Kwik Sew K3422 – Men’s Shirt – Sew along

Make 23 – Men’s Long Sleeve Shirt

  • Pattern – Kwik Sew K3422
  • Material – Self-Designed fabric in man-made ‘Pongee’
  • Buttons – ‘Marbled’ Blue

I’ve been meaning to make this for a while but have been sidetracked with projects for other people.  Now it’s time to do something for me – and also for you as I’m creating this as a sew-along.

Before we start, the best advice I can give you when approaching a new project is to ‘be prepared’.   I know that this seems simple, but make sure that you have checked you have all the pattern pieces and the instruction sheet.

I was recommended this pattern by the very talented Liam on the Sewing in the UK Facebook page and would like to thank him.  This pattern isn’t too difficult to navigate for a beginner, but creates a shirt with a lovely professional finish.

Kwik Sew Pattern

In case you haven’t worked from a pattern before, you will notice that most patterns allow you to create several different variants or ‘views’ from the same pattern; this one has 2 ‘views’:

  • View A – the long sleeve shirt version (it has a 4-piece collar, cuffs and sleeve plackets)
  • View B – the more casual short sleeve shirt version (it has a 2 piece collar and the cuffs are not created separately)

Views

Once you have decided which ‘view’ you are going to make you should READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!  We are all very bad at reading instructions of any kind, but doing this serves 2 key purposes:

  1. You know what steps you need to follow to construct the garment and in what order (reference the pictures to help)
  2. You will identify any techniques that you haven’t tried before – you can then research these techniques and trial them on scrap fabric.

When you read the instructions you will notice that not all of the numbered steps relate to every ‘view’.   For example on this pattern, step 1 says:

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This step however is only relevant to View A – the long sleeve shirt – if we are making view B – the short sleeve shirt then we need to skip this step.

As patterns can have a number of variants or ‘views’ reading the instructions becomes more important to ensure we know which steps are relevant for the garment we are making.  To make it easier to follow the pattern, my top tip is to use coloured dots (highlighter pens or similar) to identify which steps we need for this garment.   This way you can easily find the steps that you need.  You can also put the coloured dots next to each image that is relevant.  I would use a different colour for each ‘view’ – View A in Yellow, view B in Green etc…

Now we need to look at the information on the back of the packet, this tells you what materials you need for the pattern in that style:

KWIK SEW

There are two sets of measurements to look at when working out what size to cut/make.  The first measurements we need are on the back of the pattern envelope, where you will see something like the above citing ‘Standard Body Measurements’.   These are to tell you what standard size the finished garment will fit.

Please ignore the standard sizes such as S-M-L-XL etch  for men and 12-14-16-18-20-22 etc for women – they are ‘standard’ only for this pattern house and are based on their target demographic.   These ‘standard sizes’ tend to vary a lot more for women’s patterns than for mens as the size is based on the ‘average’ within that target group.  If the target group is 18-32 year  olds then its likely that the bust point will be higher than that of a pattern company targeting 32-46 year olds; go by the measurements – you are going to get a much better fit.

Based on my chest size (44″) I’m a ‘L’, however based on my hip size (37″) I would be a ‘S’!  I’m going to err on the side of caution and go with the biggest size – I can always adjust the sizes later, but at this point I’m only looking for the amount of fabric that I need.   My fabric is 150cm wide, so I’m going to need about 2m (highlighted in yellow).

(On the right hand side is the units information “y(m)” – this tells me the number outside the brackets is in yards (2.125) and the number inside the brackets is in meters 1.95)

Sizing 1

Slightly further down you can see that we also require fusible interfacing (0.5m at 60cm wide) and notions are listed as ‘thread’ and ’11 * 13mm buttons’.

The second set of measurements you need are the finished garment size measurements and are generally found on the pattern tissue.  This table will give you the actual finished size of the garment, so you will find that the chest and hip measurements will be bigger than the ones given on the back of the packet.

This particular pattern only has the Chest measurement – because that is generally the biggest part of most bodies.

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These measurements include Ease.  Ease is the amount of room allowed in a garment beyond the body measurements.  For example on the back of the packet the ‘L’ size says it fits a body that has a 42-44″ chest.  Now, I’ve got a 44″ chest, if there were no ease in the shirt, then it would fit EXACTLY around my chest and would look tight and pulled – not a pretty sight!  With ease the shirt chest measurement is 49″ which means that the shirt will not be tight around my chest – as there are 5 extra inches of fabric to stop the shirt being skin tight.

Most patterns are designed with ease already built in, so you don’t have to worry about it.  From the above table however, I can see that if I cut and sew the ‘L’, the amount of ease that is built in (5 inches) is going to make it very big on me, so I can afford to reduce the size down to ‘M’ which gives me more of a semi-fitted look without being figure hugging.

I know know what size to cut my pattern pieces to.  So I will cut them out to the ‘Medium’ lines printed.  The collar is slightly different and uses collar sizes – I’m a 17″ collar, so I will cut this to the 17.5 ” line.   I did make a slight mistake and cut the collar slightly too small; however, I like the fact that the collar doesn’t quite meet at the front, it gives the shirt a slightly more ‘designer’ feel.

Sew, I’ve got my pattern pieces, fabric, interfacing and notions, all cut to size so I should go ahead and cut my material, yes?  Actually no,  there are a couple of things that we need to check first to ensure a good fit.

Now, I know that I’ve got a short body and long arms.   The short body isn’t an issue as I like my shirts long, so I don’t need to adjust the length;  however, my long arms are likely to be an issue – I don’t want thecuffs halfway up my forearms!

So, I have measured the sleeve pattern piece (shoulder to cuff) and taken twice the seam allowance (top and bottom seams) off the measurement.  I’ve also measured the cuff and adjusted for seam allowance; this gives me a measurement of  24 inches (61cm).

The length of my arm (from shoulder point to wrist) is 25.5 inches (65cm) so if I use the current pattern piece the arms are going to be 1.5 inches (4cm) too short;  that may not sound like a lot, but measure it on yourself and you will see that it makes a significant difference.   I need to lengthen the sleeves, but how do I do that?

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All pattern pieces should have a ‘Shorten or Lengthen line’ on them somewhere (as in the above image), and it is at this point that you would normally cut the pattern piece, insert more paper, tape it and then use it.  I prefer to draft a new piece so that my original is intact – what we are going to do is this:

Sleeve Adjustment 1

The dotted black line running across the top of the sleeve is the lengthen/shorten line – in the second image you can see the lengthened sleeve – I’ll take you through this step by step.

Firstly I need a piece of paper (generally I use pattern paper, but use what you have as long as it’s not too thick) that is as wide as the current sleeve pattern piece, and at least 4cm longer so that I can cut the new pattern piece from it.

