Friday, 6 April 2018

Tips on Men's Shirt Construction

The following tips are courtesy of Liana of Sew Intriguing. I particularly like her technique of cutting a long cuff so that the buttonhole end is on the fold, rather than a seam line.

Matching Patterns

  • When matching plaids, use the point of the armscye seam as the match point - this corresponds to the corners of the sleeve.
  • Check to see whether your fabric is thin enough that you'll see any doubled layers through it, If, for example, the stripes on the uner yoke will show through. They should either match exactly with the outer layer or else choose to use a plain fabric for it.


  • Cut the cuff lengthwise so that the fabric will be on the fold at the buttonhole edge with seams on the other 3 sides. The buttonhole edge is the important one. Putting the fold on that edge will give you a very flat edge and make the 2 corners easier to turn as there's only half as much bulk. Also, there's no seam allowance to bother the buttonhole.
  • Cut the cuffs somewhat wider than needed but cut the interfacing the finished cuff size. Then, when it comes time to fuse the interfacing, you can lay the two cuff pieces out and make sure they are a matched pair with stripes or design the same way on each. Because they were cut a little wider than needed, you can fiddle with the placement with plenty of room to spare.
  • Interface the outer cuff only.
  • Fuse the interfacing and then use the edge of the interfacing as the stitching guide, always making sure to go right along a stripe or plaid line. It's much more important to have the cuff follow the fabric pattern than tho have an exact seam allowance. You will trim you SA anyway.
  • To construct the cuff (once the sleeve seam has been sewn) : 1. Match the outer cuff to the sleeve edge with RS together, making any sleeve tucks and leaving ¼" seam allowance at the button end, and stitch. Overlock the edge of the other long edge without trimming. 2. Fold the inner cuff around the sleeve so it forms a tube with the sleeve in the middle. Sew the short seam with RS together, the button end of the cuff. You will be able to see exactly where the cuff ends by where the sleeve is. Mark the beginning of the stitching line, right along the placket, before stitching. 3. With wrong sides together, resew the first long seam but leaving 2 - 3" in the middle unsewn.  Make sure the sleeve seam allowance is pressed down, toward the cuff.4. Trim, except the unsewn inner cuff area. 5. Turn the cuff right side out. Now, turn it inside out again but do it by pulling the cuff through the unstitched area you left in the cuff/sleeve seam. With the inner and outer cuffs RS together, sew the seam at the lower edge of the cuff. 6. Trim, then turn back through the same unsewn area. Your cuff is now completely finished except for a small area that can be hand sewn or basted and closed with topstitching.
  • When topstitching, start near the corner on the button side of the cuff as this will not show when the cuff is buttoned.


  • Collars are treated similarly to a cuff although the entire collar and undercollar are fused, including the SAs. Also fuse both inner and outer stands. This allows you to trim very closely without worrying about ravelling.
  • Use ¼ " SA on the collar stand and shirt neckline, cutting down the pattern if needed. The placement will be much easier. Always remember that you are matching stitching line to stitching line, and pay no attention to your cut edges - the smaller the SA the easier this is to do.
  • Topstitch and/or edgestitch the collar. Take a threaded hand needle with no knot and put it through the first collar point, beyond where you will stitch. This will give you a handle to begin stitching cleanly after you pivot. When you stop, be sure your needle is all the way down and on its way back up before you pivot or you will have a skipped stitch. Once you have turened the first corner, remove the needle and thread from the point and put it in the other point.

Front Placket

  • Don't use a separate CF placket piece, cut it on with the front so that you don't need to pattern match. You would use a separate placket piece for eg a bias placket.
  • To add a cut-on folded CF placket: 1. Add 3 x 5/8 " extensions from the CF of the shirt. 2. On the button side, cuff off ½ " of this. On the buttonhole side, fold under 1 ⅛ " and press. Fold under 1 ⅛" again and press. 3. Topstitch this edge. This is the outer edge of your placket. 4. Fold under 1 ⅛ " a third time and press. Topstitch this edge. 5. Unfold and press. The is the inner side of the placket, and it now looks like a stitched on placket. It is self-interfaced and the patterned matches! This is one of those times when you can fudge a littel if you need to, to make your fabric pattern end up in a good spot. Stripes or plaid make the folding extremely easy also as there is no need to measure all along, just follow the line. If you do measure, and don't follow the line, it will look crooked. Since the lines ar on grain, you want to follow them anyway. The button side is folded only twice, and stitched along the edge. The buttons will hold it down, along with the collarstand and hem.


  • The depth of the yoke should be related to the back shape of the wearer. A shallow yoke that stops above the forward curve of the spine will make the wearer look stoop-shoulered. With very erect posture and a slimmish build, you can have a very shallow yoke and it will look fine. With very broad shoulders and a lot of body depth, a shallow yoke will look like it it perched on top of the shoulders, almost like a toy shirt. 

Shirt Hem

  • To hem: 1. Pin the placket together as if buttoned and hold the front opening to see if the front edges are exactly the same length. If not, trim one. 2. Serge the edge. 3. Turn up the hem the width of the serging and stitch with a 3-step zigzag. This makes a flat edge with no obvious line of stitch bulk. 4. Turn up again and straight stitch.

1 comment:

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