Shirt making tips

When I was going through my garment stash for yesterday’s post, I came across this shirt.

I’ve named this the “perfect shirt”. Not that it is of course, but I made it as an exercise, in an attempt of technical sewing perfection. It’s cut on the bias, all seams enclosed etc. etc. I also made a different kind of button stand (this process was repeated to hem the shirt sleeves too), it also has a bluff pocket and I thought I could use parts of it to pass along a couple of shirt making tips.

The first tip is how to mark the placement of buttons. I was sure I’d explained this before but I can’t find it in the archives. The way you mark placement of buttons is easy. First you make your button holes (the making of button hole guides was discussed here and here). Once your button holes are made, you fold the shirt inside out with the buttoning edges together as shown below.


Line the edges up carefully and then, using a wax pencil (or your favorite marking tool), poke down through the center of the buttonhole to mark the fabric below (as shown below).

Do that and your buttons and buttonholes will always be perfectly aligned. It’s low tech and it’s manual and I’d bet it’d surprise you to know that garments are marked just like this in factories. Sure, you could use the button hole marking guide to mark button holes and it might be faster but it wouldn’t work as well. Due to tiny differences -when the operator makes the holes- they may not line up according to the guide. Using the holes on each individual item to mark the corresponding button, ensures that they’ll line up. No two shirts will ever be exactly alike. But they should look as though they were.

The second tip I wanted to pass along is in regards to making the front button stand on shirts. There’s at least 6 different ways to make these that I know of but I like this one the best because it doesn’t require sewing on a separate strip. Turning the one side of that button stand under (the edge facing the body of the shirt) is a pain in the butt and you can see poorly turned button stand hems a mile away. Nothing screams home sewing more than that. It’s hard to turn under that edge without a folder so this is how I like to do it. First, here’s a view of the back of the button stand. It looks like it’s pieced but that is the pleat.

This is how to draft and do it.
The front of the shirt is shown below. Let’s assume the stand is 1.5″ wide, finished. Add a total of 2″ to the edge. 1.5″ of it is to cover the back side of the stand. The remaining .5″ is to form the pleat. However, the pleat is on the other side of the center front so in effect, you’d really be splitting the pattern in that part to put in the extra .5″.

Usually though, the edge of the pattern is straight and you can add the 2″ on the end, you’ll just have to be sure to move the notches. Maybe seeing how it’s sewn will make sense.
Fold at the first notch (the one closest to the edge), folding the back side of the button stand under.
At the second notch, fold it again.
Sew a line of stitching, 1/4″ from the folded edge (catching all layers).

Then unfold it. Press the pleat toward the body of the shirt.

Of course you’d still have to top stitch the other side of the button stand to finish it off but the hard part is done. I know some of you already know how to do this. It’s often used for hemming. If you look at the first photo, you can see I hemmed these sleeves like this too. It’s a clean finish. Oh, and be sure to fuse that button stand. Two layers of fabric is not enough to keep it stable. One of the reasons why this shirt isn’t perfect is because I didn’t fuse it. I don’t know what I could have been thinking. Maybe I didn’t because I cut it on the bias and thought I shouldn’t.

I don’t like the fit of this shirt at all. I never wear it. The fabric was pretty when I bought it, I thought it was some kind of cotton/linen blend but now I wonder. It’s got some kind of scratchy pilling going on. That’s another lesson. Be sure to test wash some sample fabric before you cut anything out of it -or heaven forbid, order any yardage- and be sure to wash your fit samples before you fit them. I say that so many times I sound like a broken record. I should program a hot key to paste that in for every time I need it.

Now, if you’ve read through this far, this shirt also has a bluff pocket, the likes of which I described the other day. This pocket is much prettier tho, don’t you agree? It’s another variation in that the hem forms to the outside but it’s the same concept. Also, the bottom of the pocket is shaped into a “V” rather than being rounded at the corners.

I’m thinking I should do the bluff pocket tutorial but charge for it. What do you think? I know they do that over there at PatternReview. I’m amazed at the classes they get money for. Just for giggles, I even took one, on zippers. It was okay. Nothing earth shattering. Nothing I hadn’t already published on this blog only better (no lie) -and they were charging $40 a head! Mindblowing. I figure if they were getting $40 for information that was freely available, I should be able to get at least that, for something that isn’t :).

Related:
Entries in the reverse engineering standard work series (how to copy industrial sewing methods)
Standard Work (sounds boring, read it anyway)
Reverse engineering standard work pt.1
Reverse engineering standard work pt.2
Reverse engineering standard work pt.3
Reverse engineering standard work pt.4
Reverse engineering standard work pt.5
Reverse engineering standard work pt.6
Reverse engineering standard work pt.7
Reverse engineering standard work pt.8
Reverse engineering standard work pt.9

Spin off of Reverse engineering standard work pt.5:
A failed experiment
A failed experiment pt.2
A failed experiment pt.3
Reverse engineering standard work pt.5.1

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