A few weeks ago, longtime MPB reader Pam (who comments as erzulimojo) sent me extraordinary cotton paisley shirting she'd purchased in the UK a number of years ago and never used.
Just look at this fabric!
I loved the intensity of the colors and the bold design (the quintessence of male pattern boldness, no?). I knew I'd eventually make it into a shirt, but when I learned over the weekend that Pam would be in NYC this week and we'd be having dinner on Tuesday night, I realized it was time to get to work!
For my pattern, I chose Advance 3081, which dates from 1942. Why did I choose this pattern in particular? Just to mix things up a bit and keep it interesting. (Advance was J.C. Penney's pattern line, now defunct.)
One of the highlights of this shirt pattern is this beautiful collar stand piece (below). You don't see these subtly shaped collar stands anymore.
The sleeve is interesting: very rectangular.
Notice that the placket slit is pre-cut. The pattern calls for a two-piece placket, which allowed me to use my contrast fabric for the underplacket. First time I've ever done this.
Here's the completed collar and collar stand before I attached them to the shirt:
My contrast fabric is butter-yellow cotton shirting left over from a shirt project from a few years ago. I wanted a solid for contrast to give the eye a resting place; I think it works well.
Another interesting feature of this pattern is that it has a separate facing piece for both left and right fronts. I used the same solid yellow for both facings (as well as the inside yoke).
My mother of pearl buttons were a generous gift from MPB reader Shirley S, who sent me an entire bagful!
The only alterations I made to the original pattern were to shorten the length by
2" and to turn the back gathers into small pleats (below), as gathers never press
properly. I also left off the single breast pocket.
So what is the difference between a men's shirt from 1942 and one from 2015?
The collar is a bit sharper, the collar stand slightly wider (which suits my longish neck) than you find today. The armhole is (arguably) a tad higher and the sleeve below the elbow a little fuller. That's about it. Does anything about this shirt scream 1942 to you?
I made this shirt entirely on my Elna Grasshopper (with the exception of the buttonholes, which I made using my vintage Singer buttonholer on my Singer 201). Love my Grasshopper!
I debuted my new shirt last night when I met Pam for dinner. We shared some fantastic Chinese food at a wonderful restaurant on my block, Grand Sichuan. So much fun!
Thanks again, Pam -- and Shirley -- for your generosity. I really appreciate it.
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!