Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing Info

Fan Club Reviews of best titles on art fashion, artists, history, photography. Check out our top reviews and see what others have to say about the best art and photography books of the year. Check out Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing Community Reviews - Find out where to download Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing available in multiple formats:Paperback,Hardcover,Kindle Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing Author:David Page Coffin Formats:Paperback,Hardcover,Kindle Publication Date:Oct 1, 1998

Here is the definitive resource on the fine art of making
shirts. Author David Page Coffin shows how to create elegant, custom-fit
garments for a woman or a man that have a great tailored look and fit
perfectly. And, even more important, once you learn to make and fit a
shirt -- whether you have sewn for weeks or years -- your sewing skills
will be dramatically improved.
David shares the
construction secrets of garments from the world's finest shirtmakers.
Discover how to duplicate and even improve on these garments, using
simple tools and techniques any sewer can acquire. Includes 15 pages of
full-sized patterns for collars, plackets, cuffs, and pockets.

/> In the companion video, Shirtmaking
Coffin demonstrates the techniques that are the
hallmarks of fine shirtmaking and shows how to master rolled hems,
flat-felled seams, collars, cuffs, and plackets.

"This book is great -- fresh, focused information on
shirtmaking. David Coffin's approach is straightforward and
sooner do you pose a question than he answers it."

-- Sandra Betzina, syndicated sewing columnist, author of
Power Sewing and More Power Sewing, and host of HGTV's
Sew Perfect

Average Ratings and Reviews


420 Ratings






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Reviews for Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing:


March 11, 2013

It's a lovely looking book, BUT ...
This a truly beautiful book. The design, photography, typography, and layout are all excellent. It is a pleasure to hold in the hand and look at. The author is quite clearly a skilled master in the art of shirtmaking.

There are a generous number of well drawn patterns for the various parts of a shirt.

However the textual instructions on how to actually go about making a shirt are muddled and confusing to say the least.

The book is liberally illustrated with many small diagrammatic line drawings, almost to the point of being punctuation, some are a real help to understanding the process, but many are totally confusing. The publicity material for the book states that the drawings were redrawn from the author-artist's own work using a computer program. I fear that the computer graphic artist had little or no knowledge of, or sympathy with, the craft of sewing. Judging by the few remaining beautifully executed decorative drawings, it would have been much better to have left the author's own, traditionally drawn, working drawings and illustrations unchanged.

Some of the techniques described are, so I am told, distinctly abnormal when compared to those used in the clothing industry.

In order to finish making the shirt I was working on, I had to search for tutorial videos on Youtube, and then to buy the very short and somewhat incomplete DVD which the author has also made available as a companion to his book.

The book was first published in 1993, and there have been 6 reprints, but no further editions. Thus you should be aware that while you are going to purchase a nice new book, it is still, essentially, a twenty year old book, although printed recently.

I would score this book halfway between "I don't like it" and "It's okay", because it did not do for me what I hoped it would do.

December 7, 2004

Too much Bla Bla
I read all the reviews here and expected a great professional book.

The book is nice and give a lot of information about shirtmaking. But you have to dig really hard to find the important information. It was disappoting to see that the book doesn't include a method of creating a pattern for the yoke, and instead recommands copying from commercial pattern or an existing shirt. It also doesn't show how to make a shirt based on figure measurments.

It's a nice book for beginners, and home sewers.

July 12, 2014

The best reference book for shirt making, but you still need to watch a shirt making course, on Craftsy by Pam Howard.
Excellent reference for shirt making! As great as the book is, it is important to watch someone sew a shirt and explain the technique.
David Coffin's accompanying DVD is excellent for watching technique as the author sews and explains what he is doing. It is only useful to me as an accompaniment to David Page Coffin's book by the same name. He tends to go through each technique a bit too fast to actually learn shirt making, but it is very useful.
If you really want to watch someone teach shirt making, I very strongly recommend the course taught by Pam Howard, called The Classic Tailored Shirt. In this class, she teaches shirt making, detail by detail in a course that you have the video for for life! I've watched it many times, as there is so much info packed in the roughly 6 hour course divided into about 8 lessons. If you can get the course on sale, it costs about the same as this DVD, but is infinitely more helpful and much more instructive. As great as Pam Howard is as an instructor, she tends to be old school and never uses a rotary cutter or specialty feet as David Coffin does, so having the two versions of shirt making, both his DVD and book, plus her course on is the best combination to around learn this skill.

January 10, 2013

Unclear and Unhelpful
I was so excited to get this book, and then I was promptly bummed out. This book is a general overview of how shirts are made and what design elements exist in modern shirts. It does NOT:

1. Explain why things are made a particular way.

2. Show how to do basic, better and best techniques.

3. Explain common fitting blunders and how to fix them.

4. Explain how to draft a basic pattern from measurements

5. Explain how to alter a commercial pattern.

6. Show basic, better and best construction sequences.

7. Address any of the frustrating steps in shirtmaking. (E.g. "Collar points can be a tricky, a better way to handle this often frustrating chore is.....)

