Fabrics & materials used:
- 2 yards Navy Striped Cotton Chambray
- 10-12 Italian White 4-Hole Plastic Buttons
- White Sew-All Thread
- Extra Strong Thread (for sewing on buttons)
- Basic Men’s Shirt pattern, drafted for a yoke back and attached placket
You will need the following tools:
If you plan to wash your shirt, prewash the fabric before cutting it. It’s also a good idea to straighten the edges.
Cut out two fronts, two sleeves (both on the fold), two collar blades and two collar bands on the fold, two yokes on the fold, and one back on the fold. Save your extra for the pockets and sleeve plackets. Cut a notch on each sleeve to mark placket placement.
Front placket and pockets
The following method works well for fabric with no right or wrong side, like solids or woven-in patterns. If your fabric has a printed pattern or a non-reversible weave like twill, satin, or brocade, you’ll need to cut the placket separately.
If you’re using interfacing for the front placket, cut two strips measuring the finished placket width (1 1/4″ is standard) by the length of the front edge, minus five inches. If your shirt is going to button left over right (as in mens wear) lay out the fronts and attach the interfacing like this: If your shirt is going to button right over left (as in womens wear), lay it out like this: On both sides press under 1/2″ along the front edge, then press 1 1/4″. Topstitch in place. Pick the prettier one to be the buttonhole side and do another line of topstitching along the folded edge.Figure out what shape and size you want your pocket(s) to be. (All About Pockets has a run-down of pocket shapes.) I cut mine 5″x6″ for a finished size of 4 3/8″x5″, and cut the corners at an angle for a casual look. Press 3/8″ under on the top edge of each one, then press 5/8″ under to form the top hem, and sew across close to the fold. Press under 1/4″- 3/8″ on the remaining sides.Pin the pockets in place. Measure down from your shoulder to get an idea of where you want the top of your pocket to sit, and remember to account for seam allowance and yoke.When topstitching the pockets down, start at the stitching line and go up toward the top edge, angling in 1/8″. Pivot to stitch along the top for 1-3 stitches and then go down the side of the pocket and around the bottom. The top corners of the pocket are a stress point, and this will strengthen them.
Yoke and side seams
Fold back in half, and baste the pleat 1″ from the fold. Open it up and press. Sandwich the back between the two yokes and sew, then press the yokes away from the back and press under the seam allowance on the outer yoke shoulder seams.
Sew the fronts to only the yoke lining with wrong sides together, and press toward the yoke. Topstitch the outer yoke over the seam allowance, stitching as close to the folded seam allowance as possible. Baste around the neck edge.
Collar and buttons
If you are using interfacing, press it onto one collar band and one collar blade. Press up seam allowance on the bottom edge of the interfaced band. Sew collar blades together along outer edges, right sides together. Press seam allowance, clip corners and turn, then topstitch 1/8″ from the edge. Sandwich collar blade between collar bands– make sure the interfaced blade piece is facing the non-interfaced band piece and vice versa. You want the visible side of the blade to have interfacing, and the inside of the collar to be softer. Trim interfacing down to 3/8″, turn and press. Sew the non-interfaced band to the neckline of the shirt, wrong sides together, then press. Starting at the button side corner, topstitch folded seam allowance in place, as close to the edge as possible, and continue stitching around the collarband.
Practice the buttonhole setting on scraps before sewing your buttonholes to make sure everything is playing nicely together. Mark the collar buttonhole first, parallel to the edges of the band and aligned with the center line of the placket. Mark the rest of the buttonholes down the center line of the front placket, with the top buttonhole evenly spaced from the collar buttonhole and the bottom buttonhole close to or at the hip line– make them between three inches and four inches apart. Mark the button placement once the buttonholes are done. And sew on your buttons. It’s a good idea to do an “anchoring stitch” first, and then take 3 stitches through each set of holes.
Sew side seams with a 1/2″ seam allowance, wrong sides together. Trim back seam allowance to 1/4″, and press longer front seam allowance over it to form a flat-felled seam.
Open seam and press, then topstitch in place.
Fold in 1/4″, basting close to the edge with the longest stitch length. Then fold in 1/4″ again, and sew with regular stitches, gathering basting thread as needed.
Draft your placket pattern. Cut a notch between the stitching lines where it will match up with the placket placement notch on the sleeves.Cut two strips of interfacing as shown, the same length as the long portion of the placket and 3/4″ to 1″ wide– this will be the finished placket width.Fold one corner across– — then the other– — then cut along the fold marks. Cut another strip the width of the underplacket (which should be the same width as the seam allowance, or it will bunch). Press interfacing in place.Fold in the corners of the top placket. Press them well.Unfold the corners and fold them back in like so:Press them well and pin them in place. Pin plackets onto the sleeves, matching the notches.Mark the stitching line, if you haven’t already. Sew, pivoting at the corners.Cut apart, and trim a Y-shape into the corners. You should be able to pull the stitching line straight without ripping anything.Press in seam allowance on under placket.Fold under placket over seam allowance and topstitch down.Press seam allowance in toward placket.Fold placket over seam allowance and press well. Topstitch in place, starting with a line across the placket roughly 1 1/4″ from the point to catch the underplacket. Stitch less than 1/8″ from the edge.After you’ve gone around the bottom, make sure you don’t catch the underplacket underneath. Sew underarm seams with a flat-felled seam. This will result in the sleeve looking like this on the machine: Be patient and go slow. It’ll work, I promise. Baste around the top of the sleeve when you’re done.
Press interfacing onto two of your four cuff pieces, and press up 1/2″ seam allowance on the bottom.Sew each interfaced piece to a non-interfaced piece. Press the seam allowance in toward the interfaced piece.I chose to do cuffs with an angled corner like this because I like how the corner gets used as a guideline for trimming the seam allowance.Look how nicely that trims down and folds in. And give it a good press. The wrist edge of your sleeve is going to be a few inches longer than your cuff. Divide the extra into 2-3 pleats, which you can secure with basting stitches so you’re not dealing with extra pins. Pin cuffs to sleeves, right sides out. Sew and press toward cuff. Topstitch folded seam allowance over seam, starting at the underplacket and continuing around the edge of the cuff. Mark your buttonholes 1/2 in from the edge of the cuff, centered. With wrong sides together, pin the sleeve into the armscye, matching the top and bottom. Add more pins, gathering the sleeve seam allowance as needed. Sew around the armhole, then trim the sleeve seam allowance down to 1/4″ and press the body seam allowance over it.Flat-felling the armscye is tricky, but worth it. Make sure your sewing machine has a portion that comes out so there is an “arm” that you can slip something like this over. Fold the cuff in half and use the buttonhole as a guide to mark where the buttonhole goes. Sew the button on by hand using strong thread, three stitches through each pair of holes.