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Feb 15, 2011

Men's Shirt Sew-Along 14 -- Addressing FIT

Friends, as our Men's Shirt Sew-Along, enters its third week, it's (finally) time to address fit.

As I've mentioned previously, the only shirt pattern alterations I'd made before this Sew-Along were to shorten sleeves and bodice length.  Not that other alterations might not have been called for, I simply didn't know how my shirts should/could fit.

I probably sewed twenty shirts with many of the same fit issues

Remember too: not all men's shirts are fitted shirts.  Many men -- and women -- prefer a fuller shirt, especially in a casual style like the Colette Negroni.  

Fit is very much a matter of personal preference and the process of fitting is as much an art as a science.  Very few people are going to match the standard body measurements printed on the commercial pattern (sob) and we differ in countless individual ways.

I have yet to find a sewing book that addresses fitting for men to my satisfaction.  But there are a number of good fitting books for women and if you think of men as flat-chested women with no hips and bigger biceps, you can see that many of the fit issues are similar, if not the garments themselves.

One book I've purchased that came highly recommended is the Pati Palmer and Marta Alto classic, Fit for Real People.

Fit for Real People has a lot of information about fitting shoulder and backs in particular, which seems to be where many of our shirt fitting challenges lie.  They also address specifically alterations to garments with a back yoke.

Yes, it is a women's fit book.  But I am finding it extremely helpful.

With so many Sew-Along participants, as well as a variety of men's shirt patterns being used, I've found our Flickr group to be the best forum to discuss individual fit questions.  

We are fortunate to have some very experienced fitters among us in our Sew-Along as well as some very good fit-related resources posted in our Flickr discussion area.  Some of us learn best from photos, some prefer videos, some need in-person instruction. 

What seems to be working best so far is to post a photo of your muslin, or completed shirt, on the person who will be wearing it and solicit feedback.

You guys are doing a wonderful job on your projects and  I'm seeing some beautiful shirts coming together.

We'll be tackling some specific fit issues here this week, but if there are any specifics you'd like me to address, please let me know.

Happy sewing -- and fitting -- everybody!


  1. Any recommendations for fitting a shirt to a man with a bit of a belly?

  2. Nancy, this link may help.

  3. I have that book too Peter, I'll be taking more measurements tonight and we'll see if DH would be willing to model the paisley shirt for pictures to assess fit. Sadly, even though he approved the fabric before purchase and loves it, he thinks it's too loud for public consumption so it'll be yet another backyard BBQ shirt, sadly.

  4. I'm on the costume homestretch and will be getting back to this Sew-Along soon. I can't wait! I'm nearing costume burn-out.

  5. I'm so glad to see you addressing fit as I'm so frustrated! I'm on my third muslin and can't seem to get it to fit-aarrgggh! I've never been successful with fitted shirts. I'm going to have to look that book up.

  6. Thanks for posting those pictures about the sloping shoulders - they are a massive help!!

  7. Pikojiko, if you haven't already, post photos in the Flickr group.

  8. Hi there, I'm not participating in the sew along, but fit is one issue I'm trying to address at the minute.

    I think part of the problem is identifying what good fit is - maybe we're used to 'ok' fit from shop bought garments. I also have that book and am hoping it will help!

  9. We miss you, Debbie!

    Yes, it CAN be hard to identify what good fit is and it's VERY hard to fit yourself.

  10. Now that I have begun this learning curve, I can see that poorly fitting shirts are everywhere! Lots of opportunity for on-the-street research and analysis. I think I need to get myself a copy of that book, for the hilarious cover as much as the fitting advice.

  11. That book kicks ass but the styling horrifies me. I really wish they'd update the photos.

  12. What? -- And pin fit all over again! LOL

  13. I love this book as my favourite bedtime read... I sit in bed and marvel at the way the material wraps itself against Patty's slender but enormous frame...

    Kath-ay Lay-say Ever-ay-bod-ay

  14. Maybe you could have a list of helpful books on your blog, like a resources section. If you already have one, please forgive me. I'm reading old posts, but haven't explored everything yet.


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