Sunday, March 10, 2013

Project 29: Aloha Shirt

Last September, Doug and I took a short, (too short) impromptu vacation in Maui. It was my first visit to Hawaiʻi, but he had spent some time there with his parents when he was a teenager. We stayed at one of the resorts on Kaʻanapali beach, which was absolute paradise.

We spent just a little bit of time souvenir shopping in Lahaina, and Doug wanted to get an aloha shirt. We looked at a bunch of them, but the ones that were well made were over $100. There were inexpensive shirts, but they just didn't look good.

 We continued our exploration of the town, and happened on a fabric store. We went in to have a look around, and lo and behold, they had a vast selection of Hawaiʻian prints! I got the idea that he should pick out one he liked and I would make him an aloha shirt when we got home.

Itʻs March. I know. The Autumn was pretty horrible in terms of stress and drama, and it took a great deal of the Winter to get back on my feet and caught up. But now, at last, the shirt is done. I used my trusty McCallʻs M4399 pattern, but extended its length a few inches. Doug is a bit taller than me, but our inseams are the same length. He gets his height from an elegantly long torso (lucky bastard) so a little extra length is needed in un-tucked shirts.

The only challenge with this project was the pocket. I did some reading about the evolution of these shirts, and one of their characteristics is that the pocket is cut out such that the pattern matches to the body of the shirt. This is another instance where Paulaʻs clear plastic pattern piece method saved the day. I placed the pattern piece on the shirt front and drew around the outlines of several of the flowers so I could cut the pocket out just right.

I found some flower-shaped buttons for an added touch of island-ness.

Iʻm not showing a picture of it, but there was one part of construction that didn't please me. Despite taking lots of precautions, once again when I attached the collar and self facing and turned it out, the end of the facing wasn't lined up properly with the shoulder seam on one side. Grr. I wound up unfolding some of the turned under end to extend it to just about reach. That made hand-sewing the collar closed even more annoying than usual.

During this project I reached some clarity about what my goals are as a seamster. I don't particularly want the clothes I make to be indistinguishable from manufactured garments. I'm cool with small irregularities that show a piece was hand-made. As long as it doesn't look home-made. Feel free to leave comments about that distinction, whether or not you like it!


Hippy Goodwife said...

I think by "home-made" You really mean "made with little skill" or "made without an eye for design". Home-made is not necessarily an insult.

Seumas Gagne said...

Yeah. I get what you're saying. I guess if someone walked up to me and asked me if my shirt was home made I would think that it was because they could detect flaws in the workmanship from a distance.

In an art like cooking, if someone tastes food and asked you if it's home made, it would be more likely to be a compliment.

Maybe it's because lots of people still cook at home and get really good at it whereas not so many people make their own clothes anymore.