1. Welcome to the new Styleforum!

    We hope you’re as excited as we are to hang out in the new place. There are more new features that we’ll announce in the near future, but for now we hope you’ll enjoy the new site.

    We are currently fine-tuning the forum for your browsing pleasure, so bear with any lingering dust as we work to make Styleforum even more awesome than it was.

    Oh, and don’t forget to head over to the Styleforum Journal, because we’re giving away two pairs of Carmina shoes to celebrate our move!

    Please address any questions about using the new forum to support@styleforum.net

    Cheers,

    The Styleforum Team

    Dismiss Notice

Shirtmaking as a hobby - is it viable?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by chobochobo, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. chobochobo

    chobochobo Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,411
    Joined:
    May 7, 2006
    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I was browsing the forum Amazon bookstore just as a way of supporting the forum and noticed the shirtmaking book. I'm not a tailor and have not made any clothing of my own, I don't even have a sewing machine. I'm fairly good with my hands but I guess that doesn't mean much. I'm just toying with the idea of trying to make shirts as a hobby. I can see that collars and cuffs are going to be a challenge; I wish that I could see what would be on the 'recommended requirements' list similar to what one gets on the side of computer software/hardware [​IMG]
     
  2. j

    j Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,914
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    If I had the patience and neck stamina, I'd try my hand at making shirts. If you had experience with a sewing machine, it's not that complicated, though I know going from a passable shirt to one you'd want to wear at an important event in public would take a lot of experience.

    If it seems interesting to you, you might pick up a sewing machine (a basic Sears model or a Singer from a thrift store will be fine) and try altering shirts and other clothes to see if it's something you could get into. You might impress yourself with the results. At the very least, you'll have familiarity with some methods that can save you some money in the future for alterations you'd pay for but now can do while watching TV.
     
  3. lakewolf

    lakewolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,166
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Location:
    Zurich, Switzerland
    I took tailoring as a hobby.

    I learned to do basic alterations, like trousers hems and cuffs and also waists, jacket side and center adjustments, I even made vents and attempted to do shoulders.

    Some are easy, some are more difficult, and as you get experienced with the sewing machine and the neddle, you can make them fast and well.

    But indeed I recognise it is not something you could learn all by yourself or from a book. I would need more insight from a master tailor to learn how to recut a jacket or how to recut trousers, even If i did recut trousers once, the results were not as good as a real tailor could do.

    It is about the cut and the patterns and your ability to handle a complex configuration of tissues and layers, specially when you are doing chests, shoulders and crotchs. Also with the experience you can see how you should modify the jacket to fit you best.

    I was toying with the idea of getting some instruction from an school or a tailor. I will do it some day.

    On the other hand I like to do it for myself, but I don't think I'd like to be doing this for others or as a job.
     
  4. Ivan Kipling

    Ivan Kipling Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,114
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Remember that much of ready to wear is done in pieces. Those pieces are then assembled, into a whole. Attempting to do an entire garment, is another matter. I know people who can do it. I know women who make all of their own clothes. These garments do not look 'homemade,' and fit them like custom clothes should. What a great craft, to master.

    Since you're interested in shirtmaking, why not give it a try? You can't go wrong, sewing shirts as a hobby.
     
  5. william

    william Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,554
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    I say absolutely go for it. Just use cheap fabric until you've got your skill set together. I've tried to find hobbyist cordwainer classes (no success as of yet). I'd be interested in shirts as well. After a few years I wouldn't be surprised if you were able to produce at least a casual shirt (oxford button down, etc.) for yourself that you'd be happy to wear. Just remember, it's a skill, and not magic, as some would lead you to believe (I'm not downplaying the artistry involved, just making the point that it's certainly possible to learn).
     
  6. wheelerray

    wheelerray Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    159
    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2006
    What I know about sewing I learned by watching my mother and grandmother. I bought a machine to do some very simple alterations and also made a couple of things -- fleece hats, sox, and gloves, fleece pullovers.

