James has a black linen shirt from Muji that he utterly loves. He’s worn it very nearly to death over almost ten years, though, with it rather faded and with a hole worn in in one place. So he asked me if I could copy it, as it’s a design that he’s never been able to find it shops again.
It’s an over-the-head design with a front button placket, stand collar, back yoke, and short sleeves with little button tabs on the sleeve hems. The only change I made from the original was to introduce a small pleat at the back yoke, as I just think men’s yoked shirts look weird when they don’t have them, plus it gives a bit of wearing ease back there.
I traced out his existing shirt with craft paper and my serrated tracing wheel, and made a quick muslin, which miraculously needed no fitting changes! Then it was onto the first real version, made up in a lime-green linen-blend mix from Ditto which he chose when we were in their Brighton shop earlier this year.
Plackets always tend to intimidate me as they seem like a bit of witchcraft – how can this weird shape turn into that in just a few steps?? So I put off sewing it, until I remembered that I’d scanned and digitised the placket template from David Page Coffin’s excellent “Shirtmaking” book. This is one of my clever-er ideas, as it means I just just adjust the width and length of the placket in Illustrator and print myself off a fresh template. Because obviously the dimensions for sleeve plackets for men’s shirts are of a different scale than the neck placket here!
The construction was otherwise straightforward, but time consuming. Because the linen frays like crazy, all the seams had to be contained. On the yoke, this meant using the “burrito method” to get both the back and front seams neat, but on the side and sleeve seams, I had to sew french seams, then topstitch these down, because my flat-fell foot just sucks and always ends up being more trouble than it’s worth (and I’d rather take a little more time and be guaranteed a good result!).
But at least the linen takes a press super easily, though it means of course that it wrinkles readily during normal wear, too. That’s just how linen is!
James also bought a two-faced charcoal/black Jean Paul Gaultier (yes, really!) flannel when we were at Ditto, so there’s at least one more version of these in his future.
(Mini-rant time – why are there 16 billion menswear patterns of the same freaking button-down shirt, but absolutely none of a slightly different style like this? Menswear patterns really are the poor cousin of the pattern world, eh?)