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.
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!