Christmas on Valentine’s

Once upon a time I promised Mr. Stitch I would make him a shirt.  I went as far as ordering the fabric in hopes that I would make it for him in time for last Christmas.  The fabric arrived late and in what I thought at the time was an insufficient amount.  Instead of stressing about it and rushing to a deadline I wrapped fabric and pattern together and placed both under the tree with a promise that this was the first thing I would work on in the New Year.  January came an went. I sewed a couple of projects for myself. I knitted a couple more things.  I made blankets for new babies.  As I was starting work on my first ever pair of trousers a little voice said to me: “But I thought you were making me a shirt?”.  That was Mr. Stitch, a man known for his booming voice and self-assurance,  speaking to me from a wounded place.  I guess I forgot about his gift (evil me!)  and that was the reality check I needed to get my act together, put selfish sewing aside, and finish his Christmas present in time for Valentine’s Day.  Here it is:

Mr. Stitch makes an appearance!

Mr. Stitch makes an appearance!

I think I dragged my heels because I thought this shirt would be really hard to make. The pattern intimidated me, plus all that fussing with matching plaids made me shiver with fright.  Oh, how wrong I was! The instructions were very easy to follow and while there are quite a few steps involved, the shirt came together fast and matching plaids was not as hard as I initially thought.

The shirt may have come together easily, but taking these photos was not so – Mr Stitch was a very reluctant model.  Here’s how it went down:

Top L to R: (1) You seriously want me to go outside and pose? (2) I'm cold.  I want my hat. (3) This is boring.  I've had it. (4) Okay that's it, I'm leaving!

Clockwise from top L to R: (1) You seriously want me to go outside and pose for photos? (2) I’m cold. I want my hat. (3) This is boring… are we done? (4) Okay that’s it, I’m leaving!

Because Mr. Stitch was in a hurry to be done I was only able to snap a few shots and completely forgot to take a picture of my perfectly aligned plaid at the side seams.  I don’t think I have ever taken such care with any of the garments I’ve made for myself and I’m so glad I did.  My Mr. Stitch is so worth it!

The Details:

Pattern: Negroni by Colette Patterns
Fabric: 2.75 yards of 45″ wide cotton flannel bought online from Jo-Ann
Time in the stash: 3 months
Stashbusting Tally: Committed to using 15 cuts of fabric; 4 used to date; 11 left to go.

Back yoke, cuffs and collar

Back yoke, cuffs and collar


The Mods:

Negroni - front

  • Pockets and outside yoke piece were cut on the bias to add some visual interest.
  • Omitted the loop and the pocket flaps – Mr. Stitch didn’t care for either of those details.
  • Added ¼” at each side of yoke and back pieces and made the corresponding change on the front pieces so that the shoulder seams would match – Mr. Stitch’s shirts usually pull at the underarms. I don’t know if this means he has broad lat muscles or forward sloping shoulders or if the issue stems from something completely different but I hoped this mod would help the problem. It helped, but only a bit, and it also added unwanted extra width to the upper back. Next time I’ll need to research into men’s fitting issues and come up with a different solution.
  • Instead of the side flat felled seams the pattern calls for I made “mock” flat felled seams for the all in one side-and-sleeves as described by Lavender here.
  • To avoid a bulky edge on the facing I simply serged each edge then folded under once at ¼” and topstitched in place.
  • Shortened sleeves by 3” – Not sure if the sleeves on this pattern run extra long or if Mr. Stitch has short arms but 3” seems like a lot, no?
  • Added 1 ¼” length to cuffs’ circumference – they were too tight on the muslin (of course I made a muslin!) so I compared them to one of Mr Stitch’s RTW shirts to determine the right length for him.

Negroni - back side

The Verdict:
He likes it. A lot! In fact, I finished sewing on the last button while Mr. Stitch was home from school for lunch and as soon as I was done he wore the shirt. I gave him explicit instructions not to get it dirty at school but that very same day he came home covered in sawdust. He has worn it numerous times since and I no longer care if he gets dirty – it’s meant to be a functional piece of clothing after all.

Happy love and friendship month to y’all! How do you feel about unselfish sewing?

33 thoughts on “Christmas on Valentine’s

  1. I would second exactly what K-line said! You’re a much better wife than I’ll ever be, my poor husband will be waiting forever for me to sew him a shirt, never mind one with perfectly matched checks! Great job. x

    • Thanks Jane. Never say never about sewing your husband a shirt. Not being a huge fan of selfless sewing I never thought I would either and now I’m thinking about a second version – go figure!

  2. Great looking shirt on a great looking guy! He so reminds me of Eric Cantona! This is a good thing.
    I did the same thing for my husband…fabric under the tree. I’m nearly done now…I hope my turns out half as nicely.

    • Okay, I had to go look up who Eric Cantona is (apparently I live under a rock) and you are right – there is a slight resemblance especially when I look at the shaved head photos from his football years. Based on your progress photo I have no doubt that your husband’s shirt will turn out beautifully. Looking forward to seeing pictures of the finished garment!

  3. I love your little action series! The shirt looks so great, and I really appreciate that you went into detail on the mods you made. I’m hoping to get going on making the pattern for my guy’s shirt today or tomorrow (finally!). I’ve been looking for fitting guides for men too, and there’s not much out there! I’m going to try using the neck/shoulder combo that fits him, and then taper in at the side seam for his proportionally smaller torso. Fingers crossed!

    • I bet you make the perfect shirt for your hubby! I’m curious about the shirt fitting book you got so I may look for it when I get back to Toronto. Fitting men’s bodies is a totally different can of worms, eh?

    • Actually, I was teasing him the whole time about the fact that he didn’t smile once during the photo shoot so he looks (to me) so grumpy! Having said that, he is happy with his shirt and that’s all that matters :)

  4. Looking good Mr Stitch! Shirt looks great ab! Well done!! Like the photo’s… Wouldn’t expect anything less from Mr S. haaa haaaa haaaa

  5. Querida hijita cada dia estas mas experta en la costura, cuando estes por Toronto voy a necesitar tu conocimiento porque tengo vatios projectos en mente para hacer pero no tengo la mas minima idea como comenzar. Me encanto la camisa y todas las cosas que haces. Te quiero mucho

    • Lo primero que tienes que hacer es darle un lavado y engrase a tu maquina! Ya sera este verano que podamos tener un “date” de costura. La camisa no se la quita!!! Yo tambien te quiero mucho – besitos.

    • He better appreciate it! It may not have been as hard as I thought but it was a lot more effort than I usually put into my makes 😉 All joking aside, the plaid matching freaked me out but it turned out quite well in the end.

  6. This is a marvelous shirt! I noticed Rob’s Negroni ended up being long in the sleeves, which worked out well for Rob since his arms are a bit long, but still – I think it’s the pattern. After seeing how much these shirts are appreciated, it looks like you and I will be making more of these in the future! Well done!!

    • Interesting about the sleeves, eh? Goes to show that just like us women, men can have their own fitting issues. And yes, there will be more Negronis in my future… next time I want to try the collar stand as shown in the Male Pattern Boldness blog.

  7. I love it. It reminds me of the shirts my Mom used to make my Dad. When I was in high school, I used to steal them to wear. So my Mom finally made me one in a flannel very similar to the one you made for your sweetie except in green and black (our school colors were green and white).

    • Since making this one I’ve actually been thinking of making myself a plaid flannel shirt (so comfy and cozy, eh?). Maybe Grainline’s Archer pattern?

  8. Pingback: menswear, first but not last | tomatoes and jasmine

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