This is my very favourite shirt of all time. It doesn’t fit all that well, in fact it’s always been a bit constricting across the chesticles, but it’s as close as I’ve ever come to a store bought piece of perfection and its been worn threadbare over the past 15years! Time to copy the best shirt ever because judging by the underarm stains, she’s not long for this world! And lets add a few fitting tweaks while I’m at it, but no darts, I’m currently anti dart. In fact I’ve come to realise that the purpose of a dart is to shape and at this stage of my life I don’t want the generous mound of my chesticles to be front and centre, why sculpt around something you don’t want to accentuate. Radical idea heh?
Funny thing, clever Linda once commented, you notice things when you take a closer look at RTW and open it up. In the entire 15 years I had never noticed the bias bound sleeve cuff continued into a bias bound sleeve placket, hmmm, clever idea.
And dear shareholders, (that’s no.1 son actually, the best learning curve eva when Billabong shares plummeted from $15 to 70c), this garment was more than likely designed here in the good old land of Oz because all the finished measurements are curiously metric – yay, no cubits or furlongs. No dart, curvaceous side shaping and a floppy loose collared neckline. The back yoke continues forward of the shoulder and gives the shirt a wee essence of cowboy, but can get a bit of bias stretch over the shoulder’s lumps and bumps.
Method – stabbed pins through the smoothed shirt seams onto paper, then drew the outline, corrected, walked the seamlines and cut out my first toile, makes it sound almost instant – which it wasn’t. #1 toile, not bad. The collar here has the seam allowances removed to get a better idea of the shape. I used my usual Mike Maldonado (MM) collar stand give or take a cm to fit the neck edge. MM says you should check the shirt without a collar first – oops, definitely should have done that. Looks to me like the neck edge is a bit low or maybe a bit close at the side neck or something?
Lets’ fix something I can definitively diagnose… after removing the collar. Hmmm, the neckline doesn’t look too bad now, but about 1.5cm needs to be added to each centre front. I’m keen to do this without a dart though, no FBA zone.
Yes, #2 toile with wider front, much better fit and markedly less pull from the shoulder point to chesticle apex. Not unhappy about some pull, this aint spray on clothing. Widened the neckline edge by expanding the neck by about 2mm all round, it seems to have worked, though I’m still getting some dipping of the collar at CF indicating excess fabric there. At this point I was really wary of messing with something that was almost perfect AND STILL NO DARTS!
Now for the sleeve, crikey, at least 1cm needed across the deltoid, so I expanded the sleeve head. The slim fit sleeve is one of the things I really like about the original shirt – so modern! And look, the collar is floating free at the CB, must close a dart in the outer collar edge too.
Just look at that luvverley sleeve head, just the one sleeve mind you, I’m not completely bonkers!
After pinning and copying the sleeve shape I noticed the underarm seam was quite extended. The original shirt is rayon, so the stretch may have happened over 15 years of wearing, but the concept of a cut on sleeve gusset is a thang! Susan Elias is a brilliant professional couturier, her Youtube videos are very instructive, they’re listed on her website. She mentions the underarm sleeve gusset as an extension of the sleeve and of course you really need that underarm extension to enable you to reach for the spices on the top shelf. David Page Coffin also mentions it on pp 54/55 of his book Shirtmaking. Not an added gusset piece but an intentional skewing of the underarm seam to assist movement and I daresay – add fabric to the chestline. I’m going to play with this concept more as this pattern develops.
He goes on to say “In modern shirts, that gusset has been built into the sleeve pattern, and it allows the sleeve to be put in at a nice sleek angle and still have some reaching room. It’s become that little bit of extra fabric you could not lay flat when you spread your shirts out to check the sleeve angle.”
Princess tried on one of these shirts and there was some gaping at the underarm junction, indicating to me that she doesn’t need the extra space afforded by the extended underarm ‘gusset’ – interesting don’t you think?
Now I’m all systems go for the first wearable iteration and because this is a first go, how about some retro looking stretch cotton poplin from deep in the archives bought from way back when Tessuti had a shop in Bondi – now that’s ancient history.