The Shirts of Summer

Oh my, it’s been SO LONG since I’ve blogged, my apologies. It’s hard to know where to start. In between helping friends install an IKEA kitchen (350 miles away!), work, and a small amount of sailing; I did manage to get three shirts made.

They’re always satisfying to make, and two of them filled some serious gaps in my wardrobe. (The third is a total lark). But we all need that, right?

So, in order of their make….

First up is what I’ve dubbed the “Sunburn Shirt”. I’m that guy who burns in about 15 minutes, which makes a day at the beach anything but pleasant. I’m nowhere near brave enough for a caftan, (I’d feel self conscious just wearing one around the house!) so a lightweight long sleeved shirt would be perfect.

As luck would have it…..miraculously…..Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics got her hands on one of my favorite border prints of all time! Maybe you remember this shirt which I made back in 2015.

It’s by Anne Klein, who knew? Anyway, Ann found it in three colorways. I wasted no time in snapping up the purple version. (Sorry, it’s sold out). It also comes in a teal colorway, which I LOVE! But I think three shirts sporting this print is a little excessive.

This time around I ordered enough to get at least 4 repeats of the border. The design is clustered in rough triangular shapes along one selvedge. The other side of the fabric is pure white.

Border prints can be pretty addictive. Need proof? Check out Carolyn over at her blog Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. She’s my border print champion. I’m sure she’d agree that the fun starts with some experimentation, playing with the possibilities, which leads to a vision. Your vision. Then it’s just a matter of putting it all together.

This fabric is on the sheer side, so I placed a panel of the print over the chest to create a double layer. I believe this is called a plastron (think tuxedo shirt). This is essentially a hack of the basic buttondown that I always make. The modifications were minimal AND fun to do. Also, given the scattered random nature of the print, it seemed completely unnecessary to match anything across the front. I’m not a fan of unnecessary complication or the amount of extra fabric that matching would have required.

This shirt has an extra long tail to fully show of the “falling leaves”, “tossed confetti”, “ticker tape parade”, however you want to describe it, pattern. Any way you cut it, I simply love this fabric.

Button tabs on the sleeves help keep the sleeves rolled up.

Homer seems unimpressed, but I think he’s just pouting because he can’t have a mojito. Cheers!

Moving right along……

Oh, man. I picked up some gray seersucker during MPB Day 2018 with my friend Enrique. (Check him out on Instagram @tailoringnerd). His enthusiasm for everything in his life is infectious.

At the time, I was all about the toile Dior jacket, and thought some striped trousers would be perfect for it; which they are. There’s just one BIG problem….. I don’t have a shirt to wear with them! I think this is the “closet full of clothes and nothing to wear” phenomenon.

These trousers are all dressed up with nowhere to go!

Enter…. Oak Fabrics, and two swatches of Atelier Brunette cotton cambric in a “chalk hatched” pattern. Little shout out here…..Not only do they have a beautifully curated selection of fabrics, they will send you a swatch for free. I passed on the black and white ikat (black just doesn’t seem to work for me), but snapped up the shirting and the sweater knit.

This fabric was perfect for a summer shirt. Light weight, crisp and a delight to work with.

Again, this is just a little riff off my TNT shirt pattern. The lighter contrast is actually the reverse side of fabric. The grays just seemed to work better that way. I used it for the inside yoke and collar stand, and fashioned an under placket and a little trim inside the sleeves. Only the pocket is matched. Again, the fabric design is random enough that matching seemed unnecessary.

The yellow buttonhole is inspired by my sewing friend Blanca. She has a knack for adding an unexpected little twist to everything she makes, which never fails to astound and delight me. Check out her inspired makes on Instagram @blakandblanca.

Temperamental models!

That’s better. Let’s go get some treats!

And finally…..

Summer demands some fun clothes IMO, and this McCall’s pattern from 1955 has fun written all over it. Now if only the Draper’s would invite me to one of their backyard barbecues!

I really can’t even begin to talk about this shirt without first giving a huge shout out to @wouter.vdub on Instagram and his blog Shirtartistry. Drop everything and go check him out. He self-drafted this shirt just from the picture on the pattern envelope! Incredible.

I picked up some African wax print fabric at the MPB day Winter Frolic back in March. The solid fabric I found at Stone Mountain and Daughter while visiting my daughter and son in law in Oakland.

