For the third article in my Tuxedo Shirt series, I wanted to reflect on the project, as well as the prospects of turning a hobby into a cottage industry of sewing for others.
Some Lessons Learned
Though the project was ultimately successful, I had my share of setbacks along the way, and there were a few things that didn’t go the way I had hoped. Continue reading
For the second post in my series on the Tuxedo Shirt, I delve into fitting. As I had mentioned previously, fitting took longer than I had expected, even with a headstart in the form of an existing garment.
For the first fitting, I traced a pattern from a RTW shirt provided by the client. I produced a bodice muslin, lacking sleeves, collar and other details.
Overall, the RTW shirt already fit well. The client said the collar was slightly too tight on the RTW shirt.
My “Make it Work” moment worked!
On a sunny Saturday afternoon, in a cozy Northern California country club with idyllic views everywhere you looked, my client Kevin beamed with pleasure as he married his beautiful bride. Also not coincidentally, he was the best-dressed man at the event.
A gorgeous pair of golden cufflinks handed down to him from his grandfather, together with a black satin bowtie and suspenders, finished the look of his bespoke, one-of-a-kind tuxedo shirt. Both bride and groom were thrilled with the way our project turned out – the shirt added a personal touch to a formal outfit. And I was thrilled too.
I won’t include wedding photos here, out of respect for the bride and groom, but I’ll illustrate how the project turned out. I’m planning four installments to this series:
- reflections on the experience,
- and finally some shirt-making tips.
I’ve been devoting so much time to my Tuxedo Shirt project that I haven’t had time to blog as I go. I’ll fill in more details after the job is done, but here’s an update in the interim.
After several rounds of fitting, the good news is that I’ve arrived at a shirt pattern that fits the client.
I got a trial-by-fire lesson in sleeve fitting, which I had not had a chance to practice on myself before trying out on the client. After draping the muslin and tracing out the client’s armscye directly on the muslin, I drafted a new sleeve to match.
I started by making a new sleeve pattern, using a draft I learned in Paul Gallo’s patternmaking and design course I took in January. Contrary to the original sleeve that came with the model shirt, and also contrary to many men’s dress shirts, I used a much higher sleeve cap based upon measurements from my client.
Here’s the first sleeve draft that I produced; it was a little tight around the bicep and the wrists because I didn’t get the measurements right. But you get an idea of the overall shape of the sleeve cap. The solid pencil is the stitching line, I added both 1/2 inch (dashed) and 5/8 inch (red) seam allowances.
I’ve been very delinquent in contributing to the blog lately, because I’ve been pouring my attention into sewing!
Part of the reason I have been so busy was Paul Gallo’s course in patternmaking and draping I took in January, plus time I spent outside the class absorbing the material. But another reason why I’ve been so busy is that I’ve been engaged in another project, with a deadline: I’m sewing for a client.
Sewing For Others
So, first a confession of sorts. As I’ve been developing as a sewist, I have been toying with the idea of sewing for others.
It’s part of the reason I’ve taken the long, difficult road of learning fitting and pattern alteration, rather than just tracing off a garment that already fits, or making minor alterations to a commercial pattern and hoping for the best. I’ve wanted to develop a skill set that I could apply to others as well as myself – but to what end, I’ve never been sure.
I also knew I would have to approach sewing for others as a business, and not as a “for free” or “doing a favor” type thing. I’ve read too many horror stories from other sewing bloggers. People think it’s easy for you to give up your time to “whip up” a quick something that they know you’ve been sitting around, just waiting to create for them. Generally, most people are completely unaware of the amount of work that goes into creating a well-made garment, and are unappreciative of the effort. I know a lot of other bloggers have an unstated rule that they will not sew for people who ask.
And that has also been my stance on the matter. Until now. Continue reading