Dude Sewing: McCall’s 6044, v.2 (or, the Shark Week Shirt!)

So… a word of explanation. Shark Week is a pretty big deal chez Ginger. Man Friend looks forward to it every year, and loves to kick off the week with a bang each summer. So, when I was watching “Sharknado 2: The Second One”, I was struck with the idea to search for shark fabric to make a surprise Shark Week shirt for the fella!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

I found this crazy print at Fabric 313 on Etsy- it’s called “Kanvas by Benartex for Ocean Avenue”, and it looks like it’s still available. It’s got a quilting cotton weight and drape, but I’m wondering if it’s not 100% cotton because it doesn’t wrinkle at all.

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

Somebody doesn’t like modeling

This is McCall’s 6044, view A. Last time I made view E, which has long sleeves and western-style detailing. I made that earlier this year, and with my recent back-to-back Alder shirtdresses, I was really in practice, so this come together in a flash! Isn’t it nice when you’re able to practice techniques until they become second nature? There’s definitely a benefit to making the same pattern multiple times! Plus, view A is really streamlined since there aren’t any sleeve plackets, cuffs, or yokes- sweet!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

I didn’t make any fit alterations (it’s a straight size medium), but after looking at the photos, I wonder if I shouldn’t narrow the sleeves a bit. There’s no drape at all in this fabric and the sleeves seem a little wide, especially compared to the slim fit of the shirt itself. But that’s an easy fix.

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

Overall, I’m happy with this.  It really cracks me up- it’s so over the top! Man Friend loves it, and even wore it to work today (!). So I’m counting that as a success!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

SHARK ATTACK!!!!!

What are you guys working on this week? Any dude sewing going on? Anyone else looking forward to watching “Great White Serial Killer” tonight?

Dude Sewing: McCall’s 6044!

The unthinkable has occurred. I sewed something for Man Friend!!!

What? You didn’t think I’d ever get around to it?  I finally decided to use our anniversary two weeks ago as a firm deadline and I actually finished it in time!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

This is the ubiquitous McCall’s 6044. There are so few sewing patterns for men, and even fewer of them are styles that Man Friend would wear. Luckily, this western-style buttondown is really close to what he likes in a RTW shirt. The pattern also includes options for a yoke-less, regular buttondown, with the option of short or long sleeves.

I’ve had this plaid flannel stashed for quite a while with the intention of making a men’s shirt with it. It was $5/yd at one of the cheap, small stores in the Garment District. I’m really not in love with it, although I like the colors- cheap flannel just doesn’t stay on grain at all! It stretched, sagged, and just generally made matching the plaid really unpleasant. Even after spending tons of time lining everything up, it doesn’t look all that great. Ugh!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

I cut the front and back yokes, the pockets, cuffs, and the top button placket on the bias. I only had two yards of fabric, but I was able to squeeze all those pieces out with just tiny scraps remaining. So I cut the undercollar, the inner collar stand, and the inner cuffs from a contrasting fabric (the chambray-look flannel I used for my Meissa blouse).  I really like the subtle detail of the contrast, actually.

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

Just a little bit of contrast at the collar stand!

I cut a straight size medium and didn’t make any fit alterations (I treated this as a wearable muslin). I could probably narrow the shoulders just a touch, but other than that, the fit seems OK, or at least as good as his RTW shirts. Do you guys see any fit problems in these photos? I’m not very confident diagnosing them in men! The only changes I made were eliminating the pocket flaps (I sewed them on, but Man Friend didn’t love them), shaving 1/8″ off the undercollar and inner collar stand (this makes it easier to roll them to the inside), and adding tower plackets to the sleeves. I followed the Four Square Walls tutorial for sewing on the collar, and I sewed on the cuffs the exact same way.  This technique really makes sense to me.

