Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!


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Fairfield Parade for Father’s Day

sewandillustrate

Comox Trunks sewn by Maike of Sew and Illustrate

Father’s Day is this Sunday!  Have you finished your hand-sewn gifts?  Don’t worry, you still have time!  If you are looking for a quick little project that you can start tonight and finish easily for Sunday, you might like to sew up a pair of Comox Trunks.  They take me 2 hours to sew from laying out my fabric to hemming and they take even less time if I am sewing multiple pairs in a production line format.

The Comox Trunks PDF pattern is only $4.75 CAD ($3.68 US) during our 50% off Father’s Day Sale!

Father's Day Sale 2016

 


Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt

Father’s Day sewing plans aside, today I want to show you an inspiring selection of Fairfield Button-up Shirts sewn by you as well as the finished Ikat Fairfield that I sewed during our sew-along.

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-3

Matt really loves this print (an Ikat from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric) and I think the indigo blue looks lovely with his brownish/blue eyes.

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-6

I’m really happy with the casual look that the contrast Tagua Nut buttons gave to the shirt.  The amber color looks very summery against the blue – like the sun against a blue sky!

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-13

I decided to sew the buttons on by forming a cross with my shirt to echo the print of the fabric (usually I sew two horizontal lines when working with four hole buttons…sort of like train tracks).  I’m not sure if this echoing of the motif is too subtle that it is virtually unnoticeable.  I notice it though!

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-4

Matt really likes how the print placement worked out on the back yoke.  I’m glad I decided against placing the yoke on the bias.  I think the print was just a bit too large in scale for this cutting technique to have been effective.  I’m pretty pleased that the print matches along the collar and yoke at center back!

Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-7

With all the shirt sewing that I’ve been doing lately, Matt’s closet is beginning to look quite fresh and full!  I have been choosing his fabrics with a general theme of “blue and bright” since last winter his wardrobe had become almost exclusively dull brown and olive green.  The influx of a few bright colored items has made a huge difference!  I might do a photo shoot of his new shirt wardrobe soon – all of the prints and colors look really nice together.
Stonemountain Fairfield Shirt-12

Now, the best part of this blog post – it’s time to show off your Fairfield Shirts!

Plaid Fairfield Shirt

_ym.sews_ achieved beautifully crisp cuffs and excellent print placement for her plaid Fairfield.  I love the careful use of contrast fabric for the cuff facing, collar stand and yoke facing!
Anniversary Fairfield Shirt

tiny_needles whipped up this Fairfield so quickly!  It was the first Fairfield Button-up that I saw in the wild after our pattern release.  Her boyfriend wore this very dapper shirt for their anniversary celebrations.

Fairfield Button up featuring sleeve tabs

One of our test sewers, Sarah, sewed this fresh and summery Fairfield for her husband.  I like how the sleeve tabs add such versatility to this shirt.  With the sleeves full length it looks very dressy but with the sleeves rolled up it takes on an airy and comfortable vibe that could easily work with brightly colored shorts!

Fairfield Button up with contrast yoke and pocketAfter completing her first Fairfield Button-up, Sarah immediately cut out another one – this time for her brother!  She had a lot of fun playing around with the stripes (she added a seam down center back) and she added some hidden froggy details.  Isn’t the frog peaking out of the front pocket such a great idea?!  She added a lining to the pocket to achieve this detail.

Fairfield Shirts by you

These three Fairfields have been sewn by bego_aguilera_caballero, Ana, and sewing_dutch.  The whimsical print on Begoña’s shirt is just lovely (especially with those dreamy houseplants as a backdrop). Ana sewed the band collar (available in our Alternate Collars free download) on her green linen shirt.  The band collar and linen are a match made in heaven!  Lastly, the subtle floral yoke adds such hanger appeal to Becca’s shirt.  She also sewed a striped grosgrain ribbon down the right front of her shirt which adds structure (for stronger buttons) and the perfect contrast if the top button is left undone.
Scared Stitchless Fairfield Shirt

And last, here is a great example by scaredstitchless of how much fun you can have when sewing a wearable mock-up!  Quilting cottons provide a limitless palette of bold colors and unique prints.  I’m impressed that she managed to find perfectly matched orange buttons!
Thank you, everyone, for joining me on the Fairfield Sew-along and for sharing your Fairfield photos by emailing me or by using #fairfieldbuttonup !  It’s been a thrill to see how smart your shirts look.  If anyone has wrapped up their shirt to give on Father’s Day, I look forward to hearing about the grand reveal!