Next, I pin my current pattern piece to the paper (to prevent movement) and trace around either the top or the bottom of the sleeve to the shorten/lengthen line.   Here I’m going to trace around the bottom first.

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Once I’ve done that I rule a straight line across my paper at the shorten/lengthen line and measure the amount that I need to increase the pattern by.

Once this measurement has been marked, I need to create a line parallel to the current line – you can mark the measurement several times and line them up with a ruler, or you can use a tool specifically designed for pattern cutting.  Once you have drawn this line, mark it as the ‘New Shorten/Lengthen’ line and lay your pattern piece over it, aligning the pattern pieces shorten/lengthen line with it and pin in place

Trace around the other half of the sleeve and remove the pattern piece.  You should be left with something that looks like this:

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You should be able to see that we need to ‘tidy’ up the new sleeve as where we’ve extended it, the raw edges don’t line up.

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We really don’t want a sleeve with a staggered seam, so we need to rule a line from the cuff point to the shoulder point – on both sides.  In the diagram that I put in earlier – you can see this as the dotted red lines on either side of the sleeve.   The sleeve will become slightly narrower as a result.

I would now check the width of the new sleeve piece against bicep and forearm measurements to check that they are still ok.   If they look a bit tight we can ‘grade’ our pattern piece.  This basically means we will increase the cuff size to the next size up;  (we will have to remember to cut the cuff pieces to the correct size), and then draw a new raw edge line from the new cuff edge to the shoulder point.

We can also use this method to grade the main body of our shirt – so for example if I had a big chest and a very narrow waist, I would grade say from a ‘L’ at the under-arm to a ‘M’ at the hem.  If I had a big waist and narrow shoulders, I would grade the other way.

Grading pattern pieces

The red lines in the images above show the grading line.  If your seam line is curved you can still grade between sizes, but you will need to ensure you curve your line.  I’ll cover this separately.

Once the sleeve pattern piece has been completed (mine needs no further adjustment) you need to transfer all the pattern piece markings (such as tucks, sleeve slits etc)  and ‘mark it up’ – basically put the pattern, seam allowance and cut details on the piece.  You should also add the date you drafted the piece, the name of the person you drafted it for and the version number.

If there are any more pattern pieces to draft/alter – do this first and then you can pin your pieces to the fabric for cutting.   All pattern instructions will have a ‘recommended’ pattern placement for cutting, based on the width of your fabric and the size that you are making – below is the pattern placement for our shirt.

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As you can probably see from the above, the pattern placement isn’t always the most efficient to ensure you use as little fabric as possible.  I tend to play around with the placement so that I save as much fabric as possible in ‘useable’ size pieces.

With this shirt however, I am going to have to cut to ‘pattern match’ as I want the pattern to flow across the front of the shirt without breaking or ‘jumping’ – the image below is of a garment that hasn’t been pattern matched.

Pattern matching

If you have a really small or ‘busy’ pattern – you may not have to actively pattern match as the ‘noise’ of the pattern will deceive the eye – two examples of shirts that I’ve made below.   The one with the fish panel was pattern matched and the green one wasn’t.

As you can see, the fish flow across the first shirt which required some careful pattern matching, however, I didn’t bother to pattern match the green shirt as the print is very small and ‘busy’.  You can’t really tell however that it’s not pattern matched.  Personally I can’t even see the pocket on the left breast of the green shirt!

Aside from pattern matching, the other thing we need to be aware of is pattern placement.  This is generally where you have a larger pattern and need to ensure that the pattern doesn’t fall in the wrong places on the garment.  The below image is an example of poor pattern placement:

Bad pattern placement 1

Please, don’t even think it!

One last step of preparation – thread!  When making block colour garments, thread colour is relatively simple to choose, it’s either complimentary or contrast.

  • Complimentary thread is the same colour, or in the same colour palette as the colour of the fabric, so a blue denim shirt will have blue thread.
  • Contrast thread is a colour that will contrast or even clash with your material colour – think orange thread on blue jeans.

I’ve decided to go complimentary and have chosen a dark blue thread that will blend in with the colours of the shirt. (I will of course use white thread on the white collar and cuffs)  – I’ve filled my bobbin and am ready to thread my machine.

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Right, so now we are ready to start cutting fabric.   The pattern placement is very important here, so I asked my flatmate to help, because a second opinion is always helpful.  I had originally thought that I would use the lighter stripe down the centre front and centre back, but, when held up against a body it looked wrong on the back.  The dark stripe however looked perfect.

When pinning pattern pieces on your fabric, it’s important to take account of the grain line arrow on the pattern piece.  This tells you which way you should place the pattern piece on the fabric.

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The ‘grain’ for woven fabrics (knits are a different kettle of fish) runs in 2 directions – across the fabric (selvedge to selvedge) and down the fabric (usually the way the pattern is printed).  This is the known as the ‘warp’ and the ‘weft’ (weaving terms).  The pattern is designed for the pattern pieces to be aligned as per the arrows on them – if you don’t then the ‘hang’ of the garment may not be right.

Warp and Weft

It is worth noting at this point that there is a little more stretch one way than the other (depending on the way the fabric has been constructed) and the fabrics suggested on the pattern take this into account.  The Bias has been marked here for reference.  When something is ‘cut on the bias’ it is cut as shown diagonally across the grain – this gives the fabric cut this way much more stretch than with fabric cut with the grain or grossgrain.  Bias binding is cut this way to allow it to stretch around curves more easily.

I placed my back piece first – folding the fabric down one of the dark pattern lines and pinning it (to prevent it moving) before pinning on the pattern piece.  You can see that this is running with the grain of the fabric (the white edge is my selvedge – this is bigger than normal as this fabric was printed for me)

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You may have noticed that the pattern piece is upside down – this is only because I’ve folded the fabric so that the fold is on the right – if I’d folded it the other way, the pattern piece would be the right way up.  For pieces placed on the fold, it generally doesn’t matter if they are placed upside down or not as they are symmetrical; just ensure that the grainline is right.  For some other pattern pieces it WILL matter, so please refer to the instructions.   If you go back to the recommended pattern placement image you will see that some numbered pieces are white and some are grey.  The white ones are ‘right side up’ and the grey ones are ‘right side down’

I haven’t bothered with any horizontal pattern matching on this as there will be a yoke cutting across the top of the back piece and the under-arm seams won’t be pattern matched.  However, if you are making something like trousers, then you will need to ensure that you take this into account as mis-alignment can make you look like you are leaning over!

Next to cut are the shirt fronts – It’s very important to place carefully here as the centre front needs to be in perfect alignment – fortunately the CF is marked on the pattern piece, so I align this with the exact centre of the pattern that I want at the front of the shirt.

