Readers, today we're going to look at a very different sort of garment from the Gap button down shirt, the Thomas Pink dress shirt, and the Cego custom made shirt. We're going to examine the popular men's Western shirt.
The Western shirt, so beloved of fans of rodeos, dude ranches, and Annie Get Your Gun, has become an American classic, though on some it can look a little costume-y. The one I own I found at Goodwill before I started sewing. I've never actually worn it.
This Western shirt has some interesting construction details worth noting. It is decorated up the wazoo: rhinestones, nail heads, embroidery, piping, pearl snaps -- the works.
It has all the traditional elements like arrowhead pockets and decorative front and back yokes. And yet curiously, the actual fabric of the shirt feels like cheap muslin -- it's soft enough, but it's not fine in any way.
The shirt is made by Antik Denim. Handcrafted in the USA.
Or is it?
While the shirts we've seen previously all had flat-felled seams, this one does not. The armscye seams are simply stitched once and the seam allowance serged.
This is a completely legitimate way to make a shirt -- it's not traditional (not for a dress shirt certainly) but it isn't wrong. Some of you making shirts next month might even want to consider this option. Instead of serging you can overcast (stitching a zigzag along the outer edge of the seam allowance) or even use pinking shears.
Remember: from the outside no one is going to care whether you flat-felled, straight stitched only, or used mucilage to hold those seams together. They're going to be looking at the shirt and you -- or the person you made it for.
From the outside, the side seams look flat-felled.
On closer inspection, however, they were double needle stitched, serged, and the seam allowance simply stitched down. Is this a cheaper way of finishing an RTW shirt? Probably.
Look at the hem. Serged and left as-is.
Paradoxically, there are details on this shirt that reflect excellent workmanship.
This is the inside of the sleeve placket. Look how neat.
The collar band and inside yoke are made with contrasting black cotton.
Collar, cuffs, button (in this case, snap) plackets are all nicely done.
You can also compare this to the Gap shirt here, the Thomas Pink shirt here, and the Cego custom made shirt here.
Which construction details on a shirt are most important to you? As I mentioned the other day, there are multiple ways to judge the quality of a shirt (or any garment when you think about it): fabric, finish, and fit. (You might also add fashion.)
Most of us sew our own clothes because we're concerned about fit, I believe. It's easy to find a well-finished men's shirt at almost any price. Finding one we can afford in a high quality fabric is a bit harder. Finding one that also fits the way we want it to is hardest of all. And of course we want the shirt to meet our idea of fashion -- a garment that's consistent with our own style preferences.
Anyway, friends, you have a lot to think about in the week to come. But before we get there, we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow. We'll be celebrating a very important anniversary and I know you won't want to miss it -- prizes, giveaways, and more!
Come hungry because they'll be plenty of food too.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!