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

Let’s talk about those tower plackets!  As drafted, the sleeves are two-piece, and you stop sewing the seam a few inches before the cuff edge so you can narrow hem the opening you’ve created instead of using a placket. That’s a simple way to construct a shirt and good for someone who’s intimidated by plackets, but I wanted it to look a little nicer. First I changed the two-piece sleeve to a one-piece (I just overlapped the pieces and taped them together), then I downloaded Lisa’s tower placket template instead of drafting my own (thanks, Lisa!!).  I have David Coffin’s Shirtmaking, the primer for techniques like this, but my reading comprehension must not be that great as I struggled to understand how I was supposed to sew it on.  Luckily, a Google search brought up a photo tutorial from the Colette Hawthorn dress sewalong, which really helped me to make sense of the process.  This would’ve all gone pretty smoothly, but I made an idiotic mistake that complicated things. You see, when you do things differently from the pattern instructions, it’s wise to make sure that your construction order will still be the same. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that it’s way easier to sew sleeve plackets when you haven’t yet sewed the sleeve seam, and I’d already sewn the seam, serged and topstitched it, set the sleeves in, and serged the armhole seams! I had to wrestle and wrestle and wrestle to get the placket sewn in with the sleeve closed, and it really wasn’t fun at all. Whoops!

My next dumb mistake was that I didn’t realize that adding a tower placket made the sleeve edge larger (since you’re sort of binding the edges of the slit you make, instead of turning them under and hemming like the pattern instructs you to do- does that make sense?), SO, when I went to attach the cuffs, I had to sew with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance. Super scary! I realized later that I should have just increased the intake of the pleat to make the sleeve the proper size, but at the time I was too frazzled to think it through clearly. Live and learn!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

Man Friend: “Whoa, it looks like I’m peeing!” It totally does.

After my great debacle with pearl snaps on my Archer shirt, several commenters mentioned the Snap Source snap setter as a better option. I ordered it and used it for the first time with this shirt. It’s a much easier process, and way less frustrating than the Dritz snap pliers (I’m not even going to link to them because I hate them and don’t recommend them at all). But I must not have been getting them on tightly enough or something because twice since I finished the shirt one side of a snap has pulled out of the fabric and I’ve had to fix it. I think the real solution here is to just use buttons! I used a button and buttonhole on the top collar stand button- I inspected his RTW shirts, and the ones with pearl snaps all had one button in that position.

I’m just glad I finally made something for Man Friend! He’s so supportive of my sewing, and it’s about time that I took the time to make something for him! He’s looking forward to the “real” version of this shirt, a blue and red plaid flannel that he picked out from Mood a few months ago (just a word of advice, ladies, if you take your fella into the fabric store, you MIGHT end up leaving with a bag full of fabrics for him and a whole bunch of crazy requests! I may have agreed to make him a pair of pinstriped dress pants… eek!). Next time around I’ll know what to look out for!

McCall's 6044 | Ginger Makes

I had to tell an idiotic joke to get one real smile in the entire batch of photos!

Alright, let’s talk about dude sewing! What have you made for the men in your life? If you’re a sewing fella, what do you like to sew? Are there any patterns that you wish existed? Any favorite men’s patterns?

Dude Sewing: Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan

O, Autumn!, fairest of seasons, when the air is crisp and clear, lattes are pumpkin-spiced, and a sewist’s heart leaps at the thought of wrapping herself in wool from head to toe!  Just kidding, guys, I hate cold weather and I don’t like dropping an extra buck just to have someone dump nutmeg in my coffee.  But I do turn into a whimpering baby and reach for sweaters the second the temp dips below 65 degrees, so I hit the wool section at Mood Fabrics NYC determined to find the perfect cocoon to shelter myself from autumn’s advances!  They have beautiful fabrics for fall up there, and when I found this luxurious wool double knit, I knew immediately I had to make a sweater for my dad. It just looked like something he would like, you know what I mean?  He’s always cold, but lives in a cool climate (if you haven’t experienced it, you don’t want to know what Michigan feels like in the wintertime), so he layers up nearly year-round!

