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Shirt question for the tailors among us

Threadbearer

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I'm a thin guy with an 8" drop, so lately I've been having many of my shirts taken in. My tailor does great work, but he won't offer much advice. With him it's usually, "Whatever you want, Senor Threadbearer. You want the side seams, Senor Threadbearer? No problem. You want the darts. No problem. Whatever you want."

I don't know what I want. Well, that's not true. I want the shirt to contour to my frame. What I don't know is the best way to do that. When I first started going to this tailor, he did side seams AND darts on the same shirts, and the results ranged from good to fantastic. But then he botched a side seam job by taking it in a little too much, and since then he has been inclined to stick with darts only.

Are there general rules of thumb for when you go with side seams vs. when you go with darts If so, what are they? I've been under the impression that you take in at the side seams when you want to bring the shirt in sideways, toward your hip bones. And I thought you used darts to get the shirt to follow the curve of your spine and sort of cling to the small of your back. Is that right?

Related question: When you take a shirt in using the side seams, do you also have to open up the sleeve seams and remove fabric under the armpits?
 

jefferyd

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Originally Posted by Threadbearer
I When I first started going to this tailor, he did side seams AND darts on the same shirts, and the results ranged from good to fantastic. But then he botched a side seam job by taking it in a little too much, and since then he has been inclined to stick with darts only.

Are there general rules of thumb for when you go with side seams vs. when you go with darts If so, what are they? I've been under the impression that you take in at the side seams when you want to bring the shirt in sideways, toward your hip bones. And I thought you used darts to get the shirt to follow the curve of your spine and sort of cling to the small of your back. Is that right?


Pretty much. The shape of your body is pretty complex so the closer you come to it, the more shaping devices (seams/darts) need to be involved to distribute the shaping. In suit making we get away with less because we do a lot of shrinking and stretching that isn't done to shirts. So, yes, if you want to take a lot out, it is a good idea to distribute it between the side seams and darts. I understand your tailor's hesitating- the darts stay there so if he takes too much out he can put it back, but you need to cut the excess out of the side seam. But still, he should be able to get it right.
Related question: When you take a shirt in using the side seams, do you also have to open up the sleeve seams and remove fabric under the armpits?
The side seam is one long seam from the cuff to hem. If you only take a bit out of the waist and nothing in the chest, then the sleeve doesn't need to be touched. If you want to reduce the chest as well, the sleeve will be affected.
 

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