Mens shirt complete sew-along tutorial in 20 steps!

Posted on Posted in Sewing

If you have followed my blogging so far this year you will know I love making shirts. I am constantly complimented on the shirts I make and really do enjoy the process. People keep saying “it must be difficult”, “Ive tried before but it didn’t work”, “how did you do that” etc. So I thought I would post a complete step-by-step walkthrough, showing the 20 easy steps to success. I find shirts quite easy: Men are square in shape and there are not many princess seams or complicated shaping techniques  to be done. This tutorial is aimed at everyone and especially those who are worried about making a shirt. If I can do it, anyone can!

So here we go (be warned this will be a long post with lots of photos!). Although I am not using a shop-bought pattern, the steps that follow should apply to most. 

I decided to make a shirt from the Ryuichiro Shimazaki book, Les chemises. I have made shirts from this book before and the results are really good. I know it is written in french but it is easy to follow and certainly easier than the original Japanese publication. The book comes with all the patterns for all the shirts shown in the book which allows you to mix and match styles. You have to trace the pattern pieces you want and add the seam allowances but I find this step quite therapeutic.

This is the shirt I am going to make in this tutorial. Number 9 the rounded collar with contrasting collar and cuffs.

I previously bought some Rose and Hubble cotton print and some contrasting plain cotton for the collar and cuffs ready for this shirt so here goes. The pattern asks for 2.3m of fabric and 0.5m for the contrasting collar/cuffs. I bought 2m of fabric as if you are careful when laying out you don’t need that much.

** Click on the photos for a clearer view **

First cut all pieces as per the pattern. Take your time and cut carefully.

1. Front right button placket (button side).

  • This is formed by pressing the edge over twice as per pattern marks and edge stitched from the front.


Front right shirt
Reverse with placket carefully ironed over.

2. Front left button placket (button hole side).

  • This placket is made from a separate piece, stitched to the front, pressed and top-stitched.
Left front and placket piece


Press placket piece on seam allowance (here 1/4 inch)


Stitch placket right side facing wrong side 1/4 inch from edge.


Turn and press seam allowance towards front. Add interfacing (sew-in)


Turn placket completely over front.


Press placket. Make sure to press with 1/16 inch of placket showing from rear.


Top stitch along both edges at 1/8 inch to secure placket


3. Front Pocket

  • I cut fabric using the pattern making sure the pattern matched the front placement as best I could. I then cut a top edging from the contrasting fabric.
Pocket piece and top trim.
Edging stitched 1/4 inch on front and folded over. Press well
Seam allowances pressed to rear
  • Now place the pocket on left shirt front, matching pattern if you can. Edge stitch as close to the edge as you can and form small stitch triangle at the pocket tops.
Pocket edge stitched to left front

4. I like to stitch my button holes now using the pattern as a guide. It is easier to line up a small piece of material rather than the near completed shirt.


Button holes on left front placket

5. On to the back of the shirt. Add pleats to top back pattern piece and baste to secure.


Pleats pinned and basted in place

6. Now baste the outer yolk to shirt back. Match centres and any notches. Take your time and pin well before basting.


Pinned and basted right sides together

7. Now pin the inner yolk to the shirt rear. Right side to wrong side


Inner yolk pinned

Stitch both yolks and back along seam line. Press both yolks upwards and top stitch close to the seam.


Press both yolks upwards and topstitch

8. Now is time to stitch fronts to yolks. Fold the inner yolk back out of the way and pin fronts to outer yolk, right sides facing. Stitch on seam line.


Fronts pinned and stitched to INNER YOLK piece

9. Turn and place the inner yolk back in place over the inside of the fronts.


Inner yolk being folded back into place

10. Press the seam allowance on the inner yolk. I always press the inner yolk to line up with the stitching line made from the outer yolk.


Inner yolk seam being turned.
Inner yolk pressed along outer yolk stitch line

11. Now pin outer and inner yolks together and top stitch catching the inner yolk to hold in place.

12 Stay stitch both yolks together around neck line


Stay stitched neck

13. Now we move to the collar. This is the piece that seems to fill most with fear and I do admit, the first time I did one it seemed complicated and difficult.