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Fairfield Sew-Along: 50% off sale and last day!!!

Father's Day Sale 2016

It’s the last day of our sew-along and Father’s Day is 9 days away!  Let’s finish up our shirts today so they are ready to give to your dad on his big day.

But first, you will probably want to know that we’re celebrating dad by putting all of our PDF patterns on a 50% off sale until 5pm (PST) on Father’s Day, June 19th!  You still have time to sew something nice for him. 🙂


 

To finish our shirts, let’s begin with the hem – a quick and easy task!  Press up the hem allowance 1/4″:

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt

Press up the hem again 1/4″ to enclose the raw edge:

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-3

I like that the curved hemline at the hip doesn’t interfere with pressing the hem.  It’s just the right amount of curve to provide shaping without bunching up at the peak.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-4

Stitch along the entire hem.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-6

And now, let’s move on to our buttons!  While many people dread sewing buttonholes (I can’t say I look forward to them myself), there is no need to get too uptight – just use a few tools and tricks and you will be surprised how professional they look when you are done!

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-7

I like to use our expanding gauge to mark my buttonholes.  I generally ignore buttonhole markings on the pattern pieces and instead place my primary buttonholes at important points before spacing the rest evenly between them.  When sewing shirts for Matt I ensure that a button is placed at the widest point of his chest and also that the top button is placed nicely.  He likes to leave the collar stand button undone (as most men do when they are not wearing a tie) so it is important that the top button is not set too low so as to expose a bunch of chest hair or something! 😛  If the person you are sewing for has a rounded belly, make sure to put a buttonhole at the area of greatest strain so that the shirt does not pull open.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-8

Even though the buttonholes are sewn vertically, I like to make a horizontal marking – this way I can use this marking as a placement for my presser foot and the top of the buttonhole.  I then use my placket top stitching as a guide to keep the buttonhole exactly in the center of the placket.  The top stitching is easier to see while sewing with a buttonhole attachment than a vertical chalk marking would be.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-9

Make sure to make a practice buttonhole before you begin on your shirt!  I tend to choose a buttonhole length that is slightly longer than my button.  For instance, I am using 3/8″ wide buttons (from our shop) for this shirt so I sewed a 1/2″ buttonhole.  This extra length allows the button to slip in and out easily.Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-10

Apply your buttonholes to the collar stand, shirt front, and cuffs.  If you like, sew the bottom button hole on your shirt front horizontally.  You could even opt for a fun contrast thread for this bottom buttonhole.  This flashy little detail is quite common on store bought shirts and is a great way to add a bit of creative flair to such a traditional garment.

I find the trickiest part of sewing buttonholes actually occurs after the sewing is finished!  It is quite devastating to make a mistake when cutting open your buttonhole.

My favorite way to open buttonholes is with the extremely sharp chisel that we sell in our shop.  I didn’t even need to use a hammer to cut these buttonholes – I just pressed down with the chisel and they sliced open in the most satisfying manner.Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-11

The chisel is 1/2″ wide so it was the perfect width for my buttonholes.  The inside of the hole looks so tidy when it is cut this way!

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-12

Alternatively, you can use some sharp and precise scissors (such as the Merchant & Mills buttonhole scissors in our shop) or employ your seam ripper.

I highly recommend using a fresh and sharp seam ripper and a preventative pin at either end of the buttonhole to prevent cutting through your buttonhole and adding a gaping slice to your carefully sewn shirt!  You can see how this preventive pinning technique works near the bottom of this tutorial by Made Everyday.

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-13

Lastly, it’s time to add our buttons!  If you are matching stripes across the shirt, be very careful with your button placement.  Position the button so that it will sit near the top of each buttonhole.  If you simply place the button at the center of each buttonhole you will find that the buttons slip up to the top of the holes during wear and your stripes will look like they are not properly matched!

