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Dec 28, 2010

Snowed-in Sewing



Twenty inches is a lot of snow, my friends.  I am at an age where snow is a nuisance, sadly.   My Flexible Flyer days are far, far behind me.

Shirts.  

I want to talk about men's shirts today.  I have two shirt projects in the pipeline.  The dog coats will have to wait till the new year along with every other thing on my old to-do list.  I have to follow my passion.

I don't remember how I stumbled onto the link of the very cool John Ashe Menswear website.  They have a store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan mixing classic men's styles with an urban hipster aesthetic.  They sell some lovely men's shirts and I was particularly drawn to this bib shirt.



David Coffin writes a bit about bib shirts in his book Shirtmaking. Most people associate them with tuxedo shirts or Victorian menswear.





Bib shirts are great for mixing vertical and horizontal stripes and that's what I intend to do with this striped shirting I bought many months ago, around the time I was making those harem pants.  It just sat (not unlike the harem pants, go figure).



I've already started to experiment with it.



Of course I also have this plaid flannel and I want to do something unusual with it too.  We are in flannel shirt season big time.  Brrrrr!



Luckily I have my new walking foot which I have hooked up to my 15-90 treadle, where I expect to do the bulk of my shirtmaking.  My 15-91 needs rewiring, and that's been delayed because the silver clutch release wheel is stuck to the black hand wheel and I need to use kerosene to work them apart.  I have a container of kerosene on the balcony but it's so cold we can't really open the windows and I don't want to asphyxiate from kerosene fumes.  I swear, I'm not looking for excuses: these two wheels have been stuck since I bought the machine many months ago and I just ignored it since I wasn't using it to wind bobbins so I didn't need to release the wheel.



Friends, I fear I may be at high risk for becoming a hipster.  I may even have to move to Brooklyn -- the "fringier" the neighborhood the better -- and take up some kind of craft I can sell on Etsy.  It's a slippery slope from that to tattoos.  If you see it happening, please comment Hipster Alert! and bring me to my senses.  I really don't want to grow a beard.

Anyway, that's what's going on today beneath the snow drifts.  I'm having lunch with my brother and  SIL around noon and then...and then....

Patient readers, if I said that after lunch I was going out to check out a vintage sewing machine, would you think I was crazy?  It sounds a little out there even to me but my policy has always been full disclosure and I'm not going to start lying to you now.   Regardless, expect more info tomorrow.

In closing, have you ever made a men's shirt?  Do you have any interest in it whatsoever?  If not, I won't dwell.  Otherwise I can break it down and maybe make a movie or something; let me know.

Remember: the squeaky wheel gets the grease so squeak a bit if you're up to it.

Are you recovered from the holiday yet?  Brace yourself: we have another one coming.

Have a great day, everybody!

38 comments:

  1. Oh Peter, Park Slope wouldn't know what to do with you!

    I find the bib shirt interesting. I can see you wearing a collarless version for sure, but then I also can envision that in nightshirt length with you flying off to Neverland. I absolutely love any opportunity to turn a stripe on its side,(or bias).

    With one of your reliables temporarily out of commission ("Kerosene around, nothing to do.." if you might be a hipster you should embrace this Big Black song)I am not surprised that Craigslist is luring you to call on sewing machines. I myself plan to try out my new gathering feet today.

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  2. Count me +1 on a shirt making video. Anything that adds to the menswear construction canon is always welcome in my opinion.

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  3. I've made men's shirts (boys' too - I have three of them). I've never done a bib one, though. I recently knocked out matching holiday plaid dress shirts for DH and my 3 sons. I actually learned some good techniques from Ottobre magazine.

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  4. If you decide to become a hipster, you'll have to quit your job and become a coffee barista and stop showering daily. I don't think the beard thing would work for you, either, sadly. So, in short, stick with the mature 'man with his sh*t together' thing you already have going.

    And a big YES on the mens shirt! I did one for my husband a few months ago and have a few more in the works, currently. Not terribly difficult, particularly for a svelte man such as yourself. The 'fun' comes in when you have to do lots of pattern alterations. My hubs has a rather thick neck, so I have to widen a bit or risk him turning blue while wearing my creations.

