The Blue Gingham Shirt

At the close of my last article, I was busy sewing up a real, live “wearable muslin” to give my pattern a try.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out.

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And here’s some selfie photos showing the shirt as it is when tucked in:

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The fabric was some blue gingham from JoAnn’s that’s been hiding in my stash.  I’m getting close to the end of the fabric I’ve bought and stockpiled from JoAnn’s, from the days when the store was on my route from work and I would stop in frequently.

I honestly can’t say I miss JoAnn’s a whole lot; their fabric isn’t the highest quality in general, and some past projects I’ve made with their fabric look a little bit “home made” because of that.  This blue gingham is fairly decent, however – easily as good as something you’d find in a shirt at Old Navy.  (I know that’s not a huge compliment, but still).

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I am having trouble getting the collar to roll at the proper point.  Following David Coffin’s method of collar construction, I pressed in a crease along the line where the collar meets the stand, to set the “turn of cloth”.  But the roll line of the collar, as I originally traced from the Famous Maker, is actually about 1/4 to 3/8 inch higher than the point where it joins the stand.  It wants to roll along the line where it was pressed, rather than higher up.

I am thinking about adding buttons to the collar points on this shirt to get it to stay in place.  And I am thinking about different collar designs for the next shirt.

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The front band is sewn-on, and I managed to get the gingham to match reasonably well.  I stitched on the buttons with a cross-mark “X” shape; this turned out to be more difficult than I expected to do with a home sewing machine and have it come out looking neat.  Store-bought shirts use dedicated industrial machines to do this work.

Pocket and Cuffs

The front pocket and cuffs are cut on bias for visual interest.  I missed getting the plackets to pattern-match on both sleeves, differently wrong on each.  One doesn’t match vertically, the other doesn’t match horizontally.  I’m not sure what happened here; I’ll have to pay more careful attention when cutting the next set of placket pieces.

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Side Seams

The patterns matched well on right side, but not so well on the left side (shown here).

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During cutting, I did take the time to (a) attempt to straighten the grain of the fabric and (b) cut everything as a single layer. I partly blame the fabric itself; a finer shirting fabric would have more consistent grain.

Fortunately, this pattern is small enough that a miss on the pattern match isn’t so noticeable.  And I stitched the flat-fell seam inside out, so only one line of stitching shows on the outside.  Again, this falls under the realm of issues most people won’t notice.

How Well Does It Fit?

I plan to wear the shirt a few times to get an idea of how well it fits.  This is hard to do, because I am hypercritical of any issues I encounter, and also at what point do you stop and accept something for what it is?

Right now, I’m thinking the sleeve may need a little additional ease in back, because it is still a bit binding when I reach forward in certain situations.  For instance, when bending over to tie shoes I can feel the shirt restricting my movement.  But the sleeve length is just perfect, and I’m happy with the amount of ease around the biceps and forearms.

Every now and then I get a diagonal drag line across the clavicle, that says I might need a very slight square shoulder adjustment.

Still, I will enjoy wearing this shirt, and I will likely toss out one of my worn store-bought “favorite shirts” to make room for this shirt in my wardrobe.


14 thoughts on “The Blue Gingham Shirt

  1. Tegan

    It might be easier to handstitch the buttons. It’s a simple enough thing to do, and I think it’s more finicky to do with machine. :)

    But the wearable muslin is looking good!

    1. mportuesisf Post author

      I do know how to handstitch buttons, but I try to avoid hand-sewing whenever possible ;-0

      Thank you for the compliments on the muslin!

  2. Mainelydad

    This is one beautiful “muslin”! Your workmanship and attention to detail really pay off. Please forgive yourself for the side seams. I don’t own one commercially produced plaid shirt where the sides match. Do you?

    1. mportuesisf Post author

      Good point. Out of 10 store-bought plaid shirts in my closet, I found one Brooks Brothers shirt where the sides matched.

    1. mportuesisf Post author

      Thank you! I’m really happy that I have FINALLY have a TNT pattern that I can move forward with on future projects.

    1. mportuesisf Post author

      LOL. I stopped buying fabric from JoAnn’s when I realized it was making my projects look bad.

  3. John Yingling

    Overall, a nice shirt! Remember a few posts ago how the collar stand just wouldn’t go together so well? Now look how good your collar stand construction has become, and you have really conquered your original fitting issues. As for the sleeve issue, remember the sleeve cap/shoulder seam is at a natural shoulder line, that your sleeve cap is fairly fitted, and your armpit is located fairly high. All this contributes to a lack of “reaching ease”. To add more of this ease you would need to create a flatter sleeve cap that has longer “tails” at the armpit to give you more width. This in turn results in more bagginess/bulk under the arms. Right now your shirt looks very well fitted for your figure and adding any more bulk under the armpits would ruin the the
    contemporary look. What does spoil the contemporary look is your oversize chest
    pocket. My last draft had a pocket at 41/2 wide by 5 long at center. Just a thought.

    1. mportuesisf Post author


      Thanks for the feedback – that’s very helpful to me. It’s true that with this draft I did aim for a taller, fitted sleeve cap because this is a dress shirt block. Thank you for confirming that attempting to chase after mobility is only going to undo the trim, fitted look I was after.

      I’m planning to use this dress shirt block as the basis for a sport-shirt block. For the sport-shirt block I want to create a flatter sleeve cap with some more ease and width, as you point out. If you can provide suggestions, or point me at any resources for creating a sport-shirt from a dress-shirt block, please let me know!

      I forgot to mention it in the article, but the chest pocket pattern piece was stolen from Thread Theory’s “Fairfield Button-Up” shirt pattern. I checked their suggested seam allowance (3/8 inch) so I’m pretty sure the pocket turned out as they drafted it. But I agree, it does seem a bit large and I’ll size it down for the next shirt that has one.

  4. Iggy Reilly

    I admit I haven’t been following this shirt’s gestation but this is a muslin? Wow. It looks very nice, fit and construction. You appear to be a perfectionist (and I completely understand) but allow yourself some pride! Are you using collar stays?

    1. mportuesisf Post author


      Thank you for the compliment. This “muslin” is somewhere around the 9th or 10th revision since I started this pattern by tracing from an existing shirt. Okay, that just proves your assertion that I’m a perfectionist! Truth, it’s less a muslin than it is a real shirt I made from not-fancy fabric. The fancy fabric comes next.

      No collar stays here – the public-facing side of the collar is Shirt-Crisp interfacing, and the underside of the collar uses an ultralight fusible non-woven Pellon interfacing. The result is a pretty stiff collar and cuffs. Now that you mention it, the stiff interfacing might be part of the reason the roll line is a challenge.

      The front band uses the less-stiff Light-Crisp interfacing, again with an ultralight backing it on the inside.

  5. Charlotte

    Sorry to be late, catching up on some older blog posts today. I think you’ve done a fantastic job but….and I’m surprised nobody pointed this out….this is not gingham, it is a tattersall plaid. I know it does not diminish the fact that you made a beautiful shirt, in fact, a tattersall is harder to match than a gingham. Normally a gingham, even a small one, isn’t used for men’s clothing.

    1. mportuesisf Post author

      I stand corrected! Now you have me researching the difference between ginghams and tattersalls.

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