I have decided to make a collared shirt for my dude for his upcoming birthday. The requisite confidence was drummed up after (almost) completing my first Archer (it still needs buttonholes and the only machine I have that can do those is currently in the shop with alignment issues). I bought the Negroni pattern, figuring that he is a slender fellow and hundreds (thousands?) of people have made the shirt to much fanfare. I didn’t really understand what a ‘camp collar’ was, but I thought it looked like there was a little stand there and I could just omit the loop for a more classic look. Fast forward to actually taping the pattern pieces together and a quick peruse of the instructions and it turns out: camp collars do not have stands. They are just flared collar pieces attached to the neckline. This would not go over well with the dude.
I measured some shirts while the dude was at work and he fell pretty cleanly into the Large range, with the exception of the sleeves, which were a good 2″ shorter than the listed measurements. Instead of being wise and following the pattern, I rashly shortened the sleeves by 1.5″. And now, three weeks ahead of the birthday, I find myself questioning whether the underarm seam measurement included the cuff or not…because the cuff pieces are 3 inches wide and I’ll be losing just over an inch of that to the seams. I’m pretty sure I’ve messed this up. And I don’t have enough fabric to re-cut the sleeves because I already had to use it to re-cut the back and the yokes.
Here’s how that went down: I double-check the instructions to make sure I’m folding the pleats in the correct direction. I pin them and baste them. I attach the yoke using the seems-fancy-but-really-isn’t ‘burrito’ method (thanks Archer and Ruby!). I grade the seam allowances, press the seams, and edgestitch along the bottom of the yoke. I go back to the ironing board to press again and think that the pleats look a little poufy. Hmm..they are going in the right direction aren’t they? I go to the closet and check a few shirts and it now appears that I have in fact folded the pleats the wrong way. They are facing in and all of the commercial shirts in the closet have them facing out.
I thought I double-checked that! I sit down with the seam ripper and begin to take it apart, but it quickly becomes clear that my edgestitching is going to make this a complete nightmare. It’s okay, I think, because I bought enough fabric for my inevitable mistakes. I set the whole thing aside because it’s 10 pm and I can’t really see that clearly, and decide to cut the new pieces in the morning.
I approached the whole thing in a surprisingly positive state of mind this morning, cutting a new back and two new yokes. This time, I cut them with the stripes going horizontally and I feel good about this subtle change. I get to the part where I’m folding the pleats and I look again at the instructions. I’m confident that I’m going to do it right this time. I decide to look at the old back just to make ultra sure that I’m not going to repeat the same mistake. And the way that I have my new pleats pinned is the same way that I had my old pleats sewn. I check the shirts in the closet. I speak the instructions out loud to myself. I look at my new back. I look at the old back. I had the fucking pleats right the first time. I had been looking at the inside of the shirt and it was too dark in the room and I was tired and blah, blah, blah, I’m a tool.
No matter, I tell myself, as I soldier on. These new horizontally-striped yokes are better anyway. And the shoulder seams are lining up better this time for some reason. And the edgestitching was too close to the seam anyway and would have been better at 1/8″ or even 1/4″. Sure, you just re-did this whole thing for essentially no reason and now have no fabric left to fix the sleeves, but you’re going to be pdg* at the whole lined yoke procedure by the end of this.
Also, for the record, it is not at all clear in the sleeve-attaching instructions that you are to line up the 1/4″ pressed edge of the sleeve with the raw edge of the body. I mean, the math doesn’t work out so you know there’s something up, but by no means is that spelled out.
The sleeve plackets weren’t a complete disaster, but I did attach the first one the wrong way, a mistake that was only discovered once I’d already slashed and turned it. A replacement placket was cut – luckily, it’s a small enough piece that the scraps were sufficient – and went on without a hitch, imperfect edgestitching notwithstanding.
Still to do: attach sleeves, pray quietly, attach collar, attach cuffs, hem.
(Probably not the worst first tower placket ever installed, but using a fabric with a tighter weave next time will help with slippiness at the point.)
*pdg = pretty damn good