Mens shirt complete sew-along tutorial in 20 steps!

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!

So here we go (be warned this will be a long post with lots of photos!). Although I am not using a shop-bought pattern, the steps that follow should apply to most.

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. 

This is the shirt I am going to make in this tutorial. Number 9 the rounded collar with contrasting collar and cuffs.

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.

** Click on the photos for a clearer view **

First cut all pieces as per the pattern. Take your time and cut carefully.

1. Front right button placket (button side).

Front right shirt

Reverse with placket carefully ironed over.

2. Front left button placket (button hole side). 

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

Pocket piece and top trim.
Edging stitched 1/4 inch on front and folded over. Press well
Seam allowances pressed to rear

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.

Collar pieces

Collar stitched and seams graded and clipped

Collar finished

14. Now on to the collar stand.

collar stand pieces

Coller pinned and basted to under collar stand

Inner collar stand with bottom seam allowance pressed up 
Inner collar pinned, matching outer collar stand.

Collar stitched to both stands. Trimmed and corners clipped

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.

Collar pinned to shirt.

Collar stitched and inner collar stand turned to the inside of the shirt.

Now topstitch the collar stand catching the inner stand.

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.

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

Pass to back and press

Edge stitch close to seam

Fold and press

Turn under and press

There is a placket there really!

Edge stitched and button hole stitched.

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

Shirt inside sleeve

Lots of pins!

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)

Cuff pinned to sleeve
Cuff stitched to sleeve

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.

Here is my finished shirt. 


Button placket detail
Rounded collar
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!

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