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Jan 24, 2011

Peter models the McCall's 1954 Men's Sport Shirt!

Friends, thank you so much for your warm and witty comments yesterday in celebration of baby's first birthday here at Male Pattern Boldness.  As you can imagine, after this weekend the house is a mess and I'm emotionally spent.  This has nothing to do with the festivities, mind you, I just completed another men's shirt sewing project!

You may recall my mentioning McCall's 3087 last week almost in passing.  We've all been so focused on our upcoming Men's Shirt Sew-Along (which I am excited to announce already has 100 participants, and latecomers wishing to purchase the Colette Negroni pattern and enjoy our 20% discount have until the end of January to do so -- details here.) you might have thought I'd stopped sewing.

McCall's 3087 is a vintage men's sport shirt from the halcyon Eisenhower years of McCarthy hearings, Cold War, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers -- 1954 to be exact.

As many of you have already pointed out, there's a bit of a mystery to this pullover sport shirt -- how does one actually get into it?  Friends, the secret is contained in this little pattern piece.  Can you figure it out?

Sewing McCall's 3087 was a fascinating process as its construction is different from anything I had sewn before, but the instructions were straight forward.  The only truly dramatic moment was one I alluded to yesterday: my spurting a puddle of Fray Check all over the upper right shirt front as I reinforced a buttonhole.  Believe me when I say the word uttered in my panic was straight from the school yard and it wasn't Ring-a-levio!

This was one of those thank heaven for the Internet moments: I immediately googled How to remove fray check and was led to the Dritz Fray Check information page, containing detailed instructions on its removal, involving a long soak in alcohol.  And it worked, for me and the shirt.

My fashion fabric was a loosely woven, lightweight, pale gray flannel and I decided -- perhaps inspired by the construction of the RTW Western shirt we examined on Saturday -- to simply serge my seam allowances and skip the more painstaking flat-felled seams.

On the armscye I stitched the allowances down (toward the torso of course) to create a flat-felled look from the outside.  Can you tell the difference?

I sewed my first continuous lap on a shirt sleeve -- trickier than a placket, imo -- with decent results. We'll talk more about those during the Sew-Along.

The front is what makes this shirt special.  You secure the neckline with two buttons just below the collar and those buttons must be correctly positioned.  I had to sew mine on six times.

I am pleased with the result, which brings to mind Perry Como at his mellowest and Bing Crosby at his Minute Maid-iest.

The finished shirt.  I really need some new props.

If I were doing this again -- and I know someone is making this for the Sew-Along so listen up -- I would use a gingham or stripe or perhaps a somewhat heavier flannel.  It really is a sport shirt, so the sportier the better!

The fit is roomy as one would expect from a shirt like this, and I made no alterations.  But I could easily have taken 2" out of the chest, which is a size 36.  You could wear it as an overshirt or tunic.

More pics of the shirt construction and results here.

So what do you think -- yea or nay on this 1954 classic?  I'm on the fence.  Too costume-y?  Too...something?  Be honest.

In closing, Sew-Alongers, don't forget to post pics of your fabric and patterns (if different from Negroni) on our Sew-Along Flickr page.

And you all still have till midnight tonight (EST) to enter yesterday's Vogue Patterns giveaway so don't delay.

Happy Monday, everybody!


  1. I think the shirt looks fantastic. I like that it is different. Could this be made in a knit fabric? Not that I would even know how to do it. Just wondering.

  2. I think it's pretty cute and cool in a young-man dressing like an old man kind of way. Then again, I'm a young lady who dresses mostly like an old lady, so I might be biased.

  3. Oh, that's funny! Thanks, guys!

    Lisa, I don't think a knit would work with this pattern without a LOT of interfacing.

  4. I was thinking more Amish-y or farmhand-y (maybe it's the color/texture). Whatever it is, I really like it. The collar is genius and I'm now thinking that I need to figure out how to work that kind of function into a women's shirt collar.

    I've only recently found this place (due to the sew-along, which I am unfortunately not participating in at this time) and it totally rocks. I really enjoy your process posts and honest opinions and information. Thanks!

    1. Mccall's 3126 gives you this shirt in a ladies version

  5. I think it looks nice! I do agree it needs to be casual. Maybe something approximating nice sweatshirt material?

  6. I certainly hope those photos don't do anything good for your shirt.

    The close-ups of the fabric look nice, but the full figure ones look rather dull - I would prefer some more structure/interest to the fabric as the pattern itself is on the simple side.

