Men’s Fitted Poplin Shirt (and Total Designer Knockoff)


Is it wrong to blatantly knock off somebody else’s design if you’re just sewing for yourself?

I almost never do: menswear doesn’t really afford too many possibilities.  But I stumbled upon a beautiful white poplin shirt from the Fall 2016 collection of designer Hussein Chalayan a few weeks ago, and fell in love with it.  Unfortunately, at $520, it was way beyond my means.  So I did what any determined sewer would do: I decided to knock it off.

Last summer, I happened to purchase three yards of gorgeous white mercerized cotton poplin shirting at Mood Fabrics in NYC.  (Also available from Mood online here.)  It’s hard to put into words how luxurious-feeling this shirting is: silky smooth, whiter-than-white, and very densely woven.  I knew it would be perfect for the design I had in mind.  (Read more about mercerized cotton here.  I had no idea what it was.)

Sewing a completely white garment has its challenges, at least for me, as you must be very, very careful not to get dirt on it.  I found myself wiping my sewing table off every half hour and I was very careful not to let pieces of the shirt drag on the floor when I ironed it or added the buttons and buttonholes.

As a base, I used a favorite vintage men’s shirt pattern from my stash, Butterick 4575.  It’s a fitted shirt pattern with collar and collar stand, no pleats in the back, and a shaped hem.  To make this shirt look like the Chalayan original, I created two identical front panels that extend to within a few inches of the center front.  Each is a double layer and folds back over itself at the front edge to create a stiffer, whiter panel that works perfectly.



The panels extend down a bit beyond the regular shirt fronts beneath and are secured to the front on the inside of the fold above the pocket and just below.  Below that, they hang freely, though they’re sewn into the shoulder, armhole, and side seams.  (The front pockets have flaps; the pockets themselves are largely decorative.)  I added a hidden button placket to my pattern to keep the shirt front looking sleek and minimal.


I think I’ve created a pretty good knockoff of the Chalayan design and the mercerized white poplin I chose is perfect: crisp and formal looking.



Screen Shot 2016-09-26 at 2.11.15 PM


I love this shirt. It’s not something I’ll wear every day, obviously, but for a special occasion when I want to look a little avant-garde, this shirt is just the thing.





Ever knock off your favorite designer?

See you next month!




  • Angela
    October 5, 2016

    Impeccable sewing… truly. I’m sure it has a higher quality than the original!

  • Manju
    October 5, 2016

    Wow Peter you and this shirt look handsome! Perfect sewing.

  • Erica Bunker
    October 5, 2016

    Bravo Peter! You look beyond DOPE! And those sleeve plackets are down right sexy! This is tailored shirt porn! This is the type of sewing that makes my heart sing. You completely nailed this!

  • Lynn
    October 5, 2016

    This is an amazing shirt, Peter! I don’t think there is an inherent problem in a designer or RTW knock-off made for your own pleasure and use. I think that ethical problems raise their ugly heads when you want to sell the item to another person or create a pattern for sale to others. I have made a couple of knock-offs of RTW that I really liked, but didn’t suit me either because of the color or the fit. So, if you’re guilty of something, so are most of the rest of us in the sewing community.

  • Ramsey Wilson
    October 5, 2016

    One word Peter. Impeccable!

  • Elle
    October 5, 2016

    Outstanding! You need to come up with an elegant event to strut this around.

  • Stephanie Laakson
    October 5, 2016

    What Erica said!!

  • Graca
    October 5, 2016

    Wow! It’s perfect. And I think I need to pick up some of that fabric!

  • Tanya
    October 5, 2016

    AMAZING! I like yours better than the original. You look very handsome.

  • Kim
    October 5, 2016

    Absolutely beautifully sewn. Bravo!

  • Marilyn
    October 6, 2016

    Peter you have absolutely nailed it!
    Absolutely frigging A-MAZING!!!!!
    I have to agree that your shirt looks far superior to the original and you could easily be a runway model.
    Just goes to show what quality materials and excellent workmanship can give you as a reward.

