Monday, July 14, 2014

Project 35: Mandarin Collared Dress Shirt

Several years ago, my best buddy and business partner had a mid-week birthday, so we made a casual evening of it and went out for dinner. As a gift, I told him I would make him a garment, and he chose a dress shirt with a mandarin collar. We made a beeline up to the top of Queen Anne Hill and visited Nancy's Sewing Basket, which is the only high-end fabric store in the area. He picked out some black Tencel fabric and some square buttons that had something that looked like a Chinese character on them, but I'm guessing was just an Asian-looking squiggle. (Thirteen years with a linguist rubs off on you)

Why, you might ask, did it take multiple years to produce a dress shirt? Pattern making. I have a program that makes patterns, but it turns out that you actually have to understand garment construction in order to use it successfully. Coming up with an original pattern for a mens dress shirt wound up being a steeper learning curve than I bargained for. When, dear Reader, will I realize that everything has a steeper learning curve than I bargain for? A fair question.

After some false starts early in the year, I did manage to produce a credible pattern. I decided that I wanted to make a welt pocket to continue the mandarin collar theme, as well as a differently styled front placket and cuffs. Having barely survived the construction of the sleeve plackets (which I now understand are called gauntlets) during Project 25: Sparkly Dress Shirt I resolved to learn how the sleeve gauntlets on every damn dress shirt I had ever owned were constructed.

Side note: Why in the hell did some idiot in the home sewer pattern industry decide to come up with a different way to make sleeve gauntlets that is super hard and never looks good when done? Huh? Why? AAAARGH! I feel very fortunate that mere weeks before I found myself desperately searching the web for a tutorial on proper sleeve gauntlet making that this brilliant blog post was made.

Things generally came out like I hoped. The collar is great, the sleeve gauntlets are beautiful, the placket is handsome, and the welt pocket is pretty good. I'm well pleased, as is my buddy. Time for a martini and an episode of Game of Thrones.

Hovering over my George Foreman grill, I might add.

A bit wrinkly, I will admit. 
And there is one of the buttons. See what I mean about simulated characters? I mean, there's no radical to tell you the semantic family. Did you notice that, Doug?

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