Once I’ve aligned my pattern piece, I pin in place and then trace part of the pattern to ensure that I can match it when I cut the 2nd piece (remember this would be the other side, so needs to be cut in reverse).

Fortunately for me, the material is quite thin and the pattern is very obvious on the reverse, so once I’ve cut my first piece, I can align it over my fabric until it matches and then pin and cut the second piece.

The bit that looks ‘faded’ is actually the reverse of the material, so you can see how well aligned it is.  Once I cut the two front pieces out I overlaid them to check the pattern match was ok…..

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I’m pretty happy with the pattern match on this – it looks like it’s one piece of fabric, but it’s actually the two front panels of the shirt overlaid as they would be when the shirt is buttoned up.

Once all the pieces have been cut, the next thing to do is to use some scrap material and check the stitching on my machine,  I wan to ensure that the tensions are right so that I get the best possible stitch giving me the best possible result.

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I stitched on some white scrap (to make it easier to see the stitching) and found that for this fabric and this thread, I didn’t have to adjust my tension.  I like to use a stitch length of 2 (my machine only goes up to 4!) as it creates a nice tight stitch for this sort of garment.

The next step is to make the facings on the two front panels of the shirt.  Before I get shouted at, I will just clarify that most people will tell you that once cut, the next step is to mark up your pattern pieces – i.e. copy all the dart lines, dots etc onto your pattern pieces.  Certainly if I was making something that was very tailored then I would do this.  The problem that I have is that I currently only have chalk (I MUST invest in some Frixion pens) and this tends to rub off.   I tend to mark up each piece as I go, so that the chalk doesn’t rub off.   This particular pattern also doesn’t require a lot of marking up, (just the facings and the slits and tucks on the cuffs, so I will mark these just before I sew them.  I will (at some point) write a tutorial about marking up, tailors tacks etc.   My advice however, is always do what works for you – try various methods and find one that works.

On the pattern piece for the shirt front a ‘fold line’ is marked, and I need to transfer this to my cut pieces.  I’m going to do this one at a time so the chalk doesn’t rub off.

In the first image, you can see where I’ve drawn the fold line, in the second, I’ve folded and pressed the fabric into a nice clean line.  I generally align my steel ruler with the marked fold line, fold the fabric over it and then press over the ruler.  BE CAREFUL!  The ruler will get hot!  You can use a piece of card with a nice straight edge, but it will eventually get soggy if you use steam (which I do).

Next we need to fold the raw edge under (to the line we have just pressed and press again – this creates the full facing for the shirt edge (button placket) and hides the raw edge.

Once the facing has been folded and pressed – ensure that you pin it securely in place; if you don’t then there is the possibility that it will move before you stitch it.  Even if you are working in cotton or twill which holds the creases better, I would still advise pinning the facing.  Pinning diagonally helps prevent slippery fabrics from moving.

To create the facing you now need to stitch the edge down really close to the fold.  I try to ensure that I align the edge of the fabric with something so that I can create a neat straight line.  In this case I use my presser foot – it has some bits that make it easy to align fabric to:

I find that aligning with this point on my presser foot (either side) helps me get a really neat straight line close to the edge.  Don’t rush the machining here – slow and steady is your friend.

Notice that the bulk of the fabric of the shirt is to the LEFT of the presser foot, this prevents bunching to the right which, if it catches, could pull the material and create a wonky stitch.  If you don’t have a computerised machine, you could always invest in a magnetic seam guide which will help. (Magnets may affect computerised machines)

You can see the seam guide to the right of the presser foot in the first image. Then the finished facing (wrong side and right side).  We now need to repeat this for the other shirt front.

The two front pieces with completed facings side by side and overlaid.  I noticed when overlaying them that front edge didn’t align with the facing stitch line and I had to move the facing edge a little further over the stitch line to get a perfect pattern match.  This isn’t an issue; once we create the button holes, we can than align the fronts and stitch the buttons in the appropriate places to ensure a good pattern match.  Oh, buttons, yes…..

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Found these beauties which will match nicely with the pattern.

The next step in the instructions is to create the pocket and attach it to the left front of the shirt.  The top of the pocket has a facing which is created in much the same way as for the shirt fronts.

In the third picture you will notice that the raw edge is uppermost, this is because once you have created the facing, you fold it back to the Right side along the fold line, and then pin it in place.  Once you have done this, you stitch the facing in place along the seam allowance.

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Trim both corner points as you are now going to fold back along the fold line to the wrong side and fold and press along the seam allowance lines.  (The raw edge where you have just stitched will end up INSIDE the facing.

In the first image, I’ve pressed all the raw edges ‘up’ into the pocket on the wrong side at the seam allowance; as the material is a little springy, I’ve pinned the bottom 2 corner edges of the  pocket.  In the second image you can see that I’ve stitched close to the fold line on the facing – as we did for the shirt fronts.

Place the pocket in position and pin firmly in place to ensure it won’t move.

I found it difficult to find an angle where you could see the edge of the pocket here!  You can see that I’ve carefully matched the pocket to the front of the shirt and pinned in place.  (This all stems from being careful when cutting the pocket in the first place!)

Stitch close to the edge of the pocket, making a triangle of stitching at the two top edges of the pocket to reinforce the opening and to help prevent the stitching pulling and ripping the fabric.

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I stitch the pocket in one go, but until I am past the ‘triangle stage, I hand crank the machine to ensure I don’t go too far.  I also mark the point on the top of the pocket that I am heading for (usually 1cm from edge) to help get a nice neat line.  The path that I stitch is as follows:

Sew path

Start at point 1 – where the stitch line on the facing meets the edge of the pocket – and turn the machine until you get to point 2, leave the needle in the fabric, raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric until in the right position and lower the foot.  Hand turn to point 3, again leave the needle in the fabric, raise foot, pivot and lower the foot, hand turn until you are past point 1, then machine until the next pivot point at the bottom of the pocket.

I always slow/hand turn when close to a pivot point, and occasionally I re-adjust the fabric if my stitch would go beyond the edge of the pocket.  I do however get a very neat pocket.   The image below shows the pocket stitched to the shirt.

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Yes, it is there – look closely and you will see the stitch lines.

Next step is to stitch the back piece to the 2 yoke pieces.   I decided to make the inner yoke white on this shirt – partly because it’s easier to show the construction and partly to conserve fabric in case I make a mistake with anything and need to re-cut.

The outer yoke piece has been cut ‘cross grain’, rather than with the grainline.  I have been told that this is the correct way, but I haven’t yet had an explanation as to why…. I believe it to be to do with stretch and tension across the back of the shirt, but to be honest I am guessing.!  I have seen some yokes cut on the bias, which would give a bit more credence to the ‘stretch’ theory, but if any of you know the answer, please put a poor man out of his misery! (lol x)

For reference, the pattern calls for the piece to be cut this way – (grain line running shoulder to shoulder).

