Tuesday, January 20, 2009

McCall’s 3799: Button-Down Shirt

Plaid was big for fall, and I am late on this trend.

To be honest, I first looked into buying a plaid button-down. Why? Well, plaid is not something that I truly love to sew with. Unfortunately, the shirts I liked were way too expensive, IMO; and I did not *really love* any. So, I bit the bullet and made one. I don't regret! I wore it today and loved it!

McCall’s 3799
The front of the pattern is greatly altered.
I chose this pattern for its lady-like lines. I needed something stylish to counteract the, otherwise boyfriend-ish, fabric.

Pattern Modifications:
a/ For Fit
Petite alterations on the bodice, as marked on the pattern.
I used narrower cuff and had to lengthen the sleeves.
Shoulder extended with 0.25”
Sleeve cap narrowed with 0.5”
b/ For Style:
2.1 Front: a/ Reverse engineered the front and converted the front gathers into bust darts, and b/ Added front vertical darts
2.2 Sleeve: Kept only one pleat at the sleeve hem, removed the other 2. This reduced the sleeve circumference everywhere from the armhole to the hem
2.3 Cuff: the length of the cuff was reduced.
2.4 Lengthened the bodice at the hem and changed the shaping of the hem

I used a Ralph Lauren shirt (XL size) that used to belong to my husband, cut it up and sourced the fabric as needed. The fabric is 100% cotton, hence, has no stretch. I think that, ideally for this pattern, or for any other pattern for a fitted button-down, the fabric it should have some, albeit not excessive, crosswise stretch.
BTW, this plaid was not easy to work with: hard to see your marks on, a lot of tiny lines to match, etc. Also, having been sewn once into a shirt, there were parts of the fabric that were a bit distorted and needed special attention. I get shivers just thinking of the state of mind that brought me to!

Construction details:
Did not use the pattern instruction and cannot comment on their quality.
I have made men’s shirts for my husband and I made them with flat-felled seams and the whole shebang. I decided to not to do flat felled seams this time. Reason – matching the *darn* plaid was challenging enough!
I also had fabric constrains and had to reuse the original cuffs by resizing them, which is why they are narrower than I would have made them if I had enough fabric. That was the only reused piece though, everything else was made from scratch. Also due to fabric constraints, I used different plaid (from a different DH’s shirt) for the lining piece for the yoke.
When I make shirts I like to consult David Coffin’s “Shirtmaking.” It is the best study on shirt making that I’ve come across.
There are also a few things that I do differently. For example, I like to add a bit of shaping to the outside edge of the collar, see here:

With shirts, it is important to remember that the pieces you interface are:
- the cuff: the outward piece of it
- the collar stand: the piece closer to your neck; interfacing cut on bias
- the collar: the piece closer to you neck; interfacing cut on bias. I also like to add a second layer of interfacing on the collar: two triangles right at the pointy parts of the collar (you can see on the picture above).

Well, obviously my shirt does not look anything like the pattern and that is how I wanted it to be. The pattern, however, is drafted superbly well and some of my fit changes were driven by the fact that I should have cut s.12 but my pattern envelope only covered through s.10. This pattern is OOP, but can be found on Ebay (where I got it from, actually), and I do very much recommend it!


Christina said...

You are the best at recycling garments! This is right on trend.

Marita said...

Very pretty and looks GREAT on you!

Geri said...


The Slapdash Sewist said...

The effort was worth it! Great shirt.

Melissa said...

Gorgeous shirt!

Sew Passionista said...

What an accomplishment! The shirt looks really nice on you. I just read you sewing story and found it very interesting. Your use of the English language is amazing given that you haven't been in the states that long!

Pamela Erny said...

Adriana...I've been reading your blog for a while...love it! Please stop by my blog....I've nominated you for an "award"!

Pam, from ~Off The Cuff Style~

Tany said...

You look FABULOUS in your new plaid blouse! (And I must hurry on putting my tartan into good use, before the trend is gone!)

Anonymous said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.

Charms said...

"I have a similar checkered red and black long sleeve Button-Down Shirt, and I love to wear when I go in the ranch with a juicy couture boots, pants, and hat. You did another amazing sewing job."