Basic Black Shirt “M” – the planets have aligned

I have identified a gap in my wardrobe – a need, not a want! I didn’t have a black shirt. Crazy, right? Once my whole wardrobe was filled with black things, but since I’ve started making all my clothes, I tend to not make them in black as it’s so hard to see, especially at night. Hence the severe shortage of black shirts.


So, what pattern did I use? My friend Thelma gave me the Japanese book Basic Black for Christmas. She’s the best. I immediately wanted to make at least four or five things from it, but as soon as I identified the need for a black shirt, I went to pattern m, so the planets aligned for me.


This is a plain shirt with collar, front button band, shaped hem and princess seaming in the front. The pattern uses stretch seersucker. I found some lovely black cotton with a bit of lycra in my stash; perfect! Then came the pattern tracing. Hmm. There are 26 patterns on one sheet of paper, front and back, so it’s busy. It clearly says to use grey, side A. A bit of head scratching, turn the paper over to B and I begin to identify the pattern pieces in both grey and red. Okaaay. Then I spent a bit of time looking for the front placket pattern. Doesn’t exist. I went off to see if anyone else had had the problem and couldn’t find a single review of this pattern. Aaagh. I made up the width of the placket based on my best guess looking at the diagram.

I was a bit concerned with the sizing so I used my newly acquired bodice block to check the sizing and then I made a muslin of just the bodice (gasp!). It looked ok, so off I went. I even remembered to add seam allowances. All went well with the construction until I had to join the collar stand to the body. The body was too big. When I folded back the placket as though it didn’t exist, the collar stand fitted perfectly. I now have a beautiful front placket tucked inside the front of the shirt.

My only other issue is that the side front piece had a small dart but when I sewed the darts the side seams of the front and back didn’t align. My shirt no longer has bust darts…


I just noticed that the collar is sitting up. It doesn’t appear to do this in real life, but I’ve given it a jolly good press, just to make sure. Apart from that, I love this shirt. The fabric is fabulous and this is a nicely fitting shirt that I think is quite flattering.


In a nutshell: Pattern is shirt “m” from Basic Black, a Japanese sewing book.    basicblack1

The fabric is black cotton with a smidge of lycra bought as a remnant from The Fabric Store. Don’t ask me which one! The buttons are gorgeous and I bought about 50 in a plastic bag from an op shop. Only 38 left to use… They are small and are carved shell.

My white pants are Vogue 8859, one of my all time favourite pants patterns. My shoes are A Bottega.

Pattern review:

Pattern Description: Japanese Sewing Book “Basic Black” pattern m. This is a plain shirt with collar, front button band, shaped hem and princess seaming in the front. The pattern uses stretch fabric, but I’m sure it could be made in a plain woven without too much effort.

Pattern Sizing: XS, S, M, L. I did medium.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, especially as I made it in black.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Er, this is a Japanese sewing book, so the instructions are minimal. However, the order of construction is all that’s really necessary and this was easy to follow.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I don’t normally have too many problems tracing off patterns, but I did get mildly confused with this one. The pattern was not on the side specified and was in two different colours. I had to trace the pattern with a highlighter to distinguish some of the lines from other pieces.

Fabric Used: Cotton/lycra blend. It is light and perfect for a trans-seasonal shirt.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I had to tuck the front plackets inside the shirt in order to make the collar stand fit. Next time I shall wrap it around the front so that it doesn’t make the fronts wider. I also eliminated the bust darts from the front side pieces. Next time I shall put them in and extend the front side seam. I also did a sway back adjustment.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I am already planning my next shirt using this pattern. This will become a go to pattern for shirts for me. I absolutely love it. I might make the sleeves longer and the cuffs smaller just so that I don’t have shirts that all look the same. I would absolutely recommend it.

Conclusion: This is a stylish, easy-to-wear shirt and I think the patterns in the book are lovely. I can’t wait to make more.


25 thoughts on “Basic Black Shirt “M” – the planets have aligned

  1. Thanks for your review! maybe I didn’t mis-trace the CF/placket, hmm.. 😉 Your shirt looks lovely and I agree, a classic black shirt is an essential. There are so many nice projects the book, your friend really is the best 😉

  2. This whole outfit is so sleek and modern. Great styling, Sue! I also bought this Marcy Tilton pattern reviewed in one of your previous posts and I’m more than happy with it. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. The blouse fits wonderfully. Your basic black blouse is a super success. I must have a look at that book. I still haven’t bought a Japanese sewing book despite many temptations.

  4. You can never have too many basics in your wardrobe. This shirt looks wonderful, and now that you have the pattern sorted it should be a breeze to make again. I love the Japanese pattern books but haven’t seen that one so I will look out for it.

  5. Thanks for sharing! I’ve got this book in my stash (I think I have almost every Japanese translated book in my stash!) and this is one of my faves from the book. I’m almost enjoying making shirts… I think they are my favourite thing to make these days. Adding seam allowances always terrifies me with shirts but I just finished another Japanese shirt so I think I’ve overcome my fear!

  6. I love it! I just found out about this book via Sewunravelled’s blog and I can’t wait to get my hands on it! The shirt looks very classic and flattering – a black shirt is such and indispensable wardrobe staple. I love the pants too.

  7. I’m so glad I found your review of this… as I’ve been trying to trace the front and was stumped about the darts… that don’t appear on the line drawing… and also the weird front hemline that doesn’t seem to finish anywhere…

    1. Glad I could help. Truly, this shirt took twice as long to make as it should have, so I should make another one to capitalise on all that head scratching :)!

  8. Hi .. Lovely shirt.. I googled up and landed up here 🙂 .. Well did you find a problem while tracing the side front ? THe curved hems seam to be disconnected to the side seams right ? How did u manage . Please help me out here?

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