Put the outer yoke piece (patterned in my case) with the shirt back, right sides  together; then put the right side of the inner yoke piece (white in my case) to the wrong side of the shirt back, creating a sandwich of the yoke pieces with the shirt back as the ‘filling’.

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Ensure that your centre line notches are lined up and your outer edges are lined up and pin.  Stitch at the seam allowance.

Now, the seam allowance on this shirt is 6mm (1/4″), which is quite a small seam allowance.  It’s difficult to line this up with the distance lines on the plate of my machine as the presser foot is in the way…. however, my presser foot has a ridge on both side, and the inner edge of this ridge is at about 6mm, so I align my fabric with this.

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Once the seam is stitched, tidy up your loose threads (tie and snip or just snip if you have back stitched) and remember to cut off your notches.  I forgot this once on a similar shirt with quite thin material, every time I put it on, I see the little triangle notch glaring at me!  We now have a nice neat seam.

The next step is a little tricky, so let’s take it slowly and understand exactly what needs to happen.  We have to attach the two front sections of the shirt to the back; this is done at the shoulder seams on both the front pieces and the yoke pieces; so far so hoopy (little geek reference for you there!)  Now, we have 2 yoke pieces, so we have to sandwich the front pieces between the yoke pieces like we did for the back – simple yes?

Not quite, as we have already sewn the bottom edge of the yokes together, so it becomes a little tricky.  (Note: Other shirt patterns get you to sew the front to the inner yoke piece first, then press the outer yoke seam allowance towards the back and then pin and top stitch in place.  This is the method we will use for the collar and the cuffs.  Use whatever method works for you, but I’m going to follow the pattern instructions on this one.)

  • Pin the right side of the front piece to the right side of the outer yoke (1st image below)
  • Fold/roll the fabric from the outer edge across the shirt until you can see the inner yoke (2nd image below)

Fabric is going to start bunching up at this point, so be very careful when you pin. 

  • Fold the raw edge of the inner yoke around the fabric until it is showing on the top (1st image below)
  • Pin this raw edge  to the 2 layers of fabric you have already pinned. (remove pins already in, and re-pin one at a time) (2nd image below)

You have created a sort of tube with the majority of the shirt fabric bunched up inside it and coming out of the side.  Now stitch along the seam allowance.  (BEWARE! Fabric may have bunched up, so take this slowly and ensure you are only sewing through the 3 layers, inner and outer yoke and shirt front.)

Below you can see the amount of fabric that is bunched up, and then the seam once completed.

Once the thread tails have been tidied up you can un-pin and turn the seam the right way out.  PRESS the seam from both sides, ensure you are pressing along the stitch line, that there are no puckers and that no fabric is folded where it shouldn’t be.

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We have two nice seams.  Now we need to repeat this process on the other side to sew the other front piece on.  It might just be me, but I seem to find this is harder than the first side – probably because there is more fabric to get in the way!

However once stitched and pressed, we have basically got the body of our shirt together.

When I positioned my back yoke piece on the fabric, I made a conscious choice to have the lighter ‘stripe’ at the bottom of it as a contrast with the very dark fabric at the top of the back piece.

I could have gone with dark at the bottom, but for me it didn’t really work; it also might have looked like I had tried to pattern match it and failed.  Making a garment for me is full of these little decisions; yes if you make a mistake you can call it a ‘design feature’, but with just a little thinking ahead you can create a really stunning garment.  You will see from the above, that although I decided to match light with dark, I still aligned my yoke piece centrally; even though the pattern goes from dark to light, it still comes to a point just below the neck line. I find this aesthetically pleasing.

I would say however that there really is no ‘wrong’ way to put your pattern – if you like it, go for it!  Don’t worry what other people say.  I have put colours and patterns together that some people don’t like and that is fine.  We each have our own style and should be true to it.

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We now have a ‘design’ decision to make.  The pattern instructs us to top stitch across the yoke seams (back and shoulders) about 6-10mm from the seam line.  There are 2 reasons for this:

  • It generally gives a shirt a more ‘polished’ and ‘professional’ look (most shirts are finished this way)
  • It helps to reinforce the seams, catching the raw edges within the yoke, and strengthens the garment.

I’ve decided to omit this step as the stitching will be visible against the pattern.  (To be perfectly honest, I forgot this step and attached the collar first!)  If I was making this shirt out of cotton or twill then I would always do this top-stitching, even with white cotton on white material the stitching is visible and just looks right.

Now we need to tackle the collar.  One word of warning for patterned collars, work out which way you want the pattern to be on your collar and place the pieces accordingly.  Remember the points of a collar point towards the floor – so the bottom of your pattern should be along the straight edge, and the top of your pattern along the curved edge.   The below image should help.  The pattern piece looks like it’s been placed correctly – however, when you cut it and attach it to the shirt, the arrows would be upside down.

Collar pattern

Fortunately I’ve decided to use white, so I don’t need to worry about this – just about getting the right sides out.  The UPPER collar (the one which will be seen) is the one that has the interfacing, and is often slightly larger than the lower collar so be aware of this when pinning them together.  Pin right sides together and stitch along the sides and the top of the collar.

Note, I’ve switched to white thread – and, as this thread is a different make, I did a sample stitch on some scrap – because this thread is slightly thicker than the blue, the tension on the bobbin is higher, so I had to turn up my upper thread tension to 5 to make the stitch nice and even.  If I hadn’t checked, I would have had loose stitches on the underside which may have caught.

Once the collar is stitched, sort your threads out and then trim the points of the collar to allow for a crisp point when turning the right side out.

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If I have particularly thick fabric, I might trim the other seam allowances to reduce the bulk of the seam, but in this case it’s not necessary.   Turn the collar the right way out (use a point turner or chopstick to get right into the corner) and then press along the seam line.

The collar stand is next.   Like the collar, only 1 side of the collar stand is interfaced; the interfaced side of the collar stand should attach to the non-interfaced side of the collar and vice versa.  Pin the right sides of the collar stand to the right sides  of the collar, matching the notches (as I’ve cut my collar slightly smaller, the notches don’t line up – this is fine as long as my centre points do!  I fold the collar and stand in half, mark the centre points and line these up – simples!)  Place plenty of pins in to ensure that nothing moves as you are making another fabric sandwich……

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The ends of the collar stand will extend beyond the end of the collar, this is fine as the collar stand is designed to fit the neck size you have picked and cut to.

Stitch the raw edges at the seam allowance, then snip into the curves to allow for easier turning of the stand and to reduce bulk, allowing the curve to sit nice and flat.

