#AllChestsWelcome: His Chest, My Problem

I took one look at my husband of 6 ¾ years, sitting on our coach, and realized I wasn’t going to make it through quarantine looking at his ill fitting tee shirt. Did I love him? Yes. Did I love these shirts he wore as his stay-at-home uniform? That’s an unequivocal no.

A photo of the author's husband sitting on a sofa with a small dog on his lap. He is wearing  a plan dark tee shirt that is ill-fitting in the chest region.

The good news is I loved him enough to try and get a better fit. My husband is workout aficionado. Someone who truly thinks of exercise as fun and his hobby. When he was nine, he started doing curls with his dad. By 12, he was on to full weight workouts. Exercise has saved his sanity during this pandemic and made the way his clothes fit aggressively painful for his maker wife.

A photo of the author's husband, aged 9, raising his arms to flex his biceps.

I figured male bodies must be easier to fit than women’s bodies, right? Fewer bumps and less shaping? Right? Oh, how very wrong I was.

A photo of the author's husband from the back, wearing the first muslin of a dark-coloured tee shirt.

Using my first muslin of Jalie 2918, I saw the initial fit areas to tackle were his broad, rounded back, and defined lats. These three areas played into how the shirt fit across his chest, biceps and neck.

A photo of the author's husband from the front, wearing the first muslin of a dark-coloured tee shirt.

To address this, I did a few things with suggestions and encouragement from folks on Instagram. Here are the changes I made to accommodate his chest:

  • Rounded back alteration
  • Narrow back waist
  • Widen bicep
  • Widen neck
  • Broad chest adjustment

After THREE muslins (I have only muslined this much for my dog), we were close to winner:

A photo of the author's husband wearing the final muslin, a plain tee shirt in a light grey colour.
A photo of the author's husband wearing the third muslin, a light grey tee shirt, from the back.

Voila! It’s not perfect. I think I err close to overfitting. But it’s far better than the ready-to-wear garments we started with.

Slide the slider back and forth to compare the images!

When I first started this project, I made all kinds of assumptions about fitting my husband. What I learned is that YES: muscular masculine bodies have their challenges. Their chests also benefit from fit tweaks. And most importantly, it’s all connected. The back, the shoulder slope, the neck width, neckline depth… all of it impacts the final product and how it fits the chest.

I’ve actually scrapped my modified commercial pattern and next time will try drafting from scratch for him (using software, not my math skills). If they’ll have me back, I will update you here on Sewcialists.

Renee Samuels sews, teaches, and writes about sewing from Baltimore, Maryland, USA. She blogs projects at MissCeliesPants.com and posts more regularly at @MissCeliesPants. She does not have a pattern for Miss Celie’s Folk Pants.