Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Shirt For J



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?
Oy vey!

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.

29 comments:

  1. Don't the Amish always include a mistake in their otherwise perfect flawless quilts? Tell him this is his Amish shirt :-)
    I think it's lovely, wonky buttons and all. My husband could love that fabric, he is Captain Neutral.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I like this! It's an intentional mistake! ;)

      Delete
  2. I was just about to say the same about the people who weave Persian rugs. They put in deliberate mistakes because only God is perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is a really, really small mistake. I never would have noticed if you hadn't pointed it out. You are very sweet to make J a shirt. I once contemplated making my husband a hot patterns denim shirt, but the kits ran out before I could make up my mind and that was that!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love that you found it easier to make a whole new shirt rather than alter this one - I do the same thing. Could you change the buttons on this shirt to something with less contrast - I'm sure this would make the spacing problem virtually disappear.

    ReplyDelete
  5. hahaha. that is totally something i would do. i didn't even notice it until you pointed it out.

    on a side note, what is your name? liza jane? liza? elizabeth? sarah?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love that fabric and the buttons aren't noticeable unless you point them out. And how many people are really going to notice the buttons? I know what you mean about it being easier to just make a new shirt - I feel like there's a point of no return line in each project. Before that line, I'll fix a problem and after that line I'd rather start again. What's that about???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, I'm exactly the same way. There is definitely a point of no return.

      Delete
  7. Can you still see the awkward button placement when the shirt is worn? I think on average your husband probably isn't as still as the shirt on the hanger, so it would be hard to focus enough to see it. If you want to try another shirt, I'd recommend Kwik Sew or possibly Jalie.

    Anyway, I think the end result is very cute, and I too would rather watch the reruns of the Cosby's than anything on today. Well, except for maybe How It's Made and Inspector Lewis...I know, I'm such a nerd. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erm, I surely meant "dashing", or "manly", or something....!

      Delete
    2. I'd like to try another shirt pattern-- something with a back yoke, I think. And, yes- "manly"-- lol!

      Delete
  8. Yeah, I would never have noticed it if you hadn't pointed it out! Actually, I was sitting there looking at the arrow going "What is she pointing at?" for a minute.

    My husband's perfectionism (not to mention his reluctane to hang around for fittings) is one of the main reasons I don't do much sewing for him---I totally get it.

    And I'm not surprised the second one turned out perfect! Can't wait to see it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh my, that brings back memories. At least you got the buttonholes on the correct side unlike what I did. After putting the buttonholes on the wrong side for a man's shirt, I switched EVERTHING I sewed to buttoning left over right. Now when I do sew a right over left buttoned item it is a deliberate choice, not automatic. You did a nice job anyway. And the second shirt went much easier and faster than the first, didn't it.
    Theresa in Tucson

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The second shirt went SO much faster!

      Delete
  10. Well, it is lovely and I don't think I would have noticed the button spacing if you hadn't pointed it out. I promised my hubby a birthday shirt and am sure I will make some dreadful error that he will point out and I then I will be annoyed. Can't wait to see the second one : )

    ReplyDelete
  11. I thought it was a beautiful shirt! and I too wouldn't have noticed the button spacing unless you had pointed it out! Gorgeous fabric; and it must feel wonderful against the skin to wear. I love the colour too. I would wear it in a heartbeat. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I vote for the Amish shirt story too. I'm too impressed with your top stitching to see anything else!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Aw! I think its a perfect shirt!! buttons and all - but I'm sure J will appreciate the second attempt at it. If it makes you feel any better - the first shirt I sewed my husband has weird button placement - and I never put any interfacing in the placket (which I needed for my fabric) so no matter how much we iron the shirt the plackets flip back and you can see his belly all the way down! But he still wears it (bless him...)

    ReplyDelete
  14. It is such a nice shirt. I make shirts for my husband occasionally, and although my husband is completely terrific, he is also incredibly picky about his clothes, so I find the whole experience rather fraught, because the dratted things require such precision and fiddling about.
    When I totally messed up the buttons on one of his shirts I decided that double buttons I had seen in RTW shirts were a very useful feature - two very closely spaced buttons, about 1.5cm apart in each "normal" button region. It looked quite good - and deliberate ;) Maybe that would work on this shirt to fix up the spacing?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wonderful shirt! I just made this pattern for my hubby (I make him one each year for his birthday). Each time I make it, it goes a little smoother and faster. Although, your level of perfection (button placement and all) still puts my efforts to shame!

    I could only find a XL-XXXL pattern size, though, so I cut him an XL each time. I'm realizing now how he needs a smaller size (he's tall, but skinny). Next year I might attempt the Negroni, just to see if the fit is better.

    Can't wait to see your next version! All of your work is so well-done!

    ReplyDelete
  16. You know I wouldn't have noticed the button spacing....
    I admire your tenacity, all that fitting an remaking. I made a shirt for my son and it was far too big. It was for his 18th birthday. He will be 20 next month and still hasn't grown into it. The idea of taking it apart to slim it down is too unbearable! So hats off to you!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wow, making a whole new shirt is true love. I would have replaced the buttons with ones that are the same color as the linen and called them invisible. Heh.

    Nice looking shirt! Men's clothes seem so much fussier than women's. All my guy has gotten from me is novelty boxers (a blatant Pirates of the Caribbean knockoff print, cowboys and Indians, hula girls, etc.). I should look for another novelty print; I didn't make him any for his birthday so I should at least have some for Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I remember that episode of The Cosby SHow well. In fact, Paul and I bought the first three seasons last year to rewatch. Soooooo funny. Nice shirt. Maybe J can use it as his dancing shirt. That way he'll never be still enough at any one time for people to notice the buttons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! That's funny because this is a man who does not dance!

      Delete
  19. Haha, I do things like that all the time! There's always something keeping the garment from being perfect. But it's, uh, part of the experience, right? Too bad about all the work you had to go to to get the fit better, but the end product really does look nice.

    ReplyDelete