Man Month Project: 30s Man's Shirt Pt 1

I've started on my men's shirt. 
This past weekend I went to the thrift store with some friends. I dropped off 5 huge boxes of 60s-80s+ patterns. Ugh. They were taking up major space in my already project filled apartment. It was freeing to release them to whomever is willing to sift through them. More power to them.

This thrift store tends to actually have a rack of yardage mixed in with their linens. I always go there first. This go around I found some great peach wool that matches pretty well a pencil skirt that I want to rework. I may dye them a dark brown because the color does not really work with me.

As I was flipping through the racks of sheets, I came across this King Size blue striped sheet. *Perfect*! It's a 60%/40% cotton/polly blend. A better mix than a lot of the shirting that I was looking through earlier last week. Plus it's striped, and I like stripes. This will be a good test shirt. I'm still concerned with messing up and I'd  rather do that on a sheet than a nice chambray.

I bought it ($4.99) laundered it and finally cut out the pieces last night. I'm planning on starting the job today, but its one of those early McCall's, where ALL the instructions are printed on the pieces. *sigh* 

I traced off this pattern and looking over the pieces, they say I should add 1/4" to the SA if I'm going to do any flat-felled seams. Naw. I didn't. The shirt is large enough already. 

This snippet right here is the largest chunk of collected instructions, everything else is written in the seam allowances. Oh. Fun. It's an adventure, right? Sure...I'll keep saying that. Hey, I can't mess up too bad.

And as Man Month comes to it's end, I've been thinking about what I want to work on next. Personally, as I shop around for new patterns, I find them steadily going higher and higher out of my reach. I'm hoping it's only a spike, but I'm kind of worried. One pattern that had me worried was this one.

It's cute, right? A basic 40s day dress, but the seller had it listed at $45! S#%*!% It didn't sell twice, and when I asked for a lower price, I got a 'if it does not sell, I'll make it" reply. As far as I know it never sold. I stopped following it after that.

I get it, these items are getting more and more rare, but as main stream people start to jump into the collecting fray, people are jacking up prices like gangbusters! I'm starting to miss the days of an $18 40's day dress! I know, right!?

Then I got to thinking, I could draft that! I have muslin, Onda, and time. Why not try!? I know the styles, I know what works best on my body, and I'm sure you all would get a kick out of my trial and error.

Next month I'm going to be focusing on non-commercial pattern time. Drafting my own clothing and patterns, and perhaps chatting about draping the stout form. Oh, through all of this boy have I learned some tips! I think it will be fun, and educational. You all are more than welcome to join me. All you will need is a duct tape dress form some muslin and some pins. That's a simple ingredient list.

If you have the will power, try to abstain from buying a commercial pattern for a month. Can you do it!? I honestly don't know if I can, but I may try.


  1. I buy on Etsy, and while some things in the 40s period are high, others are pretty cheap (by which I mean less than $10), esp. if the envelope isn't in great shape. I don't have to tell you that it pays to look frequently; the cheaper things are more likely to be snatched up. Also a lot of things disappear because the seller didn't list the size, say, and people doing searches based on size don't find it.

    I don't know; I find it hard to believe that there's that strong a market for these things -- but we're probably contributing to it! LOL

    Can't wait to see the shirt come to life!

  2. Oh, there is a very strong market. Its being upset right now by a lot of impassioned newbies who are all, "OMG thats old and MAd Men, I have to get it!!"

    My tastes are also a bit more refined now, so I get particular about what I want, and often its reallllllly expensive.

    But it chaps my hide to see basic day dress patterns (all sizes) going for $35+. Thats just obscene to me. And I know its not about the price but what someone is willing to pay...yeah :)

  3. I never price mine that high on Etsy. My pieces are all under $20, and typically closer to $16 on down. Ridiculous! The only time I'd charge more is if it were a wedding dress or a really HTF/desireable pattern (like the 50's Simplicity sarong dress).

  4. shelley, i agree with you completely. what a fantastic (basic!) pattern, and $45 is just absurd. i've had a similar experience with an ebay seller charging way too much, and i've often been able to find the pattern i wanted for less. that is getting harder and harder, though, even with a "saved search" from eBay and near-daily trolling through etsy. darn mad men!

    go ahead and try to draft it...i just did an experiment similar to that, by buying (cheaper) patterns that contained the separate elements i was looking for, and doing a big old frankenpattern--and it came out brilliantly!

  5. I would love to try follow a pattern drafting post!!!! Please make it happen I would be very grateful. Pattern prices are definetly up up and away I never pay that much I have had some luck with things left behind on ebay lots that aren't listed well etc.... I just have to tell myself that I have a pretty pig collection of patterns that I haven't even begun to tackle.

  6. I am going to follow along. I would love to learn how to drape and draft my own patterns. I just have to be brave like you, get some cheap fabric and go for it!!
    I guess living out loud means being all things!!!

    As for being brave, while you are draping, I will be making a wedding dress for a girl who is preggo. There's a challenge, eh?

  7. Totally agree on the pattern prices. I see plenty set high that go around and around on eBay. I never make an offer (I don't *need* patterns, I just want them ...) Like you, I'm beginning to accept that I should try to adapt patterns I have to get the look of those patterns I can't afford. Drafting from scratch is scary, but if I can dig up something similar I might have a chance to get where I want to go. Baby steps, I guess. :)

  8. I learned pattern drafting a couple of years ago and I've never looked back. Apart from not having to buy patterns anymore, you also tend to have a much easier time fitting things once you've got your slopers right and you get the hang of dart manipulation.
    I love vintage patterns for their artwork but I'm certainly not going to spend a lot of money on them.
    (In fact, I got out of the habit of sewing from patterns that I'm giving away some modern pattern magazines which I came across, over at my blog. I'm just never going to use those)

  9. I have a pattern like that for 1920s women's pajamas. I never finished them, because I hated not having an instruction sheet. Maybe someday!


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