New Zimmerli Pajamas
and Silk Boxer Shorts
New PJ's & Silk Boxers
The Hot New Regal Red:
The collar is stunning:
The waistband soft & supple:
And also available in two subtle and
sophisticated pinstripe designs:
For the first time, we're featuring a
Zimmerli Winter-weight super soft cotton
In a beautiful multi-stripe pattern:
What would regal pajamas be without a
The New Zimmerli Silk
... and what would our
be without at least a few socks & some
Marcoliani ExtraFine Merino
Fancy Circo Stripes
Marcoliani Fine Cotton Lisle
Fancy Block Stripe
Women's Merino Fashion Stripe
Knee-high & Ankle Lengths
Women's Plain Merino Knee-highs
Cashmere Harlequin Knee-High
A Word About
Luxury Gift Selection
We know how difficult and
time-consuming it can be to select the right
from our vast range of fine luxury clothing
and accessories. It doesn't have to be such.
We know our wares from top to bottom. Let us
How? On every page of CustomShirt1.com,
you'll see a link to our Gift Center where
you'll find a very short questionnaire to
fill out for each intended gift recipient.
We'll take it from there, assembling unique
treasure boxes for your loved ones and
sending them to you by email for your
approval or revision.
Zimmerli for Women Silky Elegance Wool & Silk
take care of the wrapping! When you remove
your presents from their outer package,
they'll be all ready to hand out. Well ...
almost. You'll have to sign the gift card.
Zimmerli for Women Cotton Lace
here. Put us to work on your list!
Letters to the
A Treatise on Custom Clothing
I only want to say that it's a pleasure and
an honor to know intelligent, articulate
individuals in any field of endeavor; to know
there are still people who take real pride in
what they do, who understand the true meaning
of service, and are willing to suborn
short-term profit to the practice of their
art, craft, trade, or profession at the
I was raised in a German household, and
taught respect and appreciation for fine
clothing and proper dress. We didn't
necessarily have a lot, but what we did have
was always of the highest quality. Even
though there were times in my life when I
couldn't afford to buy the best, I never lost
my awareness or appreciation for quality
garments, and it was always with regret when
I had to compromise.
Thanks for being one of the people who still
care, who set the standard by whom all others
are measured. I don't even need to wish you
continued success; for those who excel, there
is always a place at the top.
I look forward to your next newsletter.
Upcoming Issues ...
Caveat Emptor Cheap
Seaward's Silk Formal Scarves
Italy's Bresciani Socks
A Treatise on Top Quality Clothing
. . . Part V
Kabbaz, Master Shirtmaker
Copyright © 2003-2008 Alexander S. Kabbaz, All
Last issue's Part IV featured an in-depth
primer of fabrics for shirts and blouses. If
you haven't read Part IV, or Part III about
Cuffs, Part II about Collars, Sleeve Placket
Buttons, and Hem Gussets, or Part I about
quality shirtmaking philosophy, you should.
Look above for links to those articles.
Part V delves into:
Yoke vs. One-Piece Shoulders
- Yokes: Split vs. One-Piece Shoulders
- Darts: Necessity or Sewing Inability?
- Pre-washing Fabric: Is it Essential?
- Stitches-per-Inch: Myth vs. Reality
The foot bone's connected to the calf bone;
the calf bone's connected to the thigh bone;
the thigh bone ... While this, as the
kindergarten ditty goes, may be true, it does
not accurately reflect the importance of the
parts of the body. When it comes to covering
the torso, the single most important body
part is the shoulders. Shoulders are the
hanger from which every top garment drapes.
If the shoulder part is not properly
constructed, no amount of fussing with the
rest of the shirt, blouse, jacket, or coat
will properly correct the related problems.
In most shirts and blouses, the shoulder part
is called the "yoke".
Let's get one thing straight: Shoulders are
not! In some 30+ years of making bespoke
shirts, I have never seen a straight pair of
shoulders. Shoulders curve forward. They
curve backward. Often one curves more than
the other. They slope as well. Believe it or
not, shoulder slope from ranges from under an
inch to almost four inches! Though this is
more the province of the way the tops of the
front and back are designed, in the more
extreme cases of less than 1.5" or more than
3", corrections need to be made to the yoke
as well. In addition, some people have large,
protruding shoulder blades while others are
How does this affect the design of the yoke?
Logically: If the shoulders curve forward,
the yoke must be designed to curve forward.
Rearward curve? Rearward yoke. Different
curves? Different yoke curves on each side.
Large shoulder blades require a different
method. Here, the rear side of the yoke must
be curved outward to allow extra room for the
How is all of the above affected by whether a
one-piece or split yoke construction is used?
