Even someone as ignorant as I am about basketball knows that we are in the season of March Madness.
However, year-round I’m in the clutches of a different enthusiasm: plaids!
A few years ago I was casually looking at one of Jack’s plaid shirts (from a leading outdoor clothing company) and was frankly aghast at the lack of pattern-matching at some major seams. I can understand–matching takes more fabric and more labor, which adds greatly to costs. However, once I saw the mismatching I couldn’t unsee it. This was a wrong it was in my power to right, and a challenge I was willing to take on.
And so it has come to pass that I have become a sewer of plaid shirts.
I use McCall’s 6044, which doesn’t have a yoke, which would disrupt the pattern. (Of course, if ever I want a yoke I can draft one.)
Loving plaids, however, didn’t mean I loved decoding instructions for laying out and cutting patterned fabrics.
I have come across some truly puzzling directions, including for cutting plaids in multiple thicknesses. Good luck with that! I’m in awe of garment industry cutters who can. I have to cut everything single thickness.
I never remember the definitions of balanced and unbalanced plaids that every article on plaids tells you about. While it is helpful to know a balanced plaid from an unbalanced one, I’ve managed to achieve success with only a feeble grasp of the differences.
Also, as a home sewer making only one shirt, I can enjoy the luxury of cutting only a few pieces at a time. I can cut the pieces for one sleeve and the corresponding cuff pieces rather than cutting both two-piece sleeves and four cuffs, risking mixing them up (which I have done, to my consternation).
I’ve learned that hand-basting helps a lot to match the pocket to the left front and the bands to both fronts before I permanently machine-stitch.
There is something very satisfying about matching a cuff to a sleeve in the place where there aren’t pleats to disrupt the pattern. It always takes concentration for me in the cutting and the sewing to get this right, so when I do get it right, I secretly cheer.
Making plaid shirts for Jack has given me a chance to enjoy so many beautiful fabrics whose scale or colors wouldn’t work for me.
In my queue are eight more plaid shirtings–five for long-sleeved shirts and three for short sleeves–waiting to be sewn up this year. So, you can see, I have a serious plaid preoccupation.
Fortunately, I’m getting better and better at this plaid-sewing game.
And Jack has kept these shirts in constant rotation from the fall through to these brisk days of early spring.
Plaids-sewer and plaids-wearer in perfect harmony: I call that a matchless combination.
photos by Cynthia DeGrand Photographer, Actor headshots, Columbus, Ohio