A yellow dress shirt

After two fitting muslins (aka mock-up, toile) to perfect the pattern, I made this dress shirt for my husband out of yellow and reddish batiked cotton.  He said it didn’t breathe, I said it is cotton, but he was wearing it on a day that was almost 80 degrees.

Here are the steps I used to sew and dress shirt.

First, I washed and dried the fabric.  I didn’t preshrink the interfacing in a bowl of hot water (I didn’t think about it and this particular one doesn’t come with instructions).  It’s French Fuse and around 60″ wide, if anyone wants to know.  Many interfacings are only around 22″ wide.  Then I pressed the fabric, folded it, and laid it out flat on my cutting mats.

Now, read this: You can do a test yourself of how a particular pattern piece turns out after you cut it out if you lay down the pattern piece and put weights on it or if you lay it down and pin it.  I never pin a pattern piece to the fabric.  I lay it down and put weights on it.  Then I trace around the pattern and remove it.  When I cut, I cut the line off.  I don’t cut around the outside of the line (it will add to the size of the pattern piece) nor do I cut in the middle of the line (same).  I cut the line off.  And I’m not the only one who does.

So, after I laid down, marked, and cut out all the shirt pieces, I fused the interfacing to all the pieces that needed it.  Then I started sewing. 🙂

I made separate pattern pieces for the interfacing, which was needed especially for the center front of each front piece, but it makes cutting easier. Here, the center fronts have been fused and pressed to fold over to the inside to form the button and buttonhole plackets.  Then the plackets were stitched.  You could also fold them to the outside, like on some shirts, which means you’d put the interfacing on the other side.  (I’m not sure if all dress shirts have interfacing here, but interfacing stabilizes and strengthens the areas where it’s applied.)

Here, the collar and under collar have been fused and stitched together, the pocket has been pressed and its hem stitched, and the tucks on the back have been basted into place.

The back has been sandwiched between the yoke and yoke facing and pinned.

The tucks on the sleeves (at the wrist end) have been basted into place.

Pocket pinned to left shirt front. Yes, I know my stitching isn’t straight.

Now the pocket has been stitched to the front.

A view of the yokes sewn to the back.

The under cuffs stitched to the cuffs.

Before the collar is completely turned right side out, I understitched it. This means I pushed the seam allowances of both the collar and the under collar toward the undercollar and stitched through the seam allowances and the undercollar, but not the collar.

Collar and yoke.

The collar more up close.

The cuffs ahve been understitched, turned, and pressed.

Detail of the cuff understitching.

These next several photos show the steps for the sleeve placket, that little finished slit above the cuffs.  You might not find this method used on many women’s blouses.  Often the slit is finished with one piece of bias tape that is then stitched flatter at the top of the slit or a slightly more complicated method.  The 3rd method, which I’m using, is the most complicated, and used on most men’s dress shirts.  If you have one handy, you can take a look at it.  It isn’t super complicated, but does require several steps.

First, a little rectangular piece of fabric is sewn to the sleeve right next to where the slit is going to be, on the underlapping side.

Cut the slit.

Press that rectangle so it will end up binding its side of the slit, so toward the slit then to the other side of the sleeve.

From the other side, and press under enough so that no raw edges will show.

It finishes its side of the slit.

Sleeve placket under binding pressed and stitched.

This is the sleeve placket over binding piece. Looks weird, doesn’t it?

Sew the shorter of the two long edges to the other side of the slit, right side facing the wrong side of the sleeve.

From the other side.

Over binding turned and pressed. You press it so it’s folded along the middle and the smaller upper point is behind the larger upper point, and the long side and points are pressed under.

After you press it, stitch it like this and press again. Make sure you have the underlapping side under it, but don’t catch the under side until you’re at the top of the overlapping side.

The same as above but from the wrong side of the sleeve. See how the underlap is caught under the overlap?

OK, on to the rest of the shirt.

The yoke has been sewn to the fronts and the yoke facing has been pressed under so it can be topstitched.

The collar/undercollar assembly (the collar) is sandwiched between the collar band and collar band facing and pinned.

The collar band and collar band facing have been sewn to the collar.  The shape of the collar is such that my husband can tie a thick knot in a tie if he wants to wear one.  Make sure you pay attention to which side of the collar is the facing and the shell.  The facing will have the understitching.  The facing should be on the outside of the shirt because when the collar folds over, the collar side will end up on the outside.  Also pay attention when you sew this collar/band assembly to the neckline.

The yoke has been edge stitched. (Edge stitching is 1/16″ to 1/8″ away from an edge; top stitching is 1/4″ away from an edge.)

The collar band has been sewn to the neckline.

The collar band facing has been sewn to the interior of the neckline, althogh not as neatly as could be.

One view of the sleeve sewn to the armscye (which means armhole). I thought I had gotten the sleeve cap (the part of the sleeve which sews into the armscye) the same length as the armscye, but I still had to ease it in a little.

A second view of the sleeve into the armscye.

I overlocked the sleeve cap to armscye seam and pressed the seam allowances toward the sleeve. Many dress shirts have the seam allowances pressed the other way then they’re sort of flat felled so no raw edges are exposed. Then I sewed the side/underarm seam with a French seam.

With a French seam, you have to plan a bit and it can be tricky to press open such small seam allowances.  To make a French seam, you stitch your pieces together with the wrong sides together with a 1/4″ seam allowance..  Press open the seam allowances then put the pieces right sides together, folding at the seam.  You might have to trim a bit of the seam allowance at this point.  Press along the seam so it’s flat.  Then stitch again (right sides still together) with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Press then press the seam toward the back.  See in the photo above, this is the inside of the seam.  It has a stitched edge (the 2nd stitching) and a finished edge (the 1st stitching).

The cuffs have been sewn to the sleeves.  Now, with regard to the understitching, it’s opposite the collar–the understitched side is to the inside of the sleeve.

I hemmed the shirt with a 1/4″ hemming foot then pressed it. If you don’t have a hemming foot, press carefully then stitch.

Here is the whole shirt, with buttonholes.

A buttonhole. Buttonholes on shirt fronts are vertical.  Cuff buttonholes are parallel to the long sides of the cuffs.

Here is the whole shirt, with buttons now.  But I should have added one or two more than I did.  Oh, well, next shirt.

Detail of the cuff. For the next shirts (I have a stack of fabrics specifically for more shirts for my husband), I think I’ll use 2 buttons, since it seems to want to hang funny.

The buttons were kind of shimmery but a perfect color match to the fabric.

My husband in his new shirt.

The shirt from the back.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.

One of my next posts will be about different types of seams.  Maybe I will also blog about the new costume I’ve cut out for Portland’s first Steampunk Ball and Fashion Show next month.  I’m definitely going to blog about the suit jacket I’m working on for a friend, but that is a long-term sort of project and will probably end up in 3 parts.


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