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Notice that I’ve also cut close to the raw edge at the top – this is where the collar stand edge will align with the front pieces edge, so we need to reduce bulk here as well.  Be careful when snipping close to the stitching that you don’t cut through the stitching itself.  Turn the collar stand the right way out and press.

Now we attach the collar to the shirt!

DON’T PANIC!

This really isn’t as difficult as it seems.  The most important thing to remember here is to be precise and take your time.

Align the right side of the non-interfaced collar stand with the inner yoke.  Pin at the centre point.  Now, align the edge seams of the collar stand with the edges of the shirt and pin.

Don’t be tempted to extend the collar stand beyond the edge of the shirt front – if you do, it will look odd once you have stitched your collar in place.

I must apologise here, it was late when I was doing this and I forgot to take some pictures, however, I do have pictures of a different shirt that I made, so I’ll use those to illustrate what I mean….

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Hopefully you can see that the edge of the shirt front (on the bottom) is fully aligned with the seam point of the collar stand (you can see the interfaced side of the collar stand on the left, and the pins holding the non-interfaced collar stand to the maint shirt).

Pin the rest of the collar stand in place, aligning the notches with the shoulder seams (yoke seams).

Once this is done, carefully start at one edge, making sure your first stitch is directly into the seam point – (I hand turn the first couple of stitches and then do the same for the back stitches)  then stitch the seam being very careful to only catch the top of the shirt and collar stand, slow down at the end and stitch right up and into the seam.

It may seem a little odd that you attach to the inside first, however, as you have to top stitch the outside to complete the collar, this means that any stitching that is a little off is on the inside of the shirt and not the outside.

Press the stitched seam allowance ‘up’ into the collar stand, the raw edges end up inside the collar stand keeping everything nice and neat. Fold the seam allowance on the outer collar stand under (to the wrong sideand pin the folded edge just over the stitch line that you have just made.

We are now going to ‘top-stitch’ very close to the folded edge to complete our collar.

Be very neat when you are doing this and ensure you tie off or otherwise deal with your tail threads.  You need to start stitching right at the very edge of the collar.

Below you will see the finish on the inside (where my stitching is a little wide of the mark) and on the outside.

Press along your stitch line and then ‘fold’ the collar down along the stitch line that joins the collar to the collar stand to complete your collar.

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Time for the sleeves…..

Now, before we can attach the sleeves, we need to mark them up with the tucks and the slit for the placket.  I’ve already said that I tend to mark up as I go, and with the slit for the placket, I will cut this now.

I don’t however mark the slit on the material pieces and then cut them, I have already cut the slit in my pattern piece (before I pinned it to the material), now, I just follow the pre-existing cut and cut through both pieces of fabric at the same time.

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This ensures that my slits are in the same place on both sleeves – making the finished shirt more symmetrical.   Next thing we have to do is to take a ‘scant’ hem on one side of the slit (the narrower side) ensuring we fold to the wrong side of the fabric.  You can measure this if you require, however; I tend to do this by eye, pressing the fabric for a nice crisp edge.

Once the seam (basically this is a rolled hem – you can use a fine rolled hem foot, but bear in mind that you are unlikely to get close enough into the point of the slit) has been pressed flat, pin it!  The seam is very narrow and if you are not careful it will pop open.  Use more pins that you think are necessary.  The seam will be VERY narrow at the top end of the slit, so extra care will be needed here.

Stitch from the top end of the slit (the opposite to the way you would stitch a dart), taking your time to ensure that you have caught all the layers of material.

Repeat this on the other sleeve – remembering that this ‘hem’ goes on the narrow side of the slit. You can see from the image above that the seam is about 3 times the width of a pin – the photo below shows a pin next to the completed seam. (Please excuse the bent pin!)

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Next we are going to sew on the sleeve plackets.  These will enclose the other raw edge of the slit and reinforce the top so that the material doesn’t tear or rip with wear.   I will admit to a bit of a ‘faux pas’ here.  I started with just the material (as per the instructions), but as I’d decided to use white, the thinness of the material allowed everything underneath to be seen, so I then decided to interface the pieces.   I do not recommend trying to iron interfacing on to a piece of fabric that you have already stitched on!  I should have un-picked first.  However, eventually I cleaned off the iron and the ironing board (!) and managed to sort out the plackets.

Firstly we need to attach the placket to the remaining raw edge of the slit and stitch close to the edge – again taking a very scant seam – from memory the pattern states a 3mm seam allowance.  Don’t however, be tempted to sew too close to the edge – I did and as this fabric frays, I had to re-stitch – see 2nd picture below.

Now fold the placket over the stitching and press firmly with your iron.  (We can’t press this seam open, so we will follow the next steps.  The placket is then moved to the right side of the sleeve, through the slit, where it should lay flat.

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You can see the scant seam to the right and that pressing whilst still on the wrong side means that the scant seam is facing into the placket.  We will be hiding this raw edge inside the placket, so this is just how we want it.

The placket will be folded in half, and the raw edges tucked under (again about a 3mm seam allowance).  I prefer to do this ‘by eye’ as once the seam allowance has been pressed, you may find you need to adjust where the fold happens to make the placket look right.  (The image below has the seams pinned just for the photo as they tend to ping open!) Once you’ve pressed the seam allowances and folded the placket, pin it in place.

You will also need to ensure that both edges of the slit are lying parallel – when you sew the placket you will catch the side of the slit that you have just seamed – so please make sure you haven’t folded it out of the way.

 

The green headed pin in the second image above serves 2 purposes:

  • It’s holding the fabric underneath in place
  • It’s a marker for me to show where I want the stitch line to be.

Once pinned, we need to stitch the placket down, close to the edge, pivoting at the points to get a nice clean stitch line.  Once I reach the green headed pin, I again pivot my material and stitch straight across the placket to the other side, I pivot again (as if I’m stitching back to the raw edge) and hand turn 2 stitches (my stitch length is 2, and 2 stitches is perfect.)  I then pivot again and stitch back across the placket parallel to my first stitch line.  The below images show the outside and the inside of the shirt once the placket has been stitched.

 

Notice on the inside of the shirt how the stitching catches the the top of the scant seam as well reinforcing the top of the slit.

Repeat on the other sleeve.  Next we mark and stitch the tucks – shirts are generally gathered at the cuff, reducing the amount of fabric from the sleeve to fit into the cuff which should fit comfortably around the wrist without being too tight or too loose.

I’ve marked the tucks in pen, but this will be inside the cuff seam, so I’m not worried about it.  The arrows indicate the direction that the tuck happens – now, I’m sure that there is a ‘correct’ way to do this, but to be honest, who ever looks at sleeve tucks?  Anyway, I’ve marked, pinned and sewn mine.   I’ve used white thread (couldn’t be bothered to change it), but again this will be lost in the cuff itself, and if not I can always remove these stitches if they do show after the cuff is attached.

