Confession: I’m a bit of a selfish seamstress. I occasionally dabble in minor alterations for others but a majority of my sewing is women’s wear with me in mind. Head down, stereo up and the faint hum of my sewing machine helps to drown out the sounds of my husband standing in the doorway in his holey t-shirt asking when he’s going to see some action on that quilt he’s been wanting for years. So when Julie asked me to take part in the “In the Studio” series I was happy to oblige as I was excited to see Fabric Mart stocked patterns by Thread Theory Designs, a menswear pattern company.
My husband is pretty particular about his clothes so I knew I needed to keep it simple. I didn't want to spend a lot of time invested in something that might not work for him. The Stratchcona Henley is a modern t-shirt pattern with a crew neck or Henley style button placket options. I stuck to the crew neck t-shirt style for my first try at the pattern. The sizing ranges from XS-XL and note the style is slim fitting. Eeeek! Slim fit is not hubby’s style at all. When tracing out the XL I added about an inch to the side seams to hopefully accommodate for this. I also shortened the sleeve length and hem length 3 inches.
One thing I found odd when cutting out the pattern was with the neckband. The pattern and cutting layout has you cutting the neckband along the lengthwise grain for all knits and on the crosswise grain for a 4 way stretch knit. My fabric, a medium weight interlock from Joann Fabric, had a two way stretch with the most stretch being on the crosswise grain. There was little stretch to the lengthwise grain but I cut per instructions just to see if I could get it to work. Like I thought without the right amount of stretch it was near impossible for me to fit to the neckline. I went back and re-cut on the crosswise grain. I’m not sure why the two different directional cutting layouts are there but this is something you’ll want to consider when making your own. I always cut my neckband in same direction as the stretch of the fabric.
Construction was a breeze when completed on my serger. When joining the shoulder seams the pattern gives 3 different options to stabilize the seam so it’s not stretched when worn. I chose to stabilize mine with clear elastic since I’ve acquired quite a bit of it in my stash from making swimwear. Other noted options are twill tape, cutting 1/4 selvages from self fabric or cotton scraps and using fusible interfacing. To apply the elastic I first marked my seam allowance with chalk then pinned the elastic slightly overlapping the seam line. When serging I made sure my needle went through my elastic and also made sure my blade was not cutting through end of the elastic.
My sleeves and hems are finished by first serging the ends then folding under 5/8 inch and top-stitching with a twin needle. This gives it that coverstitch finish.
Unfortunately this shirt didn't work for my husband. Bummer right!? I think the problem is a mixture of the slim fitted style and fabric choice. The interlock knit was a little too clingy and soft for his liking. I think with a few fitting modifications and a light weight jersey this could be the perfect shirt for my husband. In the meantime my dad modeled the shirt for me.
I always feel bad when a project doesn't work out in my favor. But sometimes sewing is no fun without a challenge. The challenge comes in making it better than before and learning from your mistakes. I’m determined more than ever now to make my husband a t-shirt he loves.
Have you sewn for the man in your life? What's your favorite menswear pattern?
~Shannon from Shanni Loves