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Simplicity 8180- Sewing Challenge 2017

By Di, Sep 13 2017 04:00AM

I was really pleased to see there was a category for men's sewing in this years Simplicity Sewing Challenge. There are so many talented male garment makers and I'm always ready to champion their cause, equally I have two adult males that I love to make clothes for.


This is where I start to get controversial! I'd love to know the criteria for judging competitions, Is it the ability to find an appealing fabric for a pattern or is it genuine ability at all stages of the sewing process? I think the choice of this pattern is an insult to talented garment makers, especially men! It's essentially a blouse that I was taught to make when I was 12! If a competition is a true reflection of talent, why does the shirt not have a yoke, collar band and a proper sleeve placket (rather than a continuous strip opening)?


Rant over!


My husband and son only ever wear shirts with a collar band, my husband prefers grandad collars for casual shirts. I also have some great quality 100% cotton shirting samples aquired from a well know designer so If I was going to use them I needed to make a shirt that would get worn.


I also believe that a garment making pattern is only a starting point for the maker to create something truly original. I had three fabrics that I knew would work together, so I had to find a way to adapt the pattern to use them effectively and showcase what I could achieve.


I started by drafting a collar band for the pattern, followed by a new collar. Not only was this more appealing it would give me chance to use one of my contrasting fabrics. I also wanted a proper sleeve placket, can't say I've ever bought a man's shirt with a women's blouse opening.......! I gave some thought to fabric placement, I had 2 different width striped fabrics to compliment the plain one. I knew I wanted to use them inside the collar band, cuffs, placket, front band and the pocket.


This pattern has front facings rather than a button band, so i decided to make a new piece from the narrow striped cloth that the buttons would be stitched on to. It was so important to stitch straight lines as any divergence would be obvious.


Next was the pocket. I thought about adding a contrast band to the top of the patch pocket. However; decided to create a welt pocket using the narrow striped cloth, with a rouleau loop fastening made from the wider stripe.

I was really pleased with the result, you can't beat matching stripes, even on the bais!


I love the technical challenge of shirt making and I've tried many different ways of making collars. I only ever use woven interfacings, cut them to the finished size as well as trimming off the corners. This makes really sharp edges and collar points. I also use a technique never found in commercial patterns. I attach both collar bands to the neck edge first and stitch the front curves before attaching the collar.

I've realised that high quality shirts use a very short stitch length, so I replicate that throughout..Topstitching the band after the completed collar has been attached.

Both the collar and collar band are backed with the wide striped cloth.


All the seams are machine felled, creating a flat, strong seam.


As I already mentioned, I wanted a traditional placket and took the opportunity to use the striped fabric for the narrow welt.

My cuff making technique is similar to making the collar band. It can be quite tricky to get a neat, flat join at the end of the placket, loats of trimming being required. However if you try mu way it is so much easier and neater.

Interface one piece with the interfacing cut to the finished size. Also trim off the corners. This reduces the bulk when turning the corners.

Sandwich the sleeve between both layers of the cuff. Machine 15mm from the edge and trim the seam allowances.

Roll the sleeve out of the way so you can stitch the short edge of the cuff and part of the other seam. Do this at both ends of the cuff.

Trim the seams and cut diagonally across the corners. Turn the cuff out to the right side. Press.

Turn in one edge of the cuff and press. Do the same with the other edge so that the outer cuff is very slightly wider than the inside.. Edge stitch. I like to do two rows at the edge nearest the sleeve.

Next came the hem. I really don't like rolled hem feet and they're not great on curved hems. So I set about making a narrow hem by hand rolling as I machined.

This picture reminds me that when I made the facing I used a lightweight woven interfacing, neatening the outer edge by puttng it right sides together against the facing, I stitched a 5mm seam along the outer edge, turned the interfacing over then fusing to the wrong side of the facing.


When spacing and making buttonholes I aleays use my SIMplex Buttonhole Guage and cut with my Buttonhole chisel.


I just have to convince my husband that red buttons look fine!


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