$300 for a shirt?! Are you serious? In some cases, yes, when it comes to shirts made to fit a specific individual. 🙂 And with online ordering, you don’t even have to leave home- what can be better? Well, let’s qualify this a bit- most places offering “custom tailored” shirts are in reality modifying existing pattern blocks based on industry standard sizes. In many cases, a person’s measurements will fall within the parameters for a specific standard size and thus require no modification whatsoever. So in reality, one is not getting a “custom” but rather a standard sized shirt in a specific color/fabric/collar combination that has been selected from the seller’s list of options. In some cases, it’s little different than ordering from a standard online catalog. Finally, price-wise, you’re often paying about the same that you would if you were simply ordering something ready-made and giving the standard size/neck, and arm length measurements.
The next step up still involves working off standard pattern blocks but it’s done with more precision and detail, utilizing a greater number of measurements. The better concerns will have an individual take the measurements in person to ensure that they are correct. Also, interaction with a live sales representative/tailor ensures that whatever particular fit issues you may have can be addressed up front. Also, you’ll have a far better selection of better quality shirting fabrics and more options in regard to cuff styles, stitching, etc.
Finally, this takes us to “bespoke” tailoring which is the most expensive and the most rarely done and basically involves creating a custom pattern to the individual client. Essentially an individual patter is drafted from the client’s measurements to ensure a perfect fit. The pattern drafting alone is time-consuming (and the prices reflect that 🙂 ). This method is rarely, if ever, found outside of exclusive tailor shops such as Saville Row.
I recently decided to try my version of a “custom shirt.” This being the first time I’ve made a modern shirt (as opposed to 1880s and 90s), I decided to start with to a commercial pattern. Yeah, I know I probably should have drafted a pattern but I opted for the easy way on this. 😉
I opted for Style D but only with a left-hand pocket and minus the flap. The pattern itself was the usual commercial tissue type so I first cut out the pieces and mounted them on tag board (the same cardboard that manila file folders are made from). I selected an Italian-made cotton shirting fabric in a French blue with white stripes along with a snow white Kona cotton for the collar and cuffs. Unfortunately, while this is a nice shirting fabric, it’s also slippery and prone to shifting so cutting out the pattern pieces and the subsequent sewing were a challenge- I made liberal use of pins and even then, I found myself having to restitch at various points (fortunately, I didn’t have to re-cut any pattern pieces).
Below are some pictures of the shirt under construction:
So how is the fit? Well, so far it’s perfect and I didn’t have to make any alterations… 🙂 Now while this may seem fairly trivial when compared to custom and bespoke tailored shirts, it’s not so much in terms of the labor required. Naturally, there’s been a bit of a learning curve so it’s taken longer for to construct the shirt than it should. But even so, it’s been a labor-intensive process especially since each of the seams had to be finished individually and everything checked to make sure it was set right.
Finally, on to the finishing details: 🙂
And finally, for a little seam finishing, bias tape made in the same fabric: