I am Angela and I love to sew. I started sewing as a child and by the time I was a teenager I was wearing the very latest fashions to go out in. All me-made. I am passionate about reducing the amount of textiles sent to landfill, and encourage you to repurpose fabrics and clothes I started this blog in order to have a way in which to pass on my gained knowledge, and my professional knowledge to you, Sewing is empowering, you can save money by making items, make money by selling then, You can pass your knowledge on to others. What is there not to love? Interestingly I am a direct descendant of the Flemish weavers who came over to England in the 1300's. I find that fascinating especially as most of my family from as far back as I can trace are somehow involved in the manufacturing of fabric . . I have a degree in tailoring with a special interest in WW2 fashion.

Sunday 4 November 2018

How to sew a man's shirt - great gift idea .

Sew a man's shirt.

Don't be daunted by the thought of sewing a man's shirt. In many ways they are easier than sewing for women. I'm thinking that maybe I might reconsider if I were asked to make one for a muscular body builder type,( I'm picturing "large chest" adjustment, "biceps adjustment", hmm, not impossible but luckily but most men are pretty straightforward to sew for.
They are great for gifting to the man who has everything and so I am busy sewing shirts for Christmas at the moment. They are enjoyable to sew in my opinion and you can add individual touches as you go along.

You can never find a man when you want one can you, so I ended up having to model it myself.
Hmmmm, maybe if I shortened the sleeves I could keep it????

When choosing a pattern think about your sewing ability and how much time you want to spend on making it. Take a look at the selection Men's patterns on Jaycotts web site and if you feel daunted then go for a pattern which has short sleeves. If you have never seen a shirt before choose a casual design like mine. Formal shirts are slightly harder to sew, but not impossible.
When it comes to choosing fabrics, I choose a top quality Liberty Cotton Lawn and used a piece of cotton poplin for the inside of the cuffs and the inside of the collar stand.
I buy my fabrics from Minerva Fabrics and they have a huge selection of cotton lawn at all prices Cotton Lawn other choices include Chambray and novelty prints such as Christmas themes - do take a look at these Christmas prints ( you could make yourself a Christmas themed shirt or dress too )

Cut your pattern out and transfer all the pattern markings onto the fabric. Don't do what a friend did and pick up a permanent marker by mistake, I use trusty tailors tacks, much safer
My first sewing task was to make the pocket - it goes on the left for a man - if you have an obvious design on your fabric you need to match your pocket so that the pattern melts into the background.

Yes, there is a pocket there somewhere!

I feel that the fabric and the fact that this is a gift merits the use of French seams. They do look professional and it adds to the luxury of a handmade Bespoke shirt.

To make a French Seam we first of all sew a very narrow seam with the fabric wrong sides together, this is at  odds with what we are used to, but believe me this seam is incredibly easy.
Trim close to the stitching and press the seam flat.
Do this first on the shoulder seams.

Fold the fabric the opposite way and press the seam. Then machine stitch the seam again, a 1/4" seam is fine, then press the seam again. What you have now is a beautiful seam on the inside of your garment with the raw edges tucked neatly inside.

The next step is to prepare the sleeves. They are two piece sleeves so I used a French Seam again the sew the two sleeve parts together.
Then following the pattern markings I pinned and tacked the pleat. Finally I made a narrow double seam to form the welt where the cuff opens. When stitching, taper your sewing to a point at the top.

Don't stitch the underarm seam yet.

Run a gathering stitch between the notches to ease the sleeve into the armsyce. I find it much easier to insert sleeves when the fabric is flat rather than inserting them after the side seams have been stitched.
The double notches on the sleeve been to match the double notches on the shirt back.
Ease the fabric to fit, and machine stitch carefully avoiding any pleats or puckers.

This is the only seam where I have not used a French Seam, choosing instead to overlock the edge.

You can now work a French Seam from the sleeve edge all the way down to the bottom of the shirt, taking great care to match the underarm seams perfectly.
Now is the time to add the front bands, slip-stitching the back in place according to the pattern instructions.
A double machined hem completes the bottom of the shirt.