    I like the bib shirt, especially with a delicate stripe, but skip the accompanying beard, please. :)

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  5. I've never made a man's shirt but I really owe my dh something that I've made for all the seam ripping, machine fixing and sewing room furniture building and never ever commenting on what I spend on fabric! So, bring it on. I'd love to see a detailed tutorial on shirt making. I too love how stripes can be manipulated.

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  6. I'm so old and out of it I had to have my daughter explain what a "hipster" was. She tells me she is just 'shy' of being a hipster.

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  7. I think I've officially recovered from Christmas and no, it wasn't food or drinks or even gift wrapping that got me, it was the flu, and it sucked! I even went two days without reading this blog. Terrible, truly terrible.

    I have made mens shirts but they're very stressful for me. I want the collars and cuffs to be perfect and they never are so that frustrates me and then it takes months (or years) for me to make another. You really got me interested in making a western style shirt though so maybe a MPB video would get me past thinking and on to doing.

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  8. Yay! A snow photo. Thank you. But, Peter, I'm still waiting for the snow leopard ....

    One day you are going to look at a vintage machine and discover you previously owned it. Smile.

    Perhaps rubbing alcohol plus heat from a hair dryer and teflon oil would substitute for the kerosene?

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  9. I keep hoping someone will do a mens shirt sew along, but failing that I'd love a video. The Sewaholic recently did some great posts on making a shirt for the man in her life, which are awesome too. I made a couple for my hubby back in the summer, but I recently picked up a more fitted pattern that I'd like to try on him. So bring on the videos! :)

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  10. Peter,

    Check this blog out: http://off-the-cuff-style.blogspot.com/

    Pam is a professional shirtmaker, and she has some really great tutorials on things like razor sharp collar ponts, etc. She also sells the best interfacing on the planet, imo.

    I've always liked sewing shirts. I need to make DH some more, actually.

    Cadienne in Louisiana

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  11. I'd be totally interested in the men's shirt posts - I've made several short-sleeved shirts for my DH, but no long-sleeved ones.

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  12. Ummm, that was supposed to be "points" in my post. Not the word for "bridges." Typo, sorry.

    Cadienne in Louisiana

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  13. Peter, thanks for the link to the John Ashe website. I plan to make some shirts and vests for my fella in 2011 and the site was very inspirational. I have David Coffin's book. I have made a few shirts from it years ago and plan to use it for his shirts. I got inspired by the shirt on the cover of Threads a few months back. Do you follow sewaholic? She is making a shirt for Mr. Sewaholic. I am looking forward to your posts on shirtmaking.

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  14. I'd love to see a video of this, Peter - love this style of shirt. - Sam

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  15. Andrea Cornell (in snowy Germany)December 28, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    I did once a man style shirt... for me! Long ago, but I must tell I can not wait for this bib shirt! It looks really cool! I will look for this book about shirts... thank you for the tip!

    I guess you are looking for that Husqvarna Viking model you are interested, aren't you?

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  16. Oh, man, I love making (and wearing) button down shirts. David Coffin is totally my hero.

    While you're on bib shirts, how about a true victorian? Body in a small print (floral or geometric) and bib from a coordinating stripe? Maybe with separate collar(s) and cuffs? The victorians loved garish shirts.

    Per Costumes.org:
    "...color advertisements in Men's Wear and other magazines of the time also show figured shirts in red, peach, aqua, black, lilac, and in combinations of black and rose, red, blue and black, red and blue, light and dark blue, red and pink, and pink and black."

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  17. Whoo! Shirts! My boyfriend has been nagging at me to finish that shirt of his I cut months ago....so a few tips wouldn't hurt at all. I've been thinking of getting that Shirtmaking book....would you recommend it?!

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  18. Guys, you're supposed to PREVENT me from becoming a hipster, not facilitating it.

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  19. Sabrina, the Coffin book is a little intimidating in its detail but yes, I recommend it.

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  20. The guy in that photo wearing the bib shirt does not look like a hipster, he looks like a serial killer.

    I so want to make a man's shirt. I have this great pattern from 1930 for a man's shirt. It looks so complex compared to the women's clothing I make up. Flat felled seams, separate placket, two different pieces for the front of the shirt, gussets! Squeeee!

