The Neon Jungle

It feels like it’s been a while since I sewed something for the husbeast, so I thought I ought to treat him to a new shirt using the Liberty cotton I bought (especially for that purpose) on my trip to Goldhawk Road last year.

There’s just not as much choice in patterns for guys as there is for women… which is so bizarre given that there’s just as many men as women on the planet and they all need clothes too ?? I’m actually considering doing a ‘menswear #MakeNine’ for 2019, to try to sew a few different things for him – I feel like I get stuck in a rut of shirt and jackets (which don’t get me wrong, isn’t a bad thing – the shirts get worn for work and he doesn’t actually have that many coats… yet) but I really want to try to make jeans, trousers, and maybe some casual tees too.

Vogue V8759 men's shirt Bye Bye Birdie Atelier Brunette red leather collar

For this shirt, I’ve used my trusty vogue v8759 (you’ve GOT to ignore those 90’s style photos on the cover ?) which is a great pattern – and it was the very first shirt pattern I ever used –  but I’ve made the decision to only use it for the short sleeve version moving forward. It’s a great fit in the body, and the short sleeves look good too – but the long sleeves let it down.

They are two-piece sleeves, and the way the placket is formed leaves you no way of finishing or enclosing the raw edges. I like to French seam the insides of my shirts, and there’s no way I’m gonna leave raw edges (or worse – overlocked edges ? – oh, the horrors) showing.

The pattern that is the current contender for the potential replacement is Vogue 9220. The sleeves on this are one-piece (similar to my Vogue/DKNY V1462 shirt) with a placket that’s installed by cutting a slash in the sleeve, which means you can sew nicely enclosed edges ?

With the V9220 you get three different fit options – standard, tailored and slim. The back of V8759 is in four panels, rather than two, so I’ll lose some of my topstitching joy, but I could always just graft the V9220 sleeves onto the V8759 rather than make the whole thing ?

I do however really want to try making the body of the V9220 purely for those little godets at the side seams on views A and B ? I mean, they’re almost as cute as a fluffy puppy. Almost.


Shirts tend to be quite loose on the petite husband, but having not sewn the pattern before I’m a tad worried that the slimmest version (view C) will be *too* slim ? So that leaves the ‘standard’ view A and the ‘tailored’ view B, but the difference between the two is just the darts on the back, so I might make the ‘standard’ version  and then if it is a little baggy around the middle I can put the darts in to take it down to the ‘slim’ fit.

I think that this new pattern is a lot more formal – one of the collar templates allows you to install those little collar-pointy-things that you get in posh shirts. I don’t think I’ll ever make that version (unless we get invited to tea with the queen or something) but it’s nice to have the option ??

You could also, if you wanted, make the fancy turn-up cufflink-cuffs, but again – this is just a smidge too fancy-pants for us.

I have actually been somewhat proactive and have already traced the shirt pieces, and I even have the fabric too – I have some Liberty cotton for the trial run (top), and some very special Liberty silk satin for the real deal (bottom):

The silk is actually the same print as the shirt I made for myself, but in a different colourway:

It’s quite a rare print now, which is a shame because I think it’s, like, my favourite Liberty print EVER. I do still have a couple of precious metres snaffled away, which I’ve recently cut into to make an Ogden cami and a short sleeve Melilot, but there’s still some left to make that one pattern that it’s just *PERFECT* for which I won’t discover for another five years. Shaukat have sold out of the pink/green colourway, but they still have some of the blue here if you fancy some.

But annnnnnyway – I made the thing! The neon squiggly shirt thing!

I think I’ve finally got the whole ‘short-sleeved-shirt’ game nailed now – the fit is good, and the finish is good. French seams all round, bias tape on the sleeves and hem.

