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!
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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|
|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!