gushing review: Margaret Islander’s “Shirts, Etc!”

Areas Covered
Pattern Preparation & Cutting Tips
Pockets & Front Facing
2-Piece Collar
Short Sleeve Finishes
Bias Front Band

is available for purchase through Islander Sewing Systems, but at a retail cost of over $70 i would follow in the footsteps of others and rent it from SmartFlix for $17.

Does this book have clear illustrations or photographs?

while the production values are incredibly dated, margaret islander has a keen understanding of how to illustrate her point, be it using a pointer on pattern pieces or a perfect close-up of a technique. each technique is ably demonstrated, and while some may take repeat viewings to click, it is never difficult to see what she is doing. the fabric used for the demonstration has clear right and wrong sides, and when working from the right side margaret often adds a white cardboard square to help delineate the stitching line for the home viewer.

her attitude toward her home audience is adorable and quite approachable, even folksy. i found myself muttering repeatedly, “margaret, you are SO CUTE.”

Would you recommend this book as a MUST HAVE?
without hesitation. i sat down this weekend with a friend and together, we worked with margaret to make our first shirts. each of us was surprised and pleased with how do-able her techniques proved to be and each of us got better-than-expected results on our test runs.

as others have mentioned, margaret focuses on more industrial techniques that rely more on careful hand placement and control of the fabric through methods other than pins. this can be intimidating at first, but it only takes a few stitched seams to understand the wisdom of this approach. her yoke technique borders on brilliant, with clean and professional-looking seams that can be applied to other garments that may have yokes. her front facing technique is identical to the strategies currently being employed on the “off-the-cuff” blog as part of the negroni pattern, and it works just as well as margaret (and pam enry!) says it does.

i was at first perplexed and then in awe of the collar attachment technique and can’t wait to cut another shirt to practice her “burrito” method, which is similar but not identical to other rolling methods used for yokes and other enclosed seams. her version of this method seems far superior and infinitely less confusing than what i have seen demonstrated before.

other reviewers have mentioned her continuous lap opening and how it can be less professional and less dressy (and less stable) than a sleeve placket, but for me the continuous lap will be good for my first few shirts as i work my way up to David Coffin’s placket methods (described in-depth in both his book and DVD). in general, i found her methods less fussy than DPC’s and often resulting in an identical finish. for a more “couture” or hand-finished approach, i would absolutely adapt the techniques described by DPC but for everyday shirtmaking i am happy to stick with margaret.


cross-posted from PatternReview

This entry was posted in Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s