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Feb 13, 2013

Vogue 8889 Shirt Muslin: a Critique



Readers, I want to open with part of a comment that design expert Kathleen Fasanella of Fashion Incubator once left on my blog, the context being an entry I wrote two years ago about some (very ill-fitting) Marc Jacobs shirts I tried on at Barney's Co-op:

It is inappropriate (imo) to judge something good or bad based on whether it fits you and according to your preferences -unless you are a long time customer of that given brand. You wouldn't (or shouldn't) judge a home sewing pattern to be good or bad based on whether it fit you either, you could only say whether it were cut to fit your dimensions but to say it was "bad" in that it didn't fit you considering the broad gamut of fit possibilities would not be fair.

The woman has a point, a very good one.

OK, so did you notice that photo up top of a very athletic-looking man's back?  Now look at a photo of my back.





Readers, I am basically a rectangle.  I have a visible waist, sure, but it isn't whittled relative to the rest of me.  My trapezius and latissiumus dorsi muscles are not prominent (nor do I do anything in particular to build them).

I bring this up in reference to the shirt muslin I made from V8889, a new Vogue men's pattern I discussed yesterday.  Here's a first view, without sleeves.  See how nicely it's shaped?  It is not, however, shaped quite like me.

My fingers point to the actual pivot point of my shoulder.



Here it is from the front with one short sleeve and one long sleeve; no collar added as yet.



From the back:



Clearly this is a fitted shirt, and not just because I cut a 34" though I'm usually a 36".  Do you see those side back and side front pieces (below) and the long diamond-shaped space between them?  Well those pieces are meant to be joined together, and when they do they create that very contoured side seam.







Simply put, the shirt is more contoured than I am.  My muslin, even in a 34", is slightly too wide at the shoulder, and appears too wide in the mid-back because it tapers so dramatically at the waist.  And while it widens again at the hip, the center back sits on my rear end (which isn't huge), creating horizontal folds.



Parenthetically, even this RTW fitted shirt looks funky on the mannequin toward the lower back.



Look how much better the muslin looks on Michael, who's broader in the shoulder and upper back and has a longer waist and narrower hips.



Do you agree with my diagnosis, friends?

I definitely can get this shirt to fit well and I hope to.  Since there are six seams along the width of the shirt (instead of the typical two), if I narrow each seam allowance by 1/4" at the waist (or widen each pattern piece), I'll get an extra 1 1/2" width (if I've done my math correctly) -- that's provided I want to distribute the width evenly.



The sleeves went on fairly easily.  There's a good amount of ease in the sleeve cap, but it's not ridiculous.  For the muslin, I widened the seam allowance to roughly 7/8" (from 5/8") to take up some of that extra shoulder width.  I narrowed the seam allowance toward the armhole to raise it a bit.  I may still narrow the shoulder by another 1/2" on each side."

Seam allowance of sleeve cap with ease.

I don't think the front looks bad at all, and remember that my stiff, cheap purple cotton is not very forgiving and shows every shadow (a good thing for fitting, actually).  The shirt fits comfortably; any bunching toward the neck is because there's still a 5/8" seam allowance that will end up dramatically trimmed after I add the collar stand.

I shortened the long sleeve by 2" and it's still roughly 2" too long (I haven't added the cuff to the muslin).



In closing, I really like this shirt so far and think it has possibilities.  I also recognize that a highly fitted look is not the best for my relatively boxy build.

Thoughts?
 
(More Vogue 8889 muslin pics here.)

48 comments:

  1. Maybe Vogue 8889 really wants to belong to Michael....I'm kind of relieved to see men can have complex fitting issues too!

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  2. Wowza, that is quite a V for a men's shirt! I've dated some skinny boys, but none that tapered at the waist like that shirt does. But, alas, I feel your pain as I'm built like a 12-year-old boy with breasts. High waisted pants would be a straight line from hip to rib on me.

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  3. Perhaps fitted shirt was intended to be worn tucked in to reduce poof around waist.

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  4. Nice fitted shirt...but ya, you could pretty much use your end tables as fitting mannequins! It does hang on Michael better at this point, but I'm sure you'll make it work for you!

