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Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing Paperback – Oct 1 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing
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  • Making Trousers for Men & Women: A Multimedia Sewing Workshop
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  • The Shirtmaking Workbook: Pattern, Design, and Construction Resources - More than 100 Pattern Downloads for Collars, Cuffs & Plackets
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press; New edition edition (Oct. 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561582646
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561582648
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 1 x 25.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #18,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Library Journal

The author, associate editor of Threads magazine, states in the introduction that he makes shirts "for the pleasure of the process, rather than as a time-saving or money-saving necessity." Designed for the experienced sewer who desires to re-create the custom-fitted look of the expensive shirtmakers, this guide examines the anatomy of shirts, the steps in patternmaking, and the techniques in shirt construction for both men's and women's garments, whether Oxford cloth, silk, or wool. Line drawings detail fabric types; shirtmaker's tools; pattern detail; precision sewing procedures for collars, pockets, packets, and cuffs; as well as the many other aspects of the shirtmaking process. One section offers ideas for variations on the classic shirt theme. Details on monogramming and sources of supplies complete the work. A companion video (unseen), Shirtmaking with David Page Coffin (45 minutes,
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

David Page Coffin, a former editor at Threads magazine, is the author of Shirtmaking: Developing Skills for Fine Sewing (Taunton Press, 1998). He has conducted sewing and tailoring workshops throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
David has also been a frequent guest host on several online sewing forums and has hosted live chats on He has appeared on Sandra Betzina's HGTV sewing program, and his instructional videos have been broadcast on and have received great reviews on,, and other sewing sites. David hosts and
He lives with his wife, Ellen, in Brookings, Oregon.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
Choosing appropriate fabrics for sewing projects-fabrics that flow when you want drape and that aren't too stiff when all you want is character-vies with fitting as the most challenging skill in garmentmaking. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As a woman who has a terrible time finding clothes to fit, I've tried sewing some of my own, with less than satisfactory results. Even after learning to regrade commercial patterns to fit, the finished garments never looked right--they all screamed "Hi there! I'm like, totally homemade!" As basic a garment as a shirt was an exercise in frustration; after struggling to get collars and cuffs to look "right" I was about to give up entirely.
In _Shirtmaking_, David Page Coffin addressed every single problem I have faced, and now I can actually turn out tailored shirts that both fit me *and* look like they were made by a professional. All the questions left unanswered by the instruction sheets included with commercial patterns were addressed in this book, and along the way Coffin also answers a lot of general questions I had about sewing that are ignored in most books aimed at home sewers. _Shirtmaking_ is clearly written, and with a bit of patience and the ability to follow directions an intermediate-level sewer can turn out a successful garment. While the specific focus of the book is sewing men's shirts, the exact same sewing techniques can be used on women's shirts and blouses, and Coffin provides plenty of illustrations and examples.
Coffin covers his subject so thoroughly and precisely that he comes across as a bit fussy, but this sort of fussiness is a virtue and a godsend. There is an embarrassing number of sewing books gathering dust on my shelves, but I still refer to _Shirtmaking_ frequently. It is *by far* the single most useful sewing book I've ever bought, and is well worth the money.
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Format: Paperback
As someone who is mostly interested in sewing clothes for myself (a man) I feel gypped by most sewing books that are 75% concerned with specific construction techniques for women's clothing. Finally a book where the variations for women are in effect relegated to sidebars. The author of this book, David Page Coffin, is the Senior Editor of Threads magazine, probably the best of the sewing magazines (not perfect, but at least not packed with quilting and baby clothes). Coffin is a former painter who taught himself how to sew and has made his own shirts for a couple of decades. The fact that he comes from a self-taught amateur background but is a sewing journalist who has interviewed custom shirtmakers and watched them at work gives this book a good balance. Coffin is something of a shirt fetishist, and he includes information on the historical development of the "classic dress shirt" as well as photographs of various vintage ready-to-wear and designer shirts and shirt collars (yes, he goes into how you can make shirts with detachable collars). At points he sounds like some sort of shirt archaeologist, for example, teling us that a particular vintage custom shirt he has in his "collection" used a pieced sleeve to save on fabric costs. Coffin describes his own methods in detail, but makes the point that there is more than one way to do things. The book is beautifully designed and illustrated (drawings by the author), and full-sized patterns for various pieces like collars, cuffs, and plackets are included. I can't emphasized how excited I was to find a book like this, and I have the video on order.
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Format: Hardcover
I have owned this book and the companion video for over two years now and it is a book I often have open alongside my sewing machine as I sew. David's techniques are very innovative and produce professional results. It is great to get the tricky bits of a shirt - collar and cuffs looking perfect. David also offers advice on getting a perfect fit, taking a pattern from an existing shirt, and gives patterns for a range of collars, cuffs and plackets. I have saved hundreds of dollars making beautiful customed tailored shirts for my husband and myself using David's techniques.
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Format: Paperback
I don't usually like sewing books-they're generally repetitive and contain little new information-but this is an exception. The author gives an incredible wealth of detail on the history and technique of shirtmaking. His patternmaking, stitching, cutting, layout and constuction techniques are well worth the price, and should prove beneficial to anyone who sews.
It is not for beginners-it assumes the reader has mastered basic sewing skills-but any competent sewer should have no problems. I especially like that it focused primarily on men's shirts-so very, very few books even bother to mention sewing for men.
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Format: Paperback
I have all the deepest respect for David Coffin. He has meticulously studied every aspect of making the classic men's shirt and has taught himself how to reproduce the techniques of the finest couture houses. In addition to his skill at sewing, he demonstrates his artistic strengths through his personally-illustrated drawings which show the techniques in great detail. In fact, "detail" would be Mr. Coffin's signature strength. His ability to relay the information in straightforward, efficient language seems to be a natural extension of his talents. Incidentally, I could not find a single spelling, grammar or other editorial error anywhere in this book. I think that seems like a perfect example of the manner in which Mr. Coffin approaches his work.
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