Make a personalised pattern

Make a personalised pattern

Holy shirt to personalised pattern…

You may have heard be banging on via the medium of Twitterland about how I was becoming fed up at trying to find a modern shirt pattern for a bloke. I’d scoured the usual catalogues and online shops, but I was finding it hard to find a pattern that I liked, which includes a cut away collar and fitted torso.

Don’t get me wrong, theres a time and a place for large flouncy cuffs and big pointy collars, and by my estimation, that is either in the 80’s or the Eurovision Song Contest, neither of which I’m going to anytime soon. Enough moaning about it Matt, get on and do something about it I hear you say! (well maybe you didn’t say that, but I’m gonna anyway).

Just the other Monday morning I was putting on one of my favourite shirts when it hit me, actually it ripped rather than hit, right on the elbow to be exact! My growl of annoyance soon turned to a whimper of optimism when I realised what I had there in front of me, my own very personalised pattern, albeit still largely stitched together.

Not that I could drop everything and start making straight away, I had to iron another shirt and get off to work, but soon my precious….soon!

<Fast forward 12 hours, once I’d got back from work, we’d got the kids down to sleep and had dinner>

I headed off with my torn, cast-aside, now seemingly worthless shirt in hand to the cutting table, I picked up a seam in one hand and a stitch ripper in the other, and this is precisely where I spent the next few hours.

I couldn’t believe how much stitching and how many intricacies goes into a shop purchased mans business shirt. I’d list them here, but I fear you may nod off. Anyway suffice to say there is quite a lot. I began by dismantling the shirt in a logical last on – first off order, noting down design features and the “assumed” process as I went.

So off came the cuffs, the plackets, the sleeves, the button stands, the collar stand, the collar, the yoke inners, the yoke outers (yokes are the shouldery bits for any of the uninitiated), and finally the front and back panels. Once all these were orphaned from the daddy shirt everything was then dismantled further making a note of how the interfacing was applied, where the collar stiffeners went, how the stand joined the shirt front, how on earth the stitch the yokes together etc etc. I kept one sleeve set in just so I could reference back later if I needed to.

I kid you not when I say this was one of the most boring sewing tasks I’d undertaken. We’ve all had to unpick the odd seam before, but this took the biscuit. [Think of the benefit Matt, your very own personalised shirt template!!]

Feeling like I’m very nearly at the 13 mile point of a marathon, I pull out nice big roll of dot and cross pattern paper. This is available by the meter from most good fabric stores and only about 50pence/m.

From here I press, lay out and copy every one of my pattern pieces in turn on to the pattern paper, noting key factors such as right sides, grain line, button hole placement, fold lines etc. Of course you’re not working with a commercial pattern here so you have to ad-lib a little with some of the notches and sewing marks, but just a general mark for either side of the pattern piece after a straight line and before going along a curves does the trick I find.

From here I cut them out and hey presto I have a personalised pattern, just the way I like it. I’ve got some stripy shirting fabric that I purchased from one of my recent Goldhawk road visits, so I’ll keep you updated over the next couple of weeks with part deux, “Unholy Shirt – The Remake”

Bye for now

Matt ChappleMatt x

The stitcher. A magnet for foolery & prankster at heart. Loves being creative, whether with some wood and a saw or with a needle and thread. Attempts to disguise his past time activities as manly pursuits, but is actually pretty handy at sewing!


  1. Helen 4 years ago

    wow! What a great idea, especially if you really love the fit. I don’t envy you the task of all that unpicking though. Can’t wait to see the new version from your pattern!

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      You won’t have to wait long, the remake post is coming soon…Matt

  2. FHC 4 years ago

    Excellent stuff! You might want to invest in a copy of Shirtmaking, by David Coffin – it’s a bible of tricky techniques and I think only a tenner or so – but for collar points, sewing order and plackets he’s a bit of a genius.

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