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  5. Peter, I like that shirt quite a lot. It is fitted, although I seem to recall the description on the envelope was rather different, but not overly so in my opinion. It accentuates your natural shape, slight trapezoid with some slight curve, to give the appearance of the more idealized trapezoidal body shape shown in the top figure. I agree that I would try decreasing the shoulder seam allowances at the armscye end. The short sleeve seems a bit short if it is unhemmed. The small armscye and narrowly fitted sleeves seem to me integral in defining the fitted shape.

    Michael

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  6. I think it's very not bad so far! The front looks pretty spot-on. I agree with your diagnosis, although I am no expert. I think a lot of sewists see that type of lower back wrinking and immediately think "sway back adjustment" when some of the time a little extra room at the hips/bum would solve the problem in a less complicated way.

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  7. i am THRILLED that you're doing this... ruggy's boxy guaybera (which he will use "to grill in") is having a severe time out in the corner. he is a fiend for fitted clothing. how do you think the collar will go, with the smaller size vs crazy ease?

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    1. I think it should be fine; we'll see soon!

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  8. I don't think you have done your math correctly. Narrowing a seam allowance by 1/4" adds 1/2" to the shirt. If you have six seams, that would add 3" total.

    It does look pretty good all-in-all. But I did think fabric puddling at the center back was only something women's clothes suffer from. Men's shirt's usually just drop straight down and the hips are close enough to the waist that they don't catch the fabric. Just curious how do your hip and waist measurements compare to the size chart? Your shape certainly looks like it should match standard proportions. I have noticed with my husband, the chest isn't the best measurement to go by. It seems to measure a little small in proportion to everything and if I just throw that one out he's a very standard size in shoulders/waist/hip and I don't notice a fit problem.

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    1. Math is hard! You are absolutely correct (and saved me some problems).

      The issue is the contoured seams on the side back and side front pieces that create such a fitted shirt. My other shirts -- even slim fitting ones -- don't have this puddling issue.

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    2. Do the seams along the width of the shirt have a 5/8" seam allowance? I'm asking because if you decide to sew a 1/4" from the raw edge, the amount of the seam allowance that will be left is 3/8" per raw edge or 6/8"(6/8" equals 3/4" by the way) per seam.

      Now if you multiply 6 seams by the amount of 3/4" per seam, you will get a total of 4 1/2". I hope this helps. Good luck! :)

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  9. There are intersecting lines of thought about ideal figures and dressing to suit different figure types. Sometimes I toe these lines, but other days, I think and feel: Hogwash!

    I watched Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows recently and was struck by the somewhat unconventionally lovely body of Mycroft Holmes/Stephen Fry. Earlier in the movie he seemed fat. Later, in a nude-from-the-waist-up scene, I saw that he's neither fat nor flabby. He's big-boned or barrel-chested and I like how his body looks. It got me thinking about how bogus the "ideal" body type can be. I like the stereotypical masculine ideal body, with its V-shaped torso, but I like barrel shaped torsos, and straight, sleek torsos too.

    I like your "relatively boxy build" and I like being able to see it in clothes. It may not hide or play some trompe l'oeil with your figure, but I think a fitted look suits you very well.

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  10. I like it...you look good in so many styles and cuts!

    Kudos to Vogue for being on-trend with a very fitted shirt! That said, with the other shirt patterns that you have that fit you well, do you like the style-lines of this one enough to do the pattern alterations?

    [Odd, isn't it...that they describe it as being "loose-fitting?...see my comment made yesterday about this shirt]

    I am going to carry on with my evaluation of the version with tucks. If only to see if my initial impression that this style might end up looking like a "shirt/blouse" (with all the design details in place-8 pintucks) is in any way accurate.

    About the collar pattern of this shirt style...*that* is something I like very much! Especially the under-collar "buttonhole slice", a vintage detail used to prevent "Flip-up" on narrow collars.

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    1. I definitely want to try: I don't think the alterations are going to be that big a deal. I suppose if I had made the size 36" it WOULD have been loose-fitting, i.e., a fitted shirt that was too big. ;)

      Looking forward to seeing how yours turns out, Pam!

