Pattern Reviews

McCall’s 7206: The Easy Men’s TNT Shirt Pattern

Close up of an elder bald man modeling a blue silk McCall's 7206 bowling shirt pattern in his patio garden with text overlay that reads McCall's Patterns #7206 Retro Bowling Shirt Petite

I’ve posted about McCall’s 7206 men’s camp shirt pattern before. It’s a vintage-style bowling shirt and pretty easy shirt to make. So far I’ve made one for Ryan and my dad Louie has received two.

And then Louie turned 80 and got the third one!

With 4 repeats, it’s safe to call this shirt a tried and true pattern. I’ve never even made myself a garment that many times!

After the last version in brown silk (yes, it turns out it was silk!), I had to take a little break from the pattern. I made that shirt in summer 2018. It’s now 2020 and I just delivered my poor father his cobalt blue silk bowling shirt.

And it is gorgeous!

Elder bald man modeling a blue silk McCall's 7206 bowling shirt pattern in his patio garden

So how is this shirt different from other men’s button-up shirts?

McCall’s 7206

McCall’s 7206 is a relaxed fit, short-sleeved bowling shirt that’s also called a camp shirt (it’s also unfortunately out of print). The reason for that is the collar.

There are no collar stands on camp shirts. The Manual has a good description and history of the camp shirt. Here’s an excerpt:

It’s cut to fit relaxed yet look relatively tailored, a straight cut with a straight bottom hem, with sleeves that used to be baggy but are now slimmed down for the modern man. The collar itself is also only one piece —no button-down here. The style finds its roots in the 1950s, at least as far as early appearances in the U.S. are concerned. Think of it as the epitome of luxurious leisure wear for the refined man (or perhaps more accurately, a man rounding up his family on a summer beach getaway).

“No button-down here?” That’s because men’s shirts with buttons are called button-UPs. A button-DOWN shirt refers to the collar buttoning down. Now you know!

Special Features of McCall’s 7206

The collar is the most significant difference between M7206 and other button-ups, like M6044. But there is one other feature of this type of shirt that make it tons easier to sew than a traditional button-up:

The sleeves are sewn in flat.

Yes, a woven shirt with sleeves that are NOT sewn in the round. There’s no easing a huge sleeve into a tiny armhole! It’s the BEST!!

Which means that sewing French seams for the armhole is that much easier! While set-in sleeves with French seams are totally doable (see my purple Kenedy for proof), they sure are a bit trickier when there is easing to be done.

Every single shirt I’ve made for my dad had French seams. They’re so pretty on the inside!

The one downside to this shirt is that the instructions call for lots of hand sewing. The way the collar is finished (and another departure from a traditional collared shirt) is to avoid topstitching.

Instead, the neck seam is hidden by the top collar’s seam allowance and tucked in between the upper and lower collars. Then it and the facing are finished by hand.

Ok, I’ve done that every time. But you can also just topstitch all of this down instead and save yourself the time and hand cramps. It calls for topstitching the front seams later anyway!

The shirt also lends itself to a nearly endless number of color-blocking opportunities.

McCall's 7206 pattern envelope showing a man dressed in a blue and black bowling shirt, as well as 3 other hand drawings of other ways to style the shirt.

The front seams are similar to “princess seams” on a woman’s blouse. But that’s also the traditional look for vintage bowling shirts. Which means you can use different colors for each section!

I have yet to do this but I think I will the next time I make one for Ryan. My husband hates tucking in his shirts, so a straight hem like the one on M7206 is perfect for people like him. Straight hem shirts aren’t meant to be tucked in!

I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but this pattern also boasts a sew-along video by Norris Danta Ford. It’s awesome!

Taking an 18-month break from this pattern actually helped me better appreciate it. It came together so much easier this time than the last, even with tricky silk. I cut the fabric using a pinking rotary blade so there was less fraying. I also block-fused all the necessary pieces, a much quicker approach than whatever I did before.

All in all, it came together pretty quickly though I was very meticulous with pressing the delicate silk. So it still took 4 whole days but it was completely worth it!

Since the pattern is out of print, it might be a little difficult to come by. But I HIGHLY recommend having this one in your collection. I put it on my Top 5 list of patterns the very first time I made it and just keep on coming back to it.

It’s that good!

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