I may spend most of my time in t-shirts, but every so often I have reason to wear something nicer. For years, my favorite shirt has been one I bought almost two decades ago at a locally owned store. It’s made of Tencel, which has a lovely drape, with strategically placed darts that make for a beautiful fit. I’ve often wished I had more than one.
As someone who makes her living building custom work for others, I finally realized that I could talk to Alexandra Morphet, one of my longest-standing clients, about using that favorite shirt as a pattern. Alex makes clothing through her business, Bias Custom Clothing.
In case you’re wondering why I couldn’t just make some shirts myself, I’ve never cultivated the patience to deal with fabric; I find its fluidity exasperating. Give me wood any day.
I understand that having shirts custom made will strike some as extravagant (just as commissioning custom furniture prompts outbursts like “How can working people afford that?” based on no information about actual costs, but solely on the knowledge that something “custom” has been made). These shirts cost more than shirts from chain fashion stores in a mall but less than many sold through mail order catalogs, and way less than a day pass to Disney World (which I have zero interest in visiting, ever). What matters to me is that by hiring Alex to make them I was reciprocating her custom, which has helped sustain my business and provided opportunities for creatively satisfying work.
This was the first time I can remember being measured as an adult. It was a fascinating experience to see how many points of the body are relevant to the construction of a shirt. Even though my original shirt provided the basic design, it was off-the-rack. Alex wanted dimensions for everything from the circumference of my upper arm to the distance between my nipples.
Alex often uses fabrics salvaged from other clothing and had a stock of old kimono fabric to draw from. I was fascinated by my glimpse into her craft.
These photos don’t do the shirts justice, but I am not in the mood to put them on right now. Trust me; they fit–and in this age of standardized-everything, I have a newfound appreciation for this rarity.