Once both sleeves have been done, it’s time time attach them to the main body of the shirt.

If you recall, we haven’t sewn the side seams of the shirt yet, this is because for most mens’ shirts the sleeve is not inserted, it’s attached to the body and then the side seam and sleeve seam are sewn as one.

The sleeve should be pinned to the shirt (right sides together) matching the edges together, the back and front notches, and the centre notch on the sleeve should match with the front yoke seam (shoulder seam).  Take your time!  You are matching an outward (convex) curve (top of the sleeve) with an inward (concave) curve on the main body of the shirt.  The pieces should fit exactly, however I sometimes find that I need to ease the sleeve slightly to match.

The pattern says to use a 6mm (1/4 inch) seam allowance, however, I’m going to flat-fell the seams, so to ensure that I have enough raw edge on my seam, I’m going to use a 1.5cm (5/8 inch) seam allowance.  (There is more than enough ease in this shirt to allow me to do this without the shirt being too tight or pulling.)  Once pinned, I use my magnetic seam guide to mark my allowance, and carefully stitch.

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Take your time stitching this and make sure there are no puckers or catches, you don’t want to have to un-pick the seam and start again.

Once I’ve stitched both side, I pop the shirt on to check for fit and to ensure that there is enough ease (give) with the bigger seam allowance.  I have double and triple checked this , and all is ok; however, If I’d miscalculated and the shirt was a bit tight, at this point I could un-pick the seams and re-stitch at 1cm (3/8 inch) – which still allows me sufficient material for flat fell seams, but it would be trickier.

The fit is fine, so the first thing I do before I start my seams is to press the seam open.

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This helps with the next step and also helps to ‘set’ the stitches.  Now, with flat fell seams we are going to create another line of stitching and this best sits on the body of the shirt, rather than on the sleeve, so, once the seam has been pressed open, we need to cut the raw edge of the seam that is closest to the body close to the stitching – about 4-5mm out.

 

Be careful not to catch the material underneath or the other side of the seam allowance; cut right along the seam from end to end and discard the strip of fabric.

Now press the wider raw edge over the raw edge that you have just cut.

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We are now going to fold the raw edge under and pin it.  Ideally the edge will catch under the narrower raw edge that we have just cut.

Flat Fell

The Blue shows the seam where we have trimmed the seam allowance and the Red shows how we fold the longer seam allowance over it to create the flat fell seam.

Below you can see the process with some of the pinning in place.   We are working with a curved seam here, so I would recommend starting in the middle, with the yoke, and working towards each end; you will get a neater finish.

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Once pinned, you need to sew close to the folded edge (sound familiar?); again you need to be careful that you don’t catch any material other than the layers you want to be sewing.  I’ve made this mistake before and caught the edge of the shirt in the stitching, I had to un-pick the ENTIRE seam!  Once sewn, you should press this seam flat.

You can see in the above that my stitch line on the inside misses a bit, but on the outside it’s lovely!

Now we are going to complete the side seams and the sleeve seams which are sewn in one.  First thing to do then is to pin the seam.   Now, I start from the shoulder seam, aligning both ends of the seam where we have attached the sleeve to the body of the shirt; starting here means that the sleeve will sit comfortably under the arm.  If there is a slight under or overlap at the cuff or hem, we can account for this, but if the under-arm is out, it’s going to be irritating.

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The shirt is turned inside out and pinned from the under-arm seam to cuff and to hem.  I find it’s easier to do this on a flat surface as it’s quite easy to pin one sleeve to the other, or to the side seam.

Again I am going to flat fell these seams, so I’m taking a 1.5cm seam allowance and will use my magnetic seam guide to ensure my spacing is right.

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This time however, I’m going to sew both sides and then pop the shirt on just to check the fit is right and the shirt wont ‘pull’ across the chest once the seams are done.  I’ve had to un-pick flat-fell seams once before and learned my lesson!  Check your fit before finishing your seams!

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You can see that 1.5cm looks like a very large allowance (considering that the seam allowance recommended for this shirt is 0.6cm!)   If you remember however, the ease on this shirt is 5 inches (12.7cm)  I’m taking an extra 0.9cm on each side of the shirt.  We have to multiply this by 4 (0.9cm reduction for each piece of fabric2 at each side) which makes 3.6cm.  If I take this off my ease amount of 12.7cm, this still means I have 9.1cm (just over 3.5″) of ease around the chest.  This amount of ease will make the shirt have a more fitted feel but it will still be enough to allow the shirt to ‘move’ around the body.

Once I had stitched both seams, I tried the shirt for fit and it was fine, sufficient room to move, so the next step is to flat fell these seams.

The first thing we need to do is to press open the seams – this is easy on the main body of the shirt, but harder on the sleeves.  I would recommend investing in a ‘sleeve board’ it makes this sort of construction a lot easier.  Slide the sleeve over the board and now you have access to press the seam open.

Next step is to trim one side of the seam raw edge, but which one?  To be honest you can do this whichever way you want; I always fold my seam towards the back.  I therefore trim the material from the raw edge that is closest to the back of the shirt; again it’s easier if you start from the hem, that way you don’t get confused when you hit the sleeve. Once cut, press the long edge over the cut edge as we did when attaching the sleeve.

Fold the long raw edge under and pin, pin, pin!  The under-arm area here is going to be a little tricky as you are turning a corner, just take it slowly and make sure you pin securely.  There is going to be a bit of bulk here as you’ve already flat-felled the shoulder seam – if necessary you can trim some of this away, but be careful you don’t trim too much and weaken the structure.

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Stitching this seam is going to be a bit more tricky as we will be sewing down the sleeve ‘tube’ – I therefore recommend that you start at the hem edge as you can get the biggest bulk of material out of the way before you start gathering material around your presser foot.

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Everything should be fine until you hit the under-arm seam, at which point you will start to sew along the arm of the sleeve.   We have already stitched this into a tube, so we are now stitching down this ‘tube’.

It is ESSENTIAL that you take this next bit slowly – checking to make sure that you haven’t got any fabric caught under the presser foot other than the seam you are stitching – I have caught the back of the shirt before, and part of the arm and had to un-pick the entire seam.

 

Your fabric will start to gather around the back and the front of your presser foot – keep stopping and adjusting it to make sure it’s as much out of the way as possible; try to keep the area in front of your presser foot clear and as flat as possible.  (In the pictures above you can see where I’ve just started into the sleeve, about 1/3 of the way in and then about 2/3 of the way to the cuff.

