Men Sewing, Pattern Review

Birthday shirt for the hubs

Well this is a rare treat!  It’s no secret that I spend most of my sewing time making things for myself, but on occasion I do sew for other members of my family.  I find it more difficult to sew for others in my household since I’m not actually in their heads and don’t know their every thought about what I’m making.

But this summer I set out to finally make Albert the button down shirt I’d been promising him for ages.  His birthday falls mid-summer, just a couple of weeks after Father’s Day, so I made this shirt as a combo birthday/Father’s Day present.

Creative Counselor: Birthday Shirt for the Hubs McCalls 6044

The pattern is McCalls 6044, a basic button down shirt.  I don’t often sew with Big 4 patterns.  Not because I have anything against Big 4, but rather because I like to support indie pattern designers, and I’ve never bothered to fiddle with Big 4 patterns to determine my size whereas most indie patterns don’t have the excessive ease that are built into Big 4 patterns.

Creative Counselor: Birthday Shirt for the Hubs McCalls 6044

But I couldn’t find a good indie pattern for a classic men’s button down shirt with all the traditional details.  (But Thread Theory has a shirt pattern in the early stages of development, destined for late fall release, so hopefully that void will soon be filled!)

Yes, there is the Colette Negroni, which is a nice pattern, but Albert is vehemently anti-camp collar, and will not wear a shirt that doesn’t have a proper collar and collar stand.  Rather than fiddling around trying to re-draft the Negroni for a collar stand, it was far easier just to pick up this McCall’s pattern at one of Joann’s many $0.99 sales.

Creative Counselor: Birthday Shirt for the Hubs McCalls 6044

I didn’t make too many changes to this pattern.  The pattern is drafted without a back yoke and pleat, which I knew would be a no-go.  But altering a pattern to include a back yoke and pleat is easy-peasy — much more so than altering it to include a collar stand where none exists!  I simply figured out how long a traditional yoke is by measuring one of his RTW shirts, cut the pattern piece at that measurement and then added seam allowances.  For the back pleat, I just moved the pattern piece over about an inch and then marked the extra as a pleat.

Creative Counselor: Birthday Shirt for the Hubs McCalls 6044

Beyond that alteration, the only thing I did was remove width from the sleeves and the middle.  Albert likes his shirts to have an athletic fit, as he is a very trim guy.  This shirt is drafted considerably wider in the chest and waist than the one I made.  I think I ended up taking approximately 2 inches out of each sleeve, 4 inches out of the chest, 7-8 inches out of the waist, and 4-5 out of the hip.

Creative Counselor: Birthday Shirt for the Hubs McCalls 6044

The pattern fit him perfectly across the shoulders with no alterations, which was a huge win!  A big benefit of a handmade shirt for someone with Albert’s build and style preferences is that I can make him a shirt that fits across the shoulders but is still slim through the waist.  Most of his RTW shirts that fit how he likes them through the waist are too narrow in the shoulders and vice versa.  It’s actually really hard to find RTW clothes that fit an athletic body like his just right.

The fabric is a very nice double gauze shirting from Michael Levine.  It’s actually gingham on the insides, which makes for very nice innards.  To keep the insides really nice, I flat-felled the arm and side seams.  No exposed or serged seams in the whole shirt!

Creative Counselor: Birthday Shirt for the Hubs McCalls 6044

Double gauze is kind of a pain to work with because it tends to fray  more than usual and will stretch out if not handled carefully.  But it’s a dream to wear, so it was definitely appropriate for this shirt!

I consulted with Albert and we opted to forego buttons in favor of pearl snaps.  One of his favorite RTW shirts uses snaps in place of buttons and mixes them up in fun ways, so I tried to imitate that style.  You’ll see different color snaps randomly placed on the button band, which I think works really well!

I may not sew for Albert very often, but when I do, I try to make sure it’s all top notch!

Creative Counselor: Birthday Shirt for the Hubs McCalls 6044

Pattern:  McCall’s 6044

Cost:  Hard to say.  I paid about $0.99 USD at a Joann’s sale, but the price can vary greatly depending on where you are.

Size:  M

Fabric: Double gauze shirting from Michael Levine

Difficulty:  Intermediate.  It’s particularly hard to fudge anything on a traditional menswear item like a button down shirt.  Something like this requires some fairly precise topstitching, quality finishes and likely some fitting.  I’d recommend having a fair number of garments under your belt before attempting a men’s button down.

