The Red Shirt

The red shirt project:



Dyed cotton broadcloth,  now to be turned into a shirt:


  • (1) The front panels with front plackets.
  • (2 & 3) Yoke and Back attached to the Front.
  • (4 & 5) The Sleeves and Cuffs
  • (6) The collar,  Buttons and Button holes

RedShirt-3 RedShirt-5 RedShirt-4RedShirt-6RedShirt-7RedShirt-8

Here is the result with a tie



And on me:



The next shirt:  Power Pink


Fascinating  detail emerges:


Thanks for Reading



The Aqua Shirt


The Aqua shirt is done.

In addition to the new collar experiment, I was also experimenting with some changes  to the sleeve and sleeve cap design.Aqua6


Here is the sleeve with placket sewn into position.

The sleeve and side seams are flat felled however I am still not very good at.   Getting better  bit by bit.


And the cuffs.   Another experiment –  location and style of the pleat on the cuff. Here I tried a box pleat on the outside of the sleeve.

And the final result



Continuing on the dyeing experiments:


I dyed this using the technique described in the book  “Color by Accident”  by Ann Johnston.

This was my first attempt and it was very easy to do.

Next I will make a shirt of this and see what it looks like.


Thanks for reading.

Collar Experiments…

Well,  I haven’t given up sewing shirts yet.  Just been too busy to do much.


This is my current work in progress. The fabric is a cotton broadcloth with a rather stiff hand.   I dyed the fabric myself as a experiment. Fun, but I don’t know what I am doing with it yet.

The major experiment here is the collar.   I am trying to create a collar that has some structure to it such that, with or without a tie it still looks good.  The stiff fabric probably helps.June-18-16-Aqua2


Here are the  collar and stand pieces  (3/8 in seam allowance)


I am moderately happy the with the results of this experiment.  More experimentation to be done…

Next,   I need to get the sleeves on this shirt.


And now for a little serendipitous art:

Found in an obscure corner of the San Francisco Legion of Honor Museum.
Found in an obscure corner of the San Francisco Legion of Honor Museum.



Current Project(s) – Dec 2015








What I am working on:

The Fall semester is over, the grades are in.   My major sewing oriented project at the moment is revising my pattern program to work in inkscape as an extension. Thus far this has involved learning  how use inkscape, python,  svg,  xml .  It is nowhere near complete  however I am making progress. So far, it only draws the yoke.

Some of the advantages of writing it as an inkscape  extension are:

  • Inkscape is open-source
  • Inkscape is multi-platform
  • It is very easy to install extensions into inkscape.  Just drop a few files into the inkscape extension folder and you are done. ( the major challenge on the Mac is to find the inkscape extension folder)

The screen shot below shows the inkscape window with the PPD-Shirt extension dialog.

Screen Shot of inkscape with PPD Shirt as extension
Screen Shot of inkscape with PPD Shirt as extension

Of course as I work on this program I realize ways to refine the program to make  it more flexible.  For example, giving the user the option of changing the shape of the yoke by adjusting a few parameters.

(Thanks to David Coffin for suggesting  that a standard yoke should be included in the pattern.)

Yoke variations
Yoke variations

I expect to have a fully working version sometime in the  Spring.  I will have partial versions to play with before that.

Meanwhile,  not wanting to spend all my time on the computer,  I have been sewing a few more shirts (I still have much to learn about sewing shirts). Currently I am having fun with snaps instead of buttons.  Snaps may not be as classy but they are way more fun to install.

White linen shirt with snaps and a shaped cuff:

White Linen shirt
White Linen shirt
Linen shirt with snaps
Linen shirt with snaps

I have also been experimenting with shaping the  cuff.  The goal was to make the cuff longer but have it cutaway around the thumb metacarpal so as not to impede the hand motion.

Shaped Cuff
Shaped Cuff
Cuff with Snaps
Cuff with Snaps

I also made the same shirt out of a pink chambray.

Pink Chambray
Pink Chambray

My next sewing project will probably be some trousers.

I did a very-very quick  muslin of  Joost De Cock’s “Textbook Trousers” at  and they look very promising.  Also, I am in desperate need of trousers.

