I finally got Josh’s shirt finished up, just in time for his birthday yesterday — I actually sewed on the final buttons and made him pose on the very day. I think we’re both pretty happy with how it turned out.
(Excuse all the cat hair and dust, it needs a spin in the wash.) I used the Burda Jakob pattern, a semi-fitted style with a full stand collar, buttoned cuffs, curved hem and chest pocket. As I mentioned before, Josh picked out the wool plaid when I bought the fabric for my coat from Dalston Mill. It was quite pricey, so I made sure to take my time and do a good job with it.
I made a toile out of cheap polycotton first to check everything made sense and that the fit was right. Not many adjustments were needed from the medium size, just shortening the body and sleeves a little (I took most of it from the cuffs since my client wanted them narrower anyway) and reducing the ridiculous Seventies-disco collar considerably.
The construction was really quite fun as well as satisfyingly challenging in parts. The pattern is perfectly drafted and unusually for Burda the instructions are clear and thorough, with photos and diagrams throughout. I especially enjoyed the really nerdy details like matching the checks, careful pressing and topstitching and doing neat mock flat-felled seams throughout. I would have liked to do true flat-felled seams inside for a really pro finish, but they proved tricky in this fabric.
I supplemented the instructions with some of the Archer sewalong steps and Andrea’s superb alternative method for setting in a collar which worked a treat. I redid the collar once because I overcompensated and cut the first one too narrow, and also omitted the interfacing from it the second time since it was pretty thick anyway. The buttons on the tips are nonfunctional, they’re just stitched down.
The wool plaid Josh chose pressed and stitched up nicely, but its thickness and frayability did make the construction a bit more challenging. The collar stand, cuffs and shoulder seams are rather chunky because I was nervous to clip too much, though a bit of steam-pressing helped it settle down. I think there’s 8+ layers around the armsyce where the yoke and sleeve join which my poor machine really struggled with. All the raw edges inside are either concealed or overlocked so I feel good that it won’t fall apart in a hurry anyway.
I used my buttonhole foot for the first time for all the functional buttons: together with the one-step program on my machine it makes them sooo easy. I’ll be buttoning all the things from now on! I used the machine to stitch the buttons on too, just going very slowly on a short, wide zigzag setting. Totally worked, even if it probably isn’t the done thing.
This is definitely the most precise and well-made garment I’ve made so far, probably because I was making for a harsher critic than myself (not that Josh is harsh, I’m just pretty lax) and I really wanted to make a shirt he would love and wear often. It seemed to take forever compared to my usual makes – about ten sessions over about a month – but I quite liked the change of pace. I even put the speed limiter on my machine, and I can see the difference in neatness and accuracy when I go slower. Definitely a lesson learned going forward. I’d like to make him another shirt in a lighter fabric like a flannel, now that I know this pattern is a good fit and fun to sew.