I finally got my mitts on the Fairfield Button-Up Shirt by Thread Theory, the pattern I have been waiting for Thread Theory to create back when they only had a pair of pants (this pair of pants). And then it took like a year for it to come out after they finally announced it, and they just teased us with samples.
I don't think I've ever blogged about a button-down shirt that I've made for Josh, but I've made him at least ten. I started out with the Colette Negroni, a pattern I like okay and learned a lot from, but it wasn't the classic style of shirt that I wanted to make and I didn't know enough about altering and fitting to stick with it. I figured I could do better by tracing the best-fitting shirt that he owned, which incidentally is the very shirt that this one is replacing. Here is a tutorial.
I even stole the buttons from it!
I made many shirts with this pattern (using Negroni instructions until I had them memorized), always altering it for a better fit, and I finally got it down about 3 shirts ago. So I was really excited to start fresh with a new pattern. But I think I arrived at a lot of my alterations in an unusual and probably incorrect way, so I actually was excited to start fresh.
This is the only photo I have of a shirt I made for him.
Based on his measurements, Josh is a size Large -- except for his neck, which is size 3XL. The human body is really something. Against my lazier inclinations, I made a muslin. I couldn't really compare my traced pattern to the Fairfield, because the latter uses a variety of seam allowance (eventually I drew seam allowances onto the pattern so I could compare them). Its funny, even though his measurements placed him squarely at a Large, the whole shirt seemed too small. But I was not about to re-trace everything to go up a size.
Still seems a little tight
The pattern is drafted for two body types : slim and full-figured; so there are two sets of patterns, but it makes me crazy that the pattern pieces aren't labelled which body type they're for. You could tell by the size range, but some of the pieces don't even have the size ranges printed on them.
Thread Theory has a sewalong on their website here, including common fitting alterations. These are the alterations I made:
- extend shoulder by 3/4"
- lowered neckline by 1/4" on the back yoke only
- lengthened sleeve 1 1/2" and added 1/2" to height of cuff
- The shirt was too tight, so I added 1" at center back, which is folded into the back pleat. The pleat as designed only adds about 1/2" width to the back, and it was too tight. I also added 1/4" to all the side seams.
- The underarms were too tight, so I extended the pattern pieces by 1/4"
Josh had trouble lifting his arms. Part of that was solved by increasing width on the back, but I also found some really helpful information about fitting sleeves here. Basically, the height of sleeve head affects the angle at which the sleeve naturally sits. Taller sleeve heads angle downwards, and shallower sleeve heads angle more outward. You can see the difference in pattern pieces below. The brown paper is my original pattern, and the white is the Fairfield pattern.
Here is a picture of Josh demonstrating how far he can comfortably lift his arms.
His right side is the Fairfield sleeve, and the left is a shallower sleeve. The Fairfield is supposed to be close-fitting, hence the sleeve-fitting angle I suppose, but I don't want to have to re-sew the buttons that Josh pops every time he changes a light bulb or bothers the dog.
I can only make so many muslins before I start to feel burnt out and bored, so despite still having some fit issues to work through, I just had to make the shirt. I think that clothing has to be lived in for a while before fit and, more importantly, comfort can be thoroughly assessed.
This fabric is a lavender cotton oxford, a nice crisp shirting fabric that we don't have in stock at the moment. I really like this pattern, and Josh has asked me to make him more work shirts like this. He never wears his shirts like this, but he buttoned it all the way to the top just to prove that he could. No shirt I've made for him has buttoned all the way up before.
If you're wondering about the set, it's for practicing stand-up.
I’m having some of the exact same issues with the Fairfield pattern. All measurements (both of my husband, AND garment measurements of shirts he already owned) pointed to a Medium. Now that it’s sewed up it’s obviously a size too small. (I read this same criticism on Pattern Review … too late.) I also traced some of the wrong pattern pieces, in the Larger figure size instead of the Average figure size, before I realized what they were on about. It would have been REALLY NICE of them to mark them as Average or Larger or at least amend the pattern piece numbers (12A/12L, etc.). Now, I’ve got a collar stand that is about 3" too small in diameter for the shirt and I can’t for the life of me figured out what I did wrong there. The collar is also suspiciously short compared to his other shirts. I’m thinking about just abandoning this pattern and getting a men’s shirt pattern from one of the Big 4 companies … I haven’t even started on the sleeves, and based on what you’ve said, this one doesn’t seem salvageable.
You are too cute! All that work!! Great job on the final take…