Thanks for reading.




The PPD-0102 Pattern

This post is about the PPD-0102 pattern which is now available for download.

PPD-0102 Work in progress

I am showing here a work in progress,  ivory twill. I have not had time to complete it yet.

The Back
PPD-0102 The Back

Eventually there will be  step-by-step instructions and  more  photos.

The shirt pattern has its own page,  PPD-0102  where you will find links to the pattern files.

My goal in producing these patterns is to help a sewist produce a shirt that fits well. The commercial patterns available for a sewist  tend to come in the  standard sizes 34-36-38-40-42-44-46.  The skilled sewist is then expected to adjust the pattern as necessary to achieve a good fit.  My initial plan  is to produce the patterns in a finer gradation of sizes and hopefully make it easier to get a good fit (34-52 in 1/2 inch intervals).   Eventually I should  be able to offer custom sized patterns.

Admittedly this shirt pattern may not be of  interest to the average sewist for  a couple of   reasons:

Yoke Pattern Piece
Yoke Pattern Piece

1) This pattern  features a “shaped” yoke instead of the traditional “straight” yoke .  I am considering making the next pattern with a standard yoke so that a standard basic dress shirt pattern would be available in a wide range of sizes.

2) This pattern looks a bit different than traditional sewing patterns although I do believe that  the pattern is fairly clear   (I still need to finish the instructions).

A remaining challenge  is actually take measurements of a person and produce a pattern and a shirt for that person.  I know it works for me, but that is a sample size of one.  There are about 15 measurements that go into this pattern.    I will describe these measurements in a future post.

In the meantime, I hope  you find the patterns interesting and/or useful.

Thanks for reading.



The Collar Stand and Fall

In this post I will try to examine the shape of the collar.


In my first pattern, PPD-0101,    the collar is not quite right.  I  admit that over the last few months I  put more effort into developing the software to produce a pattern based on body dimensions than I did on perfecting the pattern itself.  Also, I admit that I do not quite understand the shape of the collar itself.  So, in the pattern I produced a collar that seemed to work.   As I now have more time to spend on the pattern,  I want to understand the shape of the collar.

Several of the books I have on drafting shirts show something like the following from “Fundamentals of Men’s Fashion Design,  A Guide to Casual Clothes” by Edmund B. Roberts and Gary Onishenko, 2nd edition, 1985,  page 73:

Dress shirt collar drafting instructions
Dress shirt collar drafting instructions

They don’t say any more  than just that ”  A dress shirt has a crisp look and consists of a fall and a stand”  They do not explain the shape or how they arrived at it.

When I look at one of my few sample RTW shirts I see this:



The collar seam does have a bit of curvature. The collar stand looks completely different. This shirt does   looks similar to what I have seen In Kwik Sew Pattern 2777:

KwiK Sew Collar pattern


My impression is that the shape of the collar stand is not crucial to the fall.   I believe the shape of the collar stand has more to do with fitting the neck and that this becomes more important as  collar stand becomes larger and/or  stiffer.

To study the fall, I am going to proceed  on the assumption that  a good fall can be achieve by shaping the collar only.  I will test the different collar shapes on an un-shaped collar stand

I drafted the following three test shapes:



I then constructed the collars as normal and sewed them onto ribbon to test the shape of the fall:




And here are the results:


  • In Case A;  The fall was so tight to the collar stand that I could barely get the tie on.
  •  Case B is very good but the collar is still slightly pinched at the shoulder seam and does not flow  smoothly over the over the knot (right side of image).
  • Case C seems to be the best fitting  collar. The edge of the collar has a nice drape, the collar does not pinch at the shoulder seam and the collar passes smoothly over the knot.

What I have learned from this study is that   the curvature of the collar at the collar seam is necessary to provide the volume between the collar fall and the collar stand.  More curvature = more volume.  Now it seems to me that the back of the neck would need less volume and less curvature and the front of the neck, especially in the area of the knot,  would need more volume and more curvature.  I will consider this as I play around with the collar design a bit more.

The next challenge is to understand the shape of the collar stand.


