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The BETTER Pattern...and Why

This is the pattern I chose for Roger's shirt.

Winning Pattern

And here's why....

It is the most "elegant" draft among the group of patterns shown in yesterday's post (below). What do I mean by "elegant" ? It has to do with the shape of the pattern pieces.

The separate facing piece gives me the option of using a contrast fabric.

The yoke is curved enough to flow smoothly against the body, but not so much to "ripple" when it is joined to the back.

Now take a close look at the yoke piece (#5). Do you see the very subtle curve of the shoulder line? When joined to the straight front shoulder, it will raise the back of the shirt ever-so-slightly, allowing it to flow smoothly over the body's shoulder-blades.

Next, the sleeves...those beautifully drafted sleeves! A nice slope down in front, and just enough of a rounded shape along the back 2/3 of the cap. Why does this matter? For the short sleeve shirt I plan to make, this higher cap will mitigate a short sleeve's tendency to "wing out". With the coarse cotton fabric I've chosen to use for this shirt, this is very important because I cannot count on the drape of the fabric to help the sleeves fall in soft folds.

Finally, the collar. Notice its delicious curves! It will lay smoothly against the body's neck and collar-bone...and eliminate the tendency that some shirt collars have to "stack" (ride up on the neck).

Contrast the "elegant" draft above to this draft,
which is OK...but just OK.

Not Chosen

The main reason this shirt pattern was not chosen, is because it is "flat".
Flat yoke, flat sleeve cap, flat collar. In my opinion, the first shirt pattern is superior. While there is nothing really "wrong" with this pattern, the first one shown is just more "elegantly" drafted.

I was asked, "
Pam, If we take a "flat" pattern and add the little refinements you mentioned - curved front yoke seam, curved shirt back, more sleeve cap height - will we improve an ordinary pattern, or just make a serious mess of it?"

While you can make changes to a pattern that is already drafted, you need to be careful.
"LESS IS MORE." Small changes, like very gently curving the back seam (where it joins the yoke) can be done successfully. Bear in mind that this particular change will lengthen that part of the seam, and you will need to ease it to the yoke, or take up a bit more in the back pleat so that it fits the yoke. Adding height to the sleeve cap is possible, again if done with restraint. If drastic changes are made to the shape of the sleeve cap, changes need to be made to the armscye...and that's where making refinements to patterns can quickly get out of hand. Lastly, curving in the shoulder seam of the back yoke can be done, again, with restraint....it needs to be a very shallow (no more than 3/16") "scoop"...otherwise the back will pull up oddly from the underarm point to the shoulder after the shirt is completely sewn.

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Blogger Karla said...

I LOVE your explanation of what to look for. You've explained why the shirts I make are not quite what I want them to be.

And I think you should publish designs with these refinements....in all your spare time, of course.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Lynn B said...

Thank you for explaning why you preferred one pattern over the other. Each time I "listen" to you, I learn more and more. This type of information is not vfound in the sewing texts.

12:19 PM  
Blogger meredithp said...

Pam, thanks so much for pointing out those subtle, yet important differences. This explains why there's such a curve in my DH's shirt back when I drape a pattern on him. I don't know why RTW doesn't do this more. Same with suits. I haven't met a guy yet who doesn't have sloped, rounded shoulders, and a big wad of fabric under his arms in a RTW dress shirt. Don't get me started on suits, when they don't allow for the rounded back and the things hike up in back. Anyway, I just love your analyses. The other shirt may be more "blocky", but ya gotta love the plaid shirt body :-)

2:12 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

One of the guest speakers at a local ASG function elaborated on this topic and pointed out good and bad examples of pattern drafting like you did here. It's fascinating! Please feel free to blog about it some more.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Karla..thanks for your comment.
I was very close to signing a design contract with a very popular line of sewing patterns...then they decided mens shirt patterns would not sell very well.

One of these days, who knows I may offer patterns for download....

3:52 PM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Lynn, I'm glad you found this post useful!

3:54 PM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Meredith...LOL..yes...the pattern I rejected.....gotta love that plaid...and PINK plaid at that!

3:56 PM  
Blogger Pam Erny said...

Lindsay...yes I find it fascinating too! ..and I will write more about it in the future.

3:58 PM  
Blogger Mid-Life Meandering said...

I loved this post so much that I immediately went to ebay and bought the pattern. I have learned so much from your blog. Thank you. Please share more info like this when you can. It is very helpful.

5:29 PM  
Blogger gwensews said...

I too, thank you for posting such a good explanation about the shirt draft. So, what's the explanation as to WHY today's shirt patterns are not drafted more "couture"? Has the basic silhouette changed, or is it too time consuming to draft the more elegant way? Well, whatever--if you draft a pattern and put it up for sale--you will be inundated with orders! A little book would be nice also--in your spare time of course!

6:37 PM  
Anonymous phyllis said...

That's really interesting. The Aloha shrit I made for John has sleeves that "wing out" and now I know why! I learned at lot rom this post.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Becky D. said...

Pam, thank you for detailing what makes this pattern elegant. This is so informative. Perhaps it is time for me to make DH and grown sons a nice shirt.

In the past I learned so much by looking at your nieces outfits over at the Ottobre site.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Becky D. said...

Thank you so much for detailing the differences in the 2 patterns. I have learned so much from you. Your nieces' outfits on the Ottobre site were inspirational. I have been sewing mostly clothes for the DGC, but now I feel like going to the next level by sewing a blouse for myself, or nice shirts for the men in my life.

9:13 AM  
Blogger meredithp said...

Pam, if you ever market your men's shirt patterns...I'll be first in line.

3:18 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Pam, may I pick your brain again? If we take a "flat" pattern and add the little refinements you mentioned - curved front yoke seam, curved shirt back, more sleeve cap height - will we improve an ordinary pattern, or just make a serious mess of it?

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Mary Beth said...

Elegant, yes. Love this post, Pam!

7:21 PM  
Blogger Summerset said...

Another good example of why many vintage patterns are much better drafted and fitting that some patterns today. I've seen the same thing in women's patterns - those subtle shoulders curves to hug the shoulder line, etc. It would be so easy just to draft a straight line, but the human body isn't straight lines! Thanks for showing the differences.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Jean said...

Thank you for your explanation and for educating us on the subtle differences that can enhance the fit of a shirt. The little things really make a difference.

10:01 AM  
Blogger BCN - UNIQUE designer patterns said...

yes Pam, excellent pattern. the silhouette of the sleeve is superb. I love these vintage patterns. I've recently discovered, but my interest is great.

good weekend, Paco

1:39 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Pam, thanks for taking the time to answer more of my questions. 'Til next time..... ;-)

5:07 PM  
Blogger Joe Greenlee said...

Hey, thanks! I've been looking for a good explanation of this for a while now.

7:29 PM  

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