As you approach the cuff, slow down again, you need to ensure the seam is neat, so don’t rush this final bit.  If you can, sew a couple of back stitches at the cuff raw edge.

You can see that my material has frayed a little which made the final stitching a little more difficult to see.  Once completed, lift your presser foot and carefully feed your fabric out until it’s clear of the needle and foot. Tidy up your thread tails.

You can of course use other methods of finishing your seam edge – overlock or zig-zag which will be easier, you can even use French seams if you so desire (remember to sew wrong sides together first!).   I persevere with the flat fell as I prefer the finish, the seam lies flat along the fabric, is nice and neat and strengthens the seam.  However you choose to finish your seam – you will now need to repeat it on the other side, then press your seams.

Normally I would add the cuffs at this point, but I’ve decided to switch from standard cuffs to French cuffs (thanks Patricia – they will look better), so I’m going to have to re-draft those; however, the hem can be stitched, so I’ll do that now.

Basically we are creating a rolled hem – yes we could measure this (I have done in the past – silly me!) but now I do it by eye.  The bottom of this shirt has both internal and external curves, so we need to be aware of this when rolling the hem.   I’ve found that the best place to start is at the highest point (side seams) and work towards the front and centre back.  It’s important to pin as you go….

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I used to fold/roll, then press and then pin.  I find that just folding and pinning works fine.  I have to adjust the occasional pin to ensure that the raw edge is fully enclosed, but I find this method far quicker.

Once I’ve stitched this, I give it a really good press with a lot of steam and you get a lovely neat hem.

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Well, although I had already cut the cuffs for the shirt, it was suggested that I should use French cuffs* instead as this particular shirt will look good with silver cuff-links.

* French cuffs are longer cuffs that are turned back on themselves before fastening to create a double-layered cuff. 

I had a bit of a think and agreed, so this meant drafting a new pattern piece for the new cuffs.  I won’t go into great detail here but will give the general process.

The standard cuff is basically a rectangle with cut-off corners, so to create a French Cuff, we take this and double the length (I am calling this the length as it extends the length of the sleeve on the arm, the measurement that goes around the wrist I am calling the width.)

Cuff Measurements

We need to put the current pattern piece on some pattern paper that is sufficiently long to accommodate the new cuff length for us to draft the new cuff.  I’ve put the ‘base’ of the cuff (the bit that attaches to the sleeve) along the straight edge of my paper here and am drawing the edge lines.

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I’m extending the lines further than I need – I’d rather do this than draw them too short and have to re-draw them as you can never get the same line again!

Once I’ve drawn the sides, I draw the end of the cuff and also the two cut off corners – this means my new cuff will show the standard cuff on it.  This way if I ever lose the standard cuff pattern piece, I can either cut down this pattern piece or use it to re-draft the standard cuff.

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The French cuff is double the length of this one, so I now take my existing pattern piece and align the bottom line of the pattern piece with the top line of the cuff that I’ve just drawn and rule the new top line of my cuff.  I don’t copy the cut off corners as these are usually missing in a French Cuff, however I will add in smaller cut-off corners later.   What I’m trying to create is something like this:

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Notice the markings for the buttonholes – there are 4 of them – this is to allow cuff links to pass through all the layers of fabric.   Some cuffs like this are called ‘dual’ cuffs as you can use either a button or cuff-links.

Unlike the standard cuffs which are either cut off or rounded off at the corners, the French cuff is usually fully square.  In the image above however, you can see that I’m still going to cut the corners, but with a much smaller cut-off than the standard cuff.  I’m doing this for 3 reasons:

  1. I like the way it looks!
  2. It helps when stitching not to have such a sharp corner
  3. It’s easier to turn and press

If you decide to use French cuffs, create them however you want to, traditional (square cut), with a cut off (like I’ve done) or even by curving around these corners.

Once you have drafted your new pattern piece, it’s important to put all the appropriate markings on it, remembering to add the name of the person the piece was drafted for, the version number and the date.

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Having drafted the new cuff pattern piece, I thought I should show you the difference in the two pieces:

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Now that I had the new pattern piece, I simply cut 4 out of my white fabric and 2 out of the interfacing.  Iron the interfacing on to 2 of the wrong sides of the fabric and pin an interfaced right side to an non-interfaced right side and stitch at the seam allowance. (Remember that for this pattern it’s 6mm.)

Take your time when turning the corners, leave your needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot and carefully turn the fabric;  once stitched, trim your corners, and both edges where the cuff will attach to the sleeve (like you did for the collar),  and turn the right way out.

Make sure you press the cuffs as soon as you’ve turned them the right way out, you want to set the stitching and also make sure your seams are open and pressed to a nice crispness.

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You may not be able to see it, but the white fabric is a little see through – this means that we need to ensure (as in a standard cuff) that the interfaced fabric is on the outsidethat is the side that will be seen when the shirt is worn.

Once both cuffs have been stitched, we now need to attach them to the shirt sleeves.

With standard cuffs you would pin the right side of the non-interfaced side of the cuff to the wrong side of the sleeve – this would then mean that the interfaced side of the cuff would attach to the outside or right side of the sleeve.  However, our French cuffs fold back on themselves, so we need to do the opposite and attach the interfaced side of the cuff to the wrong side  of the sleeve.

Just as we did for the collar, we need to ensure that the edges line up exactly to get a very neat cuff.

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Sorry for the poor quality picture – it looked a lot better on my phone!

Be precise when stitching – you need to start and end on the very edge of the cuff/sleeve.  If you over-stitch you will not get such a neat finish.  I always hand turn the start and end of these seams to ensure that they are good; also make sure that the rest of your fabric is out of the way of the needle.

Once the seam is stitched, tidy up your cotton ‘tails’ and then press the seam into the cuff.  This is the exactly the same process as we did for the collar.   Make sure however that you have trimmed off any fraying fabric :

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Next we need to fold under the seam allowance for the non-interfaced side of the cuff and pin it over the stitch line we’ve just sewn.

Stitch close to the folded edge, over the previous stitch line to get a really neat cuff.

Beware! Ensure that your sleeve material is out of the way when doing this or you might catch it and have to un-pick!  How do I know this??  Because I wasn’t careful and caught my fabric! 😦

I had to un-pick about a 1/3 of the seam and then start again – silly me!

Once the cuffs are fully attached, press them firmly – stitch lines first and then the cuffs. I cannot stress enough how much difference it makes when sewing to press as you go – they say it all the time on the Sewing Bee and it really does make a difference.

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This is one of my finished cuffs and plackets – pressed within an inch of it’s life!

Next step is to stitch the button-holes.  I’ve currently got white thread in my machine so I’ll stitch the cuffs first.

