As much as I've been enjoying my menswear sewing class, I've always thought it strange that I've never been asked about my sewing experience by Professor B.
I often feel self-conscious about this in class, which is geared to elementary sewers, though there are other students who have sewing experience (and other FIT classes) under their belt. Since it's never been brought up, I assumed it's because Professor B. either didn't care or simply doesn't value home sewing. Obviously I'm enjoying the class and I'm learning new things, but if truth be told, I could have learned them in much less time.
Yesterday's class was another review of what we've covered earlier. One thing that was new was how to prepare the shoulder seam of a sleeve before attaching it, flat, to the armscye. With the right side of the sleeve facing up, we folded the shoulder edge down (i.e., toward the right side of the fabric) 1/4", edgestitched at the fold, and then trimmed away the excess. That's as far as we got, however. We spent the rest of the class reviewing sleeve plackets and how to attach the placket to an actual shirt sleeve.
And then we got to talking about ready-to-wear shirt production and, on the front of a men's shirt, simple turnback plackets vs. folded-and-tucked plackets (the kind I usually make, which I learned is called a French placket), vs. an attached placket, created using a separate strip of fabric. Professor B. talked about commercial shirts and -- in answer to a question I'd asked as well as related queries from others -- what kind of plackets we could expect at different price levels. Apparently shirts of very expensive fabric often have simple turnback plackets because they show off the fabric better. But since they require that a wider piece of fabric be cut, they're more expensive to produce even though they're simpler looking. The attached placket requires the least fabric (since strips can be cut out of smaller pieces elsewhere on the bolt) but the most labor. These days the cost of labor is cheaper than the cost of fabric, however.
Then, as we're all standing around the front table, Professor B. asks a few people about the shirts they're wearing, to show how certain fabric layouts save money (or don't) in production. He turns to me and says, Where'd you buy your shirt?
I was wearing my plaid pleated shirt (above) from last month. At first I didn't know what to say: I felt put on the spot and I'm sure I blushed. A second passed but it felt like a minute. Finally I answered somewhat awkwardly, I made it. Without skipping a beat, he then asks, well if you were going to buy a shirt like that, where would you go, and I say, I don't know, Bloomingdales. And then he moves on to talking more about price points, manufacturing processes, computer-generated layouts -- the whole class was fascinated by all this, much to his surprise since he'd intended to keep reviewing our sleeve placket techniques.
I'm not entirely sure why I felt so uncomfortable in that moment. Nobody said anything bad to me; actually, two other students had just complemented me on the shirt earlier. Did I fear some would wonder why I was there, or think I didn't belong? Everybody has been very nice to me. Did I fear Professor B. would feel I'd tricked him? I didn't originally choose this class, I was told to take it if I wanted to take more advanced classes. I guess I would have liked Professor B. to have asked us all about our sewing experience (if any) from the get-go, so I wouldn't feel like I was harboring a secret.
He now also knows I sewed up the size Small shirt pattern he gave me last week and, when I asked him if he minded if I altered it, he said he'd be happy to help me with any adjustments to make it fit better. I'd like that, as well as any additional special assignments he could give me to enrich my experience. My hope is that Professor B. -- who has never seemed less than 100% committed -- wouldn't have a problem with that.
Readers, can you understand why I've felt weird up about all this -- and now relieved?
For next week, we're to cut out the rest of our pattern pieces and necessary interfacing; I guess we'll get to attaching sleeves next week -- that's something we didn't cover earlier since the dickey had no sleeves.
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, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!