Saturday, January 8, 2011

Men's Shirt Sew-Along Progress

Lookee, lookee — actual current photos from my sewing room!

I started out my sewing day by tracing the pattern.

Then cutting out the "muslin." I'm using a green oxford fabric (a blend I think, judging by the seam puckers I'm seeing) instead of actual muslin. I've had this stuff forEVER, paid very little for it, and it's just time it moved out of the stash.

I really need some more pattern weights and I might actually remember to pick up some big washers at Lowe's or Home Depot one day. Until then, I pull out my scissors basket and use those. This pattern fits on less than 2 yds of this fabric. I still have enough for another one. Why is it that some fabrics just won't go away?

I don't usually make detailed muslins but I haven't ever sewn a men's long-sleeved dress shirt so I decided that I would use this one to learn and practice techniques. Specifically, sleeve plackets. These are my first set of sleeves for the day (yes, first). The fabric is the same front and back so I used my usual cheater method of marking the wrong sides with tape.

And then I faithfully followed Kwik Sew's directions in the pattern. Bad decision. And surprising, since KS patterns usually have good methods. This is not a real under placket. It's a crappy cheater method, and it looks it.

The top placket isn't much better.

Before I continued, I scrapped these and went looking for a better, more attractive method. I pulled out David Coffin's shirt book and immediately was reacquainted with the reasons it collects dust on my bookshelf. There is a lot of good information in the book, but it's not something you would have by your project as a reference while sewing. It's a more in-depth read than that and it's put together in a weird order to me. The video is much better, but I don't have a VCR anymore so my copy is pretty much trash now.

I knew there was a relatively easy continuous placket method out there somewhere. I thought I had seen it in one of Nancy Zieman's books, but maybe not because I couldn't easily put my hands on it. Enter Google.

Lucky for me, Summerset's Pin & Needles blog was one of the first Google hits and her tutorial is perfect! I had new sleeves and plackets cut and sewn within an hour.

Isn't this better?

And the under placket (is there a better term?) looks a thousand times better.

After the plackets were done, I sewed the cuff pieces together, took pics and stopped for the day. I'm hoping to finish the muslin tomorrow, if the collar and stand don't give me fits. It's been a while since I've done one and I'm out of practice.

Who else is joining Peter's Sew-Along?


  1. I am joining Peter's sew-along. I'm making a shirt for my son. Two other garments to get finished before the 1st Feb, so I'd better get a move on!
    Your second lot of plackets look great. I'm really surprised by Kwik Sew's use of the cheater placket.

  2. Hey Debbie...for the collar/stand construction you might want to check this out...
    From the right side click on Blouses/Tops...

    Then scroll about halfway down and there's a pretty good one this chick put up...forget her name:)))...

    This tutorial should be helpful!

    Like riding a bike...! Your slv. plckts. look much better than KS's!

    Gee your son's rec room looks nothing like our old Army dayroom..we were lucky to have a pool table!:))

    Yeah that Coffin book is a bear for quick info access..hey I never got the video and I do still have a tv/vcr combo in the closet..wanna do a trade? I also have a dvr/vcr converter..I could send you back a cd if it copies/cleans well. Just let me know.


  3. What is it about Coffin's book that makes it hard to believe that anyone could actually sew a shirt by following his directions? I find the illustrations hard to understand and I'm a visual person. I work with and understand plans. Maybe it's that he doesn't really have a construction order, it's more a stream of consciousness thing. I bought his pants book and it's only better because there are good photos, but his diagrams are as inscrutable as ever. It also seems rather random as well. These are not really books for actually sewing a garment from start to finish unfortunately. Talk about stream of consciousness! Glad you found a good method for your placket.

  4. Thanks for such detail. This helps us newbies with inspiration and also a learning tool. Will check out the tutorial you posted. Will be watching your progress on shirt

  5. I'm in. It's the placket that has me most concerned with this project. Thanks for the link. I hope mine ends up as nice as the second one you did!

  6. Really, just think of attaching the under placket as you would a piece of double fold bias tape. It's basically the same idea.

    I own an Italian RTW "high quality" men's shirt and the under placket is just like the Kwik Sew pattern you describe. They simply folded the edge under and stitched instead of attaching a separate piece of fabric.

    One thing I got from David Coffin that I think is valuable is making the top of that "house" on the outside (or top) placket. You fold the top over 90 degrees and then do it again the other way (if that makes sense -- like origami.).

    That way you're not fussing over narrow edges that have to be folded "just so" for the little roof top peak to be perfect.

    Looking good, Debbie-kins!

  7. Your placket looks great!

    I bought various sizes of washers intending to cover them and make them look pretty :) but they are still un-covered but they still work wonderfully. They are a great idea.

  8. Please please don't buy washers. Take your scraps and in 5 mins you will have made some cute humbug sewing weights. Tracy over at Mad Quilter blog has a tutorial for those.
    I like your attention to detail on the muslin. Are you a perfectionist? Can't wait to see the end result.

    Love reading your blog but often don't have the time or hands (I read when feeding the baby) to comment.

  9. wow, that's a nice placket! some of Doug's current shirts have plackets like the KS one, so I just went along with it, but it seemed a bit flimsy to me. I had done a blouse for myself from one of the Burda Mag patterns which had a more substantial placket on the sleeve. It works well enough, but I think I like your new-found method better....I'm off to peruse my NZ books to see if she has an idea. Do you have the "Busy Woman's Sewing Book" (is that the title?) it's my FAV!!

  10. I'm always using my scissors for pattern weights too. :P Or soup/veggie cans. (There's a can of carrots under my feet right now.)

  11. You can get a DVD copy of Coffin's video at the Threads web site. It goes on sale from time to time. I too, find the book ponderous, but the information is SO good. At one time, I tried writing my own step by step checklist from his material...I didn't get very far. :-)

  12. Are you telling me I don't have to pin my patterns down? Seriously?

    That placket looks good. It would be a nice finish for the front of a blouse, too, when it's only slit a couple of inches down the front. I'll have to check out that tutorial.

  13. Yours (Michael's? LOL) muslin looks great! Re: your VHS-tape, maybe you could get someone to tranfer it to DVD for you? You'd probably not have a menu/etc. to navigate by but I bet a IT-minded friend could help do this for you for the cost of a blank disc :) ? (Oh, I'm joining Peter's sewalong - yet to get Hubby to decide on his fabric, it'll be my first men's shirt too.)

  14. Your placket looks great! I'm going to check your link for the tutorial. There's no way that I'm going to attempt a man's shirt yet. The jacket sew-along is enough challenge!

  15. You are making very good progress. All this talk of men's shirts increases my guilt that I've never seen anything for husband - not once in 30 years!

  16. Hmmmm. As a luddite who still has a VHS player, can I express and interest in your copy...?


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