I realized on Thursday that I had just completed my fourteenth men's button-down shirt. And despite a few flaws I (somewhat compulsively) pointed out to you, I was satisfied with the result.
So I thought it might be fun to revisit with you my very first shirt, completed last July. I had been sewing approximately a month -- I owned only ONE sewing machine, can you imagine? -- and had purchased my very first men's dress shirt pattern, which would become one of my favorites. This was before I joined Pattern Review, so this shirt has never been seen, peeps (needless to say I never wore it in public). Wow!
I used a cotton-poly sheet I found at the Salvation Army (which would become something of a trademark), a solid pale yellow, and brown (brown!) thread, which I thought would show where I'd messed up and needed to improve. Boy, did it ever.
So let's take a look:
First let me explain that I had no knowledge of shirtmaking terminology. I'd never heard of a button placket (where the buttons and button holes are sewn on) let alone knew how to make one, and I found the instructions completely unintelligible. I looked at this....
And read this...
And came up with this...
I never would get that placket right even though I re-did it about three times; I fudged.
A few other highlights:
I didn't understand the difference between edgestitching, topstitching, etc. Can you tell?
Diana Rupp, in "Sew Everything Workshop" had recommended labeling fronts and backs of fabric pieces so you don't get confused. Unfortunately I never could get the wax crayon off the front side of this shirt.
My first sleeve placket (groan):
A finished seam allowance -- so refreshingly childlike.
Inside collar -- bunchy and spontaneous!
Sleeve seam -- whoops.
And the result: Well, it is a shirt and from a distance...
My point -- and I do have one -- is that you do get better, and it's great fun to revisit an earlier project and recognize your progress. I'm often asked how one learns to make shirts and my answer is always, practice. It took me more than a dozen shirts and I still screw up.
Two shirt-making resources I recommend are 1) David Coffin's famous book, "Shirtmaking," which I happen to prefer to his DVD; and 2) Margaret Islander's video (now DVD) "Shirts, Etc!" (part of her Industrial Techniques series). The Islander method is a no-nonsense, quick-and-sort-of-easy approach; Coffin's is a much more detail-oriented method for those who want to make something on par with London's Jermyn Street.
If you'd like to add other valuable resources you've used, please do.
So how about you, peeps? Have you ever revisited an old project and noticed how your sewing had (hopefully) improved since then? (If you haven't perhaps now's the time.)