Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Star Trek - Roddenberry TOS Men's Shirt Pattern Review

I'm heading off to Dragon Con at the end of the month for some nerdy costuming fun.  It's a mad dash of costuming around here for the next few weeks.  To make things a bit easier I ordered the patterns for The Original Series Star Trek costumes and will review them as I sew.  Patterns were purchased from the Roddenberry Store and are based on the originals from the show.

The men's shirt pattern is essentially a raglan sleeve shirt with some interesting extra pieces and a zipper.  The pattern is geared to those with little sewing knowledge and has good notes on fabric and materials.  The originals from the show are made of either velour (season 1 & 2) or doubleknit (season 3).  Seam allowances are 1/2 inch, which is standard for knits, but may confuse those who are used to home sewing patterns that usually have seam allowances of 5/8 inch.
 The sizing is very small.  I measured Hal and by that measurement should have used a size large, instead I used a size XL and added some additional width at the center front and center back.  I measured the pattern piece just to be sure and still felt that it was tight across the torso.  This was using a fairly stretch ponte knit so if you use velour you might want to include some extra sewing ease or cut a larger size.
The pattern is printed on nice heavy paper and is easy to trace.  There are 4 pattern pieces: front, back, sleeve and gusset. There are no notches! The sewing instructions have you matching the seams at the bottom to sew, which is a bit non-standard.  As a result my gussets line up correctly at the top on the back pieces but not on the front.  I walked the pieces to see if they lined up and they do not, so I suspect this seam was not trued. This seam between the front and gusset is the only one that did not match correctly.

There are good instructions for construction although there is an error in the step for basting the seam that will have an invisible zipper added.  The text describes the basting stitches as 5 per inch and the construction stitches as 3 per inch.  This would result in a very poorly sewn garment, standard sewing machine construction stitches are 10-12 per inch.  The zipper was on the original shirts so actors could dress without disturbing their makeup.  I omitted the zipper because my fabric was stretchy enough to be pulled on like a tshirt.  Instead of basting the seam I sewed it with a regular construction stitch.  Star Trek purists should follow the instructions and insert the zipper.
Summary: Recommended, with some reservations (for beginners).  This pattern appears to be the only one out there for sewing this garment, which doesn't give beginners any real alternative.  I found the actual pattern to be a bit sloppy and below industry standards, it has no notches and all the seams are not true.  The instructions are geared towards beginners and do not seem to expect the sewer to have much experience with home sewing patterns.  Aside from the stitch number error the text is fine.  The only difficult step is adding the zipper.  However, by using a stretchy fabric sewers can omit this step without changing the look of the final garment.  An experienced sewer, or someone who knows how to flat pattern, could make a similar pattern based on a raglan sleeve shirt.  Those without $19.95 to spend could approximate the look of the shirt using a raglan sleeve pattern from any of the major commercial pattern companies.

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