A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with some friends and they asked me what I was working on. I mentioned that I was getting ready to sew a shirt for J, after promising him one for a couple of years now. One friend, apparently struck by the thought said, "Hey! Do you remember that episode of The Cosby Show where Denise made Theo a shirt?"
I swiped this photo from an Oona Does It! on The Sew Weekly. When I read that post last summer I instantly remembered it from my childhood. And it may be, hands down, the best episode of The Cosby Show ever. I highly recommend watching it. I love The Cosby Show. I'd much rather watch old Cosby reruns than anything else that's on TV today. That makes me sound old and crotchety, doesn't it?
Now let me start by saying that J deserves a shirt. He really does. I have been telling him I would sew him a shirt for a very long time. The only thing I've ever sewn for him is a pair of fleece pajama pants (which he wears quite often, thankyouverymuch). But for the most part, I sew selfishly. It was time that I made the man a shirt.
So I pulled out McCalls 6044 and decided to give it a go. I thought to myself, "How hard could it be?" I've seen so many before me make fantastic men's shirts. There was even a men's shirt sew along a while back I could refer to. I was sure I could pull it off.
Um, to quote Clair Huxtable: "Oh Denise, shirts are not that easy to make!"
The shirt I made did not turn out as bad as Denise's. In fact, it looks decent. It was a decent attempt. My sleeves are most definitely the same length ("My arms are the same length- why aren't my sleeves?" Bwahaha!). And my collar is put on well thanks to Peter. But just wait for it.
My first mistake was choosing the wrong size. I cut out an XL but really I could have gone down a whole size- or more. I used a very loosely woven linen with a very subtle plaid woven in. The linen is really nice but it proved to be difficult to sew. It was one of those wiggly linens. I sewed the shirt together at the shoulder seams and attached the placket and collar. Then I basted the sleeves and side seams and we proceeded to do some fittings.
Actually, we did FOUR fittings. J was initially swimming in it. I took in all the seams, made all the pieces smaller to make it work- except for the collar which was already attached beautifully. I wasn't removing the collar. I had to bring the sleeve seam up almost an inch on each side so it was actually in the vicinity of his shoulders. There were numerous instances of basting and adjusting. J also had some requests. This is a man that demands perfection in everything he does. He makes perfect tipis, he finishes furniture impeccably, he paints the most beautiful portraits of me (I'll have to show you some of his paintings sometime) and he married the perfect wife. Just kidding on that last one ;) He's pretty picky. But I knew that going in. He wanted shorter sleeves, narrower sleeves, a specific length and no curved hem. It was a long process.
By the time I was nearing the end, I just wanted to be finished. I had a couple of hours one day to sew all the basted seams permanently, make the buttonholes and attach the buttons. I was ready to get back to sewing for myself. I actually did it while he was outside working in the yard. When he came inside, I had the shirt hanging up and a very smug look on my face. J went to check it out and all I heard was, "What's up with the buttons?"
Do you see it?
We both had a good laugh. Well, J laughed right away. It took me a couple of hours before I laughed about it. Normally I measure and place buttonholes myself. But since I wanted to be finished, I used the pattern piece that has the buttonholes already marked. I laid it on the placket and drew a line under each marking. Somewhere along the way the pattern piece must have shifted. And I have a little, er, variation in spacing. Rats! I shouldn't have rushed.
If there was ever a more perfect red flag that says, Hey someone MADE me this shirt!--- this is it.
I know, I know. It's truly not that noticeable at first. But once you see it, you can never un-see it, if you know what I mean.
He says he'll wear it anyway. But I know how much it will bother him and his need for perfectness. So I won't push the issue.
And just so you know, I briefly thought about removing the placket and redoing to buttonholes but decided it would be easier just to make a new shirt. Which I did. Which is much better. And you better believe I measured those buttonholes obsessively this time around. I'll get pictures of the new shirt on our vacation.