Friday, February 7, 2014

Sewing - McCall M6035

I have been chasing the perfect button down shirt that doesn't gap between buttons at the bust line and also shows off my waist line forever.  I have tried several other patterns but decided I like the lines, look and variety of McCalls M6035.

One reason I chose this pattern is the different cup sizes available, which is like doing an Front Bust Adjustment (FBA) but done on the commercial pattern for you.  There is a special "Made For You" section in the directions to assist on choosing which cup size to use.  Pity it doesn't go up to a G cup though!  Thankfully the numbers clearly stuck me in the D cup size.

 So I decided on Shirt A for making a few summer work shirts in light cotton voile so perfect for Sydney weather.  But, as I have learned the hard way, it pays to do a few test runs on a new pattern.

Test 1

After taking careful measurements of the actual pattern pieces, I decided to try the collarless Shirt A size 18 with a gathered short sleeve option.

I made the size 18 exactly according to instructions and like the directions.  Sometimes, say along the neckline, I just fudged it using my own experience.  But while the shirt looked great on, I could not lift my arms up to my side at all as the sleeves and back were way too constricting.  After inspection I discovered 2 important things:

1. My back measurement was about 1 inch too small (between just above shoulder blades).
2. The sleeve, even though gathered, was still too skinny for my biceps.
3. The bust line JUST works - I may have 1 inch ease here.

1. Need size 20 shirt for bigger measurements around shoulders both back and front, slightly larger sleeve measurement and more ease in the bust line.  (The short sleeve is the same piece for this pattern as the long sleeves, just cut on a shorter line).

But I wasn't going to let this muslin shirt  go to waste since the fabric was $8 a meter!  I removed the sleeves, unpicked the bottom edge bands and gathering, cut down the center of the current sleeve and add in a 3 inch wide strip along the entire sleeve from cap to bottom.  Then I gathered between the arm scythe darts at the top and the intended gathering along the bottom and fitted it all back together.  Instantly I could move my arms!  Thankfully the shirt is busy enough print that the sleeve inserts do not really show.

I also dropped new sewing lines down all the waist and hip seams to give me a bit of additional breathing room.

I have a test knit that is usable as a work shirt now!

Test 2

Balking at paying another large sum for a test shirt, I went to Big W into the Big Mens section and found a reasonable print business shirt in size 4XL (XXXXL!) on the clearance rack to cut down.  Worked a charm, and cost me $3!

I simply cut apart all of the seams just at the sewing line (or in the gutter) since the shirt was already volumes bigger than I am - no need to waste time unpicking!  The fronts, back and sleeves fell apart instantly.  I did spend time unpicking the collar parts from the neckline to preserve those for future use.

My new size 20 pieces all just fit into the existing larger shirt pieces with the additional bonus that I didn't have to actually do the front button holes - I simply utilised the existing ones in the shirt already!

After trying it on (didn't bother gathering sleeves):
1. Plenty of room in shoulders and sleeve department.
2. Bust line fits beautifully now.
3. Waist and hips are swimming in way too much fabric. Easily 4 inches too much around the waist line.

To fix the second test shirt, I will just sew in at the front and back "dart" lines to take in the gap.  Then I will need to do some more work to reduce the size of the collar from a 4XL to fit my shirt neckline.

Test 2 Conclusion:
1. Use size 20 from collar down to 3 inches below the arm hole.
2. Use size 18 for waist line and hip line.
3. Put in 9 buttons.  One right along the fullest bust line to prevent puckering.

Rather than re-draw the pattern a third time, I will just take in the additional measurements on my official first proper shirt when doing the waistline to hip vertical seams.

My final shirt fits perfectly.  What a difference muslin testing makes!

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