Kwik Sew 3883: GANRYU COMME des GARCON vs Charlie Harper

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard me say this before, but I don’t particularly love sewing men’s shirts. I think it’s the degree of perfection required with those collars and cuffs. It could also be because it’s selfless sewing and the kind of sewing that doesn’t really allow me to experiment much. I’m not allowed to deviate much from a standard pattern. Well, in hubby’s case I do. He’s a fan of classic.

So after doing my nice-wifely duty of sewing him a proper business shirt for his birthday (that post will come later), I decided to experiment with a casual ,short sleeve shirt. I was inspired by a GANRYU COMME des GARCON shirt that I saw on Pinterest. My plan was to keep the pleats but colour block the bottom instead of the curved pocket details. I chose some Anna Sui chambray for the top and some white linen for the bottom.

GANRYU COMME des GARCONS 2015 Spring/Summer Collection | Hypebeast

The patten I used was Kwik Sew 3883. I’ve sewn this pattern before (here and here). It’s taken me until now to finally admit that it isn’t a great fit. The shirt is just too wide in the torso, and perhaps a little wide on the shoulders too. The seam allowance of 6mm is also impractical. I usually start out sewing the shirt with the wrong seam allowance. But even when I get it right, 6mm is way to fiddly for nice felled seams.


Overall, I don’t mind how this shirt turned out. I wanted to bring the sides in by about an inch to slim down the fit for hubby, but he opted to forgo my alterations and send it to his Dad (who is a little bigger than him) instead. His initial reasoning was that it was a Summer shirt and we were headed into Winter. But I delved a little deeper and the truth came out. The fact of the matter is that the chambray reminds him of his old school uniform and the colour blocking makes him feel like Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men. I guess colour blocked shirts are off the cards for hubby in the future then. What do you think? Have I made a Charlie Harper shirt?


Kwik sew 3883 for hubby

I don’t always enjoy sewing business shirts. I should. It IS still sewing (which I am obviously somewhat obsessed with), and it IS for someone I love. But I think I just place too much pressure on myself for perfection when I sew them. Lets face it, you can’t easily hide a wonky collar (try to ignore the extra stripe on mine below…eek!), add a sneaky pleat, or pretend those cuffs are a design feature. No, of course I would never do that…

Anyway, perhaps my lack of enjoyment for this make was purely down to the fact that it was an act of necessity. Poor old hubby was down to only three tired looking business shirts in various degrees of fray. I usually make his shirts in secret because I love the surprise factor. But what we won’t mention is that on day three of stitching away at this beast, said beneficiary of this shirt comes home from a shopping spree with not one new shirt, but FOUR, and two pairs of pants, AND a new suit. Whilst I must consent to the fact that he was desperately in need of ALL of those items, I also have to admit to being rather out of sorts that night.


But let’s get back to basics here. The pattern I used was Kwik sew 3883. I’ve sewn this shirt before with good results, although I did find the collar a little bit too narrow for my preference the first time round. The fit is also a little roomier than other shirts I’ve sewn for him. Oddly enough, the last shirt I made in this pattern was hailed as my all time best. Yet this time, dear hubby ‘loves‘ it (as always…and I know he will wear it until the collar frays) but he now finds the armscyes a little low and the front chest area a little large. I tend to agree (and personally thought this was the case the first time round as well). You can see this best when he has his hands on his hips. I wonder if it might be a little worse this time because I mucked up the seam allowance when experimenting with a new way of sewing felled seams. (Those are his new pants by the way).


If you follow Male Pattern Boldness, you might be familiar with the fact that Peter has been attending FIT classes on shirtmaking and has been sharing some of the things he’s learnt. I had a go at making the felled seam he described, but I think I may have miscalculated my seams slightly, allowing for a little bit of additional ease. I can see this in the slightly wider shoulders, longer arms, and lower armscye. It is a very clever method though, and my seams ARE much neater so I would still recommend giving this technique a go. I just need a little more practice.


The fabric I used is a gloriously soft (and slightly looser woven) Italian shirting from Mood. Hubby chose it himself. I love the fabric. It has a softer hand than other cotton shirtings and will be lovely to wear. It also ravels quite readily and can snag if you aren’t careful. These facts made for a more challenging sew, but mainly, it was the seam allowance in this pattern that did my head in. It was a mere 1/4″… allowing no room for error or ravelling, OR experimentation with fancy felled seams. 

I made a couple of adjustments to this pattern.

  • I did away with the collar and stand pieces and made my own. I made them larger and of a slightly different shape. I also followed the tip I saw recently on Thread magazine on how to obtain lovely sharp collar points. The article is here.
  • I ditched the cuffs and drew up some French cuffs using a shirt in hubby’s cupboard.

I interfaced the collars and cuffs with Pro-Woven Shirt-crisp fusible from Fashion Sewing Supply. The great thing about this shop is that they sell online and you can purchase a swatch set of all their interfacing. The stuff I chose has been specifically marketed for use in shirt collars and cuffs, even though I’ve been warned that it might be a little too stiff. I’m actually a little undecided about this. I do like the collar but I might still try a different one next time.
 
