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Oct 10, 2013

"For the Princess in Every Man!" + Reworking an Old Shirt

Whatever happened to princess seams in menswear?

I made Simplicity 8255 (up top), which dates from 1969, about four years ago.  I used a floral sheet, so the seams don't really pop.

I ditched this shirt a while ago, as the novelty of wearing used cotton/poly bedding wore off.  But I was thinking of making the princess-seam version of Butterick 4575 (below) for my black and white gingham shirt, just to keep things interesting.

Speaking of which, today I tried on my version of View A from this summer and I decided the color really is too close to my skin tone to be flattering. 

So this morning I removed the collar band.

I was thinking of replacing the band with a standard shirt collar made out of the purple cotton I used in Cathy's 1920's pajamas.  It's much more flattering -- on her anyway.

Or else I could make the outside collar the same tan, but make the inside collar stand purple, as well as the right button placket, which peeks out at the neck a bit -- something to bring the purple close to my face.  I rarely rework old projects, but I do like that shirt and I would wear it more if it were less drab.

In ditching news, I pitched another item that, like those old push-button phones, I had planned to get rid of a while back but had had second thoughts.  Today I was decisive.

I love the lines of my Sixties-era Sony portable black and white TV but it serves no practical purpose and is a big dust magnet.  I'd tried to sell it on Craigslist, but the market for old TVs, like the market for old phones, is weak.  Anyway, I put it downstairs and it quickly disappeared.

Also, this Western-style shirt, which I found at Goodwill about four years ago.  I never wore it out of the house. 

I always loved how the main label says "Handcrafted in the USA" but the side label says "Made in China."  Which is it, guys?  (Let me guess.)

And that's it!  Much more actual sewing in the days ahead, so stay tuned.

What did YOU ditch today?

Happy Thursday, everybody!


  1. Actually, I really like how that tan shirt looked on you, but a hint of color would add additional interest.

    I also have an old b&w Sony TV that only goes hissssssssss since the switch to digital. However, it has a radio and plays my old cassette tapes, so I stubbornly hold on to it. Which is dumb because, honestly, I don’t pop in a cassette all that often. I’m hopeless! Because you asked the question, now I'm motiviated to go home and ditch something -- anything.

    Maybe the shirt was made in China, but the embellishments in the USA? Still, it seems deceptive.

  2. I think it would be wonderful if you'd add a collar of a multi-color plaid or check, that includes tan as one of the colors It would add some brightness next to your face, but could be a fun accent.

  3. I like Susan's solution. If it was mine I'd wear it with a scarf to add some life.

  4. I call them prince seams, rather than princess seams. If you make the seam fall a little closer towards the side seam than the average princess seam, they are awesome as a fitting seam in vests for butch women. They correct armhole gape, flatten the chest outline, and don't actuate the bustline.

  5. I'd agree with Roberta- the tan shirt looked really nice. The Western shirt you have pictured was one of many with similar appliques from about 1974- I remember because I was enamored with them and owned three or four. They looked good with my big blow-dry Sebring haircut and bellbottoms!

  6. Bravo re: shirt making, and ditching! To-day I went through some of my "better" RTW. Most do not fit too well, but that's why I sew. I am not sure what went into the garbage bag we deliver to Filles on Sat., but that's fine. One tiny sweater for Stephanie. It never fit, but ffollowed us home from a charity shop - cranberry and mulberry wool. Lots of walking to-day, and lunch at the culinary school (yummy). Pulled out a very "good" Italian dressy skirt, to copy and improve, since it almost fits. Cathie, in Quebec. And my Constance Talbot book, from 1943, rocks!

  7. I'm with Roberta, the beige is a great neutral for you. The best beige is the one closest to your skintone, but a pop of color would amp it up.

    As for the western shirt, I'm betting that someone bought a pre-made shirt ,added the embroidery, and then sewed in their own label.

    I have bought my share of things like that, but then realized that they felt too costume-like for real life. If I want to pretend, I'd rather have a real costume with a persona to go with it rather than clothes that don't fit who I am. The trick for buying used clothes is to avoid buying things just because they are a good deal.

  8. Gingham in a princess seamed shirt? You really are a masochist!

  9. A thought on the prince-seamed gingham shirt: It's easy to imagine the side panels cut on the bias and the center front and back panels on the straight grain. If all the panels are cut on the straight I think the gingham will match up oddly on the seams, but putting the sides on the bias might be fabulous, and make for a good fit.

  10. That tan, or café au lait, shirt is one of your most successful and was perfectly fine on you as it was. (I can say that because I am older and seniority has its privileges.) So don't turn it into a costume by adding too much interest. Ok, a little mauve on the inside that peaks out is probably reasonable. And I say the "cowboy" shirt was made completely in China, the decoration has a distinctly Chinese look to the interpretation of a "western motif." There have been times when certain producers were not beyond fibbing a bit on their labels. I know - shocking. And lastly, good luck on the princess seams with the gingham. (snarky laugh in the background). Ah ha ha. I'll take my medicine if I am wrong. Feeling old and very cranky today. Thanks for lifting my spirits.