 Now we need to deal with Collar and cuffs. I prefer to use a lightweight interfacing on both sides rather than a single layer of a heavier weight, but this is entirely your preference. Whatever you decide do please choose a good quality interfacing such as this Vilene light iron on interfacing
Other interfacings are available too, Interfacing It is good to have a selection in your sewing room.
To protect my ironing board cover I  use a piece of non-stick oven liner when dealing with interfacing.

The pattern instructions tell us to fold under the inside facing by the seam allowances pieces and press them, but I find it useful to press both so that I have a sewing guide on the outer cuff or collar and a fold line on the inner cuff or collar.

You will need a tool to measure your seam allowances. There are lots of various gauges and measuring tools, so browse through this section Measuring Tools

The only occasion when I use my Pinking shears is when I am turning something out which has a curve. I have found that they do the job better and easier than all that snipping up to the seam line. You need to trim close to the stitching, but it works- try it and see!

For crisp corners and smooth curves you also need a Point Turner this is the one I like best.
The tools I show you in my posts are the ones I actually use and love, I wouldn't recommend anything otherwise.
When you have made your cuffs and turned them to the right side give them a press. That's your most useful sewing tool actually, your iron.

If you have measured everything correctly and your seam allowances are the correct width then everything will fit together perfectly.

To attach my cuffs I pinned and stitched the right side of the cuff to the right side of the sleeve and then pressed the seam inwards.
The facing needs to be slip-stitched by hand.

The collar is easy to make .
Sew the two collar pieces right sides together, snip the corners and turn the collar the right way out using your point turner to get  nice pointed corners. Press and baste the ends of the collar together.
When you become a bit more familiar with shirt making you should make the under collar slightly smaller than the upper, this allows the fabric to roll under slightly so that you do not see any of the under collar at all at the edges.

The neck band is attached next, as in the above picture. Do make sure that you match all notches and match the dots. A lightweight iron on interfacing on both collar pieces  and neckband pieces gives a nice crispness without making the fabric too stiff.

The collar is placed over one neckband piece and pinned in place, then the other neckband piece is placed over that right side down. Make sure that the distance from the collar to the edge of the stand is the same on both sides.
I advise you to stop sewing at the dot ( this is where the pressed seam allowance comes in handy) which marks the seam allowance as it makes for an easy neat finish.
When everything is stitched, trimmed and pressed you should have a really neat looking collar.

All you need to do now is to sew the collsr to the neckline, leaving the wrong side of the neckband free. This will be sewn by hand as we did with the cuffs.
Do make sure that your stitching is incredibly neat here so that the neckline looks good when the collar is worn open.

We come to the buttonholes now. Refer to you machine manual and attach the buttonhole foot. Using a small interfaced scrap of fabric and make a test buttonhole.
Once you are satisfied with the appearance and size of the buttonhole go ahead and see them. The ones on the body of the shirt face downwards. The one on the neckband and cuffs face accross .
I always start at the top and work down and don't worry too much if one turns out a bit wonky, especially if it's at the bottom, nobody will notice.

Choose some really nice Buttons as they add much to the finished garment, if you like them, mother of pearl looks good on most fabrics.
Stitch them on securely with a strong thread Thread for buttons, buttonholes. Etc if you don't have any then use a double strand of waxed thread Beeswax as this strengthens the thread and finish off the ends securely.

I think you will agree that sewing a shirt is not as daunting as it first might seem.
Get the measurements right, and choose a lovely fabric and the process is very enjoyable .

Do have a go at making one , it is always lovely to receive a gift which so much care has gone into planning and making it.
Sorry that you have to make do with me modelling it, but nobody else was willing to pose! Shame really.
Let me know how you get on.

This is a nice variation on a shirt. I omitted the collar which made the neckband much easier to sew, I made it in chambray and made some piping on the cuffs, pocket and neckband.

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Thank you as always for reading my post


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