Quite simply, it is not. However - and it's a
big however - picture this: One shoulder
curves forward 1" and the other curves
forward 2". When the asymmetrically designed
one-piece yoke is placed upon the fabric for
cutting, one side will curve forward off more
stripes than the other. Though the shirt will
fit well, the asymmetry of the stripes will
show, often glaring at the beholder as a
mistake. Now look at the split yoke diagram
#2. Notice how the center seam has been cut at
an angle. By doing this on only one side, the
shirt maker can cause one yoke to effectively
curve forward more than the other ... but
still permit cutting the stripe pattern
equally for both sides.
Proper fitting without making the shirt
appear distorted is just one advantage.
Another lies in pattern design. By virtue of
their construction, one-piece yokes force the
stripes to be cut straight all the way
across. The split yoke permits "chevronning"
of the stripe pattern as shown in the photo
below and illustrated in the diagram above as
#3. Many find this quite attractive.
This upward pointed "V" also enhances the
body's shape by creating the illusion that
the wearer is taller and wider-shouldered.
Unless, of course, the matching of the
stripes is not done correctly ... in which
case the whole thing just appears shoddy.
In the photo above, one can see not only how
boring the one-piece straight-cut yoke
appears, but also that the pattern maker did
not allow for the protruding shoulder blades
thus causing the wrinkle labeled "F".
Tradition, for the reasons outlined, dictates
that a split yoke is a sign of high-quality
construction. However, in many cases,
shirtmakers will resist departing from the
one-piece yoke. The split yoke requires
additional sewing and careful
pattern-matching. The one-piece yoke is
easier to sew as there is no center seam to
match and join. There isn't much more to say
on this oft-debated subject. One piece -
easier. Split yoke - Harder. Draw your own
Necessity or Sewing Inability?
The construction of the human torso is such
that in virtually 100% of cases the rear
waist is smaller - often markedly so - than
the front waist. In order to properly fit
then, the back waist of the shirt or blouse
needs be smaller than the front. Because the
only appropriate seams for this purpose in a
shirt or blouse are at the sides, this forces
the pattern designer to make a much sharper
curve in the back part as shown by the red
line in the diagram. The black lines portray
an unshaped side seam. For the majority of
sewers, properly sewing this French seam with
differing curves offers a daunting challenge.
The greater the difference between back and
front waist, the more difficult the sewing.
The only cure? Sew slower ... an anathema in
modern production facilities.
Enter ... darts. Randomly selecting an area
off to each side of the back, the fabric is
gathered into a cone shape and sewn with a
straight seam, effectively reducing the
amount of showing fabric. Note in the photo
how obvious this is ... and how it affects
the design line of the stripes.
As a styling feature, some like this design;
others hate it. In either case, the choice
should be one of styling and not, except in
the rarest of circumstances, one of
I've often been asked exactly how far a good
shirtmaker can go without using darts ... so
we experimented. The greatest reduction we
were able to sew without causing puckers was
from a 44" chest to a 31" waist ... or 13" of
difference. Rare it is - usually limited to
professional bodybuilders - that the
difference is greater than that.
Again, darts are the easy way out of an
oft-occuring circumstance. They are
infinitely easier to sew than the
Darts: Necessity or Sewing
Inability? You decide.
Fabric: Is it Essential?
Cotton shrinks. Period. It is an inherent
characteristic of the fiber. If you are told
that a shirt or blouse fabric is
"pre-washed", "pre-shrunk", or anything
similar, know this: In order to accurately
cut patterned fabrics, the pattern needs to
be laid out straight on the cutting table.
Shrinking a fabric wrinkles it. Wrinkled
fabric cannot be properly cut.
prior to cutting, a washed fabric needs to be
ironed. If you understand the concept of a
tailor "shaping" a garment with an iron, then
you understand how ironing can easily distort
a fabric pattern. Hence, the person doing the
ironing needs to be fairly skilled at the
task in order to keep the pattern straight.
When you realize that the only lower person
on the totem pole than the person sewing the
shirt hem (did you read Part II of the
series???) is the person ironing the cloth,
it stands to reason that either the cloth
ain't pre-washed or the pre-washed stripe
Thus, all clients' shirt patterns need to
have an allowance built in for shrinkage.
Good shirtmakers test their fabrics to
determine the percentage of shrinkage of each
different cloth type every time they receive
a new one. A standard must be set. Ours, for
example, is 1%, the accepted standards for
top-quality broadcloth & poplin. Any fabric
which shrinks more must be properly
pre-washed in a manner which leaves a
residual 1% shrinkage and then ironed with
extreme care to keep the stripes straight.
After years of testing, we have charted many
different methods for achieving this goal.
The average shirt being approximately 48"
around at the chest, a 1% error in shrinkage
calculation can result in about 1/2" too
large or small in the finished shirt body. A
5% miscalculation, surprisingly not uncommon
in voiles, will result in more than a 2.5"
error. Oxford, at 3%, yields a shirt 1.5" too
small. That is one full R.T.W. size too
Does your shirtmaker take shrinkage into
account? Do you feel that your broadcloth
shirts are looser than your oxfords? You
Stitches-per-Inch: Myth vs.