It's not helpful to someone trying to learn how to make a finely sewn shirt. It's more a compendium of styles that a tailor might show to someone who is ordering a custom shirt. The few techniques it does try to explain are impenatrable and the illustrations do not improve understanding.

July 18, 2017

Great book! Terrific for a guy just starting to make his own dress shirts.
Really terrific book! I've got the DVD from Mr. Coffin and I've taken one of his classes on Craftsy. But the book encompasses more topics and takes things more in-depth.

I'm a relative newbie to sewing, starting off just making my own gear for camping, etc. [You know, guys don't sew; they make gear!] I never seriously considered making clothes for myself. However, I picked up the bug somehow and, after watching one of David's videos, I began to believe that I could actually do it if I wanted to.

This book has helped me turn out several shirts, of all "types", with various customized elements. Although they're not perfect, I'm proud of them and I get lots of compliments. For me, the book is a combination of a "dreambook"/idea-starter and an instruction book on how to pull those ideas off. There are loads of examples and drawings (the drawings done by David himself, I understand) and discussions about all of the various pieces and parts of a shirt. With the instructions and examples given, designing a shirt becomes a buffet of possibilities; lots of combinations to choose from/incorporate and instructions on the design and construction of them. It even offers information about how each element is generally regarded as to its "dressiness/formality" and even its utility.

Great fun, very interesting and so far, a little intimidating. By that I mean that each time I refer back to it I see a new level of skill or knowledge that I've yet to achieve. That's good for me! For me, it's not a book I go through and then shelve. Rather, it stays on or near my sewing table for regular, frequent access. And many a time, I've just taken it to an armchair and flipped through it for ideas or inspiration.

Thank you, Mr. Coffin.

February 13, 2017

Is it worth it? (Sewing Edition)

Shirts examined:
The materials of fine shirts
The shirtmakers tools
The classic shirt.....The section goes over exactly what is stated,materials for shirts, tools of the trade and info about the classic shirt. I was shocked that high end shirts didn't use to have the pocket, that we see on most shirts today.

Making shirts fit
Developing a basic pattern
Collars,Plackets,cuffs and pockets:
This section is were its get dicey and I'll just be honest and state that I hate when authors half @ss patterndrafting or write short section about it-which is whats in this book. I figure either explain it or refer the reader to a book that explains it, don't do half though- leave that space for something that will enhance the book. The section feels like it could have been amazing but no particular thing was in depth enough. I don't feel I could copy a shirt, pattern draft a shirt or drape a shirt from this section alone.Draping,patternmaking,even copying from an existing garment takes a lot of instruction,that were not given, as well there were few illustrations/ which is another no-no in my book.

This section also has the patterns for creating a shirt which I thought was cool.

Shirt construction
A workshop in precision sewing techniques:Goes over sewing straight-curved and eased or shaped seams construction ironing, trimming seam allowances,edgestitching-topstitching,making flat felled seams and rolled seams, sewing the sleeve/body seam, attaching the cuffs and collar band, contructing a placket, and making a collar.
Sewing it all together
Variations on a classic theme:
This is the section that brought me to buy the book, least to say that I was disappointed. I have a library full of pattern drafting and sewing books and I did not get much use out of this book, nor much information that I have not run into in other places.

I believe this book has good intentions and there were some nice things here and there but overall I don't think this book will exponentially enhance your shirtmaking ability-either by sewing or pattern drafting which is why the book has 2 stars. Along with that is the fact that David states that he will explain things so that a beginner can understand but this books is not really beginner friendly. Terms were not broken down, and illustrations were limited. Had I been a beginner I would not have been able to muddle through the book.

Overall I didn't feel like this was a master book on shirtmaking but rather a tips and tricks book to shirtmaking.

Some good tips on construction

Limited illustrations all in black and white
I'm not sure if it was the kindle but some diagrams did not align with the section that the author was speaking about. I would find the illustration on the next page or next two pages.

August 19, 2013

Value directly relates to your level of experience...
so I would place this book in the advanced beginner category.

If you have made less than 5 shirts and find yourself a bit lost, or if you want to know of all of the rare custom touches that a bespoke shirt has, then you will get the most value from this book. You will learn valuable construction techniques, some shortcuts, and you will be able to build up a template library of couture embellishments. You will learn a little about the history of the shirt and you will have a much better idea of what items you need to buy to get a professional level garment.