Lavender Seersucker Shirt

Here is a quick look at  my latest shirt:

Before the buttons:






I have been working on instruction to go with the shirt pattern.   That is not so much fun.

I am also in the process of revising this pattern.  One of the redesigns has to do with the sleeve cap:

SIZE43hv1_Sleeve BoardSIZE43hv1_Sleeve Board


The sleeve cap in PPD-0101 is a bit flatter  which yields more ease of movement but also produces excess fabric under the arm when the arm is in the relaxed position.

Other changes for PPD0102 are

  1. Redesigned collar
  2. Redesigned cuffs
  3. More ease in the forearm

Also in the preliminary stages of developing a women’s pattern

Here is  Ms. Mini Ten  (Half scale form)




The Shirt Pattern Project (Pattern 1)

In this post I describe a bit about the pattern files and provide a    sample file.

I identified my first pattern as PPD-0101.  The PPD  (Partlan Pattern Designs)  is obvious.  What about the 0101?  I gave myself some room here:  01xx  refers to a dress shirt design  and xx01  referes to  the first version of that pattern.  Thus 0101  is the first version of my dress shirt pattern.  I am already working on refinements to this pattern so the next pattern will be 0102.  When I get around to a different style of shirt, say a polo,  It will be numbered 0201.  So much for the numbering scheme.

I have produced the pattern in sizes from 34 to 52 in half inch increments.

Here is a table of finished garment dimensions:

Finished Garment Dimensions.pdf

I am happy to give the patterns to anyone who is interested.  There are too many to post on this website.  Send me an email at and I will email you the .zip file.  Each .zip file is about 17MB.

I have uploaded a sample file.  It is the .zip file of the pattern  PPD-0101  based on the  ASTM body measurements of  44 Regular:

This .zip file contains 10  .pdf  files.  Since I am planning for the home sewist who may be printing at home,  I broke the pattern file into separate pieces.

  • The Yoke
  • The Front
  • The Back
  • The Collar  (also contains the collar stand)
  • The Sleeve (also contains the sleeve placket)
  • The Cuff(1)  a mitered corner barrel cuff
  • The Cuff(2) a rounded corner barrel cuff
  • The Cuff(3) a french cuff
  • A Test Page

The  10th file is the full plot (42in x 74 in)  for those who have access to a 42in plotter.

Full Plot
Full Plot

If you  are printing at home on  standard 8.5x11in paper, you will need to test your printer to be sure it is not doing anything strange with the scaling.  Hence the test page.   Make sure “Actual Size”  is selected in the print dialogue box.


Test Print Page
Test Print Page

On the Test Page ( and in all of the files )  is a 1in grid.  Measure the grid after you print it and be sure that it is 1in   in both directions. If it is not then you will need to play with the scale settings in the print dialog until it is.  The grid lines will also help when you assemble the pages into the pattern piece.


The pattern contains 10 pattern pieces

  1. Yoke (cut four)
  2. Front (cut two)
  3. Back (cut one,  on the fold)
  4. Collar (cut two fabric plus 1 of interfacing (optional))
  5. Collar Stand (cut two)
  6. Sleeve (cut two)
  7. Sleeve Placket (cut two)

Cuff Options:

  1. Mitered Barrel Cuff  (cut four fabric + two interfacing)
  2. Rounded Barrel Cuff  (cut four fabric + two interfacing)
  3. French  Cuff  (cut four fabric + two interfacing)

In up-coming posts I will present step-by-step instructions and discuss more details about the pattern.

Happy Sewing!


The Shirt Pattern Project

In this post I introduce my Shirt Pattern Project.

I have always had problems with Ready-To-Wear (RTW) shirts.   They  are sold in collar size and sleeve length combinations.  Thus it should be  possible to purchase a RTW shirt that fits in the collar and  the sleeve  at the same time.    This is sufficient if one always wears a  coat.  Collar size and sleeve length are all that matters.   However,  I don’t wear  coats often.  Thus, for me and probably many others, the shirt is an outer garment  and hence it is desirable  to have a shirt that fits well everywhere.   The goal of  my Shirt Pattern Project   is to produce a pattern or patterns that allow the home sewist to produce a well fitting shirt.   A tall order to be sure; it and may not be achievable. However, I should at least end up with a pattern that works for  me and I will have learned something  along the way.

