mccalls 6044 version 3.0

so last weekend we hunkered down for the

BLIZZARD OF 2013!!!


during which time not only was it difficult to leave the house, we were expressly forbidden to at risk of fine and/or imprisonment. not kidding! not that i had any intention of driving around in a blizzard, but there you have it. we got 2 feet of snow and literally had to dig our way out the front door.


so what’s a girl to do while snow is falling at an alarming rate? why sew, of course!


i already had this dress shirt cut and fused and waiting for it’s turn under my needle. after cutting the shirt i perused david coffin’s “shirtmaking” and wanted to employ some of his techniques. while i didn’t strictly adhere to his method on all points, i did pay close attention to how he does the shirt collar. while i haven’t achieved perfection here, it was interesting to see how such small changes improved my collar attempt so dramatically! to me at least.


i’m not going to detail a full rundown of his methods, mostly because he does such a great job of it in his book, but also because duh! he wrote a book and it’s hardly fair for me to just put it all out there on the internet. if you’re not interested in owning a copy, most likely you can find it at a library. my library has a great inter-library loan service so i can get virtually any book i need. that’s how i tracked down this source, though i plan to buy a copy soon to have on hand.

i’m just going to call that last buttonhole
stitched in green my signature okay?


to start, he gives you several different seam allowances to work with. he suggests 1/4″ for most parts of the collar (except the edge of the collar that attaches to the stand—that you leave 5/8″) which allows for more control and accuracy. i find 1/4″ difficult to stitch because it falls under my presser foot, which i obviously can’t see, so i went with a 3/8″ SA.

he also suggests trimming width off the under collar and inner collar stand, so the under or inner side of these pieces are 1/4″-1/2″ smaller than their counterpart. i find it interesting that he has you stretch the smaller piece as you sew to fit the larger piece. what i have seen before, say in tailoring a coat or jacket, is to cut the outer pieces larger then ease them down to the smaller size. do you see the difference? it’s subtle, but it really works well. when you let go, the collar just naturally curves itself! very cool. i was a bit nervous and didn’t trim as much as he suggested so i still have a few wrinkles. next time i’ll follow more closely for sure.


i always had issues getting the rounded edge at the front on the collar stand to look good. i could never figure out when to sew that little curved bit and thankfully, coffin address this very well. no more guessing for me! all in all, the collar on this shirt is much more crisp and formed than my previous attempts. i still need some work on my collar points. i may need to invest in one of these.

i hope to make up a “how-to” for the collar stay channel soon…


i’m still not great at flat felling. i had removed most of the ease in the sleeve cap because it’s quite unnecessary here and makes felling even more difficult. i think with practice i’ll get a little quicker at it, but i spent f-o-r-e-v-e-r putting those sleeves in and felling them. the side seams, by contrast went super fast. it’s still tedious to get all the way up or down those sleeves, but using my new felling foot at least got my stitching far more even.


inside felled armhole


inside felled sleeve seam


another thing i found interesting was how coffin recommended a very short stitch length. i had noticed while examining my husband’s rtw shirts that the topstitching was done with a very short stitch, so i did this on the last shirt, but he suggests that you do all your construction with a much shorter stitch. his argument is that the shorter stitch uses more thread to go up and down with each stitch which enables the fabric to retain some of it’s natural give. i noticed that i was getting slight puckering in my seams, but dialing down the tension a touch took care of that.


there are still minor changes i’ll make next time around: widening the button placket (coffin recommends 1 1/4″, this one is 1″), turning the under button placket to the inside instead of the outside, widening the back pleat, etc. i do feel pretty good having made three dress shirts this year, and it’s only mid-february! i know more will be on my plate before long, but these are a good start. actually, i wouldn’t mind making one for myself. each time i make one i keep thinking, you know with leggings and a belt i think i could wear this… focus lisa, FOCUS!

—lisa g.

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27 thoughts on “mccalls 6044 version 3.0

  1. Suzanne says:

    In patternmaking classes at FIT we always drafted two different collar pieces (upper and lower), with the top slightly larger so that it curls over and conceals the seam.

  2. Gail says:

    Some of this post felt like a spoiler, since I haven't gotten to those parts of the book yet!This shirt looks great! I love the little green buttonholes at the bottoms too :-)I made my muslin for my Hubby's shirts today, and did it in gingham – the checks kind of made it hard for me to concentrate on the fit, LOL! And I took a good look at his RTW shirts and figured out the stay channel – so if you're only doing the tutorial for me, don't feel like you need to! Although I always love to see how you do things.I think you're a less selfish wife than me: I'll probably be making a blouse for myself before I make his "real" shirt!

  3. lisa g. says:

    that book is loaded with info, i tried to keep it brief! it's so good though, i find something new every time i open it.oh gingham hurts my eyes (i sound like an old lady, but my eyes are really bad…)! the stay channel is pretty easy to do, i did take pictures so i'll still post it! i have a lull in sewing as i wait for a stack of knits from girl charlee to arrive anyways… hee hee hee!it did take every ounce of determination to finish this last shirt, but unfinished projects haunt me!

  4. liza jane says:

    Very impressive! I especially like the last green buttonhole. I always have trouble with the rounded bit at the end of the collar stand. I'll have to read up next time I attempt a proper shirt.

  5. Shar says:

    Thank you for the book tip. I'm definitely going to check it out since one of my goals this year is to sew a shirt for my husband. In her 'Off the cuff' blog, Pamela Erny has a post from 10/8/12 on 'Perfect Collar Points'. I used it on a test collar and it worked great.

  6. lisa g. says:

    i need to try that collar point trick again. i did try once but couldn't seem to catch the thread loop in the right spot and gave up. thanks for the reminder though, i should try it again!

  7. poppykettle says:

    Ooh. nice shirt work! I wish right now there would be a snow storm so I could have the perfect excuse to sew. Alas, my work would probably just want me to work remotely. But seriously – do you have to keep stocks of things like food and what not just incase you get seriously snowed under?? This boggles my brain!Your shirt does look really wonderful – love the little details. Come winter, I'm planning to make some of these for myself. And again, I'm totally stealing the coloured buttonhole signature! Love it 😉

  8. lisa g. says:

    thanks! you're free to steal ANY of my ideas! and fortunately these snow storms come with several days advance warning… plenty of time to stock up! in this area the cleanup is done so fast we could have been out and about that evening. a couple years ago we had over a month of weekly 12" snowfalls and temps to cold to melt anything. that was a nightmare!!! i was literally up to my waist in snow.

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