I have a long-distance/one way love affair with Japan. it all started 10 years ago, reading mangas and buying Gosu Rori magazines (fashion and sewing magazines about the Gothic Lolita). Yes…. Later, I spent 2 years studying converational Japanese with the plan to do internship in Japan. Other job opportunities came, I never went to Japan and I forgot the limited number of words that I managed to memorize. In the mean time I fell in I love Japanese sewing. What is Japanese sewing ? I don’t know, but I never encountered a Japanese/japan-based sewing blogger, pattern company, sewing instructions, pattern making book or actual Japanese fellow student at FIT that I did not find fascinating. Yes, I sound creepy… Unfortunately, the styles of the patterns rarely suit me, but I cannot help but marvel at the quality of the drafting, the clarity of the instructions and the consistency of the garments produced.
Junku in Paris and Kinokuniya in New York enabled my weakness for Japanese sewing books. Living in Midtown East in Manhattan meant that 1/ I could walk to the Garment District (which I did almost every weekend) and stop by Kinokuniya on my way back. Over the years, I have been accumulating books: the Pattern Magic serie, Drape Drape, Bunka drafting books, etc. One of them is THE shirt book by Ryuichiro Shimazaki. For shirts, I know that to many people David Coffin’s book is the reference. I own that book too. I read it. And I dislike it soooo much. I just do. I find everything unclear, wordy and not well presented. I have no idea if Ryuchiro Shimazaki’s book is wordy, because I can’t read any word in it but what is for sure is that you can make a shirt from that book without the words. You cannot make a shirt from David Coffin’s book without the words. I realize that I’m being unfair, since it’s a book and you can be expected to read it on order to access the information…
I would not recommend this book for your first attempt at shirt making (at least, if you don’t read Japanese), because the construction is unusual. I found that having 2 nice RTW shirts by your side and taking your time help a lot. For the pattern itself, I used model 3, with the pocket of model 11. I picked size M after measuring The Old Man’s favorite shirt and comparing with the pattern measurements. At customer’s request, I redrew the collar points to match the favorite shirt. I’m so nice. I shortened the front and back A LOT since he wants to wear it untucked. The construction relies varying seam allowances: anywhere between 1/4″ to 3/4″ depending on the seam.. To make that easier, the book recommends to create some pressing templates: pocket, sleeve head and a pressing gauge.
For an idea of how different the construction is, the front and back are hemmed first, before the side seam is sewn. It’s confusing at first, but it works quite well. A lot of pre-pressing is required, for instance pressing the wider SA of the flat-felled seams in half before attaching tot the narrow side of the side seam. The one thing that I was totally unable to do was the hem, I could not fold and press 7mm and then refold for a final hem of 4mm. I burnt myself and I blame it on my thick European fingers! I ended up folding 1/4 twice, as for my Archers. The hem is finished at the sides with the little triangles that you often find on RTW’s shirt.
The collar construction worked fairly well too. I still prefer to do what Nancy Ziemann call a “wrapped corner”, or described at Fashion Incubator. Meaning you sew the long edge of the collar, fold the SA towards the non-interfaced collar and sew the short edges. The seam will roll naturally on the undercollar side. The collar stand attachement to the shirt was also a little unusual and I believe that with some practice it can come out very nicely.
For the cuffs, I am entirely converted to Fashion-Incubator’s attachment in one pass. It worked perfectly well since my very first try and I guess it will be hard to convince me to do it any other way now… The tower placket is 2-piece and made following the book’s instructions. I could have used Off-the-Cuff’s tutorial which may be a little less fiddly.
The fabric is a delicious navy linen, purchased in Paris, at Sacré Coupons, during my June trip. It was picked by The Old Man himself and I remember paying 22 euros for 3 meters. Not too bad. Buttons are from stash, as well as interfacing. The only thing I am not totally happy with is the button placement. Since I had to shorten the shirt a lot compared to the pattern, I think I should have repositioned all the buttons starting at the bottom. The last one is awkwardly low. Of course, The Old Man does not care at all but it bothers me… Also, I realized after cutting that I was out of Navy thread, so I used black everywhere. David Coffin must be choking out of disgust right now! (Sorry David, I’ll do better next time!)
OK, now we can also discuss the obvious, the good looks of The Old Man! By the way, please refrain from questioning his nickname. For the record, he IS substantially older than me and it does NOT make me feel good when people say we look like we are the same age. We are not, he just happens to have better genes… But of course, he enjoys those comments a lot so I will allow them exceptionally. This is not the first time I’ve sewn for him, I also made two pairs of pajamas/boxer shorts (all flat-felled seams and everything) and I even have pictures but I don’t want to risk breaking the Internet with all this handsomeness. I don’t think they will make it on the blog, sorry…. Now I go back to my Granville selfish sewing!