I also did a bit of analysis on the new shirts that hubby bought home. He confessed one was to the order of $200! I was impressed with how beautifully neat and narrow the felled side seams were, while the armscye seams were a lot wider (something obviously not possible with a 1/4″ seam allowance!). In all four shirts, the collars and cuffs were actually stiffer than mine. This was a big surprise, as mine are actually very stiff with the interfacing I used. But what surprised me most, was that it appeared to be a fusible interfacing that was ONLY used on the outside piece of both collar and cuff. I can see that less bulk to turn would make for those perfectly neat collar and cuff points. But my mind boggles as to how I can obtain an interfacing as stiff as the one they used. Seriously, this stuff was like a sheet of concrete (if that’s even possible!).
 
 

Overall, I’m reasonably happy with how my shirt turned out, but I know I will have to resolve some fitting issues next time. I really don’t know how I did it, but those aligned stripes down the front placket just make me smile! So do those lovely pearl shell buttons. 


And finally, he’s going to kill me for including this shot, but just check out the ‘blue steel’ pose!

The completed birthday shirt

 
I finally finished the birthday shirt. My ever present assistant was not entirely pleased with my handiwork. It could have been the lack of ruffles, big buttons, or tulle that failed to meet her expectations.

I was pleased with the way the contrasting floral Liberty of London looked on the inner collar stand and plackets. It may be my best collar yet in terms of neatness, but on comparing with the other shirts in hubby’s cupboard, I did notice that this collar is a little narrower. I may have to draft my own collar next time.

 
I am especially pleased with my button choice and in the way I was able to line up the stripes perfectly down the front. I always feel rather chuffed if the patterns end up matching as planned. I purchased these little buttons from the Button shop on King Street in Newtown. I wasn’t sure about them at the time as they have a slight grey/mauve tint (not at all like the standard pearlescent white buttons you see on absolutely every business shirt). But I bought them just in case and in the end they looked perfect!

 

I am not super happy with my buttonholes or edge stitching. Because of the dark contrasting fabric on the underside of the shirt, I decided to use a dark thread in my bobbin and it showed through to the top stitching slightly. I am not sure if this is a tension/stitching problem with my machine or just something that happens. Next time I would stick to all white thread and just deal with seeing the stitching on the underside.

Here’s to the completion of another shirt for hubby. I might not get excited about sewing him shirts anymore, but it is always so satisfying to complete such a technical project well, and the joy it gives my hubby to receive them is well worth every minute spent lining up stripes. My next challenge is going to be holding out until December to hand over the shirt!

Birthday shirt cuff comparison

The birthday shirt is coming along pretty well, although I am going to reserve my judgement on this project until the very end. I made a modification to the front placket, switching it to the inside so I could use a floral contrast instead of self-fabric. But, I now realise that the width of my modified placket won’t match perfectly with the other front side. At the moment, I am still hopeful that this mistake won’t be too noticeable (at least by hubby).

What has worked out nicely so far is the cuff plackets. I am using a nice white shirting to contrast with the stripes for the collar and cuffs. And check out the difference between the cuff plackets in this pattern compared to the vintage shirt pattern I had been using before. The vintage piece is on the left.

So, to make the cuff placket, I first made a slit, then stitched a narrow hem on one side of the slit, before stitching the placket piece to the other side.

I then folded it through to the right side (folding all the raw edges under neatly with the use of my iron), and stitched around the edges. Super simple and not fiddly at all.

I know the inside doesn’t look as professional (to me anyway!), but how can I not be happy with these results on the outside!


The birthday shirt

It makes perfect sense that my first sewing blog post is in someway connected to my ever supportive (and tolerant) husband. I am pretty lucky. He lets me set up my sewing table in our living room, holds his tongue when I rev the machine while he is watching TV. He even sent me out to buy a new (much more expensive machine) when my first budget one had some problems…possibly from the 24hr use it was getting. I think perhaps he was also hoping a better machine would come with some kind of noise filter.

A few years ago, he started suggesting I make him a business shirt. But I shied away from this project for at least a year. I know my husband quite well and I know how fussy he is with his business attire. He likes quality. The fabric quality was never going to be an issue as Tessutis (in Surry Hills – my second home!) has the most beautiful selection of Italian shirting fabrics. But I did doubt my skills to sew the perfect shirt. I still feel that sewing a business shirt is quite technical. You really have to take your time to line up all the stripes and keep the edges and collar perfect. In any case, I bit the bullet about a year ago and sewed him his first business shirt. He was delighted. It worked out great. I used a vintage shirt pattern which fit him nicely, but the collar shape ,being vintage, was probably not quite his style.

 

Butterick 3364 – I just lengthened the arms a few inches for him.

 

 

 
 
So since this first shirt, I have made him another two which have been better each time, since I have learnt more about interfacing and experimented with French cuffs and a slightly different collar shape. Hubby has suggested I put a project management board above my sewing table so he can add his project requests (read shirts, shorts, jacket) to my job list and then he will know how his order is progressing in my queue.
 
As much as I love sewing all things and anything, I am actually now a bit bored of this pattern. I’d also like to see if I can learn some different construction techniques from a different pattern. So for his upcoming birthday this year, I thought I would try a new pattern. I have selected some lovely stripes from Tessuti Fabrics and I was thinking I might put a tiny bit of hidden colour behind the collar and cuffs, using a bit of Liberty of London floral. I wasn’t sure when I purchased the floral, but it is growing on me and I am starting to think that it might actually make a great men’s shirt on its own…too loud?
 
 

 
 
Not totally sold on the look of the Kwik Sew pattern pieces as they look a bit wider in the back than the vintage Butterick and I loved the fitted look of the other shirts I made Nick. I am toying with the idea of adding some back darts anyway but will cross that bridge later.