Sewing for Stef has become something I actually like. He wants to have his clothes just so, which means that I have to be precise and not stop until it is exactly how he wants it. I don't have to sew for him often, fortunately he holds the philosophy that all you need is one good version of everything. His favourite item to wear is a button down shirt, and since that is quite a lot of work I promised him one for his birthday. I know already he has some specific issues around his shoulders so I made a toile first, using a cheap blue cotton. The pattern we chose is Colette's Negroni. The instructions are very clear and it was interesting to compare construction techniques with the Archer. I chose size L based on his measurements, but either this shirt has a lot of ease or I measured him wrong because it came out way too big. I'll walk through the issues and solutions below, and the next post I'll show you the improved second version.
When I first tried it on him as it was after basting the side seams, it was gigantic. It was basically too big everywhere but the neckline. The only adjustments I made in this shirt were to shorten the sleeves by 2,5 cm (1") and taking in the side seams (both bodice and sleeve) by 8 cm (3.5") in total, which made it kind of wearable. It was too bad I had already sewn the plackets by then because now he has some trouble rolling up the sleeves. The shoulder seam is hanging off his shoulder too but I didn't want to go as far as taking out the flat felled seams, since it was a toile after all. It should be higher up by about 2 cm ( a little less than 1").
When it turns out too big you know you just have to size down, but what I don't get with this design is that it has only 5 buttons. This makes for big gaps every time he moves and makes the shirt more bulky looking. I've seen other people also use 6 buttons instead of 5 and I think this shirt really needs 6.
On to the back! There's a couple of things that could be improved here. First of all, there are some diagonal lines running from the pleats to the armhole. Sometimes this could be the result of sloping shoulders, and then the solution is to taper off the back towards the armhole along the top, lowering the armhole at the same time. (Peter from MPB writes about that here). In Stef's case I suspected it could also be the result of his rounded back, or dowagers hump. Seen from the side his back has an S shape. Because his shoulder blades kind of stick out, they pull up the fabric at the center back. The fabric pulls at the armholes because of that, and it also swings outward at the hem. By giving him more room in that area the diagonal creases should disappear, and the fabric should have more room to follow the curve of his back downward. Another tip I got from a professional seamstress we met a couple of weeks ago was to extend the yoke down by 2 cm. This doesn't do much for the fit but it would look better proportionally. Next up: the improved version!