Saturday, 25 January 2020

Grey Chambray Fairfield Button Up Shirt

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up Shirt in Grey Cotton Chambray

I made a few presents this Christmas including a double gauze Named Lahja dressing gown for my Mum, a Deer & Doe Sirocco jumpsuit for my sister (which I love and will definitely be making one for myself so expect a review of that pattern in future) and this shirt for my brother. I’ve made a fair number of shirts for men now (my first here about 5 years ago!) but thought it was worth posting this particular one as I used a different pattern which is very worthy of sharing. The previous shirts I’ve made have all been based on the Walden/Colette Negroni pattern and the pattern has required a bit of work to get the look I want; namely taking the pattern for a traditional collar with stand off of a RTW shirt and adding that and a classic front placket (following this shirt sew-along from Male Pattern Boldness) to replace the Negroni’s facing. As this was the first shirt I have made for my brother and I was therefore essentially starting from scratch I decided to take a look at other shirt patterns which might make my life a bit easier.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up Shirt in Grey Cotton Chambray

There quite a number more shirt patterns for men available than when I made my first shirt years ago but the clear choice for me to try first was the Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up. I liked that it is a very classic shirt style that can easily be made more or less casual/formal by fabric choice but also by tweaking the pattern details. You have the choice to add sleeve tabs to fasten the sleeves in a rolled up position, add a chest pocket and also whether to choose a centre back box pleat or long darts in the back for a more fitted silhouette. It has quite a contemporary neat cut without veering too far towards slim fit and actually includes patten pieces to make all sizes in a cut more suitable for someone with a fuller stomach which I think is a fantastic touch.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up Shirt in Grey Cotton Chambray

I would highly recommend this pattern as a starting point for anyone who hasn’t made a shirt before. The illustrated instructions are clear and thorough and guide you through many traditional shirt making techniques such as flat felled seams for a professional finish inside and the burrito method for assembling the back yoke. on how formal you want the shirt to be. For example you might interface both collar pieces and both stand pieces for a crisp, formal shirt but only one side of the collar and stand for a softer and more relaxed look. This impressive amount of detail continues throughout the instructions. You can tell that this pattern has been well researched and each construction technique considered and thought through.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up Shirt in Grey Cotton Chambray

The collar on this pattern is quite slim which is worth bearing in mind when choosing this pattern. For my brother it is exactly the kind of look I was after. In the instructions the collar is assembled using my preferred method which is from this popular tutorial from Four Square Walls. I find it so much easier to get a clean finish this way. A fairly quick and easy addition you can make to a more formal shirt (which I didn’t do here as this is for more casual wear) is to add slots for more collar stays to the under collar. If you’re interested in doing this I’ve got an old tutorial here.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up Shirt in Grey Cotton Chambray

What is interesting about this pattern is that there is no separate pattern piece for the front placket. It is drafted onto the front pattern piece and you create the illusion of a seam by sewing a sort of pin tuck right down the front. A very clever way to save pattern matching stripes or checks at the front. It was quite enjoyable to try a different way of doing things, although it was nice to realise when using tried a tested method for the collar and cuffs that these fiddly bits of sewing don’t faint me in the way they used to.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up Shirt in Grey Cotton Chambray

The thing I liked most about the Negroni pattern was the tower plackets on the sleeves. Every time I sewed them it amazed me how a bit of careful folding, pressing and stitching created those little contraptions! I’ve actually used the pattern piece and instructions for those tower plackets on various other projects over the years, I remember them working really well on the Grainline Archer Shirt instead of the binding. I was therefore delighted to see that the Fairfield includes tower plackets too! The method is slightly different but achieves a result just as good.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up Shirt in Grey Cotton Chambray

The fabric I used is a grey cotton chambray from John Lewis. I was initially looking for a heavier kind of brushed cotton for a casual winter shirt but couldn’t find quite what I was after. I’m actually really pleased that I ended up using the chambray as I think it puts the shirt in the smarter end of casual and hopefully this will mean my brother gets a lot of use out of it! The fabric was an absolute joy to work with, lightweight, crisp and presses like a dream. It made getting all those precise little shirt elements neat and tidy so much easier. I debated using white thread of the top stitching but eventually opted to keep it simple with a matching grey, reserving a little punch of white for the buttons.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up Shirt in Grey Cotton Chambray

I can’t really comment on the fit as I haven’t seen it on yet! Plus I didn’t measure my brother as I wanted the shirt to be a surprise. Luckily working in costume has made me pretty good at guessing clothing sizes! My brother assures me that it fits perfectly and as he is of quite average build and height I’d say the fit is true to size.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up Shirt in Grey Cotton Chambray

I’m so proud of the finishing on this shirt, all the top stitching and neat little corners that a project like this involves. I think it is definitely my best shirt to date and I’m eager to make more with this pattern. It was one of those projects that came together just the way it should; notches matching, seams aligning and no guesswork with the techniques. What are your favourite shirt patterns (male or female)? And do you have any shirt making tips to share?

16 comments:

  1. How were you able to flat-fell the sleeve side seam? (How did you get inside it to do the work?)

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    1. It seems like it wouldn't be possible but it is actually fairy straightforward once you get the hang of it. If you start sewing that seam from the hem and then continue down into the sleeve you can push the fabric out of the way enough to get right down to the cuff. It is like sewing into a tunnel and is a little fiddly but does work! Thread Theory show it here https://threadtheory.ca/blogs/sew-alongs/118573829-fairfield-sew-along-attach-sleeves-and-main-seams

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  2. Yes, you should feel very very proud. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to include all those tips Fiona! I'm going to save this - I've only made one shirt for my husband (with a lot of help from an online class) and this will help me up my game.
    By the way, your shirt looks fab!

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    1. You're very welcome Su! Thanks for your lovely comment. I've spent quite a lot of time looking at shirt making techniques and know how useful it is to have someone share what works for them! Shirts are really enjoyable to make once you get the hang of them so I hope you do make some more

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  4. The grey chambray looks really sophisticated – your brother's very lucky to get such a great handmade shirt! I really like this pattern too, and all the variations that are included make very versatile.

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    1. I 100% agree! Such a great pattern. I'm really pleased with how the chambray turned out. I think it strikes the right balance between smart and casual

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  5. Beautiful shirt and very stylish fabric. I've used this pattern and can thoroughly recommend it, as you say, it is well thought through and goes together like a dream. In fact I'm considering making one for myself, choosing a the size from either high bust or shoulder width (not decided yet, but leaning towards the latter) and doing an fba to get the bust measurement I need.

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    1. That is a great idea! I'd actually quite like to make myself one without any shaping in a kind of oversized style! I'll definitely be using this pattern again in future.

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  6. Oooh, thanks for the run down and details on this! I've made pattern adjustments and bought the fabric to sew this for a dear friend - it's at the very top of my to-sew list! And I so hope we get to see your brother rocking this shirt at one point. :)

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    1. O I hope you enjoy making it! It is a really satisfying sew. I hope you're friend is pleased.
      Unfortunately it is very unlikely I can get my brother to stand still in front of a camera wearing it - never mind then let me post that photo on the internet but I shall do my best! Haha

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  7. I'm also going to save this- thanks for the detailed pattern review! I want to get into making more tailored shirts, blouses for me and button up shirts for my spouse- but he's a big guy with a rounded stomach and it was hard for me to imagine the slim-cut trendy shirt patterns sized up on him. I'm definitely into a shirt pattern that actually takes this into account.

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    1. O this is absolutely the pattern for you! Thread Theory really know their stuff when it comes to mens patterns and fit. I like that this pattern feels quite contemporary but works for all body shapes

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!