If you have made many shirts, are comfortable constructing them, are an intermediate or better sewer, and have several patterns at your disposal, then all you will get out of this book are 15 pages of alternative collar, placket, cuff templates and 15 pages of design idea sketches. Similarly, those looking to create a sloper/shirt block will not find that information here.

That being said, this is a handsome book, filled with large high quality pictures and many clear sketches. It has artistic value, so I will be keeping this book.

October 2, 2016

An Encyclopedia of Details and Tips for Making Dress Shirts
This is a veritable encyclopedia of every aspect of making fine dress shirts. The author has published a book of tips and details accumulated after decades of shirt-making with engineering-like analysis, dissection, experimentation of all aspects of dress shirts, like pockets, plackets, collars, yokes, etc.

Besides this book, the author monitors and answers quickly ANY questions about shirt-making on Facebook ("Shirtmaking with DPC") and has a video class on Craftsy (e.g. $17.95 on sale at times) that complements this book.

For those more interested in casual shirts, the author's other book "The Shirtmaking Workbook" (on Amazon too) is more general and is accompanied by a TON of links to his website and others regarding every aspect of shirt-making.

March 26, 2007

Weird shirts
If I had viewed this book prior to purchase I would not have bought it. Its got some strange designs and all I really wanted was some clear patterns etc for quality shirts.

August 7, 2015

A quality tailored men's shirt is timeless
Homemade clothes don't have to lack craftsmanship, and 'Shirtmaking' can transform you from a competent sewer to a skilled tailor, producing fine, hand-made garments. This is my number one reference book, and as soon as I read though David Page Coffin's "Making Trousers for Men & Women: A Multimedia Sewing Workshop" ISBN 1589234499 and "The Shirtmaking Workbook: Pattern, Design, and Construction Resources - More than 100 Pattern Downloads for Collars, Cuffs & Plackets" ISBN 1589238265 I will have #'s 2 & 3, and I've browsed through dozens of sewing books from the library as I was learning to sew and this is the only one I felt I wanted to have on hand. Shirtmaking covers shirts, blouses, and jackets, and will prepare you to draft shirt patterns freehand from memory, without needing to refer to its pages for any reason except to perhaps select a different collar from the variety of supplied templates.

As other reviewers have stated, there aren't really any materials out there so singularly and comprehensively devoted to such a basic garment or written by men, so it is nice to have a guide that is straightforward and succinct, and most of all useful for making *men's* clothing. The techniques will improve your quality of work on all types of garments.

A quality tailored men's shirt is timeless, and though the book was originally published in 1993, Shirtmaking illustrates shirts as they have evolved throughout the last couple centuries or so, and you'll see there is no difference between a high-end shirt from 40-50 years ago and one today. Trends come and go, but the shirts you make will be stylish for years to come, provided your waistline stays the same.

February 3, 2017

which is the easy one. I'm a bit disappointed that the advice ...
I bought this as I really needed some guidance on fitting adjustments for shoulders in a shirt, for muscly guys, slim guys, etc. But the only pattern adjustment it walks through it a sloping shoulder, which is the easy one. I'm a bit disappointed that the advice in it is basically to drpe it. I can drape without buying a book telling me to drape.

December 29, 2012

10 Years Preparing for my first shirt
I purchased this book roughly 10 years ago. I had never sewn, knew nothing about sewing, I just really love shirts and was passionate to learn how to make them. This is the definitive bible on the topic and almost anywhere you go for information on shirt making, you'll find references to this book.

After receiving this book I quickly realized this is not for sewing beginners. You will not learn how to sew or how to use your sewing machine, so you really need to start with the basics before jumping into this book. It's a reasonable expectation given the level of detail that the author goes into with advanced sewing techniques. I spent a few years learning how to sew the basics before jumping into this book - time well spent.

I didn't calculate the total cost of recommended materials to make a shirt that are found in this book, but that's perhaps the biggest barrier to getting started. I'd estimate that i've spent somewhere around $600-$700 (including a mid-priced sewing machine) to acquire all of the materials recommended to make a shirt. If your not already a sewer, there's a lot of tools required to get up and running.

I've made 3 shirts so far practicing all of the techniques outlined in this book before jumping into my first project. The results are far better then I could ever have imagined. I used the book to create a pattern copy of my favorite best fitting custom shirt and now can replicate the shirt with near perfection.

It's not an easy process, i have spent lots of time combing through this book and each time I read it I find something new. In the end if you stick with it, you'll be able to produce high quality shirts with fine fabrics that would otherwise be unaffordable if purchased from a tailor.

I highly recommend buying the DVD also. The drawings in the book are great, but they are very difficult to follow until you've seen them done live.

