The "Japanese Shirt-Making" Journey Begins...


I finally have time to make a shirt from this book, as I first mentioned several weeks ago in these 2 previous posts-
Exploring a Japanese Shirtmaking Book                                                                                        
Fabric and PatternChoices                                                

Having just spent an hour studying the dizzying sheet of traceable patterns and comparing them to various American shirt drafts, I have made some discoveries.  First of all, the Japanese Extra-large size in this book seems to compare to a close-fitting 15/15-1/2 neck Medium size American draft.  Secondly, the seam allowances vary in width from a bit less than 1 cm to about 1.5 cm. By studying the drafts and the very precise sewing instruction diagrams, these variances eliminate the trimming we are used to doing after stitching when using American patterns.  The seam allowances of these patterns may frustrate me a little bit, because when I draft my own patterns I use different seam allowance measurements. In fact, my first inclination was to just trace the pieces on the stitching line, and add on my own seam allowances. However, I am going to trace these "as is", so I can truly evaluate the entire sewing method of this book.

Here is the Extra-Large Japanese Yoke laid over a Medium Yoke from an American pattern that fits a bit loosely.  I am encouraged that the Japanese draft has the same shoulder slope as the American pattern, and that it is only scant 1/2" shorter in the shoulder length....because when this American pattern is sewn, the shoulders drop slightly. The back width of the Japanese pattern is almost exactly the same as the American pattern at the point where the bottom of the Yoke meets the Shirt-Back.  Note that the Japanese yoke has a center-back seam, and the American pattern does not. That is why you see the white Japanese Yoke pattern extending beyond the American Yoke pattern at Center-Back.

So here is my plan: Within the next day or so, I plan to trace an Extra-Large size pattern, then cut and stitch together a quick "fitting" muslin.  That way I can give you accurate "finished" measurements of the neck-edge, body circumference, and sleeve length.  If the draft is true and accurate (if all the parts fit together well), I'll be going on to make a wearable shirt...along with showing you how to enlarge the pattern for bigger sizes. If not, well there are some nifty collar and cuff shapes that I can re-size and use for my hand-drafted patterns, so the purchase of the book will not be a total loss. But now, I am going to start to trace the pattern then sew the muslin...with a positive attitude!  


  1. Japanese men are definitely smaller than Americans. I wonder if the overall length is shorter too. Anyway, I am interested in seeing how this comes out.

  2. This seems like allot of work...but fun...and it will be well worth what you learn. Thank you for posting such great reviews.

    I bought the Bunka series of garment sewing books and they are very informative. I'm anxious to have the time to work through them. If you ever think you might want some information from one let me know, I'd be glad to send it to you.

  3. Wow Pam! I think it would take a professional to sew those patterns. I'm anxious to see your finished muslin.

  4. Theresa in Tucson7:15 PM

    Yippee! She's back to posting about shirts. And yes, we want to hear all about the nifty collars and cuffs. Anxiously awaiting the muslins.

  5. Wow, that's a lot of analysis! Can't wait to see how it comes out!

  6. I am going to try my hand at making custom dress shirts for my slender boys. I can't find off the rack shirts that fit them without hacking away at them everywhere, and I think it would be less work in the long run to just make them from scratch.

    I would love to have those patterns and that book. I am a beginner seamstress. My first outfit was a Civil War ballgown for our dance society. Nothing like jumping in with both feet!

    You can't be too detailed for this reader! Thanks so much!


  7. Thanks for this excellent "side by side" comparison of the two drafts. Really interesting info, and I am eager to follow your progress on this project.

  8. Can't wait to see your progress!

  9. Excellent - thanks for taking the time to show the difference. I'll be interested to see how this is going to turn out, as I've been making more shirts for my husband recently.


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