Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Spring Tops Series - The Fairfield Buttonup by Thread Theory

We're beginning a series of posts about Spring Tops to inspire some warmer weather sewing.
And let's start with one for the blokes, shall we?
The Fairfield Buttonup by Thread Theory is a versatile and beautifully drafted men's shirt pattern, suitable for spring, winter and all year around. The classic design comes with many possible variations, including a darted or pleated back, short or long sleeves, sleeve button tabs, pocket and collar options and a regular or fuller-figured body.

There is also a full sewalong series of blog posts on the Thread Theory blog which makes this pattern accessible even to those who've never sewn a shirt before.
Thread Theory patterns have been on our wish-list at The Drapery for some time, but until we get through that list you can puchase them direct from their Canadian web shop as printed or pdf patterns.

Some of my husband Andy's favourite RTW shirts have a very similar fit to the Fairfield, with the fisheye darts at the back. My previous Thread Theory sewing experience, with the Jedediah Shorts, had been very successful. And the final piece of the puzzle was this awesome narwhal fabric which had Andy's approval. **I cut 2.9m (110cm wide) as per the pattern directions but with my ninja pattern tetris skills, used just 2.5m.**

I went into this project with high hopes and am delighted to say I was not disappointed.
The Fairfield pattern provides comprehensive measuring instructions that include both body measurements and comparisons you can make with a well-fitting existing shirt. According to measurements, Andy fit mostly into a size L but would probably need a larger collar size and a tad more breathing space around the belly.  I whipped up a muslin from an old quilt cover and these were the exact adjustments I needed to make. Hooray!
 The fit across the shoulders and back was amazingly good. The sewalong posts on the Thread Theory website were very helpful in making the necessary adjustments, and I also shortened the sleeves by 2cm. NB: when making a muslin of this shirt, be sure to note the differing seam allowances of front/back and when attaching the sleeves, which are specifically designed for no-trim flat felling.

Then it was onto the narwhals. The pattern came together beautifully. I bought the pattern as a pdf and had it printed at Aish, so I cut right into the paper rather than tracing. (If I want to make a different size I'll just get it reprinted.) 
With separate pattern pieces for left and right fronts there's no folding bits away or fear of accidentally cutting two of the same. All interfacing has its own pattern pieces which are slightly smaller than the fabric pieces, so there is no chance of overlap and things getting stuck to your ironing board when fusing! It makes for a lot of pattern pieces, but a thorough process and accurate result.

With a lined yoke and flat-felled shoulder and side seams, there are absolutely no exposed seams, making a lovely clean-finished garment. As mentioned above, the flat felled seams are created by offsetting one large and one narrow seam allowance, rather than trimming after the first pass of sewing. This took a little bit of getting used to when pinning the pieces together, but the result is excellent, so I'm sold. The instructions were top-notch and everything fitted together accurately. The one minor thing I found missing was a notch that's mentioned on the cuff to align with the sleeve seam (no big deal).

Often it's the smallest details that really make a garment, and for me the edgestitching plus topstitching at 1/4" on the cuffs (see that double line of stitching at the top there?) gave a wonderfully professional look that I haven't seen in a shirt pattern before.

I took some photos to demonstrate the fit, front and back.

Probably the best fitting shirt he owns! But there was something missing. It's a shirt with narwhals for goodness sake. Cue new photoshoot.
Phew, that sun is hot!
 I'm thrilled that I've finally found a pattern that fits Andy's very specific wish-list in a tailored shirt. Although it's nice and fitted, he says it allows plenty of room for movement across the shoulders, which is a particular bugbear. Let's demonstrate that.
Better go for a swim.

So there's just one thing wrong with this shirt. What's that you ask? Well, I think this means I'm going to be asked to make more....

Fairfield Buttonup by Thread Theory
Narwhal print by Dear Stella (just a small amount left in store) - it's technically a quilting cotton, but has a nice mid-shirting-weight feel. Used 2.5m (110cm wide).
Only as indicated by body measurements, pattern fits exactly as per sizing and description, although I would possibly consider that the collar sizing is on the small side compared to RTW shirts Andy owns.
High end finish and comprehensive instructions. Adaptable from quite casual to formal. Highly recommended to sewists from advanced beginner onwards.

- Jane & Fiona xx

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