Happy new year! I recently took my first menswear sewing class which focused on cutting, sewing and finishing a men's dress shirt. The class ended last month and here's the result - a shirt made from inexpensive cotton shirting sourced in NYC's Garment District ($2/yard) and constructed after many hours in front of a cutting table and sewing machine:
Overall, it is a decent first attempt but the shirt could certainly stand to improve in a few areas in terms of the collar, cuffs and plackets.
The process of making a shirt was a fascinating, humbling and often frustrating experience but enormously insightful. The frustration lay almost entirely in the mechanical realm (i.e. using manual, industrial sewing machines) as well as the proper order and placement of key pieces before sewing.
The specific insight I gained is entirely a function of the process and struggle to produce a finished product. I learned the maker knows something the consumer lacks. In other words, if you haven't constructed a garment (or product) from start to finish, you may know less about quality or value in clothing than you think you do. Put another way, as long there is a person involved in the manufacturing process, there will always be someone else who knows more about quality than the consumer.