I posted some progress pictures of my attempt at this shirt on Instagram. Long story short, this was, without a doubt, the most difficult shirt I’ve ever made.

Crazy construction abounds. I can’t imagine anyone following the instructions back in 1955 and not tossing the whole mess in the trash. First up, the layout and construction of the collar is completely ass backwards. I confirmed this by referring to David Coffin’s detailed exploration of the “Italian collar” in his book The Shirtmaking Workbook.

He offers clear simple instructions on how to draft this collar. So above you see the original collar on top, and the “new and improved” collar on the bottom.

So many seams… much fraying! I don’t know about you, but I hate clothes that are a mess inside. My “go to” solution is Snug Hug rayon seam binding. Sure, it takes some extra time, but I feel the end result is always worth it.

The new collar draft really gives some extra “spring” to the shape.

I’m ready to move on to a Fall project, while still trying to squeeze every last bit out of Summer. It goes by so quickly!

Happy sewing to all.

Credit where credit’s due…..

Border print cotton lawn —

Atelier Brunette cotton cambric shirting —

Boro woven cotton, Flax —

All shirts interfaced with Fashion Sewing Supply’s light crisp woven fusible interfacing —

20 thoughts on “The Shirts of Summer

  1. These latest shirt makes are really so excellent and look so good on, your attention to detail amazes me and the finish just shows this. The material chosen looks so good as well with each make.
    Great job an example for us all to try and follow.


  2. First thanks for the shout out! You’re right I do love a great border print which is what makes your first shirt so fabulous. I love how you made the border print work for you! And thinking about how to use the border print is what really makes the sewing interesting. However, your other two shirts are no slouch. I love how you used the print on Shirt Two but I especially love how you updated that 50’s looking shirt into something new and modern.

    Thanks for taking the time to share about your shirts. I love learning the backstory on sewists makes.


  3. All three shirts are terrific, but I’m partial to that Italian collar–so very cool. Your craftsmanship is inspiring—your posts always remind me to be patient & think through the project. (And isn’t Oak Fabrics a great resource? I live a few blocks away & it is totally a danger zone)


  4. Hi Mr Draper,
    Three bespoke shirts this summer, what a great accomplishment. They are equally the height of fashion and construction and of course I must ask the master…do you press the hug snug in a curve shape before you attach it to a curve, or stretch it as you go? Your finish is perfectly smooth and I sometimes get tucks and pleats on a curve. The placement of the print on the Falling Leaves version is just brilliant! And the sleeve tabs for the neat roll up, so good.
    The summer of ‘62 is such an interesting construction and I am certain that Sean Connery wore this version in Goldfinger. Homer looks smashing with his neatly trimmed beard but is giving you the mojito envy side eye. After assembling an Ikea kitchen hundreds of miles away I do hope there is a pitcher if mojitos chilling in your fridge nightly. Thanks so much for the lovely mention, so flattered as you are my sewing and fashion icon. Great blog post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Blanca, I do try to press the Snug Hug to the curve before I stitch it in place. It helps. There’s only so much curve it can take though. So if it’s super curvy, I resort to a bias binding that I make with one of those Clover gizmos. They make it so easy, and it’s actually fun!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Are you doing a Hong Kong seam finish with the Hug Snug? I bought a dozen or so huge rolls of it in various colors from an estate sale of a deceased tailor (wonderful find). I have used it mostly for hems, thinking it too narrow for a HK finish. I don’t think it comes in different widths so likely yours is the same as mine. Please let me in on your technique!

    All three shirts are amazing. You may have sent me right over to Gorgeous Fabrics for some of that confetti border print.


  6. What an absolute treat to see your collection of “cool guy” shirts! Who knew border prints could be so versatile and flattering…WOW! Your work is so precise and the inside finishing so pretty that they could be worn inside-out…OK maybe that’s going too far but you inspire us all to get more creative and dive right in! Thank you, Duane! Hope the Fall brings even more goodies to share!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I absolutely love the new Falling Leaves shirt. I may like it better than your first one, if that is even possible. Excellent pattern placement, and the bib front is so nice.

    Thanks for the plug! Couldn’t have done it without your gambit.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your ship building skills must transfer to shirt making, as your curved seams are flawless, flawless I say.

    Those pants are even more beautiful on the inside; so smart on the outside.

    Homer needs a pipe.

    Liked by 1 person

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