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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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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!  

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Draft a Fast and Easy Flounce !

I made this velour tunic for my niece this morning.
It is a variation of an Ottobre Design pattern (from issue 4-2006, #25),
and the pattern already included pieces for the flounces.
However, you can easily add a flounce to any pattern by drafting it yourself !

I'll be using a sleeve pattern that includes seam allowances in this example of how to draft a flounce. First, make a copy of the sleeve pattern  to which you will be adding the flounce. Next decide how wide you want the flounce to be, and shorten the pattern from the bottom by that amount then ADD on a 1/4-inch. This extra 1/4-inch is what you'll need to sew the flounce to the bottom of the sleeve.  Now, using the newly shortened bottom of the sleeve as a guide, draw a simple rectangle that measures the length of the sleeve bottom by the width of the flounce you want PLUS a 1/2-inch (This rectangle will become your flounce pattern after some manipulation). Again, this extra 1/2-inch is what you'll need to sew the flounce to the sleeve with 1/4-inch left-over to hem the flounce itself.   The photo below shows these steps already completed.  It may sound a little complicated, but all that's been done so far is to...
Shorten the sleeve length and add a seam allowance to it.   Make a rectangle and add a seam and hem allowance to it.

Now take your rectangular piece, and draw lines on it  that are about an inch apart, as shown below--

Next, cut along these lines, leaving a "hinge" of uncut paper along the top edge like this--

Place this slashed piece on top of another larger piece of blank paper. Now spread the slashes apart by about 1/4-inch, holding them down with tape as you go, as shown below-

Now trace over your newly formed flounce pattern, truing the curves as you go. Now we have a fast and easy flounce pattern...with the seam and hem allowances included...ready to add some design flair to the bottom of a sleeve !

Of course, you can repeat the same steps to add a flounce to any edge, like the bodice hem in the sewn example of the velour tunic at the beginning of this tutorial.

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How to Rescue Wrinkled Interfacing...

(Because I STILL have not been able to any sewing, I've decided to share this article with again. It was first written in 2010)

 I think we all have good intentions, and try to keep our interfacing perfectly folded in a drawer or neatly rolled on tubes. But how many times have you reached for a piece of interfacing only to find a wrinkled mess like this...
Like me, probably more than once. 

Luckily there is an easy fix, and it starts at your grocery store. 
Or perhaps you already have it in your pantry... 
Baker's Parchment Paper!

First, roll out a length of  the Parchment Paper onto your ironing board or other pressing surface...and secure it with a few glass-head pins (or other pins that will not melt).

Next, Place your wrinkled interfacing GLUE SIDE DOWN onto the Parchment Paper. Then with your DRY iron set on on a LOW setting, slowly slide the warm iron over the wrinkles.
You will see the wrinkles disappear as you slowly move the iron.
The interfacing does not stick to the slippery Parchment Paper at all. Then move the next section of wrinkled interfacing onto the paper and iron it. Since the iron is set below the  temperature needed to melt the fusible resin, the interfacing is not adversely affected at all. 

When you are finished, your once wrinkled interfacing is flat and smooth again, and ready to fuse to your fabric!

You may download a *Free* PDF of this article...by going to the TUTORIALS page at www.FashionSewingSupply.com . 
(It is the 4th tutorial on the page)

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