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1/10/2010

Japanese Shirt Journey....the "Fitting Muslin" Results


Oh how I wish I had better news....

The tracing of the pattern was uneventful , as you would expect.  Cutting the fabric (oxford cloth), was equally uneventful.  The good news is that all the pieces of the shirt fit together beautifully, quite easy to sew...even with the unusual seam allowance widths. However, that said, I have sewn hundreds of shirts over my many years as a Shirt-maker. Perhaps some less experienced sew-ers would need to constantly refer back to the pattern and sewing diagrams to understand some of the sewing methods.  For instance, these patterns are drafted to use a version of the felled-seam technique that I showed you last summer in this post,
Felled Seam Technique.

Now, the not so good news.  While some aspects of the way the shirt fit were happy surprises, some important ones were not.  Take a look at the shirt muslin from the front--

Before I go any further, it's plain to see that I only did a very light pressing of this fitting garment...a full press was not necessary for me to evaluate any broad fitting issues. Had the garment fit better, I would have given it a proper press and done another fitting.  This shirt is a size X-large, straight from the tracing, without any changes. Now a few words about my ever patient model. Roger is 6' tall, about 178 pounds, and wears a size 15-1/2 neck, 34-35 sleeve sized shirt "off the shelf" from a store. He has a long torso.

Interestingly, the shirt fit perfectly at the neck, and the shoulder length was good. The fit through the chest was close, but with enough ease for him to reach forward and back without straining the fabric. Also, the sleeves were a perfect length. They may look long in the photo, but that is because I forgot to trim the seam allowance from the single-layer cuff...sorry about that. But take my word for it, the sleeve length is perfect.

But unfortunately that is where "perfect" ends.  As you can see in the photo above, there is a drag line at the armscye, and the sleeve is twisting.  It was twisting more before I fiddled with a a bit for the first photo. But my fiddling was futile (lol), as you can see in this next photo, showing the shirt from the back.

Talk about major fit issues !  ..and such a shame when the neck fits so well...sigh.  First of all, the yoke is not deep enough for a man of  Roger's height, as you can see from the drag lines.  The sleeve is twisting because the armscye is not deep enough, and the curve of the armsyce is wrong for the width of Roger's upper back.

These problems can be resolved by redrafting the yoke and reshaping the armscye, redrafting the sleeve to reflect those changes, and then making more fitting muslins to check the changes.  Am I going to bother doing that? No. Why?  Because I already have several shirt drafts that fit him perfectly. I also will not use this book to make shirts for my clients...unless they are very slight men. And even then, quite frankly it is easier for me to just hand-draft a pattern from scratch using their measurements.

What I might do is use some of the collar-stands, collars, cuffs, and pockets from this book, altering them a bit for size to use on my hand-drafted styles. But again, it is easier to draft my own than to "retro-fit" another designer's draft.  And after comparing the collar style, stand, cuff, etc options in this book to David Coffin's book "Shirtmaking"...well,  if you have David's book there really is nothing much new to be found in this Japanese book.

So...should you buy this book?  Well, I bought it because I am a collector of books on menswear pattern-making. Perhaps if I read Japanese, I would be able to get more from this book.  The sewing-sequence diagrams are good, but a bit confusing since for 20+ years I've been professionally constructing shirts differently. There are no "A-Hah!" moments regarding collar construction, etc, in this book. So for me, it's just nice to have among my collection of menswear sewing books. However it's not one I am likely to use often, if ever again.  No doubt others who have this book will have different opinions. But for me this book will likely remain a novelty and nothing more...it's going back on the bookshelf as soon as I finish editing this post.

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17 Comments:

Anonymous Theresa in Tucson said...

Pam, thanks for the run-down on the pattern book and the muslin commentary. I was eyeing this book on the e-bay site and your comments made up my mind on purchasing it. I already have Coffin's book so I saved myself the money.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Nancy K said...

Great review and I loved hearing your analysis of why the fit is poor. I was in NYC at the Japanese bookstore and resisted buying any of the pattern books because of size issues, mine mainly, but I did think that it might be a good resource for patterns for men. Obviously not American men.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Great review and very helpful points on fitting issues.

5:56 PM  
Blogger gwensews said...

Honestly, I can't imagine that you could ever have an "aha" moment regarding shirts! What could there possibly be about a shirt that you don't know or haven't done? You should write the book. With patterns, of course.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Gorgeous Things said...

Well, that's a bit of a bummer. But thank you for saving us money, time and frustration.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Toby Wollin said...

Only goes to show that people really are built differently all over the world. Japanese sewing books are gorgeous(I own several), but I do think it is a case where it is not just a height issue or a size around the chest issue - it's the proportions all over.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Faith said...

Thanks very much for critiquing the pattern.

Drafting a shirt pattern must be what I will have to learn to do. Are there any books that tell you how to do that?

~Faith

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

would you recommend a book that would teach shirt pattern drafting. How did you learn this and is it possible for someone who has not had classes on the subject to do this. I would appreciate your comments.

Thank You
Marie

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Mary Beth said...

Thanks, Pam! You're the greatest!!!
I will pass on this book even though collar and cuff shapes are always interesting and each little centimeter matters quite a bit.

10:18 AM  
Blogger meredithp said...

Thanks for doing this and documenting your journey. I hope you had fun doing it. I'm a big fan of DPC's book, so yay, here's one I don't need or want. I do love collecting sewing books, though...:-)

10:51 AM  
Blogger prashant said...

Great review and very helpful points on fitting issues.

Work from home India

12:53 PM  
Blogger Summerset said...

Thanks for all of that! I have DPC's book, and of course there is "nothing new under the sun". If there isn't any groundbreaking or really interesting designs, I probably won't bite on this one. My husband is definitely not of slight build, and even when he's thin, he won't be of slight build, so these drafts probably aren't going to help me.

1:08 PM  
Blogger j.kaori said...

Thank you for documenting your review of this book. One of the reasons I like Japanese clothing and patterns is because they fit me so well --- goes to show that there are many different body types out there!

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm interested in the comment that the yoke is too shallow given that when you compared the yoke patterns before (the XL Japanese to the Med American) they seemed to be the same length).

Kristi

1:07 PM  
Blogger Pam~Off The Cuff ~ said...

Hi Kristi,

I came to that conclusion when I took a closer look at both yokes.
The neckline of the Japanese yoke is scooped out more than that of the American pattern...NOT at Center back, but towards the shoulder. So, when sewn, it pulls the yoke "up" in that area, making it too shallow and creating the pull line/fold that's visible on the back of the sewn muslin.

The fix would be simple. But if I were to change the neckline curve of the yoke, I would also have to change curve of the collar stand...and that change would affect the corresponding seam line of the collar, so that would have to be changed as well.

So for me, it is just easier to draft the pattern myself :)

3:03 PM  
Blogger PattiB said...

Thanks for documenting your journey with this book -- fascinating.
Patti

10:00 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

thanks for a great indepth review, this was very helpful.

sarah

4:29 PM  

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