If your buttons tend to work loose or fall off over time (mine used to constantly!), you might like to check out the button sewing technique that I learned in design school.  It was (almost) worth the cost of tuition to learn this technique alone!

Fairfield Sew Along - add buttons to a shirt-15

And, that’s it!!! We are done!!!  I hope you’ve enjoyed following along with this sew-along.  I can’t wait to share some of your finished Fairfield Shirts next Friday.  Be sure to share your makes by email (info@threadtheory.ca) or by using #fairfieldbuttonup

Even if you can’t photograph your shirt on a model (don’t ruin the Father’s Day surprise for your dad by asking him to model before Sunday!), you can photograph your shirt hanging from a clothes line or pleasingly folded up beside your sewing machine.  Whatever sort of photo shoot you come up with will be perfect – it makes my day seeing your finished makes, your fabric choices and your design decisions.

Thanks for following along!  Happy sewing!


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Fairfield Sew-Along: The Collar

Fairfield sew-along

Today’s post will cover the last big hurdle when sewing a button up shirt: the collar.  On Friday we will be left with the comparatively simple tasks of hemming and adding buttons.

Before we get started sewing, I just wanted to remind you about the discount that accompanies this sew along.  Receive 15% off the Stonemountain & Daughter shop with the coupon code FAIRFIELD15 !

Let’s begin:


 

First, let’s stay stitch along the shirt neckline using a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  This stay stitching serves two purposes: 1) It prevents the neckline from stretching out as we work with it and 2) it allows us to clip into the seam allowances without the fear of fraying beyond the allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (72 of 81)

Clip every 1-2″ along the neckline up to your stay stitching.  This will allow you to lay the neckline out flat and fairly straight.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (73 of 81)

Now to assemble the collar:

Pin the upper collar and under collar with right sides together.  You will notice that the under collar is very slightly smaller than the upper collar – this is to provide enough room in the upper collar for the collar to curve gently over the collar stand.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (74 of 81)

Stitch around the two sides and the long top edge of the collar using a 1/4″ seam allowance.  Leave the bottom of the collar (where the collar attaches to the collar stand) free of stitching.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (76 of 81)

Grade the seam allowances and trim the corners to reduce bulk.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (77 of 81)

Turn the collar right side out and press.  When I press collars I like to gently push out the corners with a point turner (or chopstick) and then ever so slightly roll the seam towards the under collar.  This will ensure that the seam doesn’t roll to the upper collar during later steps.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (78 of 81)

Pull the two remaining raw edges so that they are even and the upper collar is relaxed and slightly bubbled.  Baste the raw edge closed using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (81 of 81)

Finish prepping your collar by top stitching 1/4″ from the collar edge around the two sides and the top of the collar.  Don’t forget to complete this step!  I have forgotten to do this a couple of times and forgot to take a photo of the stitching this time :P.  I don’t know why this step slips by me so frequently!  Here’s a photo of a finished collar so you can see the 1/4″ top stitching:

Fairfield-Button-Up-40

Now we can attach our collar stand and collar to the shirt!  Exciting!

Pin one collar stand (the interfaced stand if you only interfaced one of the two collar stands) to the shirt neckline, right sides together.  Align the notches with center back and the shoulder seams.  The collar stand should extend exactly 1/4″ beyond either end of the shirt neckline (this is the seam allowance).

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar

Stitch across the neckline using a 1/4″ seam allowance:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-3

Grade the seam allowances (I trimmed the neckline seam allowance and left the collar stand allowance whole).  Press the allowances towards the collar stand.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-4

Pin the collar to the collar stand so that you can see the upper collar.  The under collar will be against the right side of the collar stand.  The collar will fit between the two notches.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-5

Baste the collar in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-6

Prepare the remaining collar stand by pressing under the 1/4″ seam allowance along the bottom of the stand (this is the part that attaches to the shirt).

