Research and brainstorming for making a shirt

I've come a long way over the past several years in my sewing ability. One of my current projects is an 18th century man's shirt, so I'm looking back at other shirts that I've made and researching how to do a better job. This post is to review what I've done before for my own benefit as I prepare to make a new shirt and to organize the information that I want to consult while I sew, so it might be really boring unless you plan to make your own shirt.

For my first shirt endeavor, I helped work on shirts for Old Economy Village, a 19th century site in Western Pennsylvania, when I used to volunteer in their costuming department. Then, I made two shirts for my friend's and my St. Kateri costumes: and Those are really quite embarrassing, but we all have to start somewhere. I have since disassembled my St. Kateri shirt.

Later on, I attempted to make a Civil War era shirt for a friend. This blog post shows my first attempt; I just realized that I never wrote about the subsequent two shirts. The first one was too small, then the second one, made in the same manner as the first, was the right size but not the style that my friend was looking for. I did some research and tried again, finally succeeding with the third shirt. In the process, I learned about making good square cut shirts, but also how shirts evolved during the 19th century. The third shirt was more tailored with shaped armscyes, which was becoming the standard by the 1860's. I wish I had pictures, because I really learned a lot of valuable information by practicing with these three shirts.

The first of the 1860's shirts--my buttonholes have improved since then!

Since last year, I've made four (I think) 1770's-ish hunting shirts. Those improved as I went along, also. Again, it was further education and practice in shirt making. I researched those projects quite a bit and spent  much time working out the ideal measurements and small details, which I wrote about on the blog post for one of those shirts.

Dad modeling a hunting shirt

Next up, I will be making a standard 18th century men's shirt. A friend unwisely commissioned this project from me this weekend, and already mailed me the fabric. It's too late now! (evil laughter). We're going to use the awesome blue and white checked linen that William Booth Draper has had recently. I can't even show you a picture of it because it's out of stock. They have a little bit left that they had at an event this past weekend, and they're trying to order more, but it's been very popular. I made an apron out of it last week (pictures soon, I hope).

La Couturiere Parisienne has detailed instructions to make a shirt as per Garsault's L'art du tailleur. This looks like a great resource for cutting out the correct size pieces and constructing the shirt. 18th Century Notebook has links to original shirts. Wish me luck as I attempt to make this project!


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