Do you sew for personal expression? Or do you sew because you love the process of making something? For many sewers, it’s probably a mix of the two, and that certainly seems to be the case for Joe, better known on Instagram as GeezerWheels. We invited him to join our summer ShirtFest because we were struck by his distinctive style as well as his boundless interest in the mechanics of sewing. We knew he would make something really cool, and sure enough, he did!
Joe chose a classic camp-shirt style pattern with a convertible collar, the Men’s Tropical Shirt from Wardrobe By Me, to pair with our black and white Narrow Stripe handloom cotton. The pattern was a blank slate which he transformed by using our Pearl Grey Slub fabric for all the elements of the shirt other than the main body pieces. He also added contrasting sleeve cuffs and pocket trim.
As you can see from his pattern layout (below), many of these pieces are cut on the bias for some subtle textural fun. All together they give the shirt a very cool retro look.
He used the contrast fabric not only for the yoke and collar, but also for the front facings. This often-overlooked detail can makes a shirt look really great. The top of the facings are revealed at the open neck where the facings turn outwards. Visually, they function like part of the collar and unify the neckline.
A serious sewist and quilter, Joe bastes almost all of his seams before stitching them on the machine — no pins! The majority of the construction was done on his vintage Singer 188K-1, a semi-industrial machine, though he did use a modern serger to finish the side and sleeve seams.
The buttonholes were made with a vintage buttonholer attachment on a Featherweight, as you can see in his video. (Isn’t the painter’s tape a brilliant way to mark the buttonhole placement?)
Because the fabric is so breathable and lightweight, Joe says this is probably the most comfortable shirt he’s made. It certainly looks fabulous, too! I love the fabric combination and the vintage-casual menswear look — it’s inspired me to make a dress for myself incorporating these fabrics and some of the details.
As a final treat, check out his fabulous collection of vintage sewing machines! Don't they make you want to dive into a new sewing project?
See more of Joe's work (and his sewing machines!) on Instagram @geezerwheels.