  • Cindy
    October 6, 2016

    You do beautiful work! When you previewed this project, I was skeptical about such a different look on something as classic as a white dress shirt. That said; I absolutely love this! What a great special event shirt! Thank you for sharing. You truly inspire me.

  • Dayna Williamson
    October 6, 2016

    I would do a knock off without any hesitation. If it were for myself. I do think it is wrong when someone does knockoffs and then sells them for a really cheap price. Now THAT is not right. Excellent job. Enjoy following your blog.

  • Michelle
    October 6, 2016

    Your classes at FIT are really paying off, your work is divine.

  • Karen
    October 6, 2016

    What a fabulous shirt! Nice sewing!

  • Renee
    October 6, 2016

    I agree with other commenter that if it is for personal use and you can’t afford it that no harm is done. Its important to give credit to the original designer as well. This is so amazing. It looks very stylish on you. Its so striking and simple. It looks so high quality. We’ll done.

  • Renee
    October 6, 2016

    Apologies for my horrendous grammar due to auto correct on my phone.

  • Patricia Clements
    October 6, 2016

    Absolutely stunning, Peter.

  • Anne-Marie
    October 6, 2016

    Stunningly beautiful, Peter! Those cuffs, those plackets! You have become such a competent sewer. i admire your skills. Thank you for sharing.

  • Rebecca Howard
    October 6, 2016

    Such a clever bunny. You always look so cool in your creations. AND, according to your mercerised Wikipedia link, you are now also resistant to mildew. Perfect!

  • Sian Joseph
    October 6, 2016

    I love that this shirt cost you nothing but your time. It looks to fit you beautifully, probably better than the original would have. Well done.

  • Mainelydad
    October 6, 2016

    I actually think this looks better than the original because your shirt tails are more deeply curved. It’s tres chic!

  • Esther
    October 6, 2016

    Looking sharp, Peter! Woohoo!

  • Lara
    October 6, 2016

    That is the BEST men’s shirt ever. So good!

  • Carlee McTavish
    October 7, 2016

    WOW! Peter that looks amazing! I am always so impressed by your style.

  • Wouter van Wageningen
    October 8, 2016

    Beautiful shirt!

    And yes, I have knocked off my favourite designer; I made a copy of your crossword shirt 🙂

  • Spike Deane
    October 10, 2016

    very cool. very crisp. Great work!

  • Lori
    October 10, 2016

    Never have I taken the time to tell you how much you inspire me. You totally SLAYED this shirt!!!! All eyes should be on you when you walk the street looking this crisp! I am blown away by the craftmanship! Impeccable style. Your pictures captures how great it feels to MAKE it versus buying it. Thank you Peter.

    Oh yes other hobbies make reproductions when they see something they admire, take woodworkers for example…a form of flattery because you gave credit where it came from. We sewists are no different! Brillant job Peter!

    • Peter
      October 10, 2016

      Thank you so much, Lori — and everyone!

  • Karen
    October 10, 2016

    Perfection! This is your best shirt ever!

  • Kanza
    October 11, 2016

    I so enjoy reading your posts and definitely feel inspired when I see your creations! This shirt is quite special and your workmanship is beautiful!

  • Fiona
    October 11, 2016

    It’s absolutely not wrong Peter, especially when you’re going to do such a beautiful job! I absolutely adore this and that lovely crisp cotton was the perfect fabric choice

  • Lori
    October 12, 2016

    This is simply an amazing work of art. Shirt perfection!

  • Sammi
    October 14, 2016

    Wow. Well done! How does it look with the Marimekko pants?

  • Cennetta
    October 18, 2016

    Bravo! Peter that is one gorgeous shirt. Can I say that for a man’s shirt. :-). Seriously, you can knock off anything you want. You have the power, skills, and a sewing machine!

    • Cennetta
      October 18, 2016

      PS – I’ve made a few knock off’s. But haven’t knocked off in a while.