Hello friends! I am back with another finished piece – this time featuring my husband, Ian. This is the fourth button-up shirt I’ve completed for him, and I think I am finally zeroing in on the perfect fit (& in the perfect pattern).
My first ventures into shirt-making for him were from the Simplicty 4760 pattern. I’m not sure when this particular pattern was designed – but if I had to guess I’d say it was the late 90s based on the photographs and the amount of ease designed in the pattern. That pattern required a TON of altering to get a slimmer/modern fit, and while this was a good learning exercise for me – I became weary of other Big 4 men’s shirt patterns for the same reason.
I also didn’t love what felt like short cuts in the design and construction. Namely: the facing used for the button band, and lack of a collar stand.
Y’all, I’m pretty much over facings. Arm facings? Nope. Button-band facings? Maybe in dresses, but for collared shirts that’s now a nope. Neckline facings? Also nope. Whenever possible: I much prefer a bias binding or RTW techniques.
Besides the lack of facings, there were two main things that really appealed to me about the Fairfield button-up. One was the legit button placket construction. The other was that it included a version designed with back darts instead of back pleats. If you’ve done much shopping for men’s shirts – you’ll know that back darts in shirts are harder to find than back pleats (at least in the U.S.). A back pleat will add volume to a shirt (which is great if you are larger figure), but in Ian’s case he always has a much better fit with darts.
Anywho, I decided to make the first version as a wearable muslin in an inexpensive cotton I picked up some time last year. To my pleasant surprise, the construction was straightforward, and I didn’t have any trouble with the button placket even though it was my first time doing it. (I repeat: why bother with a facing???)
I didn’t find the collar stand particularly difficult either, and I think the result is worth the added effort. The only bit I had trouble with was keeping track of the “under” vs. “over” collar pieces. Instead of cutting the same collar stand and collar piece on the fold, the pattern includes four different pieces in which the “over” pieces are slightly bigger to allow for the turn of cloth (another reason this is a high-quality pattern). I’m pretty sure I mixed them up on the first version of the shirt, so for the second one I made sure to use tailor’s tacks to help me keep track of which was which.
I should note that I also shortened the sleeves for both of these versions. The pattern does not include a short-sleeve option, but it’s an easy adjustment to make yourself (especially if you have another pattern you can pull from, like I did). I can’t speak to the cuff construction in this pattern yet, but given my experience so far I have high hopes for when I try it this fall.
As for the fit, it was honestly not bad straight out of the pattern. I had to raise the pocket placement an inch and a half, but otherwise the result was pretty good.
Even though Ian thought the first fit was amazing (thanks boo!) – I was bothered by the drag line coming down from his right shoulder. The shoulders were a touch too long, leading to extra fabric in the chest and back. To correct this, I did just a 1/4 narrow shoulder and back adjustment – and I think the second version looks perfect.
The singular drag line was trickier to figure out, but after consulting Fit for Real People, I realized that Ian has slightly uneven shoulders. I followed the pattern adjustment as outlined in the book, which is essentially a straight shoulder adjustment on one side only. Note that this will raise/lower one of the armholes as well, which is what you want if one arm is in fact hanging lower than the other.
Simple in theory, not simple in execution! Making an adjustment to only one side of a pattern is a lot to keep track of when you are talking about two separate front bodices pieces, two yoke pieces, all cut on a single layer – on a fabric where the right side and wrong side are interchangeable.
I did my best to keep everything straight, but when Ian tried on the shirt and asked me, “Isn’t the pocket supposed to be on the other side?” I knew that somewhere along the way I had made a grave, grave error. While it was easy to move the pocket to the correct side – it was way to late for the buttons and button holes.
Funny enough, I did manage to get the adjustments all on the correct side in terms of actually wearing the garment – so it fits and looks great! But managed to completely switch the construction of the front bodices. I guess I didn’t notice because it seemed correct to me? But, forevermore, every time Ian puts that shirt on, his fingers will awkwardly remember that I managed to sew his shirt backwards.
Really, the worst part is that it means I will need to do all of those adjustments again the next time I make him this shirt (did I mention that I traced and cut this pattern on a single layer?). But as far as this version goes – nobody but him and you lovely people reading this blog will ever be the wiser.
- Fabric: 100% Linen from Superbuzzy (2 yards)
- Pattern: Fairfield Button Up by Thread Theory Designs
- Size: S
- Short Sleeve
- Raised Pocket 1.25″
- 1/4″ Narrow Shoulder and Back
- 1/4″ Uneven Shoulder
- Shortened Bodice Length 1/2″
- Total Cost: ~$50
- $11 for the pattern (one time cost but I’ve already used it twice)
- $35 for the fabric (linen version)
- ~ $5 for misc. notions (buttons, interfacing)