  • The collar is made up of upper and under collar and a piece of interfacing. I don’t use iron on but if you do the technique is the same. Just iron it on instead.
Collar pieces
  • Stitch the collar with right sides facing and the interfacing on top. Trim the interfacing as close to the seam as you can and clip the corners.
Collar stitched and seams graded and clipped
  • Now turn the collar right sides out and top stitch 1/8 inch from the edge.
Collar finished

14. Now on to the collar stand.

  • The collar stand is made in a similar way. Outer, Inner and interfacing.
collar stand pieces
  • Pin the collar to the outer collar stand, right sides together and baste in place. Use plenty of pins for the curve.
Coller pinned and basted to under collar stand
  • Place the inner collar stand and press the bottom seam allowance over interfacing.
Inner collar stand with bottom seam allowance pressed up
Inner collar pinned, matching outer collar stand.
  • Now stitch the collar stand along seam line. Start at the inner collar stand where the seam has been turned all the way to the same point on the other side. Trim interfacing and clip curves.
Collar stitched to both stands. Trimmed and corners clipped
  • Turn the collar stands, right sides out and press. Top stitch through the collar matching the collar top stitching start and end points.
Collar stands turned and pressed


Top stitched collar stand. Start, matching the top stitched collar.

15. We move on to attaching the collar to the shirt. Take your time with this as doing it well makes the difference. Place the collar on the shirt back matching the centre right sides facing.


Matching the collar centre to neck centre.


  • Pin the collar to the shirt all the way around the neck line. Make sure the ends of the collar line up with the end of the shirt fronts. Carefully stitch in place (This should be in line with the inner collar stand where you pressed the seam earlier) DO NOT catch the inner collar stand!


Collar pinned to shirt.


Collar stitched and inner collar stand turned to the inside of the shirt.


  • When stitched, turn the collar up and put the inner collar stand inside the shirt neck hole. Press and pin in place matching the seam you pressed earlier to the stitch line you have just made. Ensure the collar corners are neat at the fronts.


Now topstitch the collar stand catching the inner stand.


  • Topstitch the collar stands starting and finishing at the stitching you completed in step 14.

16. Now onto the sleeves. You should have two sleeve pieces and two sets of plackets. The sleeve plackets should be LH and RH and the cut marked at the sleeve bottoms LH and RH.


Sleeve pieces (LH sleeve is on the right)


Left and Right sleeve plackets.


  • I shall be working on the left hand sleeve for this tutorial. The RH sleeve is exactly the same but mirror imaged.


  • Place the placket pieces along the placket cut line. The thinner placket piece goes towards the back. i.e. edge the slit is closest to.


LH placket pieces right sides facing


Press placket pieces as shown


Pin and stitch 1/4 inch from slit. End the stitch 1/4 inch past the slit end


Thin placket stitched


  • Now turn the thin placket through the slit and line up with the reverse stitching you just made.


Pass to back and press


Edge stitch close to seam


  • Stitch larger placket. Press in half matching edge with slit. Turn under as you did with the smaller placket.


Fold and press


Turn under and press


  • Now edge stitch around the larger placket. Make a cross stitch forming a box shaped like a house.


There is a placket there really!


Edge stitched and button hole stitched.


  • Now repeat for the right sleeve.

17. Attaching the sleeve always puts fear into me. I don’t know why as it is so simple. You are going to make a felled seam here. Sounds hard but really is not. Press a top seam allowance of 1/4 inch.


1/4 inch seam pressed


  • With right sides together, place the sleeve over the arm hole. Tuck the shirt into the seam you just made and pin. Use lots of pins! Do it carefully and slowly.


Shirt inside sleeve


Lots of pins!


  • Now stitch 1/4 inch from the folded edge. Slowly! Turn the sleeve over. Pin the sleeve from the inside and stitch close to the edge.

Inside shirt. Felled seam. Pin and stitch

18. Now onto the side seams. Simply sew a french seam. Wrong sides together sew 1/4 inch seam. Turn right sides together and sew the seam again with a 3/8 inch seam thereby enclosing the first seam inside.


Sew 1/4 inch wrong sides facing along side and arm seam
Turn right sides together and sew again concealing the first seam
The french seam from inside

19. OK you have nearly finished! The cuffs are next. 3 pieces, inner, outer and interfacing. Similar to the collar stand you completed in step 14. Press the top seam allowance (to the inside) on one piece. Pin together and stitch from the folded seam around to the other side.


Interfacing, Inner cuff with top seam pressed and outer cuff


Pinned together with folded seam facing down on table


Both cuffs stitched and seams trimmed
Turn cuffs right sides out (top cuff inside facing, bottom cuff showing outside)


  • Pin the un-pressed seam to the end of the cuff, right sides together. Add any pleats as directed on the pattern to the shirt sleeve. Ensure ends of cuff are exactly in line with ends of sleeve.