This widely used criteria is often
misunderstood. Although it is true that a
poorly made shirt will usually have a much
lower stitch count, it does not follow that a
well-made will have 24, 26 or more
stitches-per-inch (s.p.i.) throughout the
shirt. Firstly, you need to understand why.
The speed of a sewing machine is measured,
not in linear dimension, but in
stitches-per-minute. The fewer stitches in an
inch, the faster the machine sews that inch.
That is the simple reason cheaper shirts have
fewer stitches - the lower stitch count means
the sewing goes more quickly.
Note the green marks in the photo below.
Ignore the red arrows which (see above) show
the shoddy workmanship of an unmatched yoke.
The green lines illustrate the distance
between these stitches which, in this case,
are too far apart and thus visible even
though they are on the underside of the seam.
In better shirts higher stitch counts are
expected. In the best shirts, not only will
the counts be higher, but a varying number of
s.p.i. are used depending upon the part of
the shirt being sewn.
For example, certain of the stitches in the
shirt are meant to be more-or-less easily
removed. Good examples of this are the
stitches which attach the collar and cuffs.
If these are difficult to remove by virtue of
being too close together, then the process of
disassembly in the refurbishing the shirt
with new collar and cuffs would certainly
cause the neckhole or sleeve-end fabric to
stretch - or even tear - under the strain. On
the other hand, flat, interlined surfaces
appear nicer with more stitches. Examples
here include the topstitching on the collar
and cuffs. Here, puckering is not an issue
because the interlining overpowers any
tendency of the thread to pucker. In this
area, we would tend to use between 24 and 30
s.p.i. depending on the type of fabric and
weight of interlining. A similar, but
slightly lower, count is used for the front
center placket and the yoke stitching. The
side closing seams do best as a compromise
between pucker and durability at about 16-20
s.p.i. In summation, a lower quality shirt
will be sewn in the area or 6-10 s.p.i. At
this low count, durability does become an
issue. Better shirts begin at about 14
s.p.i., and the best shirts range from 14-16
up to 30 s.p.i., again depending on the
particular part being sewn and the
Note the extremely fine stitching along the
center front and around the edges of the
cuffs. Even on the larger yarns of this
Summer-weight linen, we are using 25
One hard and fast rule is that better shirts
use only "single-needle" lockstitches.
Lockstitches require that the sewing machine
use two threads, one above and one in a
bobbin below the machine's surface. These
machines are not only inherently slower, but
the constant winding and changing of the
bobbin slows sewing even further. Less
quality-oriented makers use extremely fast
machines which sew using a "chainstitch"
which has no bobbin thread. Instead, it runs
off two spools. This stitch needs only one
thread-break to unravel completely from one
end of the seam to the other and will never
be seen on a quality shirt or blouse. In
addition, cheaper makers use double-needle
machines. With these, the entire sleeve
attaching is done in one pass (sloppily)
rather than two single sets of stitches.
Also done in this sloppier manner are the
"side seams" which run continuously from the
hem all the way to the shirt cuff.
To offer an order-of-magnitude to these
concepts, consider this: A mass-made
department store shirt requires from 6 to 9
minutes to create. A full-blown, top-quality
bespoke/custom shirt or blouse takes anywhere
from six to twelve hours!
Thanks again for reading. See you next
Upcoming Issues: Coming in Parts VI,
VII, and VIII
Oft-Asked Shirtmaking Questions and
Note the styling feature on the top
center placket. When concealed by a tie the
shirt appears as a normal dress shirt. For
nightlife sans necktie, its dual nature as a
more casual shirt comes to the
- Sport Shirt Styling
- Hand Sewing vs. Machine Sewing
- Selecting Mother-of-Pearl Buttons
- Shirt Styling Details for Dress and Sport
Fused vs. Traditional Collar
Ethical Considerations of Bespoke/Custom
|Kabbaz-Kelly & Sons Design-Your-Own Bespoke Cashmere & Silk Scarf
This is a CustomShirt1.com first!
We've gotten numerous requests for Cashmere &
Silk scarves with contrasting silk backings.
Couldn't find any we really liked so ... we
decided to take the plunge and make them
right here in our Custom Studio.
This year we're offering a Mink Brown Heather
Chevron and Navy Heather Chevron in 51%
Cashmere/49% Silk, woven in Italy. These are
available with your choice of many 100% Silk
reverse colors as shown in the charts.
No lightweight, skimpy numbers these! The
scarves measure 14" x 72" and weigh more than
a half pound each. For those interested, we
can also make Stole Size (28" x 72"). Simply
order two and send me an email indicating
that you want the Stole size.
In contrast to pure cashmere, the
Cashmere/Silk blend is known for its
durability and, with proper care, should last
a lifetime. Not shown in the charts is Black
Charmeuse, always available for those who
prefer a more formal backing.
Excellence News to
a friend. Email
they order you'll
receive a $100 Gift Certificate.