Reverse Engineering a Mens Shirt

I really want to share some of the things I made for people for Christmas, but that is going to take more time than I have before Squirm and I head off to his swimming lesson. Instead, I want to share something else. Last night I pulled out a couple of things I’d bought from the op-shop and washed. My intention was just to remove all the buttons and zips for my collection. But some sort of madness gripped me, and I ended up unpicking a shirt.

This particular mens shirt is from Rivers, a discount clothes shop. And, wow! I learned an awful lot through the unpicking I got through last night.

This pile of material used to be a shirt!

This pile of material used to be a shirt!

Firstly, I was terrible surprised at how easy the cuffs came off the sleeve (just one seam holding them on), while the collar was really firm and was held on with three or four seams all up. It was lovely to see the interfacing in the collar and the cuffs, and to get a better idea of the collar construction.

The side seam was very surprising. It was a flat felled seam which was incredibly sturdy, but I was really surprised to see that the hidden seam allowance was all over the place – thin in places, so wide it was pressed over in others. The sleeve plackets were also surprising – once I had the seam open, I could see that they weren’t squared at all, but had been sewed at quite an angle – the sleeve would never be able to sit flat there. (My husband checked his more expensive shirt this morning and was pleased to see that his plackets were square.

Uneven plackets

Uneven plackets

The purpose of this, though, wasn’t to expose poor sewing by people who are being paid (very little) for how many shirts they can produce. (Though it did raise some questions about responsibilities of Australian companies when they farm out work overseas) My sister is getting married in April and I really want to make the Ethan Shirt for my son. Making something with so many pieces seemed horribly complicated to me – I was feeling very apprehensive yesterday. By pulling apart this shirt, I am definitely seeing how things go together, but I’m also seeing where I should take my time, where I need to put in the extra effort. And I’m really interested to pull apart other clothing now!


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