Ryuchiro Shimazaki – a linen shirt for The Old Man

Dear readers,

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.

Man Linen Shirt-1

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…

Man Linen Shirt-4

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.

Man Linen Shirt-1

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.

Man Linen Shirt-5

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.

Man Linen Shirt-3For 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.

Man Linen Shirt-6

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!)

Man Linen Shirt-2

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!

18 thoughts on “Ryuchiro Shimazaki – a linen shirt for The Old Man

  1. jne4sl January 19, 2015 / 1:24 am

    This shirt is beautiful and the fit looks amazing. I was hoping to make a shirt from this book as an xmas gift, but it didn’t happen and now I feel all the more guilty seeing how nice yours looks. Ah well, at least now I have your tips to guide me. I ordered the book from Amazon and wasn’t paying any attention to the details as I knew it wasn’t in English. I was quite surprised when a French edition arrived, I didn’t even know that was an option. I don’t speak French, but at least I can glean a bit. Regardless it is amazing how good the diagrams are in these books, I prefer visual instruction. Question: have you ever seen the self-fabric buttons shown in the book that look like they have tiny grommets? I suppose these are machine made and not a simple home kit, but I’d like to know more about them. Here’s something similar: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/10-Fabric-Covered-Eyelet-Sewing-Shirt-Buttons-Red-Polka-Dots-14mm-/140919701705

    • Sewing Tidbits January 19, 2015 / 7:51 pm

      Thanks! I was actually tempted to buy the book in French, so I can also read the explanations. I saw those buttons and I wondered too. Feel free to email me a pic of the page in French so I can tell you what it says (or any other page you need translation for!)!

  2. Sarah - Fabric Tragic January 19, 2015 / 4:20 am

    A handsome shirt for a handsome fellow. Thanks for all the links and tips!

  3. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) January 19, 2015 / 4:40 pm

    as you said, you are so nice! what a great shirt and this is a great post with all the good links. Shirts are so satisfying to sew, nice and crisp. Ideal fabric choice. Looks perfect from here.

    • Sewing Tidbits January 19, 2015 / 7:53 pm

      Thank you so much Beth, considering your shirt skills, it means A LOT! It’s true that shirts feel extremely rewarding.I love that you can have all the raw edges enclosed and that all the tasks (except the buttonholes of course) are performed on my straight stitch machine.

  4. CGCouture January 19, 2015 / 8:42 pm

    Great looking shirt!

    I think it’s interesting that you call him the Old Man because he’s older than you. Here, we refer to our fathers (or sometimes our husbands) as our “old man”. I had thought maybe that wasn’t such a “regional” thing after all, but…

  5. Becky January 19, 2015 / 8:44 pm

    Fabulous shirt, and a good looking old man! I love the fabric, and the fit is perfect.

  6. Sasha January 20, 2015 / 11:50 am

    This shirt is perfect! I have to cover up my screen as I’m writing this… I’m affraid my “old man” would see it and want one! Nice tip about the collars – that is sort of what I was doing in a instinctive kind of way …. Those japanese pattern books are soooo lovely but I always found the “writings” intimidating … do you really think one can manage without any kind of language skills? … because I totally want that book!

    • Sewing Tidbits January 20, 2015 / 12:08 pm

      Thank you Sasha! I believe you can definitely manage!! Also, the book has been translated to French, i haven’t seen it but i would imagine it would help compared to the Japanese….

  7. gingermakes January 21, 2015 / 4:13 pm

    This is BEAUTIFUL! Well done! I’ve looked at that book many times in Kinokuniya and am so tempted by it, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to make anything since I don’t read Japanese. Yours turned out so perfectly! I have to confess that I just can’t get through the Coffin book! I tried to read through the relevant parts a few times and every time I got confused and bored and just put it down. I know people love it but I couldn’t understand it.🙂

  8. Eric Colbeau February 1, 2015 / 3:57 pm

    Hello Tidbits Sewing,

    The old man looks like so smart! I am another sort of Old Man and I would like to order: a pajama, a set of boxers, and of course a linen shirt. Please is it possible ?

    Your Old Man from Paris

    • Sewing Tidbits February 1, 2015 / 6:17 pm

      Alors il fait prévoir de venir me rendre visite pour les essayages mon papa!

  9. Michael March 25, 2015 / 2:16 am

    I have just traced shirt number two from the French version of the book, including the varying seam allowances. My baby talk French and the Internet translator should get me through. Your shirt looks grand. I have enough shirting for a battalion but I plan to get more when I’m in Paris in May. Thanks for the view and inspiration. One of the odd bits of French I recall is the term une Hirondelle: much prettier than the English term.

  10. ebmozo September 19, 2016 / 7:10 am

    Hi! My copy of the book just arrived today! I was so excited until I realized that I don’t read Japanese and I very probably might make a mistake while making a shirt! Is there any translated version out there? At least for the general instructions? The book is gorgeous and all huhuhu, I feel so silly not knowing how to read it. (By the way, your shirt looks good, as does your husband🙂 .)

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