Can I copy a button-down shirt I love?
May 9, 2007 9:41 PM   Subscribe

Can I copy a button-down shirt I love?

A few years ago I finally found a button-down shirt that I loved. It fit perfectly, which doesn't happen often, so I bought four of them. Now they are starting to show wear and come apart.

Are there places that can take apart these shirts and copy the pattern and make a new shirt for me? What can I expect to pay for something like this?
posted by apetpsychic to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
There was this thread, a while back.
posted by dilettante at 10:08 PM on May 9, 2007

Any good shirtmaker (haberdasher) can do this. You wear the shirt in, the shirtmaker takes your measurements and notes the kind of buttons, pocket, cuff, etc., and you get to pick the fabric you want out of their extensive book.

It won't be cheap.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:22 PM on May 9, 2007

I've had this done in China for $10 a shirt (it depends on the fabric, obviously). So if you have the opportunity to go there, you know what to do :)
posted by V-Turn at 12:44 AM on May 10, 2007

I'm sure if you're willing to sacrifice one of them, you could have it deconstructed by any tailor and as many copies as you like made from the pattern.

Not sure they would even need to take it apart to make an accurate pattern.

Oh, and tailors are all over the place and can many have very reasonable prices.
posted by qwip at 1:49 AM on May 10, 2007

I don't suppose you're heading to Southeast Asia any time soon, or you know anyone who's going that way?
I had two copies of my all-time favourite Boss shirt made in a little town in Southern Thailand a couple years ago. Every urban area feels like it's been hit with a Three Man Tailoring Operation bomb out there, but I'm not sure where you'd find such a thing outside Asia.
posted by Kreiger at 3:33 AM on May 10, 2007

The last issue of CRAFT magazine includes: "The Perfect Pair of Pants by Ty Nowotny in DIY: Hack It. Use reverse engineering to rebuild your favorite pair of pants again and again. Page 131 "

This refers to pants, but the same ideas would apply to shirts. Unfortunately the link is for subscribers only, but it might steer you in the right direction. (It's a fun magazine, BTW, and probably less than the cost of shirt to subcribe).

posted by largecorp at 7:40 AM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]

It’s absolutely unnecessary to take your shirt apart in order to make an accurate pattern from it.

If you want to do this yourself, it’s quite easy (much easier than copying pants). There are detailed instructions in my book on shirtmaking, but here’s the gist:

Spread a thick towel or folded blanket or large sheet of foam-core on a large table.

Pin or tape a large sheet of paper over this padding.

Pin your shirt to the padding through the paper, one complete pattern section at a time, making sure that you can see the entire piece and all its edges, which are of course the seams that connect it to the rest of the shirt, and that this piece is not distorted, skewed or stretched at all. Observe the grain of the fabric or any woven-in stripe or check to confirm this.
The sections of the shirt you’re not currently copying can be underneath the section you’re working on and can be folded or distorted in any way necessary.

Run a pin along each seamline edge of the pinned-out piece, poking it through all the layers every inch or so (more on curves, less on straight sections) and making sure you mark the corners well. Unpin shirt, replace paper, pin down another section. When done, connect all the pinhole dots on each paper sheet with a smooth pencil line, then add seam allowances all around to create the paper pattern (or let your shirtmaker do this).

You only need a pattern for one front half, half the back, half the yoke, half the collar, half the collar stand. Pin out any pleats going into the yoke in back all the way to the hem and measure them; you can add the extra fabric these require to your pattern later. The cuffs are just rectangles with probably some shaping at two corners.

Pin down and copy the collar separately from the collar stand, since the seam between them is a curve and you’d distort this if you try to pin them both down flat at one go.

For the sleeve you need the whole piece, not just half (as a rule), so proceed as follows:
Arrange the underarm seam so it’s at one edge. The centerline of the sleeve will then be at the opposite edge. Fold the paper for this piece in half lengthwise, then pin the sleeve to it with its centerline fold over the paper fold. Ignore the pleats that gather the sleeve into the cuff; you can measure the amount of gathering and add this back to the sleeve pattern later; it’s not a critical measurement. Pin-trace the underarm seam line, then do the sleeve-to-shirt seam that you can see. Next feel through the layers to find the sleeve-to-shirt seam you can’t see and trace that; it’s probably a slightly different curve than the visible half.

You don’t need to copy small details like the pocket (altho you could easily pin trace that when you do the front), sleeve plackets or center-front band. Whoever makes your shirt will have usable patterns already or can easily get them.

Feel free to email me directly if you have any questions.
posted by dpcoffin at 10:09 AM on May 10, 2007 [6 favorites]

I just posted a video of the shirt-copying process described above.
posted by dpcoffin at 2:24 PM on July 5, 2007

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