For the French Cuffs I now need to add 8 buttonholes – 4 per cuff – but I need them to line up exactly.  To do this I take the edges of my folded cuff and using tailors chalk (or whatever erasable pen you normally use) and mark across all 4 edges the centreline of the cuff.

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Extend this mark onto the flat fabric where you are going to put your buttonhole – don’t draw a huge line, just a short one is sufficient.

If you have a one-step button-holer – lucky you!  All you need to do is pop the button in the back of the button hole foot – select the correct stitch and away you go.  My machine however is a 4-stop machine so I need to do some prep first.  I need to set my machine to the correct button-hole settings (refer to your manual).

Next I need to see how big to make my buttonhole so I pop one of my buttons onto my buttonhole foot and align it with the end marking.

The button hole should be slightly larger than the button and my rule of thumb is to go one marking step beyond the button when sewing the buttonhole.   In the second image you can see that from the start (black pin on the very right of the picture) that the button extends 3 steps (marked in red – to the second black pin);  I’m therefore going to extend my button hole 4 steps (to the green headed pin).

I do however, always do a sample button hole on scrap to check tensions, settings, stitch width, and most importantly to check that the button will fit without being too tight or too loose.

The first image shows that my tension was too tight, I also felt that the needle position was set too wide, so I reduced tension by 1 and stitch width by 1 and tried again.  The second image shows my original buttonhole (left) and the new one (right) – much happier with this, now to check the length (pic 3) and it looks just about perfect to me.  (I could reduce the length by about 1/2 step, but I’m leaving this as it is.)

Your settings and preferences will matter, so please take time to trial your buttonholes before putting them in your garment.

I attach my buttonhole foot to the machine and line up my first buttonhole – I tend to have the right side of the fabric uppermost (i.e. the side that will be seen) but if your stitching looks better on the bottom side, you can have the right side down – it is down to preference.

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You can see from the above that I’ve aligned the centre of my foot (the little lug) with the mark on the cuff.  I’ve also been careful to ensure that I’m stitching straight – no-one wants a lop-sided or slanted buttonhole!

When I stitch my buttonholes, I need to put a bit of tension on the fabric to prevent it feeding through too quickly otherwise I get a fairly loose zig-zag; the other option (which I know some people do for a more professional finish) is to run the buttonhole twice – i.e. double stitching each side of the button hole.  (For a really professional finish you could make bound buttonholes – but we are not doing that here.)

Repeat for the other 7 button holes on the cuffs.

Tie off your loose threads (this helps to ensure that the button hole doesn’t come undone) and then stick a pin at each end, just inside the end stitches of the buttonhole.  Push your seam ripper through the fabric in the middle of the button hole.

To create the button hole we are going to use a sharp movement to move our seam ripper from the centre to the upper pin, then reverse it and make a sharp movement to the lower pin.

The pins prevent the seam ripper from going to far, and allow you to create a nice neat button hole.  (You may have to trim some threads once the button hole is cut).  Repeat for the remaining 7 cuff buttonholes.

Next, I stitch my collar button hole – I know that I’ve got to align my plackets to ensure a perfect pattern match, but I can still put this button hole in as it will overlap and it’s the button placement that will be critical.   I make sure that the buttonhole is stitched in the very middle of the collar stand, not too close to the edge, but not too far in either.

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The buttonhole is straight, it’s the angle of the photo that makes it look a little wonky!  You should be able to see that for this collar stand the edge of the foot is aligned with the edge of the collar placket where it’s stitched to the shirt.  The button hole is opened up in the same way as on the cuffs.

Please note that the collar button hole runs left to right and not top to bottom as do the rest of the buttonholes on the shirt.

Next, the button holes down the front of the shirt, so I need to change my cotton to the blue…..

The first thing I’m going to do is mark where my button holes should be –  on the left placket, I’m going to mark the top of each button hole – for this shirt the first button hole underneath the collar is 6.5cm down from the collar buttonhole and every subsequent button hole is 9cm down from the top of the previous button hole.

My machine sews from the bottom of the buttonhole, so I will need to turn my placket round – this works however because it means that the bulk of the fabric is to the left of the needle so it won’t bunch up so much.

 

Sorry that the photo is a bit blurry, but you can see the horizontal white lines where I’ve marked the top of each buttonhole.  I’ve then drawn a vertical line to show which way the button hole should be stitched – this vertical line has been aligned with the pattern – there is a natural line (dotted red line) running along the placket which is slightly off-centre, but makes it easier to align the button holes.

Once I’ve stitched my button holes in the placket, tidied up the loose ends and cut the holes, I then pin the button hole placket in position over the other placket, ensuring that the pattern match is perfect.  I will then (using my chalk) draw a dot (or cross) through the middle of the buttonhole onto the pinned placket below.  This will give me the precise placement of the middle of my button.  I then switch to my button foot and (as I can’t drop the feed dogs on my machine) I pop on the feed dog cover plate.

20180720_205146548519653488610144.jpg I may have said this before, but don’t be afraid of your button foot.  I now use it all the time after being afraid to try it!  I personally attach buttons by hand cranking, but it’s still far far quicker than hand sewing.

Ensure that your machine is set to zig-zag (or whatever stitch your manual recommends) and set your stitch width to what you think is right (you will adjust this so it doesn’t really matter), for my machine I tend to find that a stitch width of 4 is right for most standard buttons this size.

Pop your fabric under the foot so that the dot or cross is centred below the foot, then gently (without moving the fabric) place your button so that  holes are close to the shank end of the foot and drop the presser foot to clamp the button in place.

Holding your threads to one side slowly hand crank watching where the needle is headed, make sure that it goes into the middle of one of the holes (you may need to slightly adjust the button or your stitch width), once the needle has passed through one hole, continue to crank until it’s above the second hole – if you’ve aligned your holes right (evenly between the lugs on the foot) your needle should pass cleanly into the hole, if not gently adjust stitch width / button position until it’s right.  Once you have it right, you are ready to go for all the buttons.

You can sew the buttons how you want, I’ve sewn them with a cross across the centre before, but here I’m stitching them in two rows, top and bottom.

Once I’ve hand cranked the top stitches about 10 times, I lift the foot and gently ease the fabric and button up to align the next two holes and hand crank again another 10 or so times…

Once this is done, I lift the presser foot and gently pull the fabric and button out of the machine.

IMPORTANT: Tie your threads off top and bottom.  You don’t want the button to pop off (like so many commercial buttons do).

Repeat this for all the other buttons.  I generally put the button through the corresponding button hole when attached – it helps keep the garment together and also helps to ensure the alignment is right.

The completed shirt!

PLEASE NOTE: Although I haven’t always stated it, I have pressed my seams at each point after I’ve stitched. 

 

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