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on 26 April 2001
I have probably learnt more about dressmaking form this book than from any other I own, and I do own a lot. This book is clearly laid out with a lot of illustrations, and is easy to follow.
Whilst it focuses on shirts a lot of the techniques apply to everything you make. It covers why a shirt looks right when you wear it, how to make a shirt fit you the way you want, and changes to the basic shirt design that will allow you to make a truly unique garment. At the back of the book there is a reference section of posible design details.
Whilst I haven't made a shirt for a few months I refer to this book often for techniques and information on how to use pieces of sewing equipment better. I got so much more from this book that I could have expected.
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on 23 February 2014
Very disappointed with this book as I assumed from the title it would explain how to make shirts. It doesn't.

I really wanted something that would help me draft my own block so that I could tailor shirts to my own fit, but there is no such information. Instead, the reader is invited to trace around a shirt he likes the fit of, and use that as a pattern.

There is, however, a lot of information on collars... a LOT of information. So much that I really feel the book should be called "Collar Making"!

As others have said, there is a dearth of photos which add to the disappointment.

The book is somewhat American, and David Page Coffin is very opinionated. He talks at length about what the ideal dress shirt should look like, yet only makes a cursory mention of the European placket (aka French Placket) on page 22, and there is no real discussion of how to make one. Be aware that what is referred to as muslin is likely to be calico in the UK/Europe.

If you are interested in making your own shirts, including drafting a pattern unique to your shape, don't waste your money on this book. Just download the free pdf tutorials from Burda Style (do a google search for "burda style mens shirt block" and "burda style mens collar block".)
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on 14 July 2011
Note the title - shirtmaking, not blouse-making. I made a bit of a mistake with this purchase. I was looking for help with making shirts, blouses, pyjama tops, that kind of thing. That is not what this book is about - it's about shirts, the male garment, often borrowed by women, but essentially consisting of a body, sleeves and collar, with flat fell seams and a front closure. However, the information on fabrics and construction methods is still invaluable, and the section at the back on alternative designs (moleskin, shooting shirts etc) is also great. Coffin-Page is a self-taught sewist, so his explanations are extremely clear and the book is well furnished, like all Taunton books (probably the best sewing books around), with illustrations and photographs. I now feel confident enough to have a go at making my own shirts, and also understand better the details on my Jermyn Street vintage shirts. A good buy.
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on 29 October 2011
I have bought both the book and the complementary dvd, 'Shirtmaking Techniques' by David Coffin.
I had struggled with commercial patterns for several months as a beginning sewer. They are pretty useless, IMHO.Fixing collars and arms onto the tunic seemed impossible.
David Coffin makes it a lot simpler. His techniques are straightforward. That doesn't mean I didn't scratch my head a few times before things sank in. But I succeeded the other day in sewing my first really successful collar.
My advice is to start with the dvd. When you've digested that, go to the book to fill in the detail.

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on 14 October 2013
I appreciate this guy is an artist and wanted to do his own illustrations but they're just not good enough to follow. Every time I sit down and try and work out one of his illustrations it's a painful struggle. They're so unclear they are almost unintelligible. This book would have been great if they'd just stuck to photographs to illustrate the technical sewing descriptions. The text descriptions aren't enough and the line drawings are practically useless.

It's a great shame, but this isn't the book it could have been. There's too much fluff about different styles and shapes of collar, etc, and not enough on basic sewing techniques. I had high hopes for this book after reading the introduction, but the further you get into it the worse it gets. The final chapters are just a pure annoyance.

Both publisher and author would do well to look at "Vintage Couture Tailoring" by Thomas von Nordheim. That is an exemplary "how to" instruction manual about tailoring techniques. Clear photographs, helpful descriptions and warnings. Minimal fluff about fashion. If only Coffin's book were half as good.

I'm still looking for a good book on shirt making.
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on 19 February 2013
After reading several reviews, I had high expectations of this book. However, on receipt, I can honestly say how disappointing it is. Granted, there is a lot of information - but it is very dated and there are a lot of basic line drawings that are not that well drawn. In this day and age, it's not hard to produce quality and this book certainly needs an update.

I'd say, don't waste your money. You can find more current and easier to follow instructions (inc. video) by doing a simple web search.
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on 23 March 2013
A superb well written tome. Written by an amateur shirt-maker who puts his money where his mouth is (the voice of experience from someone who does it at home like we do). Simply but effectively illustrated by the author, Coffin explains not only "How to", but also the pitfalls, and takes you through the process of shirt-making, from equipment, tools and patterns, right through to the finished article (including alternative designs - complete with photographs of his own work. Ending with recommended sources for materials.
As an absolute newcomer, discovering the essential practices of saving money by doing my own repairs and alterations to shirt-making and sewing in general, I found his references to the process of shirt-making invaluable and inspirational. I'm not , by my own lack of expertise, good with a sewing machine, but his instructions were so easy to understand that the process of shortening shirt sleeves including the repositioning of plackets on the shortened sleeve (something I was advised was better left alone) if not simple, at least possible... Practice will make perfect (I hope). At least I know HOW a good shirt is made.
This is a book I would not wish to be without.
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on 29 December 2015
The author starts by saying that he wrote this book because no one else had.This book covers it's subject fully. Informative and easy to follow instructions. Invaluable for not just making shirts and blouses. Both collars and cuffs are well covered and plenty of tailoring advice. This book really starts from the beginning, choosing fabrics, tools to use through to ideas for different styles. The line drawings are more helpful than the usual photos.
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on 1 March 2014
Had already got the DVD so I bought this book to complete the package. Gave the book a four star rating because it's written as though you're new to sewing, which I like. But I like clear photographs to accompany instructions and you only get drawings in this book. Overall the book wasn't what I'd hoped for. Sorry David!!
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on 13 April 2014
I bought this book to learn how to make a professional looking shirt for my son who has difficulty finding shirts to fit him in the body when he has a big neck. This book tells me everything I need to know from picking the material to the finished article. Very good
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