Cuff pinned to sleeve
Cuff stitched to sleeve


  • Turn and press cuff taking the already pressed cuff inside the shirt sleeve. Line up inside to stitching you have just made. Pin the cuff on the inside and top stitch 1/8 inch all the way around the cuff.


Inside cuff pinned in place inside the sleeve
Top stitched cuff

20. Finished! Well nearly. Add the remaining button holes as per the pattern and stitch your buttons in place. I’m not going to tell you how to stitch buttons on but use the button holes as a guide.


  • Now carefully press your shirt and enjoy!

Here is my finished shirt.




Button placket detail
Rounded collar
Trademark “odd” colour left sleeve button


OK not exactly 20 steps but you get the picture. I hope you like what I have done and hope this tutorial will help some of you thinking about making a shirt. Go on it’s not really that difficult and please feel free to share any shirts you have made.

Please do ask questions if something is not clear but until next time…..Happy sewing!

70 thoughts on “Mens shirt complete sew-along tutorial in 20 steps!

  1. Lovely shirt! I'm guessing much of the skill is due to your dexterity from making so many. Now if you could get busy on a tutorial for one of your gorgeous tailored jackets, I would appreciate it! 😉

    1. Well funny you should say that! Iv'e been asked to make a ladies version of my long wool coat so will happily post a step by step guide how to make it. Glad you like the shirt too.

  2. Hello, do you have a pattern you could recommend for a first time shirt sewer? I'm not totally inexperienced at sewing, but have never tried a men's shirt before. Your excellent instructions make sense to me, but I'd rather just buy a pattern first time. Thanks

    1. Hi. The Burda 7045 Mens shirt pattern is a breeze to make. I have made several from this pattern for myself. It has 3 styles of fit and collar. Have fun and good luck. Let me know how you get on.

  3. Hello,

    I am very grateful for this wonderful tutorial. I am a beginner in tailoring but I so scared to start up something but with this amazing step by step tutorial I will give it a trial.

    Please I will be delightful if you can mail me any of your video tutorial.

    Thanks in advance and God bless.

    South Korea

  4. Hello,

    I am very grateful for this wonderful tutorial. I am a beginner in tailoring but I so scared to start up something but with this amazing step by step tutorial I will give it a trial.

    Please I will be delightful if you can mail me any of your video tutorial.

    Thanks in advance and God bless.

    South Korea

    1. Hi, You need to measure chest (across nipples), neck and length of arm. For the chest make sure he puts his arms by his side when you measure (after putting the tape around). For neck measure at the widest point around (over Adams apple) and for arms measure with him placing his arm on hip (bent elbow) and measure from end of shoulder to end of wrist. Hope that helps

  5. Dear Sir

    You do not know how many thanks I gave you for every single photograph on this tutorial. It was my first time with a tailored shirt, and, thanks to you, I did not disappoint! ^_^ Thank you ever so much!

    Charlene from Malta

  6. Hi! and thanks a bunch for this tutorial. Just made the first two mens shirts, in my life. AND I am loving it. NOW I have to make myself a blouse, as I have wanted to do for a very long. (Job hunting requirement) However, I am pretty confused about how to make my front button band a lil narrower. Probably gonna take some readjusting of everything at the neck.?? Mary

    1. Hi Mary, I'm glad you found this so useful. A blouse is no different really except add 2 darts in the front (under bust point) and 2 in the rear (similar place to fronts). The neck will be smaller to fit and you can cut the button placket narrower to suit. Have fun and good luck job hunting! Jamie

  7. Love this tutorial. Super helpful for a newbie pattern follower like me. Thanks for the attention to detail with the photos and helpful hints about what shape to sew!!

  8. Nice tutorial. How common is it to do the sideseam with a french seam? I've always done a flat-felled seam there, but it is such a hassle on a vintage Singer (no free arm).

