The Tailored Shirt, Part 1: Choosing A Pattern


A new year, a new project.

At this point, I’ve been sewing for exactly one year.  I’ve made several case/folio projects (tablets, Kindle, Macbook Air), some home decorating projects (pillows, place mats, table runner, napkins) and some basic garments (T-shirts, tank tops, boxers, and men’s pajamas).

The pajama projects in particular were pretty useful, because they are stepping stones to bigger, more sophisticated projects: they taught me how to do basic construction techniques that would be used in “real” garments such as dress shirts and pants.  Things like attaching patch pockets, facings, flat-felled seams, buttonholes, and matching plaids.  The oversized nature of my Simplicity 2328 pajamas pattern even led me into pattern alteration. I learned how to adjust shoulder width, crotch depth, and leg width to get something that fits a little less like a parachute.

Which sets me up to attempt my first really significant project: a tailored men’s shirt.  Aside from purchasing David Page Coffin’s book “Shirtmaking”, along with his accompanying DVD, I’ve also read through the great Men’s Shirt Sew-Along at the Male Pattern Boldness blog. And finally, I signed up for Craftsy’s online class “The Tailored Shirt” with Pam Howard which is quite excellent, by the way.  I’m about two-thirds of the way through the class so far and Pam Howard’s presentation is clear, precise, and easy to follow.

Pro tip: Wait for the Craftsy classes to go on sale before you sign up for them.  Sign up for one of their free mini-classes (they have one on basic sewing machine usage and care) just so that you get on their email list, then wait for promo emails with discounts.

For this project, I plan to follow along mostly with Pam Howard’s class, with side information from the MPB sew-along and David Coffin’s book/DVD.  Each of these sources has valuable information to share, and I’m hoping to take the best each has to offer.

As part of gearing up, I purchased several men’s shirt patterns of various styles, as they went on sale at places like and McCall’s Patterns online site. The Craftsy class materials suggest using Kwik Sew #3422 to follow along with the class. But I figure one of the patterns I already have I should be able to work just nicely for the class.

So this post, and the ones which follow will compare the shirt patterns I have on hand: Simplicity 2741, McCalls 6044, McCalls 6613 and McCalls 2447.  All of these patterns are modern patterns that currently in print and easily obtainable. I’ll try to point out features unique to each, as well as which one I’m selecting for my first project.

Here’s links to the individual pattern reviews:

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