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    2. Me too...I've had absolutely NO time to sew "personal" garments...have sewn some shirts for my clients, and have been uber-busy consulting with and then sending 200-yard rolls of shirt interfacing to a new designer starting his first "production" Shirt label!
      http://www.ipd-surf.com/ (Be advised...the shirt you see there are his OLDER designs..the new ones will have my interfacing in them and will look much better ;)

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  11. I thought sway back tuck too, but adding to hips a little would work just as well. I do a little of each sometimes. Whatever works.

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  12. Men having fit issues? What an absurd idea! Just kidding, of course. I'm quite interested to see how all these adjustments turn out.

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  13. I actually really like that on you and wouldn't say its inappropriate for your body type. Sometimes we need to try something different even if it creates a different silhouette than we are used to.

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  14. SeamsterEast@aol.comFebruary 13, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    I'm guessing, but it looks like the "problem" is your butt (but not hips) stick out a bit more than usual (same same with the maniquin in the brown shirt). An athletic man will have a waist about 4 inches less than his hip measurement. If you, say, climb stairs more easily than other men, you may be extended aft more than usual. I wonder if you could make the shirt work as is by using darts -- one each side of the back out about half way from the center -- from the top of the hip to the start of the rib cage. Custom "fitted" men's shirts (for men perhaps a bit vain about their gym toned bodies) usually have such darts. Just a guess.

    Btw, the shoulders on your muslin (and the maniquin's shirt) are indeed too wide, but most RTW shirts are as well (because such "wideness" fits more men's bodies). Your muslin looked good across the shoulders because the fabric is stiff, and it added to the apparent v-shape. Same thing, typically on well-tailored men's suits (which, given enough money spent, can make big-belly'd executives seem athletic).

    As a side note, I notice with interest how this particular pattern looks SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better than most any other sewing pattern for a man's shirt. It's on my personal watch list.

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  15. Between your shirt posts and the recent episode of "It's sew easy", I want to make my husband another shirt, something I haven't done in two years!! Think I'll be using my TNT though, not the new Vogue pattern!

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  16. wow that does work quite well for Michael out of the box! It is interesting to see the fitting difference; thanks for sharing.

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  17. You know, Peter, if you WANTED those wide shoulders and that V-shape you could certainly have them; you'd have to WORK for them, though! Your deltoids are certainly far enough apart to support a "V" shape; it's merely a matter of 'bigger, more developed deltoids and latissimus dorsi". Some men have narrow shoulders i.e. their deltoids are close together and are not able to develop a proper v-shaped torso. But if you were to, that would basically mean THE END of Cathy's fashionable wardrobe, because NOTHING would fit anymore! But I just thought I'd let you know that it's definitely possible.

    And it's kinda ironic to obtain a 'fitted' pattern that DOESN'T fit because the 'fit' is other than the one you need! However, since there are so many pieces, you should be able to get a good fit anyway, because of the "tweakability" inherent in a multi-piece pattern.

    Speaking of 'fit", for X-mas I got a custom fitted sloper from "Your Personal Fit". I have so many little fit idiosyncrasies (super long back waist, shorter front waist, super-straight wide shoulders, long arms, etc. that I decided a custom sloper was what I needed. It was getting so I HATED sewing because NOTHING ever fit properly: (all that work and for what? Clothes that didn't fit me any better than RTW!) I am hoping that having a sloper will resolve these niggling fit issues of mine!

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  18. I have been working on a Japanese Pea Coat pattern for my husband and am surprised how many fitting issues I am having too. I was under the impression it would be easier for men! . That might have something to do with grading it myself though..... good luck on the final outcome!

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  19. Peter: I like the fit. Sure, it could use a smidge of tweaking, but I think that a) you are slim and b) it is good on a slim frame.

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  20. Let's just stay with your opening pics! If that's a shirt, then I want one!

    Ok, more serious...I admit I like you in something with more fabric...the slim fit suggests you might be shy on fabric. Oh, my. That was not better!

