The Rainbow Shirt

Or the Skittles Shirt, as my daughters like to call it

Some four years ago, Peter Lappin of Male Pattern Boldness revealed Micheal’s Crossword Puzzle Shirt. And I just knew that I have to have one too. Peter documented the name and manufacturer of the fabric well, so obtaining that was not an issue. I wanted this to be a fitted shirt, and my only fitted shirt pattern was McCall’s 8889. This has a hidden button placket, instead of a sewn-on placket in Peter’s version. Wanting to copy the master’s vision, I figured I’d set out to adapt my pattern to include a different placket.

This meant I would have to make a muslin to test the changes I made. Specially since this was in the infancy of my sewing days and I didn’t quite know what I was doing with pattern changes. The changes turned out fine and the crossword shirt was made.

I ended up with a great shirt, and a very fine muslin. A really well done muslin. Seemed like it would be silly to let it go to waste. Some short sleeves were added and it almost looked like a real shirt. But it was white. Very white. Boringly white. And I was not in the business of making boring garments. Something had to be done.

Since the whole shirt was already constructed, there wasn’t much I could do with pleats, bibs, etc. The only thing that I hadn’t finished were the buttons. And with that a plan was beginning to take shape; what if I use different coloured buttons?

This created a quest to find identical, but differently coloured buttons. That shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Wrong. None of the fabric and quilting stores around here had more than 4 colours of the same shirt buttons. I even had my daughters go through pots of old buttons in one of the stores, trying to find matching ones. Nothing.


All the way from Thailand!

I decided to continue the quest online and came across these at an Etsy store. Only being $6 for 100 buttons, I felt that I could not go wrong. Patience was required, as they had to come all the way from Thailand!

When they finally came, there were many more colours than I had expected. I was hoping for some 7 or so that would complement each other well. Here I was with over 20 different colours and all were fun. How to decide which colours I should use?

Many different combinations were created by each member of the family. One thing we figured out quickly was that we all had our own favourite ones. Then it came to me. Why limit myself to the usual 7 buttons down the front? If I have so many colours, why not use them all? And with that, The Rainbow Shirt was born!

Measuring the placket on the front and looking at how many buttons I could use, I came to the conclusion that 1 inch spacing would be good. This in contrast to the normal 3 to 3½ inch spacing you see on shirts. That would be a lot of buttons and button holes. And after 23 button holes and 23 buttons, the shirt was done.

rainbowI wore it to that year’s Christmas dinner of my partner’s company with some boring slacks and a sports jacket. Lots of remarks, and all very positive. Great evening, good company, nice food, and a lot of dancing.

The next day I threw it in the laundry, so it would be ready for the next time. And when that next time arrived I noticed something alarming. This was a fitted shirt. And the pattern fits me nicely. And I made the shirt precisely to the pattern. Using nice muslin fabric. That I hadn’t washed before using it! The shirt had shrunk quite a bit during the laundry. So much so that I couldn’t close the collar anymore, and there was absolutely no ease across the chest. I really could not wear the shirt anymore. After all this time spend on it (do you know how long it takes to sew on 23 buttons?) the shirt was relegated to the back of the closet.

That was three and a half years ago. Ever since the day I put it away it bothered me. It was a good shirt. It deserved a version 2.0! So a couple of months ago I finally bought some nice white shirting fabric and I set out to make the exact same shirt. This was a new experience for me. I had remade a RTW shirt, and remade design failures. But I hadn’t made a shirt I had already made exactly like the original. And I had to, I didn’t feel like there was anything about the shirt I should change.

The construction was a breeze. The only things I did differently from my normal shirt construction is that I added the button holes and buttons before attaching the front panels to the other parts of the shirt. With 23 button holes to make, it’s a lot easier to have a small piece of fabric to manoeuvre than the whole shirt. It just takes some precision to know where to start the first button and hole.

The only issue was that when I marked the top of the sleeve to align it with the shoulder seam, I grabbed a ballpoint that was not a frixion. How that pen ended up in my sewing accoutrements, I will never know. But my heart almost stopped when I saw that while ironing, the mark didn’t disappear. After some testing I found that Shout! and generous amounts of bleach will take care of it. The pen has been relegated to the waste bin.

I’m really happy with how this turned out the second time around.

And here are they both together:IMG_0908

Thanks for visiting!