    It is also not as simple as it would frst appear. There are speciality machines for more complex work. One such essential machine is a serger [sp?]. Even as a hobbiest you will need one. They are not prohibitively expensive, ($400 and up) but you should plan on taking classes to learn how to use it. Most big cities with stores that sell them also hold classes.

    I'm not pursuing it as a hobby because I just don't have the patience to get through the relatively steep learning curve. But it is fun and rewarding, especially if you have kids who can wear your early experiments!
     
  7. mizanation

    mizanation Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    927
    Joined:
    May 8, 2006
    sewing is a great hobby and i'm very glad i got into it. i mostly have done denim projects (jeans and jackets), but i know about the shirt-making book you are talking about (i have a different book made by the same person). sewing has come in handy many times. just be careful, it can really be absorbing. at one time, i was spending all of my free time browsing fabric stores and looking for vintage sewing machines. there is a lot to learn and it can be very fun. just make sure you don't get too obsessed or it might hurt your personal relationships. [​IMG]
     
  8. Tck13

    Tck13 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    5,749
    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Location:
    Philly
    I was browsing the forum Amazon bookstore just as a way of supporting the forum and noticed the shirtmaking book. I'm not a tailor and have not made any clothing of my own, I don't even have a sewing machine. I'm fairly good with my hands but I guess that doesn't mean much. I'm just toying with the idea of trying to make shirts as a hobby. I can see that collars and cuffs are going to be a challenge; I wish that I could see what would be on the 'recommended requirements' list similar to what one gets on the side of computer software/hardware [​IMG]


    To get a start, you could go to a fabric store, pick up a pattern and the required fabric and make a shirt. It would be that easy. You should get thread, a fabric shears and a couple of other tools.

    If you want to make your own custom shirt, you could do that but it would require patternmaking experience. Patternmaking is quite a skill and requires some work.
     
  9. lefty

    lefty Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    9,569
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
  10. william

    william Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,554
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
  11. j

    j Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    14,914
    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    What I know about sewing I learned by watching my mother and grandmother. I bought a machine to do some very simple alterations and also made a couple of things -- fleece hats, sox, and gloves, fleece pullovers.

    It is also not as simple as it would frst appear. There are speciality machines for more complex work. One such essential machine is a serger [sp?]. Even as a hobbiest you will need one. They are not prohibitively expensive, ($400 and up) but you should plan on taking classes to learn how to use it. Most big cities with stores that sell them also hold classes.


    Actually you can do quite a lot without a serger. Remember that the serger was not even available for many years after sewing machines, and the patterns designed for them, became popular.

    They are definitely nice to have and make some things much easier, but definitely not essential for a hobbyist.
     
  12. lefty

    lefty Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    9,569
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2006
    Thanks lefty! I've found several classes in London, but alas I live in Atlanta, GA. The dimlights link is helpful though. Maybe I could take a short summer course or something.

    The focus seems to be cowboy boots but if you make like Jack Nicholson ordering toast in Five Easy Pieces you should be able to get what you want.

    Good luck,

    lefty
     
  13. whatsinaname

    whatsinaname Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    64
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2007
    As someone who did teach himself shirtmaking using Coffin's book, it's definitely possible. When I started, I didn't even know how to thread the sewing machine. Now I've probably made a half dozen nice shirts (and one for my girlfriend --- don't underestimate how wonderful handmade clothes can be as gifts). Not surprisingly, there were about 10 shirts that I made at the beginning that were throw aways for various reasons (pattern problems, cutting mistakes, sewing mistakes, etc.). I think it's been about 2 years since I started.

    To make a shirt doesn't require much equipment: a sewing machine (a new Kenmore is about $100-150), scissors, thread, pins, fabric, interfacing (gives cuffs and collars body), an iron, and a pattern. Oh, and buttons. And a seam ripper and patience. [​IMG] My first shirts took forever to make, but as I've progressed, I've developed my own "system" for doing the tricker parts faster and better. I'm probably in the 6-8 hour range now.

