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

Monday, September 9, 2019

Men's Shirt Pattern Showdown: Fairfield Button-Up vs. All-Day Shirt

Pattern review comparing the Liesl & Co. All-Day Shirt to the Thread Theory Fairfield Button-Up.

Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am not a menswear sewing expert. But I have tried to branch out from pajama pants and t-shirts when sewing for my husband. I've sewn eight men's shirts in the last two years, using three patterns - the Colette Negroni, the Thread Theory Fairfield Button-Up Shirt, and most recently, the Liesl & Co. All-Day Shirt.  While sewing the All-Day Shirt, I was comparing it to the Fairfield every step of the way. I thought others might be interested in the comparisons too, so I wrote them up. I'm comparing the two patterns on the parameters of fit; pattern format and instructions; pattern options; and finally construction and finishes.  I hope someone out there will find this useful!

Men's shirt pattern comparison: the Liesl & Co. All-Day Shirt vs. the Thread Theory Fairfield Button-Up.

Fit

I've complained about the fit of the Fairfield before.  In my experience sewing it six times for three different men, it runs a full size small in the chest and stomach area. My husband is slim guy and a medium according to the size chart, but I have to grade from a medium shoulder to a size large in the chest and waist for him.  I did not expect this, because the Fairfield seems to take sizing very seriously - the pattern even includes two size ranges, with pattern pieces for both: average figures and larger figures. All of the men I sewed this for fell into the "average figure" size range, and the size according to the size chart was too small for all of them.

I've been frustrated with the pattern because, once I got my husband's size worked out, I took a closer look at the collar area in the shirts I'd already sewn him. It seemed to me as though the medium collar is too small for him (he wears a 15.5 neck in RTW shirts).  None of the Fairfields I've made were meant to be worn with a tie, so we haven't really tested it out. I did have him try to button the neck of the last Fairfield I made him and it does button, but just barely. It could use a few millimeters more room.

Side-by-side comparisons of the Thread Theory Fairfield Button-Up and the Liesl & Co. All Day Shirt.
On the left, the Fairfield in a medium shoulder graded to large. On the right, the All-Day Shirt in a straight medium. My husband should be a straight medium in both according to the size charts.

In contrast, the All-Day Shirt is true to size - I sewed him a straight medium and it was a perfect fit.

That said, my husband prefers a slim-cut shirt, and now that I've worked out his size in the Fairfield, it does yield a slimmer cut shirt when you use the back dart option instead of the pleat option.

Winner: All-Day Shirt, for being true to its size chart.



Pattern Format, Assembly and Instructions


Both patterns are available in print or PDF - I happen to have the PDF of both.  I have no complaints regarding the PDF assembly.  Both patterns feature very good, thorough instructions. While I had a little trouble figuring out how the cuff went together in the All-Day pattern, I think it was just because it was a method I had never encountered before, and not because the instructions were bad.

Winner: Draw.

Options




Both shirts have options. The Fairfield allows you to choose between a back pleat or back darts for a more fitted look. It also includes an optional button/tab to secure rolled-up sleeves, and you can download patterns for short sleeves and alternative cuffs (including French cuffs) and collars.

Side-by-side comparison of collars on the All-Day Shirt and the Fairfield Button-Up shirt patterns.
On the left, the Fairfield collar. On the right, the All-Day shirt collar with optional collar stay pockets.
The All-Day Shirt has options for a cut-on placket as well as a separate placket piece, workshirt-style pockets vs. dress shirt pockets, and a button-down collar or a dress collar with pockets for collar stays.


I guess it depends on what you are looking for.  For me, the options of the Fairfield are a little more versatile than the All-Day options. Though I do love the collar-stay pocket option on the All-Day.

Winner: Fairfield.


Construction and Finishes

The Fairfield has built-in instructions and seam allowances meant for flat-felled seams, which I really like (though if you don't make a muslin you may have to sacrifice the flat-felled seams for more room in the body).  You won't get much extra room, however, because the Fairfield is drafted with different seam allowances on the front and back side seams - one is 5/8" and the other is 1/4" - the idea being that you don't have to trim one of the allowances after sewing the first seam. This does not bother me, though it can be a bit confusing.  You'll need to adjust the seam allowances on the All-Day Shirt if you want to flat-fell those seams. In my opinion, this is the one black mark against the All-Day Shirt.

Side-by-side comparison of cuffs and plackets on the All-Day Shirt and Fairfield Button-Up shirt patterns.
All-Day Shirt cuff on the left, Fairfield cuff on the right.

I much prefer the collar construction on the All-Day Shirt to the Fairfield collar instructions.  And while I found the cuff construction method fiddly and time-consuming on the All-Day Shirt, it ultimately yielded a nicer cuff than the Fairfield.  The All-Day Shirt also has a tower placket method that allows you to do a contrast under-placket.

Winner: All-Day Shirt by a nose.


Conclusion


Winner: All-Day Shirt.

If I weigh all my categories evenly, the All-Day Shirt squeaks out just ahead of the Fairfield Button-Up Shirt.  I think this is a fair assessment, with one major caveat.  Fit is a huge factor; maybe the most important factor, when choosing a pattern.  It's the major downfall of the otherwise solid Fairfield pattern.  That said, I will probably continue to sew both patterns, and maybe even figure out a way to mash them up to get my perfect men's shirt pattern. If the All-Day Shirt had built-in seam allowances for flat-felling and a slim cut option, it would be the clear winner for me, since I prefer its construction in all the fiddly areas.

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7 comments:

  1. To my eye, the All Day shirt fits better overall as well, but perhaps that is the fabric and styling talking. Well done on all that menswear! Shirtmaking like this is really not my favorite thing. Props to you!!

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    1. Thanks Juliana! You know, I procrastinated making my first men's shirt for a good six months, so sure was I that it was going to be awful. And then I actually really enjoyed it. It's not all I would ever want to sew, but knocking out a couple each year is very satisfying.

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  2. Super helpful, since I own both patterns and would love to sew some men's shirts someday! I prefer the look of the All Day Shirt (including fit) in these photos, but I agree with you that Liesl's standard .5 inch seam allowance isn't quite enough to flat fell and it would be great to have a slimmer (recital shirt-like) option to choose from.

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    1. I'm pretty sure the All-Day will be the only one I sew going forward, unless I decide I really want to dig into the pattern alteration required to mess with the Fairfield collar. Someone suggested that I just cut the size large all around and then do a narrow shoulder adjustment ... which seems like a much easier fix than I was envisioning. So we'll see. Maybe I will continue to sew both.

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  3. Love this Masha! I only have the All Day Shirt but kind of want the Fairfield just cause I adore the Thread Theory paper pattern packaging and collect them like stamps :)
    I wonder if the Fairfield might be the best fit for a growing skinny tweenager and the All Day for a growing (ahem) husband!

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    1. You may have something there! And I may return to the pattern if I decide I want to go ahead and make those pattern adjustments to deal with the collar. I'm not in the mood for it currently, but sometimes the urge hits.

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  4. Thanks for doing this comparison! I own both patterns but haven't sewn either one since I just graduated to sewing tees for my husband.

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Hi! I am so happy you came by. Thanks for your comment!