Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Perfect Shirt

I've made four different shirts for myself over the past 18 months now, each using a different design (and incorporating a number of mistakes). Now I'm working on the "perfect shirt" for me (see Figure at right). There may appear to be nothing particularly outstanding about the design shown, but it incorporates a number of features that are important. First of all, it is wide - the design is made to fit my girth, not my waist. Secondly, it uses a dress shirt style hem at the bottom - this ensures there is lots of fabric below the belt so that when the shirt is tucked in, it stays tucked in! The top of the curves at the hem at the bottom are low enough that they also stay out of sight, even when the fabric pulls up (such as when I do stretching exercises). Third, the neck line is much lower than for most commercially-made men's shirts - it is closer to a boat neck in overall form. This allows me to button the shirt up to the top without putting any pressure on the neck - I hate how regular shirts are too tight around the neck, even when they are "loose". I like wearing a shirt I can button up to the top (without a tie - I don't wear ties!) without feeling like I am being strangled! Fourth, the fabric extends several centimeters past the Centre Front line, so that when the shirt it buttoned up, there is no possibility of the shirt gapping open between buttons and showing skin underneath.

The upper part of the shirt may or may not be modified into a yoke - I have tried both, and I generally prefer the non-yoked versions of shirts over the yoked versions. I tend to make my shirts without a pocket, also - I've taken to put the things I usually put into my shirt pocket into my back pants pocket instead - I like the uncluttered look of a shirt without its pocket. I've also found that most ready-to-wear shorts have too long a shoulder and I have shortened the shoulder seam (and moved it towards the front slightly for my particular case).

I have experimented with several collars for shirts, including a mandarin style collar and standup collars - I prefer the latter. I've also experimented with wide cuffs (which I like), and wide sleeve openings (which I don't like as much).

I like the sleeve to be fairly wide at the sleeve cap - I narrowed the sleeve on one of my shirts and found the results to be uncomfortable.

I found that offsetting the buttons slightly from where the collar fastens gives a slightly asymmetrical feel to the shirt front which I like, very different from ready-to-wear shirts. This is particularly effective when using high quality fabrics like hammered silk, where the quality of the fabric highlights the design features of the shirt that make it different from a standard shirt.

I'm not sure whether my "perfect shirt" is right for everyone, but for me, after a considerable amount of experimentation, I think I have found a "look" that suits me and that I like, while still remaining dressy and chic.

1 comment:

  1. I am always amazed at your insight on sewing. When I sew I don't really think too much about what I am doing as so much of it has become habit. It is always refreshing to read your comments and blogs to get my creative brain going. Thanks!