    Start with inexpensive fabric and a less fitted shirt pattern (the more fitted, the more precision is required) and be prepared to make mistakes. Good luck!
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. william

    william Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,554
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    As someone who did teach himself shirtmaking using Coffin's book, it's definitely possible. When I started, I didn't even know how to thread the sewing machine. Now I've probably made a half dozen nice shirts (and one for my girlfriend --- don't underestimate how wonderful handmade clothes can be as gifts). Not surprisingly, there were about 10 shirts that I made at the beginning that were throw aways for various reasons (pattern problems, cutting mistakes, sewing mistakes, etc.). I think it's been about 2 years since I started.

    To make a shirt doesn't require much equipment: a sewing machine (a new Kenmore is about $100-150), scissors, thread, pins, fabric, interfacing (gives cuffs and collars body), an iron, and a pattern. Oh, and buttons. And a seam ripper and patience. [​IMG] My first shirts took forever to make, but as I've progressed, I've developed my own "system" for doing the tricker parts faster and better. I'm probably in the 6-8 hour range now.

    Start with inexpensive fabric and a less fitted shirt pattern (the more fitted, the more precision is required) and be prepared to make mistakes. Good luck!


    Great story! I may seriously get into this in a few years. Thanks for the writeup.
     
  15. Despos

    Despos Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,102
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Many fabric shops have sewing classes or continuing ED or colleges. Instruction to sewing a shirt could easily be found in most cities.

    I took a continuing ed class when I was 18 and made a navy blue with white windowpane, very fine wale corduroy shirt.
     
  16. Despos

    Despos Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,102
    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    I just googled "sewing schools" and there were tons of links.
     
  17. william

    william Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,554
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    I just googled "sewing schools" and there were tons of links.

    +1.

    I found the Atlanta Sewing School. It's about 15 minutes away from my house!
     
  18. instar

    instar Member

    Messages:
    20
    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    Location:
    Houston
    Shirtmaking is much easier than it looks. I've made most of my dress clothes for the last 15 years - from shirts to suits - and if you can read, you can sew. I can offer three pieces of advice from my experience:

    1. Start out with a commercial shirt pattern with clear instructions. McCalls has a good one - check their catalog. Once you get the basics down, you can alter the pattern to be whatever you want. The Coffin book is great once you've made a few shirts - I keep mine on my work table, but for a beginner he sometimes overly complicates simple steps.

    2 Spend a little extra money and get a good sewing machine. You don't need a lot of built-in stitches - unless you plan to embroider little ducks or rabbits on your shirts - but a speed control switch and GOOD buttonhole foot are essential.

    3. Buy a 1/4" edgestitch foot for your machine. They're cheap and worth their weight in gold for shirtmaking.

    Shirtmaking can be a great hobby. Just take your time and don't be afraid to rip out seams that aren't quite right. Good luck!
     
    1 person likes this.
  19. william

    william Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,554
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2006
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shirtmaking is much easier than it looks. I've made most of my dress clothes for the last 15 years - from shirts to suits - and if you can read, you can sew. I can offer three pieces of advice from my experience:

    1. Start out with a commercial shirt pattern with clear instructions. McCalls has a good one - check their catalog. Once you get the basics down, you can alter the pattern to be whatever you want. The Coffin book is great once you've made a few shirts - I keep mine on my work table, but for a beginner he sometimes overly complicates simple steps.

    2 Spend a little extra money and get a good sewing machine. You don't need a lot of built-in stitches - unless you plan to embroider little ducks or rabbits on your shirts - but a speed control switch and GOOD buttonhole foot are essential.

    3. Buy a 1/4" edgestitch foot for your machine. They're cheap and worth their weight in gold for shirtmaking.

    Shirtmaking can be a great hobby. Just take your time and don't be afraid to rip out seams that aren't quite right. Good luck!


    Another encouraging post for the do-it-yourself fans among us.

    Could you perhaps recommend a few good sewing machines?
     
  20. prozach1576

    prozach1576 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    851
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    I emailed a few fabric stores the other day to find out where I can learn how to sew...I was actually going to go talk to one of them today. I'd really like to learn how to make shirts too.
     

Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by