    Along with the lighting you look indistinctly gray - what a shame :-(

  7. I love it. Especially when worn casually, i.e. not tucked into the trousers. The choice of fabric is spot on, giving it that quietly sophisticated look.

  8. Looks great, Peter! A possible fabric, I actually would use it, is to get me to a thrift shop, (or my stash) and gets some really nice looking flannel shirts (or hawaiian sport shirt) and cut them into squares or strips, piece them together and use them as fabric. It would be possible to reuse a pocket or to if the idea strikes a responsive chord.

  9. Of all the things you've shown on your blog, this is my favorite one. I think it looks fashionable (with the element of the unexpected in the closure). I like the fabric. Gray is not my favorite color, but I must say it gives this garment a look of sophistication.

    I also prefer it untucked.


  10. It's a cool shirt, but I think the solid color *is* helping it to give off a Little Shop of Horrors crazed dentist vibe. And you could hang a spit bib off the two buttons. ;-) That said, I really like it untucked and would love to see you make it again in a non-solid.

    And you serged instead of felled? Will you use that again on more traditional shirts? Can you tell I'm trying to get out of flat-felling the seams on Michael's shirt?

  11. Hooray for men's clothing with at least some slight variation in its construction!!!

    I agree with Betty -- untucked is preferable here.

    As for props, consider a pocket watch for a dignified look, a whistle or pair of binoculars for sportier outfits, and a tiny fake chickadee for your forays into vintage Disney territory...

    - Peter

  12. Debbie, if this were a gift I would NEVER consider just serging. NEVER EVER. But that's me. ;)

  13. EtherealPR, how about a harmonica? I have one of those.

  14. I know, I know. That and the fact that I know *you* will be inspecting it, and the decision is made for me.

  15. Unadorned gray is not my favorite, but this shirt looks great on you! Your stitching is to die for -- perfect and precise. I'm about to make this in a dark plaid; now I really want to get to it.

    I think this shirt would work well in a really stable knit. You can see a couple of photos of the identical shirt (not the one from the pattern; the identical style) in a knit here. The knit fabric does ratchet up the "contemporary" factor a bit.

  16. Thanks, Noile. I love the knit version.

  17. *sigh* I really like this: it looks wonderful! you MIGHT need a black or red scarf, or sweater w/ it but omg, I really like this...I need to find this in a 34 somewhere. My pattern collection is really going to be out of control before this men's shirt business comes to an end. ok, I admit, it's already out of control, but not with men's patterns. :)

  18. Loved seeing Perry Como again! Thanks! About the shirt, though, I am not "wowwed". The construction and fit are impeccable, but their is something missing. Maybe it's the color? I'm not sure but it does remind me of the dentists office.

  19. I really like the untucked photos you posted though both ways are nice. It is wonderful how you are bringing these men's vintage shirts to life for us all to see. I think this shirt has instant attitude sparking off of it-perfect for a fashion area like NYC.Wonder how it would look worn with an Eisenhower era wool plaid cap as a prop. You could sew that with fabric from a recycled garment. mssewcrazy

  20. I like your shirt; I think untucked is best. I also think it could be fitted closer to the body to give it a more updated look. I don't think of the dentist when I see the shirt, and while I do like the gray (I just like gray right now) I suspect gray is not your best color. I don't know about pattern; black and more fitted would be smashing.

    We used to watch Perry Como every week. I had forgotten his loose and good humored style. I also remember the tightly cinched full skirts of the dancers. I suddenly remembered how awful they were to wear.

    Thanks for the good posts about vintage shirts. Very enjoyable.

  21. I love it as-is. Sleek minimalism, to my eye!

  22. Excellent, Peter! I love it untucked - that shirt should never be tucked. It looks incredibly comfortable, yet elegant. A good, heavy stable knit would be gorgeous, but what you've got going there is beautiful, too.

    Great job - love seeing a man doing and wearing things that are different and beautiful. Keep it up!

  23. I like it! But just to be contrary, I like it better tucked in. Otherwise, it starts looking less Bing/Perry and more farmhand.