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-7

Pin the remaining collar stand atop the collar so that the right side of the collar stand faces the upper collar.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-8

Begin at one end of the collar stand exactly where the stand extends beyond the shirt placket.  Stitch around the collar stand using a 1/4″ seam allowance and end exactly at the other shirt placket.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-10

Here’s how it looks from more of a distance:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-11

Complete the collar by carefully pinning the folded edge of the collar stand over your neckline seam.  I like to use quite a few pins for this job to make sure the collar stand won’t slip or stretch.

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-12

You can choose at this point to baste the collar stand fold in place and then stitch from the right side of the garment or you can stitch from the wrong side of the garment.  I usually stitch from the wrong side of the garment because Matt wears his shirts open at the collar – this means the most visible stitching is either tip of the collar stand on the inside rather than the outside.

Either way, edge stitch 1/8″ from the collar stand edge around the entire stand.  If you like, you can tuck a garment tag into your collar stand bottom before you edgestitch:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (94 of 99)

Finish your collar by giving it a thorough press.  I like to encourage the collar to shape nicely by pressing on a tailor’s ham so that the collar rolls over gently and the collar stand takes the rounded shape of the wearer’s neck.  You can see the bend in my collar in the photo below:

Fairfield Sew Along - sew a shirt collar-13

I encourage you to explore a different method of creating a shirt collar with each shirt you make.  There are many interesting methods, a few of which are well documented online.  They all use the same pattern pieces so you can work with all of them while sewing up a batch of Fairfield Shirts.  Pick the one that suits you best or meld together your favorite elements of each for your own unique method!

Here are some resources for different collar construction methods:


 

How did it go?  Does your collar look super professional?  I hope you are proud of yourself!  This is some pretty fiddly and precise sewing you have accomplished!


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Fairfield Sew-Along: Sew the Cuffs

Fairfield sew-along

Welcome back from the weekend!  It has suddenly become scorching hot and sunny here so even looking at these photos of a cozy flannel shirt is a bit of a challenge right now.  All the same, the one sided print will make it really easy to show you the details on today’s sewing process: We are assembling and attaching our cuffs!

Let’s begin by basting the sleeve pleat.  The notches to form the pleat are labelled A and B on the sleeve pattern piece.  I’ve color coded these with large black pins in the photo below.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (59 of 99)

Place the sleeve with the placket spread open and the right side facing you.  Bring notch A to meet notch B.  I’ve marked the end of the pleat with a small green pin so that you can see how wide the finished pleat is:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (61 of 99)

Give the pleat a gentle press and baste across the bottom of the pleat.

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Ok, now we can prepare the cuff!  Place the cuff facing on your work surface with the wrong side facing you.  If you have interfaced only two of the cuff facing pieces, use the un-interfaced pieces as your facings.

Press under the top of the cuff 1/2″.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (66 of 81)

If you like, you can baste this fold in place to keep it very crisp and even.  You’ll need to remove this basting later so if you hate stitch ripping you could also glue this in place!

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (67 of 81)

Place the cuff and cuff facings with right sides together.  Line up the curved bottom edges.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (68 of 81)

Stitch around the outside of the cuffs using a 1/4″ seam allowance – begin at the top (sew over the folded seam allowance), and stitch around the curved bottom of the cuff.  Leave the long, straight edge free of stitching.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (69 of 81)

Trim and grade the seam allowances to reduce bulk.  Clip triangles of seam allowance off of the curved corners:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (71 of 81)

Don’t turn the cuffs right side out yet (I always feel like I should at this point!).  Pin the cuff to the sleeve with right sides together.  The cuff facing will be against the right side of the sleeve.  Keep the cuff facing out of the way of your pins.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (63 of 99)

Stitch the cuff to the sleeve using a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Make sure to keep your pleat pressed correctly and your cuff facing out of the way!  Below is a photo of my cuff facing kept free of my pins:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (66 of 99)

And a photo of the stitched cuff/sleeve:

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (65 of 99)

Grade the cuff seam allowance only.  Leave the sleeve seam allowance full length and press both seam allowances towards the cuff.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (67 of 99)How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (70 of 99)

Here is the tidy package that you will have created!

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (69 of 99)

Pin the cuff facing in place over your seam.  If you like, you can baste it in place instead of pinning – this will ensure precision in the next step!

