A Classic Manly Shirt

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To me, there is nothing more masculine and handsome than a working man dressed in simple clothing.  Men’s shirts can be one of the easiest garments to produce at home if you use the historic technique of rectangular construction.  I’m not a clothing historian, but my research has taught me that the rectangular construction method was used pretty much exclusively until the 1400’s and for some garments, such a the common man’s shirt and the ladies chemise, it seems to have endured for some time after.  Rectangular construction, as the name implies, relies on drafting the pattern in simple rectangular and triangular shapes.  It’s a money saver both in terms of the cost of a store-bought pattern and the reduction of fabric waste, it’s timeless and it produces a practical and attractive garment.

Oran has wanted a “mountain man” shirt for some time.  I finished this one just a couple of days ago.  The fabric is a cotton sheet.

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Adaptations can include a placket and buttons in place of the bound slit in front, laces or even a complete front opening with buttons.   If your man doesn’t like as much sleeve fullness it’s easy to streamline them  a bit.

David gets the next shirt I make.  Would anyone be interested in a multi-post detailed beginners’ tutorial so you can sew along with me?

5 thoughts on “A Classic Manly Shirt

  1. This style shirt is still being worn by many in this day and age. Mainly in the US by historical re-enactors of the Fur Trade Era, pre-1840. But with the sleeves being made slightly fuller it is also the classic “Romeo shirt” that was so popular in the 1960’s/70’s and is still often seen worn by bands mainly in florals or wild prints. If you love the old clothing and their simplicity check out the book “Tidings from the 18th Century” by Beth Gilgun. She has how to make all sorts of simple rectangular clothing for people of all ages. She is not only a knowledgeable person, but really nice in person (spent two weeks camping and chatting with her years ago). I agree, we made a huge mistake getting away from the simple clothes. Jan who made and sold historical clothing for 15 years in OK

    1. Hey Jan! What’s up? I’m glad you chimed in. I’ll check out the book. The clothing of the common folk in the 18th century is some of my favorite historical clothing. I just get all worked up over petticoats and stays and chemises. 🙂 I guess I’m going to be doing a tutorial. I hope you’ll stick around and help out. 🙂

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