    Once more - I love the color on you! Coco

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  21. I really like that shirt on you - and what I think it does for you is enhances your shape. The cut gives you more of that inverted triangle / broad shouldered look that men try to achieve - and you've done it with seams not weights. Love it!! Makes me want to buy it and sew it for my husband even more!

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  22. I love the color. Have no clue about shirt fit, but to me it looks great even the puddling at the back.

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  23. Believe me, this is a conversation that, as a round person, I've had a lot. When I lived in Cairo, I had a great tailor, an elderly and profoundly eccentric Italian man, who made terrific suits. Well, they were terrific suits in the end, but only after protracted battles each and every time.

    I would go to Rodolfo, and he would measure me. We would agree on the details, I'd leave the cloth, and in a week or so I'd go back for the fitting. And I'd put on a jacket cut to fit a whippet, or to suit a man who planned to fight bulls in a nice pinstripe worsted. We'd go back and forth on why the jacket didn't fit, he'd try and show me ways that if I just tried harder it could, and in the end he would end up taking the whole thing apart and remeasuring me. The second fitting, it would almost button; but only by the third would it be anything like a jacket for a (what was then only semi-) portly gentleman. He just couldn't really conceive that not everyone was shaped like a Milanese dandy, I guess...

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  24. Peter,

    As to the "puddling", could it be that with
    this shirt having a defined waist, the waist is too long (possibly only in back) rather than the hip being too narrow? The problem would be even more noticeable if you stand with your shoulders back, as we were all told to do as children. If you can fix the muslin by pinching the necessary amount at center back and tapering to less or none at the sides, you are there. This waist location issue, as well as overall length, is why they make petite sizes for women. Nice shirt!

    Michael should give serious thought to purple if he ever gets tired of everyone telling him to wear blue.

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    1. I wonder if in shortening the back piece 2" and folding UP to the "shorten here" line, I didn't raise the waist too much -- putting the narrowest part of the back piece too high, and thus creating the pulling (and the subsequent puddling below).

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  25. Great work !
    I love Ms Fasanella's comment, so spot on ... I don't count the time I've answered that to people that complain that "Brand X is badly cut" just because it doesn't fit like they want (sometimes it *is* bad engineering, but sometimes it's just mutual disagreement).

    Annushka : funny, my first reaction was that the waist of the shirt was too high ... I must work on my fitting skills :)


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  26. Interesting! I've planned to dive into sewing a shirt for my boyfriend and maybe this could be the pattern... He has the broad shoulders and slim waist this pattern seems designed for. Always nice to reduce fit-issues the first time one sews a type of garment =)
    However, with 15$ shipping to Sweden, the sale doesn't really do much to make the pattern cheaper =( Maybe I'll keep to ordering pattern drafting books instead...

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  27. I love these kinds of posts, where we are taken on a step-by-step approach to the fitting process. I always learn so much from these! Fashion Incubator really did have a point in saying there is no "good" or "bad" patterns since we all have such diverse bodies. Great post!

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  28. I think that looks really good for a muslin, actually.

    I don't consider a pattern "bad" unless it's so poorly-drafted it doesn't go together. Pattern companies cannot possibly draft everything to fit every figure variation: They have to choose an average. The fact is that I'm pear-shaped and my hips, backside, and thighs are just bigger than those of most women my more-or-less size. If they drafted everything to fit me, 95% of the rest of you would look like you were wearing Hammer pants.

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  29. I am glad you still like the shirt. The front looks great and I think you'll be able to get the back fitting nicely with some adjustments.

    Isn't it interesting that it seems like a fitted shirt even though the yolk dimensions are so much larger than your 70s pattern?

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    1. Indeed, Susan. Of course, the major difference in the yoke is that it's wider from top to bottom; but that's more a styling preference and I think I prefer it, actually.

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  30. You said, "I narrowed the seam allowance toward the armhole to raise it a bit."

    Which seam allowance-- the one on the sleeve or the seam allowance on the torso? What about the fit indicated that you need to raise the armhole?

