Sunday, 2 May 2010

11 shirt - pattern cutting

A couple of months back I started work on producing a replica Matt Smith shirt.
To make it work I need to pull two aspects of the shirt together before I can make my first one.

Firstly, I needed to match the squiggly pattern design, which I have now done (see left), as well as the stripes for the cuffs.
You can read about that under Pattern Repeat and Screen-accurate Cuffs.

The other thing I need to do is sort out the pattern for the shirt itself.

Although I have a couple of Paul Smith shirts, each to a differing fit, my plan is to make a shirt that is much more of a classic size, rather than the over-tailored tight fit of the Paul Smith originals.

But instead of pattern trace my shirts, I am going to use a commercial pattern by Burba (see right) as a starting point.

It is a fairly straight forward shirt pattern with a number of permutations of style, but I will be making my own adaptions based on what I have learnt on my recent college course, as well as how the real Paul Smith shirts are cut.

I also have a cunning plan to make the cutting of the shirts a lot easier in the long term. I was originally going to have the fabric printed, then cut it out to my adapted pattern.
However, I have realized I need to make quite a few changes, so my plan is to make all those changes in a digital format, then directly apply the pattern shapes to the printed fabric itself.

First thing I need to do is scan the entire Burba pattern, which I have to do in A4 bits and patch together (see left).
To aid matching up, I spray-mounted it onto dot and cross paper first, giving me alignment reference. This also made it more robust for scanning.

I will not be using all the pieces. For example the collar comes in three styles (see on the left edge of the image), but none of them are to the right shape. This I will crib directly from my Paul Smith shirts.

I then retouched to remove the background paper colour so it was easier to trace in Illustrator (see above).

The pattern contains a range of sizings, from S to XXL, all of which are superimposed on top of each other. You can see this in the sleeve shape.

To start with I will trace the L size and make sure the pattern works. Adapting it for the other sizes will then be a very simple job.

Anyway, after tracing just the pattern pieces I need, and making the necessary adjustments and adaptions along the way, I can then impose them together.
I need to remember to duplicate and flip certain pieces, such as the sleeves, and mirror others such as the back, only half of which comes in the pattern.

The outlines are then transfered into Photoshop and used as a mask to outline the shapes I need (see left).

I have filled the spaces available on this first run with spare sleeve plackets.

Due to a size limit on files for Spoonflower, I had to break the pattern across two sheets: one with the body of the shirt and the collar (see above); the other with the sleeves and cuffs (see below).

As a back-up insurance policy, I also made up a single yard of plain pattern repeat, in case part of my design does not work as intended. I can then redesign it and cut it from the spare fabric before feeding the revisions back to my master pattern.

It’s then just a matter of placing the order and waiting for the fabric to arrive.

Well, all that was a few weeks back and this weekend the package arrived (see below).
A quick inspection and everything looks to have worked just as I planned. All I need to do now is cut it out, and make up my first working prototype.

Very exciting stuff!


  1. How much did the spoonflower package cost?
    Also what are the resources you used to learn how to make shirts. You mentioned a class and a book but a post about you figuring it all out would be cool to read.

  2. Hi

    Will you sell one of these ? I would be very interested ^^