A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Striped Strathcona

My husband often jokes, "When are you going to make me a suit?" And I tell him that I will never make him a suit.  Never say never, but honestly, few sewing prospects excite me less than the idea of tackling a full men's suit.

But a t-shirt? That I can do.

Last year I bought the Thread Theory Parkland Wardrobe Builder. I love all three pieces and am looking forward to making the Jedediah shorts this summer and a Newcastle cardigan for fall.  But first I tried out the Strathcona Henley.

I measured J carefully, this being the first time I have ever sewn for him, and he fell squarely into the medium size.  I was concerned, having read reviews that recommended sizing up, that this might be too small, but decided to go ahead and as you can see, it is fine.  I read over the instructions for the placket, noting that those without much experience sewing knits were encouraged to hand sew the placket.  I have a lot of knit experience, though, so I figured I could handle it.  Plus, I wasn't sure that hand-sewing through six layers of fabric and two of interfacing at the bottom of the placket was going to be all that easy.

Well.  I had a beast of a time with that placket. I lost count of how many times I ripped out my top stitching, how many times I re-pressed the placket, how many times I tugged at it to get it to sit right. And finally I gave up.  It's a t-shirt.  It should not take 5 hours to sew.  The placket looks ok from a distance, and I guess that is fine, as no one but me should be getting that close to my husband anyway ;)

J is 6'1" but his height is all in his legs.  So I cut 3" off the hem before turning it up 1". I probably should have cut off just 2".  I cut the short sleeves per the pattern but ended up taking 3" off those, too, and I like the length they ended up.

I asked him how he liked it and he was kind of blasé about the whole thing.  It turns out he's not particularly fond of the fabric I chose.  The Cloud 9 organic cotton interlock is dreamy to wear (I know, I tried the shirt on to see how it would look on me - and it's definitely cut for a man, in case you were wondering), but he does not like the color.

I may have told him to suck it up.  I think the color really suits him, and it is a nice neutral to go with some of his more colorful shorts. But I have ordered some rust orange, charcoal and light blue knits to make him a couple basic tees from the pattern.  The man loves orange.

I don't think it is super-noticeable in these photos, but J's left shoulder is lower than his right.  This is a result of the stroke.  While his left shoulder and arm are no longer entirely immobile, they are still vastly weaker than the right side.  So his muscles don't hold his left shoulder up the way they do his right.  As I was writing this post, I noticed that the neckline of the shirt shifts over to the left until it is stopped by his neck.  In addition to making it look like the shirt is too big on the left side, it makes the left sleeve does hang funny off his shoulder and it looks as though it is longer than the right sleeve, when in fact they are exactly the same.  

Going forward, I wonder whether there is an easy fix for this issue.  I've heard about sloping shoulder adjustments but don't know exactly what they entail, nor whether it is possible to do the adjustment on one shoulder only. If anyone has any thoughts, I'd be happy to hear your ideas!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Looks great! I like the fabric and think it looks nice on him, but I can understand the need for more! color! The idea of a knit placket like that always made me nervous... that's why I took the easy road for all my Strathcona tees and skipped it

    1. Thanks, Meg. He is just all-color all the time! I figured one neutral would be a good addition to the wardrobe, ha :)

  2. No expert Masha but I would knock up a quicky in an unwanted knit, with the seams on the outside. Get him to wear it for a bit and then pinch out where it is too big. Recut the seams and then use this as your new pattern.
    I think the colour suits him, but I get men who like colour. You have seen Jed's choices...

  3. Masha I've had so much trouble with my Bloglovin feed and missed so much, but how delightful to see your bloke upright, handsome and wearing something you made!
    I can't help with the shoulder adjustments, but odds are he can redress the imbalance with physio before I could nut out the changes anyway :)

    1. His recovery really has been dramatic. Thank you!

  4. You're doing better than me, I got fed up taping the pattern together some months ago as it's the whole front and the whole back not cut on the fold. It's still abandoned somewhere in my dining room!

    I winged a placket on a kids onesie recently, I ended up using hemming tape, the double fusible sided interfacing stuff. I folded the placket around it and ironed it in place. Then I sewed it to my onesie, right sides together, folded it out, pressed and topstitched to hold the seam allowance in place. Worked fine, probably beginners luck and I'll never manage it again!

  5. This looks great, Masha! That placket looks tricky to sew but I must say you can't even see the issues from the photographs here, so I think you were right to call it good enough! I am sooooo glad to see him looking so fit, and I am grateful for his recovery! I think you should shower the man in orange, myself (I do really like orange, it is true). In a loud Hawaiian print, the very slight difference in shoulder height would be really unnoticeable, just sayin ... ;-)

  6. I like this colour on your husband. Hope he will be more enthusiastic about an orange tee :)

  7. Don't know how I missed this previously! Honestly, I would have made the placket from a woven. Maybe a bright orange placket....great to see your husband looking well!


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