  24. "So what do you think -- yea or nay on this 1954 classic? I'm on the fence. Too costume-y? Too...something? Be honest."

    Almost baggy enough to be a jacket. The collar doesn't sit on you, the way the envelope indicates. I find the neck buttons to be out of proportion to the rest of the shirt, though I like them on the sleeve. Had you chosen them in advance? I might have done the topstitching in a matching color. It seems to be an indicator when the two big pictures use a print, and the small picture is a solid.
    You know, now after looking at it back and forth, I think its just too big. Yes too big- even the spread across your throat seems wide. Best to wear it as a comfy overshirt.

  25. I really like this shirt, but like it better tucked and I think it should be just a little more fitted through the torso.

    The knit picture is also beautiful. The neck closure is fascinatingly different, there just doesn't usually seem to be the variety for men's clothing that women's has. I like seeing something so different.

  26. In the words of a great-aunt, "You like it, I love it." You look happy wearing it, therefore I love it!

  27. Well...ummm...hmmm. It sure is a unique style!
    And you wear it well.
    I'd love to see it made from distressed silk the fullness drapes.

    Your workmanship is great.

    And yes, I agree, a sleeve placket is easy to sew....and anyway, continuous laps belong blouses IMHO ;)

    (and Peter..stop on over to my blog to see the cool old shirt-press Roger found in a friend's attic)

  28. Pam, I saw it already! Unbelievable!

  29. wow! I like it. Though all it needs is to be a brighter color and have more buttons to totally go Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. ;) I guess you need to go thrifting for props instead of sheets!

  30. I love that movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers! I really think the back of the shirt is lovely, but I'm not so keen on the front. Maybe without the pocket would look better to me, IDK. Great job as always. Looking forward to the sew-a-long. And Happy belated Birthday MPB! I was just catching up on Michael's blog too and I loved the name choice He's Sew Fine. I cracked up when I read that!

  31. I think it's quite fun, and should be made again. The mad dentist comments crack me up, but it doesn't give me that vibe. Wear it with pride. I love menswear that breaks boundaries.

  32. I think it's great. Hooray - a different style shirt for men. Why ARE men's fashion options so limited? I don't know. If they wanted any fashion variety or fun at all, they'd have to dress as women! Cotton pique would be good. And IMO plain is good. I wouldn't like it in a stripe etc. Just give it some texture. I think a knit or a pique would be perfect.

    The only slight reservation I have is those about those buttons. I think they should be gray, and ideally a bit smaller (tho' if they were not pink, they might look smnaller).

  33. My vote, psychotic dentist. As always the sewing is perfect. The fabric is plain, but nice enough, the pattern interesting, but together they just don't work for me. A stripe, or a plaid or a brighter color would work better IMHO. Maybe a wild Hawaiian style print in the short sleeved version?

  34. I really like this shirt. You could get so many looks out of this pattern just by the fabrics you choose.

  35. Sorry Peter-Thumbs down! Reminds me of my dentist, and not in a good way. That said, it is beautifully made. I'd like to see how you might reinterpret this design.

    Jeff in VA

  36. Peter-
    Love love love the shirt! My hubby is going to get one in flannel for his birthday next month -shhhh it's a surprise. Oh, and thanks for the fun video.

  37. I really like it, although I think a short sleeve version in seersucker, or something more summery would be...less frump, I guess. I would at least get rid of the breast pocket. You could make pajama pants to match?

  38. I like it because it is different to a standard shirt - nice to see a bit of variety! May I suggest one of those cardigans too?!!

  39. The first thing I thought of was Dr. Horrible from his Sing-Along Blog (did anyone else watch that?) Very hipster-ish. What a crazy way to button-up a shirt - I have never seen anything like it before!

  40. I think it is pretty cool, in fact I ordered the pattern a couple weeks ago after seeing it on your blog.

    I want to use a plaid or stripe for mine and will make the front and back yokes (together) in one piece. My original was made that way (but unfortunately no longer exists) and the lines in the front yokes merge inward for added interest.

  41. For the record, I love it.
    But you should lose the pipe :-). How about a vintage Life magazine, eh? Something vintage but not so stinky..

  42. Gorgeous shirt, beautifully made, very stylish colour. One of your best creations, in my opinion. Better out than in, and I don't think it's too big at all.

    All the best from Alicante, gaviotaroquero


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