I’ve even treated myself to one of those expanding-sewing-gauge things which helps you get buttons evenly spaced without having to suffer those flimsy strips of pattern paper that require you to somehow pierce a hole in so that you can actually make your markings. I felt this tool was needed after it became apparent that the buttons on this very shirt are too few in number – the husband hulked out of the shirt on his way to work, popping (and losing) the button at boob height – and then spent the whole day giving the office an eyeful of his man-chest, as there was about six inches between the remaining buttons either side.

So on future shirts, the number of buttons is going to be increased to take the pec-strain, which I’m hoping my fancy new tool will help me with.

Can we just all take a moment to appreciate the pattern matching going on here plz? I thought I’d get away with not really bothering to match it, but the husbeast’s OCD kicked in and he insisted on it being matched. Honestly, such a diva ??‍♀️

Ok so it’s like a few millimetres out,  but I’m pretty damn pleased with myself ??

I’m slowly getting better at lining up the collar and collar stand so that everything meets evenly at the front, and it’s not all wonky-donkey and over to one side. I’ve learnt to mark the centre front lines on the collar stand, and line these up (at both the bottom AND the top of the stand) with the centre front marking on the placket. Before, I wouldn’t bother marking the centre fronts, because I thought – ‘it’s bloody obvious where centre front is – it’s in the middle, at the front. DUH. Why do I need to bother marking it?’

But then after several shabby attempts at collars that were a little squiffy, I started to think that maybe, just MAYBE, they had put these markings on the pattern for a reason. Turns out, they have (huh. Who’d have thought?). When you baste the collar to the collar stand, make sure that the ends of the collar are on the centre front markings of the collar stand. If you have to clip the collar (or stand) to make them line up in between the markings, do that. Don’t be afraid.

Then, because you’ll have lined up centre front of the plackets AND the edges of the collar with centre front of the collar stand, everything is going to line up nicely and even the top button is going to sit perfectly centrally in the gap between the two collar edges. Like a boss.

It took me probably like ten shirts to figure all that out, so if you’ve been disheartened with an attempt at making a shirt – KEEP GOING. The very first shirt I ever made was bloody awful – all over the show – but with each one I made, my skills improved.

If you’re struggling with sleeves, my advice would be to set them in flat – which means to attach them to the shirt *before* you’ve sewn the side seams of the body OR the sleeve together. Honestly, this is so much easier than trying to do it the way Vogue instruct you. You’ll still want to use ALL THE PINS though.

I get a certain satisfaction every time I finish a men’s shirt… they are one of my favourite things to make. Perhaps it’s because the garment is intended for someone else – it makes me really happy to see my favourite human (willingly) wearing something that I crafted with my own hands.

I’m already thinking ahead to Autumn/Winter sewing – partly because Autumn is my favourite season, and partly because this current heatwave is just actual, literal hell – and planning out all the Liberty fabrics I want to use for long sleeved versions (which give me a chance to practice my sleeve plackets which are mostly a bit of a shambles on the inside ?). Last time I went into Liberty – a few weeks ago – they had a sale on and I came out with *cough* a reasonable amount given the circumstances *cough cough* OH LOOK THERE’S A PRETTY BIRD IN THE BACKGROUND OF THE PICTURES LET’S FOCUS ON THAT INSTEAD ?

If Liberty ever stop producing their Tana Lawn range, I’m totally buggered ?

And finally, for your viewing pleasure (and for a break from pictures of me for once), here follows many pictures of the Handsome Husbeast in his fabulous shirt – including a collage of him trying to prat about dancing in the street while I wanted to take serious pictures. FFS. ?

Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… I made the long sleeved version – now it’s time for the sleeveless! The Deer And Doe Bruyere shirt strikes back Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!  


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    • Sarah
      July 31, 2018 / 7:58 am

      Haha, I guess I got all the boxes ticked! ??‍♀️?

  1. July 29, 2018 / 7:43 am

    That’s a great shirt, and you’ve got a really good fit ?
    I love both the fabrics… and that pattern matching looks pretty awesome to me! ??… when’s he going to have to start making his own?! ?