(Special thanks goes out to Man Friend, who graciously volunteered to model the cardigan for these photos despite the fact that it’s a good size and a half too small for him. He was a lovely model, so I’ll have to think of something special to make for him!)

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

This is the closest thing I could find to a smile in the photos…

I used Thread Theory‘s Newcastle Cardigan pattern and cut a size small based on measurements my mom took of a few of my dad’s sweaters. The pattern comes together quickly and is pretty fun to sew. I chose version 1, with front and back yoke details, but cut them in self fabric as my pop’s a pretty conservative dresser and probably wouldn’t appreciate any extra “flair” in his garment! I opted for the larger shawl collar as it seemed cozier. The topstitched yokes are a really nice detail, even if they’re mostly covered up by the shawl collar. I added an extra button (pretty arbitrarily… six just looked better than five in the button size I selected!). If I made this for someone else, I would lengthen the body a bit– it seems a little short, especially in comparison to the length of the sleeves. Luckily my dad’s pretty short-waisted, so it won’t be a problem for him. I would also draft a waistband for the cardigan, I think. I feel like a hem band would look a little nicer and more RTW.

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

“Oh, wow, this pipe is so INTERESTING! I think I’ll keep staring at it!”

The fabric is perfect for my pop– it’s warm and soft, but without any of the scratchiness that often deters people from wool. It’s got some heft, but it’s still drapey, which seemed like just the right weight for a cardigan.  To help it keep its shape, I used pro-tricot deluxe fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply for the collar, plackets, facings, and yoke pieces.  I really liked this interfacing– I was amazed to see that the fabric still retained its stretch after fusing!  I also stabilized the shoulder seam with twill tape, following the pattern directions to topstitch from the right side on either side of the seam. The fabric is stretchy, but not CRAZY stretchy, so I used a ballpoint needle to avoid skipped stitches, but stitched the vertical seams with a regular straight stitch. I used a zigzag stitch on anything that needed to stretch horizontally (like the cuff seams), and I used my Janome’s special stretch zigzag stitch for the hem to make sure it had plenty of give (I just discovered this stitch after, oh, two years sewing on this machine… facepalm).  Buttonholes… well, they LOOK pretty good, but my feed dogs couldn’t move the fabric forward while I was sewing them, so I had to sort of manually shove the fabric underneath the buttonhole foot.  I was trying to match the speed I thought the sewing machine would move to keep from stretching out the buttonholes, and I think I was fairly successful, but it was pretty nerve-wracking!

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

The major difficulty of using a fabric like this for this pattern is BULK.  In some places, like where the collar attaches to the neckline, you’re sewing through six layers of fabric (not counting interfacing!)– whoa, Nelly!  My poor sewing machine was pretty sad trying to chomp through that much fabric.  I graded the seams and notched them aggressively, but there’s still a bit of bulk in some of the seams that just couldn’t be eliminated.  If you’re making this pattern or something else with a shawl collar, it might make sense to cut facings or the undercollar out of a lighter-weight fabric, something I routinely do when sewing with wovens but didn’t consider on this project.

Newcastle Cardigan made with wool double knit from Mood Fabrics

Better keep inspecting that pipe– you might miss a detail!

So, brief sidebar– guys, it’s WAY more fun to be on the other side of the camera telling someone how to model than to pose for pictures yourself!  I was nearly mad with power and really had to dial back the impulse to shout things like, “What’s your character’s backstory?”  Man Friend was worried that he looked too much like His Excellency, the Duke of Fall.  There’s definitely a resemblance, huh?

HOLY CRAP, LOOK OUT! YOUR HEAD IS GLOWING, MAN FRIEND!  Someone take the camera away from me, please.

How about you– are you a wool enthusiast?  Are you a fall junkie?  Are you a member of the pumpkin spice latte cult?  What’s on your sewing table these days?

Bathroom graffiti at FIT where I’m taking night classes. It’s a cult, people!