary. Too much ease makes for a messy flat-felled sewn finish.  One other thing...I draft my Contour Shirt Back without a CB pleat.

I have not yet mentioned making slimmer/contoured changes to the shirt Front and Back at the shoulders (the yoke). That is because I already draft my regular shirt block with a natural shoulder slope and length.  My standard shirt block is not loose on the upper chest/shoulder and the sleeve does not drop of the shoulder, so it needs no adjustments when I draft a contour shirt.

You may be wondering why I have not given you precise measurements, like "raise the armscye by 1/2", or "curve the side seams in by 3/4".  I am not being secretive :)  It is because I have no idea what the specs of your existing shirt pattern may be.  You either need to copy a slim-cut shirt that you like, or make a muslin of the shirt pattern that you regularly use, and pinch out the fullness and experiment with raising the armscye point a little bit at a time. 

A good menswear drafting book helps...I highly recommend this one, it  has been my go-to reference since the early 80's-- 
 
Fundamentals of  Men's Fashion Design A Guide To Casual Clothes Edmund B Roberts and Gary Onishenko.  Fairchild Publications.  
 The only book reference number on my copy is: Standard Book Number-- 87005-5143
So if you are interested in this book, a search at your favorite book-seller by Title and Author may be better than using the number.


For more on sleeve cap ease, don't miss this fantastic post by renown clothing industry expert, Kathleen Fasanella.

SEWING NOTES:  Collar and Cuffs interfaced with PRO-WOVEN Shirt-CRISP Interfacing from  Fashion Sewing Supply  Buttons are the 40-count Designer Shirt Button Set in color "Choco-Toffee" from Fashion Sewing Supply.