Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kannik's Korner - Man's Shirt Pattern 1790-1830: Pattern Review

Man's Shirt 1790-1830

This pattern is super-complete. For a shirt that is just made entirely of different sized rectangles, the instructions could easily breeze through in a couple pages, leaving you to figure out the details yourself. Instead, it takes you through the process, including primary and secondary source documentation for the pattern, fabric suggestions & cutting layout, and instructions on how to "cut by the thread" - pulling out threads to get a perfectly on-grain cutting line.

Grainline is straight when the fabric is cut "by the thread"
When you're ready to sew, it carefully takes you, step-by-step, through the construction process with clear and complete instructions and illustrations. Plus it gives instructions for all the hand-sewing techniques needed for the shirt construction, and some added info for shirt ruffles and embroidering the owner's initials. 16 pages total for the instructions!

The one drawback for me was that the patterns are written encouraging you to sew every step by hand. I wound up sewing a lot of the shirt by hand, and I appreciate that they are trying to help you make an authentically reproduced shirt. But because I'm trying to zip through as much of a complete Regency men's outfit as I can, I would have liked a little more guidance about what can be done on the machine and what should be done by hand to still have a pretty authentic shirt, in less time. At least I got better at figuring out which steps to do by hand vs. machine as I went along (for example, sew the first seam of the cuff to the sleeve by machine, then flip it closed and finish the inside by hand, so that no top-stitching shows).

Shirt Overview - no changes to pattern

All in all, I completely recommend this pattern for its authenticity and quality. Even someone with no sewing experience and no sewing machine should be able to make this pattern, and they don't even need to worry about the fit because it's so loose.

Tall Collar!
Chris wears a size 15 shirt, and the pattern came sized as either 14.5 (Small) or 15.5 (Medium). We went with the Small, and the collar is a little tight, but wearable.

I wanted to make this pattern exactly the size without making changes in order to show how it looks, but for next time I'll make the following changes:

-Make the collar/neck size a little bigger (size 15)
-Shorten the collar height - the collar is meant to fold over, but we would rather have it stand up. He'll probably wind up scrunching this one down under his cravat.
-Shorten the neck slit a couple inches for modesty. It'll still be plenty big for his noggin to get through
-Take in the body width/shoulder width ~1 1/2" on each side. It will still be a rectangle, but I think it can be a little less wide and still have a dropped shoulder without restricting arm movement (this will shorten the sleeve length too, but they'll still be acceptably blouson)
-Shorten the body length (we'll hem this one shorter too)

Collar Detail: Still needs shirt ruffles and buttons at the collar


  1. Great review! If you're looking for Dorset Buttons for the shirt, there is a seller on etsy that makes them: http://www.etsy.com/shop/DorsetButtony?ref=seller_info

    I'm sure there are other sellers that have them, too, that was just the first one I came across. I've been planning to make this pattern, so it was really helpful to hear what changes you'd make!

  2. Ooh, thanks for the link! I bought some Dorset buttons from Wm. Booth with the rest of my shirt supplies, but that Etsy seller has a lot more options. I love being able to customize!

  3. At one point (pardon the pun!) the points of the collar were designed to sit either side of the face and reach up the cheeks, hence the caricatures of Dandies with their ridiculously high collars looking like blinkers.
    Earlier portraits show very little of the collar over the cravat/neckcloth, and some show a collar that only just divided under the chin.
    I also saw, somewhere, photos of a garment that had the collar attached to the neckband, not as a continuous collar, but just either side.