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  21. Haven't made a men's shirt, (Hugh Hefner night shirt aside) but I do have that glorious book! I found it quite a read. The bib shirt looks rather posh and I would love to see it made up with your own variations of course.

    Another machine?...I can't say a word because I'm the same with fabric. In fact I just saw a piece yesterday that I'm obsessing about. Oh dear. And I have absolutely no room for it. But I still need it. If you buy a machine, I'll buy that fabric and feel so much better about it. It's always better buying with friends, don't you think?

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  22. Peter, I hate to tell you this, but the only TRUE fringe neighborhood left in the BK is east new york/brownsville. And it will take a miracle to change it into the next big neighborhood. You could let your hipster flag fly in Bed-Stuy and still have enough credibility for your etsy store ;o)

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  23. Mens' shirts ... I accidently started that ball rolling back in May LOL which resulted in hubby's selected fabric "jumping" onto my workspace whenever I wasn't looking. Before leaving to hide from snow in Florida, hubby brought me a piece of flannel shirting and asked if he could have a long sleeve shirt in it ... good thing I had bought that one specificly for that idea! ;)

    Lots of interest in men's shirts, and I'm looking forward to seeing the bib shirt done up.

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  24. I have lots of interest in adapting men's shirting construction techniques to women's shirts, so am very interested in all the detail you care to post!

    Thanks Peter!

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  25. At the beginning of the month I made my first online purchase. David Coffin's book Shirtmaking. For a few years now I've been telling my tall, thin son I should make his shirts and I really should do it. So I'd be interested in any shirtmaking help.

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  26. since I have a grandson coming up to that age, I would be interested in anything I can learn on the subject of shirtmaking, something I haven't really tried.

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  27. I'm keen to see how your shirt turns out. Mens' shirt making is fun. I've been flooded in for three days and some parts of Australia north of me are set to be flooded in for a few more. I've used the time to cut out lots of garments and make all of those fiddly pattern adjustments I always meant to get around to ...

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  28. I've shortened sleeves and turned collars on favorite garments. I just like to read about what you are sewing. Details are wonderful.

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  29. You're crazy. You're supposed to SELL vintage machines.
    But if I were you, I'd be hitting that plaid flannel pronto. I like the stripes, I really do, but just thinking of the 18" makes me want to scream 'flannel'!

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  30. I love the idea of a bib shirt! I've mixed stripes before on a bib, and it came out really well. So I say go for it.

    I'm flooded in at the moment - the roads here in Australia are a mess. Luckily I have a gigantic box of fabric to work my way through :)

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  31. I made a menshirt about 2 years ago for my boyfriend. It was a really basic pattern that I got off the burdastyle website. It ended up coming out pretty well. It was so hard finding decent fabric though - I think I ended up getting a masculine looking quilting fabric. I enjoyed sewing it but that could have had something to do with it being a Christmas present.

    Peter, didn't you just get rid of some machines? ;)

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  32. Bib shirt = genius idea! I've made dozens of men's shirts and it is fun. I can always learn something new, however. Also, you may already be a hipster :)

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  33. hahaha! you'll be needing to start sewing ladies jeans if you want to wear the true hipster gear...

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  34. Not sure if any of you were aware (I apologize in advance if you know about this), but David Coffin also has a Shirtmaking DVD which is the companion to the Shirtmaking book. You can get the DVD from the Threads mag website. I highly recommend it as a good tutorial for you.

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  35. Can't wait to see the Bib shirt! I made a few men's shirts two or three months ago and am ready to make some more. I always use the David Coffin book for construction instructions.

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  36. Do mens pajama shirts count? Because I've made lots of those. In fact, I can probably make one in my sleep by now. After all, I made ten of them (only difference between mens' and womens' pj shirts is which side you put the buttonholes on.) in the last couple months.

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  37. A perfectly made men's shirt is a thing of beauty.

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  38. Hi Peter! I just finished my first men's shirt project for my guy's Christmas present. I used the Shirtmaking book a lot throughout the process! I like his voice (in the book) - he has definite opinions on shirts and how they're to be made. The construction methods are really different from pattern instructions, you kind of have to trust him and know it will turn out OK in the end.
    I made a very basic shirt this time, but I'd love to see your take on the bib shirt!
    Happy sewing and Happy New Year to you! :)

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