Techniques required:  Basic fitting, setting in a sleeve, sewing a button band, sewing buttons and buttonholes, inserting a collar and stand, flatfelling seams (optional)

Similar patterns:  There are a couple of Big 4 patterns like this, but honestly the Big 4 men’s offerings are pretty laughable.  Burda has a couple as well.  Currently there aren’t really any indie patterns I know of that I would consider to be comparable except for the Aime Comme Monsieur by Aime Comme Marie, and I just didn’t feel like trying to translate the French (it’s been a looooong time since my college French classes.  If the collar stand issue isn’t a big deal for you, the Colette Negroni is an option.  Edit:  I also discovered the Marco Shirt by Sis Boom patterns.  The pattern listing doesn’t show any photos of the back or close ups of the sleeve plackets, so I can’t vouch for the details.

Modifications:  Split the back piece to add a yoke and center back pleat.  Took a substantial amount of width out of the chest, waist, hips and sleeve.

Fit:  Awesome.  This is the best fitting shirt he has, if I do say so myself!

Pattern format:  Big 4 tissue paper.  I like paper patterns, so this didn’t bother me a bit.  I traced pieces so that I could make the modifications I knew I wanted to make.


  • Can’t be the price when these are on sale at a big box store.
  • Lots of views and options for all styles.
  • All the traditional details of a button-down including collar stand, separate button stands, and tower placket on the long sleeve.  The only thing missing was a yoke and back pleat, which was easy to add.


  • Lack of a yoke and back pleat.  This is a must-have for a traditional button down.

Overall Grade: A-.  I mark this pattern down a touch only because it’s drafted without a back yoke, which I think is a major oversight for a traditional men’s button down.  Otherwise, I was pleasantly surprised at how well this pattern worked.

12 thoughts on “Birthday shirt for the hubs

  1. Great shirt. Such a coincidence too because only a week ago, I ordered an almost identical fabric to this in linen, to make a birthday shirt (in this exact short sleeve style) for my husband! I’ve got a few more months up my sleeve but I was worried the fabric would sell out. I don’t see lovely plaids in linen too often. I’ve sewn quite a few men’s shirt patterns for my husband and find a lot of them are drafted very wide in the chest or voluminous around the arms – not at all like the slimmer fitting RTW styles. And my husband is certainly not a wee slip of a thing. I did eventually find a great fitting pattern that seems to be drafted to a better fit. Simplicity 6138 (Henry Grethel). I don’t buy much simplicity – I’m more of a loyalist to vogue, but I find if it is a licensed designer pattern, the details and fit are often much better. I’ll probably also snap up Thread Theory when it comes out. I’ve made the Henley for hubby and it is a great cut.

    1. Thank you!

      I like the look of that Simplicity pattern — definitely seems to have a slimmer fit. Bummer that it’s OOP :/

      I have the Strathcona Henley pattern too but haven’t had the motivation to make it yet. May have to break it out for a long sleeve tee for him this winter.

  2. You did a fantastic job on this shirt. It looks great and fits well. I’m always amazed at how much sewing you get done with three kids and a professional job. You must be very organized. I’m impressed.

  3. Nice job on the shirt! Love the fabric and the snaps. I’ve used this pattern a few times as well, and while I like the fit, I found it frustrating how it was missing those real shirt details. I get so annoyed when I have to draft them in myself!

    1. I get annoyed by that as well. Altering the back wasn’t nearly as daunting as having to draft a proper collar, though it would have been nice to have that all done for me!

    1. Thanks for the tip! I’ve never noticed that before, probably because they market it as a misses/men’s shirt and I tend to avoid patterns like this that are marked as “unisex.”

  4. Really nice! It looks like you put a lot of thoughtful details into this shirt. I’ve been hoping to try a Thread Theory pattern for months, but still haven’t managed to schedule it in. Somehow it seems daunting. Not because the pattern is harder, but because I only want to make the very best for my husband, like you said. I’m sure he’s proud of your hard work and creativity!

    1. Thank you! I figure when I don’t sew very often for someone, like my husband or kids, I should try to put some special touches on the things I do make for them 🙂 I like Thread Theory patterns a lot — definitely worth a try!

  5. I always find the big 4 are drafted wide and short so great job fitting as you went. I agree, it’s intimidating sewing for the hubs. I’ve mostly made mine PJ pants and then his random requested alterations (eyelet in the golf towel, can you hem these shorts, etc.). Great job!

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