On the topic of Spring Top Sewing, I thought I’d give out some pointers for an easy men’s top. It’s hard sewing for the man in your life when their clothes are, well…boring. All the patterns seem to be a variation of the same dress shirt, Hawaiian-style shirt, pajama set, or fleece pullover. There’s also a noticeable lack of guy-friendly fabrics in designer quilting fabrics, although it’s getting better for little boys. The patterns for menswear also seems ridiculously time-consuming. So last month when I was making shirts for Mr Rae’s birthday, I took Simplicity 4287 and streamlined it. I was amazed at how much time and sanity I saved with some easy alternatives to the traditional collar and button placket. You can do it too with just about any basic men’s shirt pattern!
1. Cut out the back pattern piece, the sleeves, and the front, only instead of cutting out two front pieces, put the front pattern piece on the fold, placing the fold of the fabric along the mark on the pattern for “center line.”
2. Add a placket. Here’s my placket tutorial. The one pictured here was 11″x11″ for a men’s large shirt. Add buttons or snaps as you like.
3. Add a mandarin collar: Measure around the collar, starting at the edge of one placket and ending at the other. Mine was 22″ all the way around. Cut a rectangle 4″ wide and as long as your measurement + 1 inch for seams (so mine was 4″x23″). Follow the flour tutorial to attach the collar, except ignore the part about the pleats and use the dimensions I’ve given here, not the ones she gives. Because you aren’t adding pleats, the collar will stand up on its own. If you have a thinner fabric, add interfacing to make it more rigid. I didn’t with this one, but I liked the lightweight fabric and wanted the collar to fall over on its own to give it a more casual look.
4. Add pockets if desired: I cut two 6″x12″ rectangles, folded each in half with wrong sides out, and sew all the way around the three unfolded sides, leaving 2″ open on one side. Clip corners, turn right-side out through 2″ hole, press, and sew onto shirt (I lined up the bottoms with the placket, 1.5″ away) along three sides, closing hole as you sew.
Finish shirt as directed in pattern (sew front to back at shoulders, attach sleeves, sew side seams, hem sleeves and bottom of shirt). I did however skip the notching detail at the sleeve if you happen to be using the same pattern I did.
I know some of you will ask about the fabric; I actually don’t know what this is (feel free to let me know if you see it available somewhere) but I do know that MI locals can get it at the Viking Sewing Center in Ann Arbor.
And here’s a new place online True Up was featuring a few weeks ago for good menswear fabrics: Bolt 44. I thought they had a pretty nice selection, so if you need a place to start for fabric that might be your ticket.
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