Disclaimer: I have neither credentials nor experience in this field!

Here is an example of  a  typical inexpensive RTW shirt.

Ready-To-Ware Shirt
Ready-To-Wear Shirt

I don’t know if there is anything   conceptually wrong with a curved yoke.  However,  I wanted to see if I could design a shirt that did not have this artifact.



Here is the result. Most of the curvature has been removed.




And the front view with the button-down collar.  Mr Wolf sports a tie once in a while.

I don’t wear ties.


Yoke Pattern Piece
Yoke Pattern Piece

Here is the yoke pattern piece.  This is a split yoke so that the grain could be  parallel to the shoulder seam.



The new yoke
The new yoke pieces.



Here is the yoke on the  form.



My Shirt Pattern


Here is the full pattern layout  This pattern is based on my body measurements.     A few of the features of this pattern are:

  • Cut-on front plackets
  • A front placket finale.  This is the extra fabric at the bottom of the front.   This makes a nice way to finish the front placket and transition to the hem.
  • A single piece sleeve placket which I find easier to sew.

FinishedShirt4small FrontPlacketFinal








I am using Adobe  Illustrator to do the drawings.  In addition to drawing the pattern in illustrator,   I developed an algorithm to produce the pattern in  different sizes based on body dimensions.    I used the ASTM D6240/D6240M  table of body measurements for adult males  for the body dimensions  and have produced the patterns in sizes from 34 to 52  in 1/2 in  increments.

In the next post I will describe the pattern and sizes as well as upload a sample pattern.






Thread Tension Part 1

Kenmore Tension Dial

Thread tension is a bit of a challenge: without it nothing works. Getting it right seems to take a bit of fussing.  There are many good descriptions available of how to adjust the thread tension.  The point of this post is less about setting the perfect tension than it is about understanding what is going on with thread tension. My goal was to measure the thread tension directly.   Having  access to a force sensor and some other incidental equipment that I usually use in the physics lab where I teach, it occurred  to me that I could use the force sensor to measure the thread tension on the sewing machine.

Kenmore-bwI took my Kenmore into the lab and spent Friday afternoon playing around with this. The results are as follows:

Kenmore Mara 100 Tension.xlsx

As one would expect, the higher the tension setting number the higher the thread tension.  The standard unit for measuring tension is  Newtons (or mN): here I have converted  the measurements into grams, another common way to measure tension.

The data here are the numbers I measured.  I have no idea of what they should be.  I have not been able to find any clear reference as to what should be expected for the top tension.

BobTenI also measured the bobbin tension. I found the tension to be about 35g.  I used a digital scale purchased for under $10.

I did find a reference for this: the TOWA bobbin tension gauge.

It suggests the bobbin tension should be 25-30g

Having calibrated my top tension and the bobbin tension,  I made various sample stitches to determine which setting gave the best results.  The sample consisted of three layers of  cotton muslin,  Gutermann  Mara 100 polyester thread,  and a 65/9 needle. The best results were achieved with a tension setting of 5 which corresponds to a top tension of approximately  68g and a bobbin tension of 35g (I used a microscope to photograph the following pictures).

Sample top: The dark spots are the bobbin thread just visible
Sample Bottom, The dark thread is the bobbin thread

The microscope tends to reduce depth perception so I attempted to cut away the fabric to look at a cross section. You can just see the loop formed inside the fabric.


My best guess as to why there is a difference between the top tension (68g) and the bobbin tension (35g) is the resistance of the fabric.  That is, some additional top tension is necessary to pull the lock-stitch into the fabric.  However,  I am no expert, these are only my observations.

Based on the above observations, I’m assuming that the correct thread tension depends on the following parameters:

  • Thread type and size
  •  Fabric and weave
  •  Needle
  • The desired properties of the stitch to be sewn

My next challenge is to explore these other combinations.

Thanks for reading.