A well-fitted button-down shirt is nearly impossible to find, regardless of size or shape. Even if you are a standard size, most designers cut the armscye lower so as to fit a wider range of people, but a too-low armscye can bind and hamper movement. Since you are not trying to clothe the general public, there is no need to make a shirt to fit anyone other than you. Use this tutorial to come up with a custom basic shirt pattern that can be altered for different looks and materials. This assumes that you have already completed Part 1, drafting the front, back, and shoulder yoke. Part 2 will cover the sleeves and cuffs. Part 3 will cover the collar.
Part 2: Sleeves and Cuffs
You will need the following tools:
- Tape measure
- clear graphing ruler
- French curves or design ruler
- regular pencil and eraser
- paper, ideally with a printed graph
And the following measurements:
- Sleeve length
- Armscye (front and back combined)
- Bicep circumference
- Forearm circumference
- Wrist circumference
Before you start laying out the points, you need to calculate your cuff width. Proportionate cuffs are 10% of the total sleeve length, but may be wider or narrower to suit taste as long as you remember to add or subtract the relevant length from the sleeve itself. Once you have your cuff width, subtract it from your overall length to find the length of the sleeve by itself.
Laying out the points:
Start at the top right-hand corner and label it point A. Make it big, make it pretty, square out and down with your clear ruler. The line going down from A will be the fold line.
Starting at point A, measure the following points down and label them:
- B: Armscye circumference, divided by 4
- C: Sleeve length minus cuff
- D: Cuff width
Square out from each of these points. It should look like this:
Measuring out from point B, mark point E at half your bicep measurement + 1/2″ for ease.
Measure 1″ out from point A and label it 1. Use French curve to shape the top of the sleeve head from point 1 to point E. It should be 1/2″ larger than half the armscye. For example, if the armscye is 16″ (8″ in front and 8″ in back) the top of the sleeve head will be 8 1/2″, to measure 17″ when unfolded.
From C, measure 2/3 of line B-E and label it F.
Use the ruler to draw a line from point E to point F, keeping a right angle at point E. For a more fitted shirt sleeve, you can use a French curve.
To mark placket, find the midpoint line C-F plus 1/2” and minus 1/2”, labelling them 2 and 3. Square up ¼ of the sleeve length from 2 and 3 and rule a line across the top. The result should look like this:
Starting at point C, measure out your wrist circumference plus 1″ for overlap and 1/4″ for attaching a button, divided by 2. Label this point G, and square down to line D to find point H.
Point H is the outer corner of the cuff. It can be left square, rounded off, or cut at an angle. Add your preferred seam allowance to all edges, including along lines CF and CG.