Custom men's shirt/vest pattern?
February 4, 2014 5:20 AM   Subscribe

I'd like someone to draft a custom men's shirt pattern for me, so that I can make dress shirts from it for Mr. Needlegrrl. I am quite proficient with sewing, but not with men's patterning, and collars? ugh. Would a tailor do this? other suggestions?

Mr. Needlegrrl doesn't like shirts that are tight on his neck, and he's a larger guy - super broad shoulders, etc. I think he normally gets 20 collar, and then 35/36/37ish sleeves. This is a good collar length, pretty good sleeve length, but the body of the shirt is too big. Possibly also across the shoulders is too big, although I'm not positive.

Even commercial shirt patterns don't have a collar large enough that he can button it and be comfortable, so even short sleeve shirt patterns aren't really feasible to make for him.

I'd love for someone to make a pattern for me to use, that I could make dress shirts for him out of.

Secondarily, I'd be interested in learning more about men's drafting, so I could alter commercial patterns for him, but most of the home sewing pattern classes are all focused towards women's wear.

Other notes -
1. I am aware of the button extensions that they sell at places like Men's Wearhouse, but I'd love a long-term solution.
2. He doesn't have a shirt that fits him perfectly that I could copy.
posted by needlegrrl to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Shirtmaking by David Coffin. It'll walk you through creating a custom-fit pattern and has lots of great techniques for sewing men's shirts.
posted by katemonster at 5:40 AM on February 4, 2014

Off The Cuff sewing blog has lots of good tips, tutorials. Its by a professional shirtmaker. Fit For Real People details how to do women's alteration's, but they are good for men too.
posted by vespabelle at 6:56 AM on February 4, 2014

Seconding Shirtmaking by (MetaFilter's Own) David Coffin - it is astoundingly thorough. It's still a little beyond my skill level, so I haven't made any shirts from it yet... but skimming through it, it is full of exactly the kinds of information you're wondering about.

I asked a similar/related question a while back, and got a few answers... but the lack of instructional materials and patterns for mens' clothing is exasperating. Whenever I find an online discussion with somebody looking for information about drafting/tailoring, the responses are usually along the lines of "Men's tailoring is not something you can learn from a book, it's a guild craft handed down from master to apprentice in only the finest bespoke tailors' shops" as though it's some kind of black art... yet I think there's some truth to it. I suspect bespoke mens' tailoring falls into just the right niche that there's probably not enough money to be made for somebody with the knowhow to bother writing a book or making a DVD about it.

For drafting, you might be interested in The Victorian Tailor. As the title implies it deals with older, period specific garments... but it's got chapters on drafting and construction that I would think would be universally applicable.
posted by usonian at 8:13 AM on February 4, 2014

I've been learning how to draft patterns from Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear, and I found that my shirt pattern came out looking very similar to a custom tailor-made shirt I was planning to copy. The book also has jacket and trouser patterns.
posted by bradf at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

One possible route is to sacrifice his favorite dress shirt into pattern pieces. Mock up a muslin version, pin it up* for better fit if desired, 2nd muslin version... final pattern!

* DO NOT make the adjustments on the dress shirt pieces. You MUST keep the original pattern, in case the pin-fitting doesn't work.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:07 AM on February 4, 2014

I bought an online class on making copies of jeans from your favorite pair from Craftsy--the teacher shows you in detail how he constructs patterns from clothing without destroying the original piece, and how he fits them. He says the technique is good for any piece of clothing, even though it's being demonstrated on jeans.
posted by telophase at 9:43 AM on February 4, 2014

I have a few different resources for you. On patternreview, discussion of differing methods to adjust patterns. I think you can see that without being a member, but a free membership is available, just in case.

Lekala has a custom pattern service, you enter measurements, their software generates a pattern. They are affordable, and have free patterns to try out. It used to be a bit difficult to navigate buying a pattern, but I think they have their English website in good shape now. You get a pdf file, to print and tape together.

I know of two companies that sell pattern-making software, including men's patterns, Wild Ginger and Lutterloh. They run in the hundreds of dollars, I think, not sure exactly how much.
posted by annsunny at 2:27 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

The blog Male Pattern Boldness has a lot of great entries on learning to sew men's clothing and tailoring techniques for menswear. It's very approachable--the author sews mostly with thrift-store fabric and has a relaxed attitude about it. He is also a devotee of vintage sewing books and his archives have a lot of detailed reviews of books. You might find something useful there.

I don't know about pattern making services, but one option would be to try out the less expensive custom shirt companies out there and once you find one that works well, use one of those shirts to generate a pattern you can use.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 3:18 PM on February 4, 2014

I ordered Shirtmaking, and will definitely check out the other resources - thanks!
posted by needlegrrl at 6:20 AM on February 5, 2014

Link to a review of a book, Patternmaking for Menswear. It looks like Fashion Incubator liked it pretty well. She's a production pattern manufacturer, so her opinion is probably worthwhile.
posted by annsunny at 11:53 PM on February 7, 2014

Ha! I knew I had seen a blog about sewing shirts, but couldn't remember the name at all. Blog here.
posted by annsunny at 9:17 PM on March 10, 2014

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