This was my first go at a men’s shirt about a year ago. I chose the pattern very carefully because I wanted top-notch drafting since the end product was going to be a gift. Most importantly, it had to appeal to my husband’s surfer sensibilities and the All State Shirt by Merchant and Mills (@merchantandmills on Instagram) ticked all the boxes for him. Merchant and Mills is a company that I want to dangerously buy everything from because of its clever packaging and styling.
Honestly, the pattern owned me at the introductory phrase of its description: “Swagger like a rebel to the ball park in this short boxy shirt”. I mean, who wouldn’t give this pattern a go with a ballsy declaration like that. Not that you will ever find my hubby at the ball park because the beach is more his stomping ground. But I could definitely see him swagger in the sand in a tropical cabana in this short-sleeved, one-piece collar shirt with side splits. He will look casually suave and breezy in the relaxed fit. Since his skin is usually sun-soaked, he will look fresh and sharp with the shirt sewn up in a sparkling turquoise Belgian linen. Inspired by the American shirts of the 50s, this shirt has the shape of a Hawaiian shirt, and oozes major surfer vibes as well.
Sizes for the pattern run from 36-46. My husband is a size 40 according to the sizing chart. Holding up the paper pattern to his torso to estimate if the length was suitable led to his giving out directions that I should add 5cm to the length. So I did, and I also added 2cm to the length of the pocket piece to even out the proportion relative to the shirt. I left out the rouleau loop and button that it accompanies at the end of the collar because the hubby gave it a miss. He didn’t think he’ll ever button the shirt up to the top.
Those were the only alterations I made to a well-drafted pattern, where every piece fit nicely together. I learnt how to mitre a corner, which was a nice detail to the centre front corners of the shirt. The wide hem of the shirt also gave the shirt some weight so that it hangs beautifully from the shoulders. The side spilts are the hubby’s favourite bits. He thinks they are a brilliant detail and gives the shirt some flair.
The making of the shirt brought with it some headaches but by no fault of the sewing pattern at all. I didn’t want to cut into the expensive linen for my first attempt at the pattern. Therefore, I got a cheaper Indian cotton with mermaids, sea horses and sea-flora to work as a wearable toile. I was pretty chuffed for finding such a great fabric. But that happiness ended soon enough. Note to self: for future attempts at a wearable toile, choose plain fabrics so that it can be a quick and painless sew.
The print forced me (because I’m annoyingly anal) to pattern-match the shirt at the collar, the centre-front and the pockets. This fact eluded me when I was excitedly but blindly purchasing the fabric. Then in the middle of cutting the fabric, I noticed that some portions of the print were printed off-centre. That put me in a real dilemma. Either I ignore the off-centre print and cut up the front shirt off the grain-line and risk warping (after all, it’s just a toile!), or I get more fabric to make sure everything stays straight and centred. After a lot of tortured back and forth, I chose the latter option (because I’m annoying anal).
Long story short: the wearable toile became more expensive than the actual luxurious linen version in terms of cost of fabric and time and labour. I think the hubby secretly prefers the toile more. And you know what? I do too. Isn’t it funny how some big boo-boos made in a project endears you more to the final product? They become war scars that you wear proudly and openly. In this case, the hubby is wearing my battle wounds proudly and openly. That just makes me beam from ear to ear. And although the fabric gave me some grief, I had enough leftover to make an Ogden Cami (review here) to shamelessly pattern match with the hubby.