…The sincerest form of flattery

Ah, yes… imitation. I’ve been a Junya Watanabe fan for several years. He’s able to spin out new versions of his patchwork shirts, season after season. I never tire of them. He takes traditional menswear shirting and shakes it up in a way that’s fun and approachable. The price point, however, is another story.

These bad boys will set you back about $700. Umm……that’s not a world that I live in. And if you’re reading this crazy blog, you probably don’t either. Personally, I have a hard time wrapping my head around that kind of disposable income. But I’m not here to judge. I’m just thankful that I have the skills to make my own “reasonable facsimile”, as it were.

So this is where I start. This cotton shirting has been in my stash for years. I’m pretty sure I bought it from Denver Fabrics back when I was very new to shirtmaking. They had this fabric in a variety of colorways at a very low price. Maybe $4 / yard. This brown and aqua version is very “me”, and I knew it would coordinate with lots of things in my wardrobe. So I picked up three yards. The white rope textured stripe, in particular, is an attractive feature. But as nice as it is, this fabric never really inspired me to make anything. It just seemed kind of boring, and not destined to be anything more than a basic shirt in desperate need of a very interesting necktie.

Staying home with Covid -19 changed all of that! If you follow me in Instagram you know that I’ve been stalled out on a seersucker blazer project. It just needs buttons, but I’m hesitant to go out looking for them. I needed a project where all the components were “in house”, so to speak.

I don’t have (or like having) a big stash, so I had to take a hard look at this shirting. It was the only option where I had everything I would need from start to finish. Somehow a little lightbulb went off, I think after a quick perusal of my Pinterest inspiration board. A “Watanabe wannabe” it would be.

I may not have a huge stash of yardage, but I have bins of scraps! This project gave me a chance to use some of them. All of them were from previous shirts. I played around with various combinations and ended up with this rectangular arrangement. It was really only a matter of basting them in place and then zig zagging them down with my Janome. Not rocket science!

As the layers piled up, I trimmed out as much excess fabric as I could reach. Even with cotton shirting it gets bulky fast. I also brought all the zig zag threads to the back and tied them off. Hopefully this will keep the whole thing from falling apart the first time it gets washed. I do wonder how the genuine shirts are constructed. If a patch on my version comes loose , I can just thread up the Janome and run it through. I wouldn’t be too happy doing that if I’d spent $700… just sayin’.

It’s very easy for me to get carried away with this kind of sewing. I really found myself having to step on the brakes… Often! It’s a slippery slope to “clown costume”. Sometimes just a different color buttonhole is enough.

It was a beautiful Spring day in Maine today. Here I’m wearing my new “Watanabe Wannabe” shirt with a pair of dark teal Jeds. The first pair of pants I ever made, and they’re still going strong. Oh, and who can forget my Covid hair and N95 compliant facial hair!

This shirt has contrasting inner cuffs for a little extra pizazz when the sleeves are rolled up. Vents at the side seams make accessing my pockets much easier. And although it’s not obvious in these pictures, the back is 1 inch longer than fronts.

Now I just need the universe to provide buttons and a haircut!

Be well, be safe, be sewing

21 thoughts on “…The sincerest form of flattery

  1. Love the contrasting fabric on the inner cuffs and collar too. Your garden must give you a lot of pleasure during this stay-at-home time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant, I like your creation better than the Watanabe examples that inspired you.
    Drat the Covid hair…I too, was having a hack at my own fringe this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You see something good has come from being on lock down, Dwayne. Love your color combo and balance! Don’t you find shifting those shapes and planning out such a new project makes your mind happy?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re so right about “mind happiness”. I could play around with fabric scraps all day and make a whole closet full of shirts like this. It’s really addictive!


  4. What a great shirt! It’s funny what comes out of the situation when you have to make do with what’s on hand…….magic!
    I’m glad you referred to your jacket….I was wondering if I had missed a post. I can understand where you want to see and feel your choices for buttons.
    Thanks for your inspiration! Up to the sewing room………


  5. You definitely nailed it! I love the combination and all the little almost hidden details. My hair is shorter than yours and I’ve been cutting it myself with “not terrible” results, but it would be nice to have someone to do the back.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pattern mixing is a gene, and you’ve got a double expression of that one.

    Dark teal pants…the quiet mainstay of better casual clothing.

    Your backyard background – vibrantly lush!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a great job, i understand about putting the breaks on the creativity or overdoing it. You have to step back and look at it. I am still working on making a basic shirt, wish i could follow a sew along or step by step tutorial from you. As far as covid hair, i dont have that problem, mom is a hair dresser with a shop in the house, so hair cuts, color etc can be had when needed. We have been very lucky that i shop and stock up on everything. I really enjoy all your sewing projects, I am also working on more pattern drafting for myself and going to test fast tailoring techniques on a dkny jacket pattern for my mom with the wrap skirt and trousers.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. this is fantastic – the contrasts are just the right amount. love it. and I know how satisfying it is to recreate a designer look for such a reasonable price 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Another winner! Thanks for the inspiration — I’ll think about doing this on shorts! Lovely yard, and the 70’s has me still liking longer hair on men … But I got a cut last week here in Colo and feel more socially acceptable even as I’m socially distancing and mostly at home.😀


  10. Choosing and auditioning a selection from the leftovers from previous shirts pretty much guarantees you will find a pleasing collection that may not coordinate precisely, but will catch the spirit of your wardrobe. i think this is why I enjoy crazy quilts more than purpose chosen ones; the eye of the collector is present.
    That and picking up some of them for the other facing bits. I love the Robert Graham shirts for that, but as well not their prices.
    Something to be inspired by, AGAIN!!!


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