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My advice for aspiring Shirtmakers: Start Reverse Engineering

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#1 R.m.Bakker



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  • Interests:Bespoke Tailoring, Patternmaking, Shirtmaking.

Posted 18 September 2015 - 11:50 AM

Hey all,


First of all my credentials, for those that don't know me, I've been an accomplished bespoke shirtmaker for several years now. I specialize in making fully handmade shirts. Besides that I'm also a bespoke tailor and own a business in The Netherlands.


I just received a question from fellow forum member David Page Coffin on wether or not I knew of any shirtmaking books or literature to get people going, other than the frequently found examples on the internet.


My answer to him was, well, the only book on the topic of shirtmaking I ever read was yours, and I looked up some drafts in a book my teacher had laying around on a dusty shelf.


That's it.


I learned the entire craft from ripping apart other people's shirts, reading DPC's book, and fiddling around with patterns. Trial and error.


Especially the first thing learned me a lot. Ask relatives, friends, wether or not they have expensive, high end shirts at the end of their lifetime, and just pick them apart. Look at >every single seam<. Every placket. Every collar. Every shoulder seam. See what you like. Emulate it. Try it. Develop your own style from combining the best of all of those details. Look at collars. Pick them apart completely, make a pattern based off of it, and see how all the different collar shapes work around an actual neck. Then reverse engineer the pattern so you can use that collar and stand style you like so much in every single neck size.


Reverse Engineering. Much like the italian tailors did in adapting stuff from savile row.


Shirtmaking starter kit:


- Thimble, Shears, Pattern paper, proper drafting rulers, etc.

- DPC's Book. "Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing" http://www.amazon.co...g/dp/1561582646(seriously, get it, as it's the only book out there afaik and full with good advice and techniques)

- ingenuity. Take DPC's methods, see if you can adapt them for yourself. If you fail to use a specific method, try it "in your own way", no matter how odd that way you want to try it may seem. 

- A whole lot of expensive shirts you can pick apart (get all the expensive (italian) brands!)

- Patience. Took me 1,5(!) years of painstaking reverse engineering drafting and making absolute crap to finally make a proper shirt that actually fitted well.

- Draft, Draft, Draft. Use family as dummies. Read up on how to fit garments (I made a quite lengthy post on how far you can take fitting shirts here: http://www.rubenbakk...he-first-place/

- Trial and error

- A fair amount of stupidity, because who's going to spend this much time learning something? :p

Edited by R.m.Bakker, 18 September 2015 - 11:55 AM.

  • peterle, tailleuse, gramountoto and 7 others like this

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