February 20, 2016

This is the best reference I have seen for the intermediate to advanced ...
This is the best reference I have seen for the intermediate to advanced sewist who wants to make a shirt comparable to the best designer shirts on the market. Coffin shows how to sew details like perfect flat fell seams (even the one connecting the sleeve to the rest of the garment), narrow hems, or neckbands and collars without bulk in the seams. He provides patterns for many different collars and neckbands and explains the reason you might choose a particular one. He analyzes ready-made shirts and provides examples with patterns of interesting details and variations he had developed. He shows how to develop patterns by draping fabric on the intended wearer or copying a favorite shirt (without taking it apart). This is an invaluable reference for any serious garment maker.

December 20, 2011

A must have for your sewing book library!
David Coffin Page is an enthusiastic dress shirt maker who has spent years developing techniques for a well made dress shirt. This book is a worthwhile read for anyone who has basic sewing knowledge and wants to make a beautiful and professional quality shirt.
This book will not teach the basics of sewing, but He elaborates in great detail why he prefers certain techniques, tools and fabrics for specific results. Ex: he suggests a bleached muslin as collar support over fusible interfacings and details many interfacing options for collars with various results.
He approaches this subject from a more technical perspective. This book is an excellent companion to his shirtmaking DVD where he demonstrates many of the topics covered in the book.

Overall, a bargain priced book for invaluable information that is presented in greater detail than any other sewing or couture technique book I've read(including all of Claire schaeffers books, sewing skills books and tailoring books).

January 8, 2016

Another thing I hated about this book is it is poorly organized because ...
I've been making shirts for many years now and was hoping to pick up some pointers to improve my shirtmaking, but following a lot the methods in this book caused me nothing frustration. They may work for some folks but they didn't work for me. Another thing I hated about this book is it is poorly organized because the author skips around a lot. Therefore I can't recommend this book.

October 2, 2013

Not satisfied
It is surprising that flat shirt block construction was not treated at all. I think the book is more for sewing. It is not very useful for a professional pattern designer.



Sep 07, 2010

A fantastic little primer on (mostly) mens shirts. The author guides you through getting started, fitting a pattern, construction and sewing in an orderly and logical way. As I read through, all the questions that arose in my mind were answered within the next few pages so my reaction throughout the book went something like: "Yeah but then how...." (flip, flip) "Oh! Got it." I like that in a sewing book.

My only nit to pick was his pushing of specialty feet for machines. Those bad boys are not A fantastic little primer on (mostly) mens shirts. The author guides you through getting started, fitting a pattern, construction and sewing in an orderly and logical way. As I read through, all the questions that arose in my mind were answered within the next few pages so my reaction throughout the book went something like: "Yeah but then how...." (flip, flip) "Oh! Got it." I like that in a sewing book.

My only nit to pick was his pushing of specialty feet for machines. Those bad boys are not cheap and I don't appreciate being told that I won't be able to achieve good results without them. Especially if it's not true.

But, onwards to sewing! ...more

June 12, 2019

It's good but not great.
There's no denying the valuable information about shirts and shirtmaking that is in this book. But it isn't organized and presented in a way that facilitates learning and doing. For instance the book relies considerably on illustrations to present concepts and highlight techniques. Illustrations are good and can be helpful but they don't have the visual effect (and impact) of photographs. Too, and most important, the information isn't presented in a way that facilitates learning. Here again, where illustrations and photographs are used you often have to jump ahead tens of pages to see the illustration or photo being referenced. It makes for a very disjointed learning experience.
Again, it's a good book, you'll learn much from it, but you'll walk away less inspired than you'd hoped for.

September 16, 2017

You want to know how to make shirts? Buy this book.
This is a thin but dense book. There is a lot of information to cover and it can be intimidating. Take your time and read it thoroughly. The author makes the subject very approachable and give a great insight into the logic and process. The recommended sources section seems a bit dated, but I know that would be difficult to keep up in a print edition

November 5, 2018

NOT PLEASED AT ALL.... not impressed at all!!!
As a garment maker I want to see color, real examples, not line drawings. I can’t even relate to this book because of the line drawing of not real garment images. I can’t even get interested to even read it..
I really want to return it but will just keep it just because - perhaps I’ll grow in to it or give it away..

The only color images are pics of shirts in a drawer or pics of shirts laying on a table...
This is not a hook for developing fine sewing skills..

August 20, 2014

One Star
This has nothing to do with pattern making.

January 9, 2018

Fro pro-tailers.
To complicated for me.

September 1, 2017

Two Stars
book was fine but kindle format sucks. get the hard copy.

August 5, 2016

Not what i expected. I thought it would show ...
Not what i expected. I thought it would show the process of make shirt kind of somewhat of placing, and building a shirt from patterns. This book is for novice sewer not for the beginner sewer.

November 12, 2017

Not the book I needed.
The book is interesting and gives a lot of basics. But doesn't really help you draft a pattern or show exactly where and how to do the seams in what order etc.

Very disappointed!

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