  11. Well, Peter, the '70s Sony Portable brought back lots of memories. My father received one from my mother as a Christmas gift, beautifully wrapped by Neiman-Marcus, around 1969-1971. They always had the latest electronic gadgets, and I bet it was part of their famous, annual His & Hers catalog feature that particular year. Did you know that these B&W TVs were truly portable? They came with a huge, rectangular rechargeable battery pack in a black leather carrying case (with white stitches). It was a big, heavy, red Eveready about as large as a good dictionary! There was also an adaptor for the cigarette lighter of the car! The Sony went with us on every vacation and road trip from the get go until the early '80s. By then, the handle had broken off, the on/off knob was chipped away and glued together, and the chrome trim was either missing, dented or jagged. The telescoping antenna was also history, but my father managed to replace that with a Parker Pen extendable pointer (remember pointers?) which his company used to give away as a promotion! Road trips were less about counting horses and cows by the roadside and more about furiously tuning in the next watchable station! You could get a good 30-45 minutes of reception-- sometimes an hour-- before you were out of range. Then, there was a lapse of 20-30 minutes (if you were lucky) before you could pull in a signal in the next "market" or town. If you were really lucky, you'd manage to tune in the same program you'd been watching (usually more likely at night when affiliates tended not to vary from the network broadcasts). Memorably, my father was able to watch ALL of "The Poseidon Adventure" in the rear view mirror as he drove our Ford Country Squire station wagon from Charlotte, NC to Atlanta, GA, with my sister and me manning the TV control knobs. My mother watched in the visor make-up mirror of the passenger seat! For them, the movie not only feature Shelley Winters upside down, but backwards to boot! This was the night of the Ice Storm of 1973, and we arrived at home just in time to watch the transformer outside the house explode! There was no heat or electricity for more than a week-- but there was television, rationed television, thanks to those Eveready batteries! You could recharge them via hook up to the car's cigarette lighter! Four frozen people, one TV and limited power to run it. It was like an entertainment-starved Donner Party, and the decision-making was brutally unfair to the likes of "Sesame Street," "Mister Rogers," "The Electric Company" (hello, irony!), and reruns of "Batman" and "Lost in Space." Curse you Walter Cronkite and "The CBS Evening News!" Of all your discards, I would have had that pristine looking Sony portable... and the Jean Arthur biography, of course!

    1. Wow, what a story! If only I'd known what that old TV meant to you. I do recommend the Jean Arthur biography -- fascinating.

  12. I've got the memories but not the storage space!

    What is a princess seam? I'm one of your non-sewest fans!

  13. I think I can answer the question about the USA/China labels. The shirt was made in China, the embellishment was added in the US. I used to know someone who did similar (but not as fancy) embellishment on shirts for riding competitions - she would add applique, gold braid and sequins to perfectly ordinary dress shirts. Some of her work was custom and some of it was for shops that sold those things. I do think it's a little dodgy to say "handcrafted in the US" when the shirt itself is made in China, but "hand embellished in the US" is kind of clumsy.

  14. Dye it! Dark cocoa, prune, or double dye it a warm pumpkin.

    Luv the Cathy pics, they are rarer than hen's teeth.

  15. How about making the collar the same blue as the slacks you made? Or a dark brown? Or black/charcoal?

  16. You're better on the ditching front than I am. I'm afraid the only ditching I did today was a plastic bag...
    I like the idea of the peeking purple more than a collar of the colour. It looks rather weird in the photo - really just added on; so I guess more purple elsewhere on the shirt as well would do a better job.

    I'm not old enough or well-versed enough in men's clothing to be able to say anything to the princess seams, but it's an interesting observation. I guess it would take a lot of tedious pattern-matching in the gingham, though!

  17. Well I just finished a unisex sweatshirt pattern intended for me, and it happens to have princess seams. But the fit is definitely NOT for a woman's body so I tried it on my boyfriend. Amusing photos to come when I have time.

  18. I think the color would be improved by dying the shirt in a contrasting (to your skin tone) color. the cut is very flattering. I think the "prince/ss" seam became popular in the western styled shirts and in the 1970s because it addled flair and completeness without resorting to a jacket or vest to pull things together. Good, slimming silloett, if a person is slim already then oh la la, shows off a nice physique to be sure. I think that Fred on Scooby Doo favored that cut.

  19. Thanks for posting the prince Currently a patternmaker-in-training in Paris, (have learned the secrets of drafting/draping menswr) but was never SURE about the whole prince(ss) seam thing in mnswr....nice to see it wasn't totally a femme thing!

  20. I had that serger, and you're right, it was demonic. It was my first serger and I couldn't believe it when I won a basic Singer as a prize in a costume contest. It was so much easier to thread and not cranky at all! Who knew?


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