  2. July 29, 2018 / 8:32 am

    Such sharp shirt skills! ? That print is amazing and you’re right about the lack of non-feminine Liberty prints so it’s a shame they discontinued it. I’d prefer more of choice in patterns and geometrics myself I think. Splendid work and and a lovely read ?X

  3. Vanessa
    July 29, 2018 / 9:37 am

    Brilliant . Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Loved reading this it gave me some really good tips and made me giggle ?. As for that pattern match.. wow ??.

    • Sarah
      July 31, 2018 / 8:01 am

      So glad you enjoyed the post Vanessa! ? The husband gets a bit diva-ish over pattern matching so I don’t get the opportunity to slack off on it ? Hope the tips help you with your shirtmaking adventure! ??

  4. July 29, 2018 / 1:34 pm

    What a labour of love Sarah! Husband looks fabulous in it. Great colour for him and a nice fit – not too tight or loose and good length. That pattern matching is the bomb honestly – you should be UBER proud of yourself 🙂 I’ve made a few shirts for myself and learned that the hard way too about carefully marking centre front on body, stand and collar. It made the construction SO much easier. I agree that making shirts can be addictive – it’s the all the fiddly bits coming together in this garment that can showcase all the professional finish you do to your heart’s content 🙂 I had a good snicker at the vision of him “hulking” out on the way to work. Hilarious particularly in light of his OCD re pattern matching. I hate hulking out of my shirts 🙂 That button spacement tool was one of the first gadgets I bought when I returned to sewing a couple of years ago – handy!

    • Sarah
      July 31, 2018 / 4:59 pm

      Ahh thank you Kathleen! Shirts really ARE addictive… and for me, men’s shirts are one of those things you can’t wisely buy in funky fabrics without spending an absolute fortune – which is probably partly why I choose to make them!
      For the first probably six shirts I made I didn’t bother with all the markings… now I know why they put them on the pattern ? they do make things much easier!!
      I’ve not used the button spacer as yet but I feel it’s going to come in VERY handy – no more pen and calculator (and repeated crossing out and redoing) required!

  5. July 29, 2018 / 9:22 pm

    I keep thinking I should get one of those button alignment gauges, but I haven’t sewn much in the way of button-downs in the last several years. HOWEVER I’m totally obsessed with button front skirts right now, so I think that’s a good excuse to finally buy the tool.

    V8759’s photos made me think “…Raj”. My best friend used to be a big Bollywood fan, so whenever I see an Indian dude with the swoosh hair, he is a Raj.

    And your pattern matching is superior. Excellent. Almost as good as dancing around in front of a giant bluebird mural. 😉

    – Julia

    • Sarah
      July 31, 2018 / 5:01 pm

      Ooh, it’s funny you should mention button front skirts, I have a vintage pattern for one that I bought recently which I really want to sew but somehow it keeps getting forgotten about… I even think I have fabric for it so there’s really no excuse… ??‍♀️
      Ha ha… he will be known as Raj from now on!! ?

  6. July 30, 2018 / 10:31 am

    Hiya…again a great post – thank you – I wondered how you attached bias binding to the sleeves and hem?
    Thank you 🙂

    • Sarah
      July 31, 2018 / 5:07 pm

      Hey Duncan! Honestly, since hemming with bias tape I can’t do it any other way! Such a good finish. I use half inch bias tape, not the 1 inch stuff – that’s too wide. So step by step:
      1. Put the bias tape right sides together with the front of the shirt, and pin the raw, unfolded edge of the tape against the raw edge of the shirt.
      2. Sew the whole length of the tape in the ditch of the (unfolded) crease.
      3. Press the tape away from the shirt (not pressing the other crease of the tape – leave it creased) and then fold the wrong side of the tape to lay against the wrong side of the shirt – your raw edges are now enclosed.
      4. Tuck in the ends of the tape at the placket edges, and then sew as close to the creased edge of the tape as you can – this is the line of stitching that you will see from the outside.
      Annnnnd – done! Let me know how you get on or if you get stuck! ?

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