Friday, April 13, 2012

Where I create a good fitting, but unwearable, shirt (part II)

This post is part II in a series. To get caught up to speed, check out part I here.

Awww shit, look at that crease! Note how the yoke rolls down onto my arm. Clearly the shoulder fit to too big. Except, when I compared the shoulders of this shirt to my well fitting white shirt, the rear yokes measure exactly the same. So I measured the front yokes from collar to sleeve:

And found that the blue shirt was 2cm wider along the front yoke edge. I don't know why they drafted this odd of a arm scythe, but I was going to have to fix it. Time to remove the sleeves and recut the yokes.

It was at this point that I realized total sleeve removal was going to be a no-go. When adjusting the side seams I chose to half-ass things and sewed the arm hole bottoms shut. Since I didn't intend to wear this shirt out anywhere it wasn't a big deal to just half-remove the sleeves. If you are doing this invasive of a procedure on a shirt you want to wear, I'd bring in the sides last (or just do things right the first time).

I measured in 16mm (the front yoke size on taken from the white shirt) and marked my new yoke width.

and then drew my new arm scythe using the french curve that I've borrowed from Crissy (I'm giving it back soon, I promise). I'm a firm believe in over-using pins, and also of pin-basting, so this was the sleeve before I sewed it:

While I was working with the sleeve, I went ahead and removed a 2" wedge (from armpit to cuff) in an attempt to reduce bagginess in that area. I think I may have pinned poorly, because it gave the sleeve an odd wrinkle. This is was the fit afterwards:

And an obligatory before:middle:after shot:

All in all I'm quite happy with the way this worked out. It looks like the shirt is too tight across my abdomen, but it's just my posterior being all too big again. I have plenty of ease above the hips. To address my rump in the final pattern, I'll add an inch or two to the bottom circumference. 

So what do yall think? Did I just totally waste a perfectly good 60/40 cotton-poly blend shirt? Any pointers on cutting it back apart to make a pattern? I've typed this 2nd part 4 times now because blogger keeps losing it (I guess they are experiencing technical difficulties here in the cloud...), so I'm all out of witty things to say. Leave me some love in the comments; Next time I think I'll take on ties!

Where I create a good fitting, but unwearable, shirt

Starting a new job bring with it many new and wondrous things. Chief among these, is the need to update one's wardrobe. One thing that I learned while hunting for new office-wear is that I have an awkwardly built body. OTR shirts that fit in the body will be bizarre in the neck/shoulder/sleeve EVERY DAMN TIME. Plus, now that I sew I am even more aware of these fit issues (which I was blissfully unaware of before). It was time to get my hands dirty.

As I mentioned in my Shirt Issue, I have several cheap and ill fitting shirts laying around in my closet. I decided it was time for my 'U.S. Polo Assn' shirt to find a new purpose in life, as a pattern base. The plan was to tailor the shirt until it fits great, then cut it apart and make a paper pattern from the pieces.

At this point, I think it's important to mention that I'm very much aware that I could just buy a shirt pattern, or even borrow one from Crissy (I'm sure she has at least 12). But that's not the way we do things around here. It's got to be the most difficult, drawn out, learning intensive route every time.

This is what I started with:

There is enough room in there for two of me. The last time I addressed this problem I used a modified 'pinch-and-pin' method to remove almost 8" of material from the body circumference. However, that shirt had no pleats, and this one has a sizable box pleat to contend with. While I think it looks stupid, I decided to just sew the pleat shut along the full length of the shirt.

Keeping things even was pretty simple since this shirt is a herringbone weave, so I had convenient guide-lines to follow. I went ahead and gave it a quick press to set the pleat. Once one side was pinned shut, I measured the width of the box pleat (1 1/2")

and then marked the width down the full length of the shirt. Again I used the shirt grain as a guide to make sure everything was even. I doubt it would have mattered if I was off a little here or there, so don't stress out if you're doing this on broadcloth.

And then carefully fold the shirt in half so that the two pleat edges are even. Leave the first side pinned shut during this. The goal is to have the outer pleat edges (the edges that face the side seams) touching.

As you can see here, after a good press, the pleat is folded over on itself. If we sew along the bottom edge of the pleat/fold the resulting stitch line will hold the pleat shut (making it into a functionless style piece). It will also be totally invisible since the pleat itself will cover it. 

My stitch line. The pins here are just holding the fold shut while I sew. Remove them and press the pleat open. At this point we've removed 3" of material from the circumference of the body, let's check the fit.

You can see how much of a difference a little volume reduction can make, but it's still is too blousey for my tastes. Since the back is now stable, I feel safe taking some more material out from the side seams. For this I decided to remove 1" from each side at my waist, tapering to a 1/2" reduction at the armpit and shirt bottom. Here was the result:

Looking good! I'd wear this to work now. Except that I can now clearly see creasing by my arms. Creasing that tells me the shirt is too large across the shoulders. It's like this project is never ending. 

(Author's note. This project is kind of long. Longer than I expected. I'm making an executive decision and splitting it into 2 parts for ease of browsing. Kyle Ruins a Shirt Part II)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Well, that took longer than expected

So it's been a while since I posted anything. It's not that I've had nothing to blog about--quite the opposite actually. I've just not had the time to spend here on the interwebs. I still love you all, I've just not been able to show it. The good news is, I'm back.

Last month, in what is no doubt a precursor to future events, the twins decided to play with Mommy's sciatic nerve. They did not play nice. The end result was a very long week of totally immobile wife. I'll spare you the gritty details, but suffice to say I had to help her with everything. EVERYTHING.

I still managed to get the garden in and keep it happy. We've gotten some rain this year, and that's helped quite a bit. It's almost time to start trellising the squash and cucumbers:

During all of this, I also began a new job; my first real 'Grownup' job. As of April 2nd, I am the new Grant Coordinator for Child Advocates of San Antonio. I don't typically like to mix business with pleasure (that's a total lie) but I'm going to take a moment to say that if you ever wanted a wonderful cause to support, the CASA programs (there's likely one near you) are about as good as they come. Essentially they provide a single neutral party to watch over children who have entered State Child Welfare programs (due to abuse or neglect) and ensure that the children receive the medical, social, psychological, and just plain human contact that they deserve. Check out the national CASA site for more details:

The good news about all of this: I had to buy some new clothes. And, of course, nothing fits me well off the rack. So back to the sewing machine I go! I'm mid-way though my attempt to make a "Perfect Fitting Shirt" (which I intend to cut apart and turn into a pattern), and I have a self-drafted trouser pattern laying around here somewhere than needs proofing. Good thing I work a regular 9-5 now (with no weekends), I'll finally have time to finish this stuff.

Tune in next time (I promise it will be soon, I'm already 80% finished) when I face off with this shirt:

Until then, feel free to share horror stories about being pregnant. I have nothing to work with, seeing as how I'm short on necessary equipment, and my wife is getting tired of getting blind-sided by all the-things-they-don't-tell-you-about-being-pregnant. Show us some love ladies, and gents I'm always open to tips on how to deal with these crazy hormones.