  9. Hi, thank u for this tutorial, it really help a lot.. i try to make a men's shirt for my friend, and i make a big mistake by wrong measured my friend's neck, it should be 38, i write it 48, and now it was too big, really big! Do you have any idea how to make this thing right? Because i don't have enough fabric to remake it 🙁

  10. Hi Jamie You mention using a non-iron- on interfacing for the collar etc…when you do that what kind of material do you use and how to you attach it? I am starting to hate the iron on stuff and would like to try the other. Your advice woould be great thanks freddy

  11. Thank you so much Jamel for this awesome tutorial, it has refreshed my sewing ability. But I think a video coverage of how you cut & measure your fabrics will be very much helpful to give a clearer knowledge of how I can go about with the whole cutting because that's where difficulty rest on. You can also forward it to my mail if need be. Thanks��. FRANKLIN M.I

  12. Thank you so much Jamel for this awesome tutorial, it has refreshed my sewing ability. But I think a video coverage of how you cut & measure your fabrics will be very much helpful to give a clearer knowledge of how I can go about with the whole cutting because that's where difficulty rest on. You can also forward it to my mail if need be. Thanks��. FRANKLIN M.I

  13. Hi Jamie! My comment comes a year late so I hope you get to read it. I just bought the Japanese version of that book from which you got your pattern. I, too, cannot speak Japanese but since you said the patterns are pretty much self-explanatory AND you were able to make a very nice shirt or many shirts from it, I just went ahead and bought it. It hasn't arrived, though. Anyway, my question is: are the patterns graded and would I be able to find different sizes in the book? I intend to sew for my husband and my son, and they have different sizes. Actually I'm just a bit nervous over the purchase and I would hate to set aside the book after waiting so long for it to arrive. Thanks and congrats on the new baby!

  14. Excellent article. I have a query. What if the shirt had short sleeves and the sleeve was closed using feed of the arm?

    Would you recommend closing the sleeve first and then folding in the hem? Or should the hem be folded in first before the sleeve is closed?

    I am asking because the sleeve has a slight taper from the armhole towards the the hem and therefore, the unfinished hem circumference will be slightly less than the circumference of the area onto which it will be folded into and stitched for finishing the sleeve.

  15. Hi Jamie, my teenage son is super skinny (32 inch chest) and is sick of having shirts that have too much fabric and collars that gape(13 1/2 inch collar). Do you know if the patterns in the Japanese pattern books go down to that size? If they do, I'll attempt to make him some!

    1. I have not worked with the Japanese book Jamie used, but here is a good pattern that scales down to the size you're looking for. It's also easy to make with good instructions. I've adapted it to my wishes by changing the fit somewhat and adding things to it. Peter Lappin from Male Pattern Boldness has done a sew-along with it and details the construction even more.

    2. Hi. Yes the patterns are sized and the XS should fit pretty well. As Wouter has mentioned there is also the Colette Negroni but I can certainly suggest you have a look at the book. I'll go check the sizing and post back. Cheers

  16. Thanks for sharing this post and shedding light on how to customize shirts as per your need. It is great to see how each step is carefully followed to design custom tailored suits as per our requirement. Good job. Looking forward for more such articles from you.

  17. Hi Jamie, did I miss the hemming of your shirt?
    I can’t find it it your tutorial!
    I’m not sure how to stitch the area at the side seam where the front & back are shaped & the French seam makes it a little bulky.
    I love your work & you explain things well.

  18. Thanks Jamie for this great tutorial. I’ve just used it to make my first article of clothing. Would like to share the pic with you but doesn’t appear to have an option.

  19. Hi,
    I would like to know how I can about with drafting collars and collar bands.
    Thank you for the tutorial.I would be grateful if guided on how to draft collars and collar bands.
    Thank you

  20. This is my ‘go to’ tutorial every time I make a shirt. Love it! Thanks so much … appreciated across the world (well, I’m in Australia).

  21. I really like the tutorial but to there is a limitation for my full understanding. Tge actual measurement to use. Maybe u Should tell us the measurement you are using so I can full get you. Thanks for this awesome piece

  22. How to measure and cut the yoke?I have been referring so many tutorials,nowhere it is stated.I would like to know the width,slant etc of yoke.

  23. Hi Jamie,

    My tailor is telling me that I cannot have a french cuff wider on my left hand to accomodate the watch because the whole arm sleeve would be slightly larger and not just wrist.
    He says that would not fit with my overall slim fit.

    I thought this is a common request as lots of people ask for a larger cuff on one hand.

    What are my options here?

    1. I would say you change tailor! No seriously that is a common request and one I always do on shirts and jackets unless specified otherwise. Yes the sleeve will be slightly larger but with careful blending it should not notice. The other option is to get expanding cufflinks that will allow the cuff to open slightly over the watch. Cheers

      1. Would I be right to assume that the larger cuff means just wider bottom of the left sleeve at this image on your webiste: Sleeve pieces (LH sleeve is on the right) ?

        If that is so, it should be extremly easy, just requires a cut under different angle.

        I challenged them and they still stand firm saying that they cannot do it.

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