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My February Minerva Make – Burda 6931 Men’s Shirt

February 24, 2015

It’s been a while since I made a shirt for my husband.  Like, two years.  The first three shirts I made him using the Colette Negroni pattern were fine (each an improvement on the preceding one), but when I tried a Simplicity pattern for a Western style shirt, it all went a bit wrong (my fault) and scared me off sewing shirts.  It was way too big, and to top it off I accidentally sewed the buttonholes on the wrong side.  Ooops.

Finally I felt ready to tackle a shirt again but I wanted a different style this time, more in keeping with what my husband likes wearing – a fitted shirt with a regular collar (not a camp collar like the Negroni) that could be worn with a tie if desired.  I found Burda 6931, and was at first put off by the contrast sleeves, collar and pocket of view A, but the line drawing showed potential so I ordered it, along with some really lovely quality cotton poplin which is perfect for making shirts with.  My husband chose the colour, Claret, and I think it’s lovely.  I neglected to see that the fabric recommendations are for fabrics with elastane, and having made the shirt I can now see why – it is very fitted!

Burda 6931 pattern

Burda 6931 pattern

After the disastrously big shirt I made last time, I wanted to make sure I didn’t get it wrong this time.  I measured him and after consulting the size charts and the finished garment measurements, I opted to cut a size 36 for the chest but to grade down to a 34 at the waist.

Burda 6931 in Claret Red poplin

Burda 6931 in Claret Red poplin

I wanted this shirt to be beautifully finished, so I chose to sew flat fell seams for most of the seams, but when I was attaching one of the sleeves, I accidentally snipped into the seam allowance of the fabric (which when sewing a flat fell seam is on the right side of the garment).  I was very, very annoyed with myself and I just couldn’t think what to do to fix it.  I left it a whole two days before it suddenly occurred to me that I could unpick the sleeve and sew it the other way around, so that the snipped bit would at least be on the inside of the shirt!  So it’s still a flat-fell seam, just that the overlapped part is on the inside – but you still get the second row of stitching showing on the right side parallel to the seam, so it looks good from the outside, too.  Phew!

Burda 6931 - ignore the girly coat hanger!

Burda 6931 – ignore the girly coat hanger!

After having made several shirts before, and two shirt dresses, I was mentally prepared for the task of sewing the collar.  Good job, too.  Burda instructions are a bit sparse, to be honest – there’s none of the hand-holding that you might get in patterns from other companies.  I remembered to ensure that the interfaced sides of the collar and collar band would be facing out when the collar is turned down, and when I was attaching the collarband piece to the neck edge, I clipped a scant 1/4″ into the neck edge of the shirt to help with the curve and avoid puckering.  Incidentally, this is the first time I’ve ever sewn a shirt without a back yoke!

This is no yoke.

This is no yoke.

The sleeve vent instructions were extremely basic, and my previous experience means I’ve only ever made sleeve plackets rather than simple vents, so I had to consult one of my sewing books instead to get my head around what to do.  They turned out ok to look at, but my husband did say that the vent seems to want to sit too far to the front, so perhaps the position of the vent needs to be further to the back next time.

Sleeve vent, cuff, buttons and collar

Sleeve vent, cuff, buttons and collar

I’d pretty much got this shirt all sewn up when I did a fit check.  I basted the side seams together and, when husband returned home from the gym, I asked him to try it on.  I was mortified to see it was too tight!  I measured him again and he did seem to have grown a bit since I first measured, but I couldn’t understand how the ease built into the pattern didn’t cater for this!  He claimed that he was bound to be a bit bigger directly after lifting weights, so all I could do was just wait and see if he’d shrunk again by the next day.  I was sooooo disappointed – I felt like the shirt was looking perfect, but what good is a shirt that is too tight?  He looked as though he’d been vacuum-packed into it!

Between this trying on session and the next, I undid the side seams and sewed them up again with a seam allowance of 1/4″ – which would give an extra 3/4″ width each side.  In hindsight, I should have only done this at the side seams and not the underarm seams as well, as the sleeves didn’t need any extra width and now I think they look a bit billowy in comparison with the fit of the rest of the shirt.  Decreasing the seam allowance to such an extent meant that I was unable to do flat fell seams at the sides – very disappointing.  I didn’t want to overlock it, so I sewed a reinforcing extra line of stitching and then pinked the raw edges.

It fits!

It fits!

Because of the extra width in the sleeves, I had to increase the depth of the pleats in order to fit the cuffs.  This could perhaps be a contributing factor to the not-quite-perfect fit of the sleeves.  I wanted to create as much extra room as possible in the shirt, so the final change I made was to move all of the buttons over so that they were nearer the edge of the centre front.  When my husband returned home from work, he tried the shirt on, and due to a magical combination of him shrinking and me making the shirt bigger, it fitted him!

It is very fitted, although I wonder if I’m hyper-sensitive to it because I made it.  I think next time I’d like to sew a size larger and see how that turns out.  Anyway, my husband likes it and demanded to wear it for an applicant day at work, and he said it was nice to wear and didn’t feel too tight.  There isn’t any straining at the buttons, which I think would be the most obvious sign of it being too small.

Ready for work

Ready for work

Overall I really enjoyed making the shirt, despite the problems I encountered.  I like the precision of shirt-making, and I take great pride in making something to the best of my ability, and solving problems when they occur.  I’ll definitely be using this pattern again!  I think I’d sew a size bigger and then I know I’d be fine to use a regular, non-stretch cotton.  I’d definitely want to use the same interfacing, too.  The woven interfacing from Minerva is THE BEST.  Seriously.  It’s my favourite.  Love it.

Right, I’m off to sew some pretty dresses.  It can’t all be selfless sewing around here, after all! 😉

  1. February 24, 2015 10:39 am

    Well done! I feel your pain over the neck fitting issue – I had exactly the same problem when I made a shirt. At least you can chalk it up to experience! It looks good to me though.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      February 24, 2015 12:23 pm

      The neck/collar was ok, it was more across the chest where it was too tight. Luckily with the reduced seam allowance, it’s fine now. The top button does fasten, he just wouldn’t fasten it unless he was wearing a tie! 🙂

  2. February 24, 2015 4:16 pm

    Looks superb from here! I wish my OH would not be scared to wear anything else but blue!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      February 24, 2015 4:42 pm

      Blue is classic!

  3. February 24, 2015 4:37 pm

    Looks fabulous! I think my Husband would like a shirt but as he wears one about once every two months I’m kinda loathe to spend the time on it (such a bad wife!!). You’d really never know there were fitting dramas with this, it looks pretty good to me! The proof is in the wearing and it seems to have received the seal of approval. I take my hat off to you!!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      February 24, 2015 4:45 pm

      Thanks! He’s worn it a few times now so definitely worth the effort! I think you have other priorities right now though 🙂

  4. February 24, 2015 5:41 pm

    Every girl is crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man, and he certainly looks sharp! Great save, I’d say if the next size up is within approximately the seam allowances you let out, you should have a great fit next time. And that color! Gorgeous! My hubby is determined to stick with blue, but I have snuck in other colors and he’s grudgingly worn them. 😉

  5. February 25, 2015 3:43 pm

    very handsome! a lovely make 🙂

  6. Rubywanderlust permalink
    March 23, 2015 10:34 pm

    Thanks for your review. I’m just about to attempt this for my husband in a funky Michael Miller print he picked out. I’ll be sure to measure an existing shirt first to see how big the finished size needs to be. Burda patterns are a little sketchy with their sizes and instructions. Never made a mens shirt before, so this could be interesting.

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