26 June 2009

151. Refashion 24: Boy's Shirt from Men's Dress Shirt

This refashion has been hanging out for a few weeks, from that time when I seemed to be sewing in my sleep.  I had picked up this men's shirt from the thrift store and it immediately was one of my favorites.  Doesn't seem like much at first glance (and that poppy pink mess of a dress underneath it in the photo doesn't help, but we'll talk about that in another post), but let me tell you what I liked so much about the shirt:
  • The simple windowpane weave
  • The color
  • The weight and hand of the fabric -- lightweight, almost sheer, and nearly-sateenish but not quite
  • The buttons... three holed, not two or four
The label on the shirt reads "Liberty broadcloth", and whether it means THE Liberty brand or not, it was a very well-constructed shirt.  After I showed my 6-year-old son the cool three-holed buttons, he asked me to make something for him from the shirt.  

Can I just say that the number of interesting sewing patterns out there for boys is minimal and completely uninspired?  No big surprise, as boys' clothes off the rack are boring and uninspired much of the time.  Combined with the fact that my son has a long track record of not appreciating what I sew for him, I limit my sewing for him to Halloween, mostly.  Luckily, I had this vintage pattern in my stash.  His chest, waist, and back length measurements matched up to those on the pattern envelope exactly.

After sewing women's clothes for so long, I couldn't believe how quickly this boy's shirt went together!  The pieces are so much smaller and thus faster to sew, and I only used 3 pattern pieces: front and back bodice, and the sleeve.  I re-sized and re-used the collar, which I am not sure I would do again.  This is a very high-quality shirt and the interfacing in the collar is very stiff and sturdy.  It's not really flexible enough to be resized for a 6-year-old boy and sort of move with the new shape and dimensions of the shirt.  Also, the collar now looks a little 70's Saturday Night Fever, which I don't actually mind but it's very exaggerated on the new shirt.

The bodice falls off the shoulder by a good inch and a half, which is not how shirts are made today, but this is exactly how the illustrations look on the pattern envelope.  The thing that got me was the extra ease in the sleeve.  I tried to sew in one sleeve using the tutorial on Mary Nanna's blog, which is credited to Palmer Pletsch, and I got sleeve poof!  Sleeve poof is not in the pattern envelope illustrations, so I assumed it was operator error in trying out the Mary Nanna --> Palmer Pletsch method.  I sewed in the other sleeve using the 2-lines-of-gathering-threads technique I'm used to, and that sleeve came out poofy, too!  So I'm thinking I will need to shave a bit off the sleeve cap to eliminate the poof.  I was going to try to fix it in this shirt, but Louis wore it all day yesterday and it didn't bother either of us.  We'll go with it.

BTW, this pattern is so OOP that I don't know if I should bother doing a PR.com review -- what do you think/ do?

I still have a dress I made during my Vegas trip I haven't shared with you.  Next time....  Hope you have a great weekend!  xo


  1. I think it's adorable, and it's awesome that Louis rocked those slightly poofy sleeves. He's secure in his boyhood. :)

  2. As you describe it, I would like this shirt too. Very nice details.

    As for sleeve pouf, I think, there is a little too much ease on the sleeve cap as well as a little too much height.

    If that sleeve was drafted perfectly, you shouldn't have to do any double row of stitching and gathering. Mary Nanna's method should work, or you can crimp (finger pressure right behind the presser foot).

    Now, please, re-read my comment out loud with your fingers pressing your nostrils, so I can indeed sound snooty.

  3. Long live sleeve pouf! Louis you go and show those boys how fashion for lads is done these days.

  4. Nice shirt. It's such a great feeling when your children ask you to make thing for them.

  5. I love that you sewed your son something! I yet have sewn anything for mine.
    As I am experimenting with vintage patterns, I am finding that they have a lot of ease in the sleeve cap. I cut it down at least one size (notch to notch).
    I don't mind the collar at all! Very groovy, cool look!

  6. Antoinette,
    LOVE this! so cute on your little guy. Great job.

  7. You sewed him something and he loves it, so I'd call that a success. The collar and sleeve make it interesting. It's not girly poufy, just not totally flat.

  8. Love it! Especially the collar. Boys are so hard to sew for. This is great!

  9. I love the wide collar--it's almost like a shawl collar. Very evident from that photo that the collar is top notch!!! And I don't recall seeing 3 holed buttons before. Nifty!

  10. I don't think I'd have noticed the sleeve poof if you hadn't pointed it out (I'm sure 6 year old boys don't take much notice of sleeves either), but I'm glad Louis liked his new threads. Sleeves always give me trouble, it's why I generally stick to sleeveless garments. which, you know, I haven't sewn a stitch in AGES but I do think about it, and one of these days I just might.

  11. the shirt came out fantastic and i love the extra wide collar, makes it quirky and special ;)

    and i'm fasinated by 3 hole buttons now, who knew such wonderful treasures existed?!

  12. the fact that your son likes it is triumph enough, I say. I don't sew for my daughter as she's frustratingly picky about what she wears. Though now that I think about it, she might wear it as long as it's got Dora on it.

  13. Love the shirt transformation! Keep up the good work!

    I've given you the honest scrap award! Check out my latest post for the details!

  14. This is on my list of things to do. I found a terrific Hawaiian shirt in a slightly sheer, silky fabric with cool wooden buttons. I have a vintage boy's pattern that I am going to use as well, though the collar piece is missing. I think I can deal with that.

    His shirt turned out great!

  15. Ooo... what a perfect shirt! It looks awesome! Nothing gets you to work on your projects unless it for a special occasion. Thanks!

  16. I love this book for little boy patterns! http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=24946944 I purchased my copy off of yesasia.com. The tops are so uniquely designed and lovely.


Hi! I'm so glad you stopped by. If you have a specific question, be sure to leave your email address or check the box to receive email follow-up comments so I can answer your question! Thanks for commenting!