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SHIRT MAKING

Shirts differ depending on the materials used, cutting and sewing. On this page, we are going to refer to shirt-making. If you want to know more about fabrics, click here.

The most essential aspect of a shirt is itís shape. A custom-made shirt not only looks better, but it also fits better and therefore is more comfortable to wear. The first striking aspect are the collar and sleeves size; however, it is also very important for a dress shirt to fit properly to the body and shoulders. A shirt which is too baggy not only gets creased inside the suit, but you also have to constantly tuck it in. Thatís why, a yoke (the piece which goes over the shoulders) which is too wide gives the sensation of sloping shoulders, whilst a narrow yoke makes the shirt uncomfortable to wear. The ideal would be to find the perfect fit between comfort and elegance. A well fitted shirt, but comfortable. For this purpose, we take 14 measurements, nothing is considered standard. Thatís the difference between a custom made shirt and "semi-tailored" (or made-to-measure). In the latter the customer tries a shirt on or states a standard body size, and then the collar size and sleeve length are adapted; thus the cost is considerably lower, and so is the custom tailoring and cut quality. Each of our shirts is specifically designed for each client, and it is individually hand-cut. It is a very detailed and hand tailored work.

Once the fabric has been cut, begins the sewing process. Tradition requires that the shirt is sewed with a single-needle machine; then the double seams on the armhole and sides are made by sewing once, folding and sewing again. This is called French sewing, in comparison to two-needle sewing machines which make a double seam in just one go, saving time, but it doesnít last as long. To improve the strength of the garment very small stitches are used, between 18 and 20 stitches to the inch. However, in of the rack shirts, bigger stitches are normally used, between 14 and 16 stitches to the inch, which is quicker, but less stronger and elegant. There are also shirt manufacturers who use small stitches in the more visible parts of the shirt, i.e., collar, cuffs, shoulders, and bigger in less visible parts. This is quite common and it implies that the quality and detailing arenít as good.

Cuffs and collar are the most important and complicated aspects in shirt-making. These have with two layers of fabric and an interlining in between so as to give shape and strengthen. The interlining can be fused or not. At Boden we offer both options, however, 98% of the shirts ordered have fused interlining. The English tradition is not to be fused, but they have to be properly ironed, otherwise it may ruin the collar; the advantage of non fused is that the shirt lasts longer, because the collar and cuffs arenít as stiff and therefore do not wear as much. In most cases we recommend fused collars and cuffs because they always look good, and in the end, the collar and cuffs are what make a shirt different. And when they get worn, you can send them to Boden where weíll change them for you. Fusing is a process where the fabric and interlining are fused together with a precise combination of temperature, pressure and time. When these three aspects are not properly calibrated, the collar may "blow up," i.e., small air bubbles may appear. This is why itís a complicated process. To avoid problems, for years we have been working with the same best quality European interlining, and we have a well calibrated machine at our shop. Thus all of our shirts have fused collars and cuffs guaranteed; any detail and we change them. Of course, the guarantee applies to the whole garment.

The collar is reinforced with a plastic piece called a stay. These can be fixed or removable. Before, when there werenít any mouldable plastics or even plastic, the stays had to be removable. They were made of metal and obtained the stiffness required for the collar; if the metal was not removed when ironing, then marks would be left on the collar. When non-deformable plastics appeared, the stays were finer and made of this material, and they were sewn into the shirt and so eliminating the discomfort of putting on and off the stiffeners. And if they are properly sewn, no marks are left when ironed. It is often said that a quality shirt must have removable stays, but itís basically because of tradition or glamour. We offer both options, and we even have silver stays for the more refined, although 90% of our customers prefer sewn-in stays because itís more comfortable.

 

 
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