    I'm curious because I'm going to sew myself a shirt and am a total beginner at fitting and clothes sewing. Have a book to recommend or should I go trial by fire?

    PS. I like the purple on you and the front looks great! Do you like the placket for the buttons?

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  31. Hi Peter, I like this shirt. The front looks great! I do think that the back is going to give you trouble based on the shape of your back. Looking at the way it fits you in the back - you have excess fabric at your lower back - to me - they have approached this pattern upside-down - if you will.

    Most men's shirt patterns start at the waist and then open up at the top - where there will be extra darts or tucks at the yoke to bring in that extra fabric and shape it to the wearer. Your shirt has eliminated those darts and tucks at the yoke - but not made much consideration for the bottom of the shirt - leaving men with a boxier shape with too much fabric.

    So to me - I would try to eliminate that extra fabric into those seams under the arms in the back - like a back dart. Pull only the excess fabric at the lower back up towards those seams and pin it at the seam line, then see how the back fits.

    Its not very precise - meaning loose a 1/4 inch here or there - it's more of a draping exercise.

    Can't wait to see how it turns out!!

    Cindi

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  32. SeamsterEast@aol.comFebruary 15, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    Cindi makes a point I hadn't noticed. That shirt has "no room" -- no extra fabric -- just under the yoke. Which means you can break the shirt by lifting something heavy, particularly if you lift several things and break into the slightess of sweats so the shirt sticks to your back when lifting the next heavy thing.

    Still a good looking shirt. Do show us what you try and what works and doesn't.

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  33. The shirt looks good, but you are right about proportions. I've had issues with Vogue pattern grading. In my case it was a vintage pattern they had poorly graded to a large size. I wonder if this is a problem with poor grading to a smaller size.

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  34. I loved Ms Fasanella's post as well. Sometimes a pattern is really badly drafted but most often I think that people have unrealistic expectations of having it fit right out of the envelope. As a woman who has to make a number of alterations to get things to fit, I think that there are definitely some issues, but they are minor. The collar is weird. Are you sure you cut the right size?

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    1. Nancy, are you referring to a pic in my Picasa file? The collar is too long and needs to be trimmed roughly 1".

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  35. Yep, not all men are alike. Everyone has to make adjustments. Everyone. *sigh*

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  36. Hi I am a technician designer, some of your issues are very easy to correct, men often forget about there hips and hip measurement, this is a rather important element to making fitted shirts, shirts are drafted based of your chest, but during the actual pattern making other measurements are used for shaping. measure your hips depending on your body shape you may need to add a little more easy around your bottom sweep which will eliminate the bunching at the lower back, and remeber if you intend on wearing this un-tuck more than tucked take your hip measurement over pants. normal hip ease is 2-3 inches for a fitted shirt, sound like a lot but it's not:) reg. fit ease is 4-6inches

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    1. Thanks so much -- that was very helpful!

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  37. no prob! we often think of men as having a much smaller bottom half but in reality the hip shape is just different. womens are more shaped side to side giving a rounder fuller look, men are fuller front to back which makes men seem to have minimal hip. as far as the tension lines that you are experiencing across the bottom back it's must liking do to the hip being to tight and riding up, thus creating bunching, you can think of a womens skirt, when you see that pulling or tension lines at the hip, but bunching at the top waist... if you loosen the hip the waist falls correctly in place. working for with mens and womens companies and privately, I have learn much about the appearance of size and body and the reality. Keep in mind with pattern making we take into account certain think that some times people don't know for example with traditional cut pants there is 1 inch of ease in waist to give room for tucking your shirt in, 2 inches around the hip to give room for movement and undergarments. anyways I could go on and on lol! my whole life is clothing...sizing, spec, standards, production yadah yadah yadah anyways love you blog and keep it up! oh and my tip to all don't over think things and some tool for the future you may want to look into is somthing called a spring loaded swing-away rolled hemmer there like $20-$30, in the industry we use this to hem the shaped sweep of the shirt. It's designed to go over the side seams and continue to turn the hem and it take just a minute or 2 to hem with... ok ok I'm done promise lol!

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  38. PS: I am a horrible typist, so I do apologize :)

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