Friday, January 28, 2011

Shirtmaking Part 3: Questions and Answers about Shirtmaking Magic!

Q. When and where is the Shirtmaking Magic! with Janet Pray taking place?
A. June 1 and 2, 2011 in Oakville, ON.

Q. Can we use different shirt pattern than The Easy Shirt from Islander?
A. The short answer is no. In order to ensure everyone has the opportunity to see and practice all the industrial techniques that are used in shirtmaking, we all must be sewing the same garment at the same time. Islander shirt patterns are the only patterns that are designed to work with industrial short cuts from the garment industry.

Q. Can I make a shirt for myself rather than a man's shirt?
A. Experience has shown that attendees will get the most benefit from the course if everyone makes a man's shirt. Although fitting tips are given in the course there is not enough time to custom fit each garment.

Q. How do I choose the size of shirt to make?
A. Islander shirt patterns are sized using the same measurements as ready-to-wear shirts using neck circumference and chest measurement.

Q. What if the neck measurement is one size and the chest measurement another size?
A. The Easy Shirt pattern is multi-sized; therefore you can cut the neck for one size and then cut on the line for the size that goes with the chest measurement. Be sure that you also cut the collar band and collar pieces to the appropriate neck measurement.

Q. What fashion fabric should I use for the shirt?
A.  Use fine quality 100% natural fibre (cotton or linen) shirting with no obvious wrong side (e.g. not printed). Stripes are OK if you cut accurately but plaids are too challenging for this class. Yarn dyed cotton flannel (never flannelette) and silky, hard to handle fabrics should not be attempted; but once you have mastered the techniques, they make wonderful shirts. Quilter's cottons are not appropriate.

Q. The pattern calls for 1/2" buttons. Can I use larger buttons?
A. If you are making a tailored shirt, then anything other than 1/2" buttons will look out of place. Shirt buttons are not easy to find but you can take buttons from a old shirt if you are having trouble finding the correct size. When you are making and designing your own custom shirts, you can play around with different button sizes and closures to suit the wearer.

Q. What thread should I use?
A. A good quality polyester thread to match the fashion fabric such as Mettler Metrosene is fine. Matching as close as possible because the thread is used for topstitching and buttonholes and you will want it to blend in. You will need at least two 100m spools.

Q. Any other tips for getting a good fit for the wearer?
Yes.  Take a shirt that the individual likes and finds comfortable and measure it. Compare those measurements to the pattern, taking into account the seam allowances and choose the size closest to the ready made shirt.

After taking this course, you will not shy away from sewing garments such as shirts and blouses with details like collar bands, plackets, buttons and cuffs. And the skills acquired can be applied to all your garment sewing; setting in sleeves, flat felling, hemming curves, topstitching, applying pockets... all without pins or basting! Because pins and basting slow you down and give the garment a homemade look.

To register, click here. For more info, email

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