SHIRT HAPPENS 5: IN WHICH I DROWN IN FABRIC

[In the fall, Jonathan Vatner, Hue staff writer,  took an introductory menswear sewing class. He has been blogging about his experiences on Hue, Too.]

To many FIT students, fabric outlets are no doubt the proverbial candy store, minus the empty calories. To me, they’re the proverbial haystack, minus the manageable size of the haystack.

Death by fabric

And people LIKE this?

It’s not that I don’t like shopping. Drop me into Loehmann’s and I can find half a dozen workable outfits in an hour.

Shopping for fabric, though, I had more criteria than I could handle. It had to be lightweight enough for shirting, 100 percent cotton (so it wouldn’t burn under FIT’s industrial irons), not twill, not stretch (which would be difficult to work with), not too light a color (you can see imperfections in white shirts from across the room), with a texture or a print but not a pattern (too difficult to line up), and with a “right” side and a “wrong” side (meaning I needed to be able to see which side would face out). Also, it wasn’t supposed to look cheap—a criterion which I am clearly not qualified to judge—and it should cost less than $15 a yard.

After an hour of searching, surprise surprise, I found nothing. It was like looking for organic silk plaid dress shirts with a 22-inch neck. For less than $10. At Barneys.

Not only was the thing I was looking for seemingly absent from every fabric store I visited (in pouring rain, no less), but I suffered decision fatigue from all the choices, even though none of them were actually choices.

Did I need pink sateen? No. Did I need a white paisley damask? No. Did I need 97-percent-cotton-3-percent-lycra blue gingham? No. Did I need a heavy cotton printed with drawings of scantily clad handymen? Well… not for this class.

Alexander Henry's handymen

I bought it just to read the articles, I swear.

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