Hawaiian Shirt Friday!

Thought I’d share a few thoughts on a Hawaiian shirt I made for the hubby recently. I ordered the material from the internet purely based on the pattern- luckily, the cotton was good quality too, which is a crapshoot sometimes when ordering off the web without a sample in hand. This shirt would sew up well in good Kona cotton too, it has a bit of body and will wash better than the crappy thin cottons for the quilters and such. Rayon is neat and has a nice traditional drape, but a real pain to work with unless you have a serger, I think. I washed the heck out of the cotton before cutting it, making sure I got out all the shrink from the fabric.
Here’s the shirt I made from the printed cotton (he doesn’t model):

Shirt Front
Shirt Back

 I used Simplicity Pattern #5581. It’s pretty straightforward and simple for even a beginner sewer, although you will need to be comfortable with how to ease sleeves and collars. The hat and shorts are pretty stupid, so those parts of the pattern I ditched, but the shirt’s OK.

Pattern Front
Pattern Measurements Back

I used the “B” shirt pattern, but I did not turn the front and sleeve “crosswise” like it calls out, because that’s just plain goofy, in my opinion. Watch out for this on the pattern layout and grain layout on the pieces, or you’ll have a shirt like the striped “B” drawing on the front of the pattern- GOOFY! So basically, it’s “A” with no patch pocket on the front (why would there be a pen pocket on a Hawaiian shirt???).
I thought this pattern seemed to require a lot of material (2 1/4 yards at 45″!), and I found out why. This shirt is REALLY long. So if you have a long torso, or are making it for someone with a long torso, the pattern will work out great, but for the average dude, it will look a little overwhelming. Also, the sizes do seem to run a bit on the generous side, so the fit will be loose- take it a size down if you don’t want it so sloppy looking, which is probably best if you are working with cotton. If you are working with rayon, the drapiness of the regular size can look ok, especially if you’ve got a toolshed……
ANYWAY….I don’t have a serger, but I did machine overlock all the piece edges on the pattern, it’s just a habit. I don’t like raw edges, even if they’re interfaced. You can take it further if you want, but I wanted to keep the seams from getting too crazy bulky.

Overlock on raw edges

Like I said, you have to be comfortable with easing sleeves and collars, and luckily, this pattern’s not impossible like some others to try to ease, and my seamlines matched up great on all the shoulder lines.
I topstitched not only the collar, but the shoulders as well with a 2.0 length straight stitch. I think this helps neaten up the shirt without it becoming stuffy.


Of course, I had to use coconut buttons! When I put on buttons, I usually put a toothpick between the button and shirt when I sew the button on and wrap the thread around this slack to create a button shank. It’s not only more durable, it helps the button lay better when it’s buttoned closed and won’t pull all weird.

Coconut button- keepin’ it real

After washing the shirt after I finished it, I was bugged by the inside (interfacing) of the front plackets wrinkling up and not coming out flat. We’re not big on ironing casual stuff, so this had to be remedied by tacking the inside interfacing down to force it to stay in place. Otherwise, it washes up just fine. I did add a Tom Blake tag to the nape of the neck, but I took it out since it was just a bother to the hubby while wearing.
If you use a solid color cotton, I think this would look cool with a simple old skool Olo appliqued down one front side, or a 70’s Lighting Bolt board shape. I wouldn’t put anything on the back or you’ll have to sign up for a bowling league.

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