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (71 of 99)

From the right side of the cuff, edge stitch across the top of the cuff (remove the basting afterwards if you basted!).How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (72 of 99)

Now finish your cuff by top stitching around the entire cuff (1/4″ from the cuff edge).

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And we are done for the day!  On Wednesday we will add our collar and on Friday we will finish our shirts.

How are your shirts looking?  Please comment if there are any unclear steps for you – I would be happy to elaborate :).


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Fairfield Sew-Along: Attach Sleeves

Fairfield sew-along

Today we are assembling the optional sleeve tabs and attaching the shirt sleeves to our Fairfield Button-up Shirts.  By the end of your sewing stint today you will be able to try on something that actually looks and fits like a shirt!

Let’s begin with the sleeve tabs.  They are very easy and are a great way to add a casual vibe to a button-up shirt.

Place two sleeve tab pieces with right sides together.  Stitch around all edges (except for the flat top) using a 1/2″ seam allowance.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (28 of 99)

Trim and grade the seam allowances closely to reduce bulk as much as possible.  I like to trim off the excess fabric at each of the three points as well (this isn’t pictured in the photo below):

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (29 of 99)

Flip the sleeve tab right side out and press.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (30 of 99)

Lastly, top stitch around the sleeve tab 1/4″ from the pressed edge.

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Repeat this process for the second sleeve tab.  Now that the tabs are assembled, it’s time to add them to both shirt sleeves!  The sleeve pattern piece includes a placement marking for the sleeve tab.  Transfer this marking to your fabric (I like to use my pin method – I place a pin through the paper pattern and both layers of fabric.  I flip the entire thing over and place a pin in the reverse direction.  I then peel off the paper pattern and make a chalk marking where the second pin has remained.)

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (32 of 99)

Place the sleeve tab on to the wrong side of the sleeve.  The point should face upwards and the raw flat edge should but up against the tab placement marking.  Pin to secure it in place.

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Stitch across the raw edge of the sleeve tab using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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Flip the sleeve tab down over the stitching line and press.

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To enclose the raw seam allowance, we are going to sew a decorative box filled with an optional “x” of top stitching.  Stitch from wrong side of the sleeve using the edges of the tab as a guide.  The box can be as tall as you like – I’ve stitched it approximately 1/4″ tall here but you can make it 1/2″ or even taller if you like.  Stitch carefully because it will be visible on the right side of the sleeve.

How to Sew a Buton Up Shirt (37 of 99)

And that’s it for the sleeve tab (until we add the button and buttonholes later)!  Let’s attach the sleeve to the shirt body now:


 

Prep the sleeve pieces by folding over 1/4″ of the seam allowance to the right side of the sleeve.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (3)

Next we will pin the sleeve to the body of the shirt with right sides together.  The folded edge of the sleeve lines up with the raw edge of the shirt body.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (4)

When you add your pins, keep the folded 1/4″ out of the way.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (6)

Sew the sleeve to the armhole using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  Don’t stitch the folded fabric into your seam by accident!  I find it helps to gently and temporarily unfold it so that there is no chance of this:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (9)

Trim the smaller seam allowance (the armhole on the shirt body) to 1/4″ if you like to make it easier to create the flat fell seam.  If your fabric frays a lot like mine does, don’t trim to closely to the stitched seam or else it will weaken it.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (11)

Finish the flat fell seam by pushing the seam allowances towards the body so that the folded sleeve head seam allowance encases the body seam allowance.  Iron carefully to make sure the flat fell seam is consistent in width.  Pin your folded seam allowances in place.  I find the more pins the better at this point!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (13)Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (14)

Now you can stitch your tidy package of seam allowances closed so that no raw edges can escape.  In the photo below I am stitching from the right side of the shirt using a very scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  Stitching from the right side makes it simpler to stitch a consistent distance from the seam.  I have also tried stitching from the wrong side so that it is easier to see where the edge of the seam allowance package is.  You can try both ways to see which works for you!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (15)

From the wrong side of the shirt you will see a tidy package of seam allowances like this:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (16)

From the right side of the shirt you will see one line of stitching and one seam.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (17)

Your first flat fell seams on the Fairfield shirt are finished!  Now we will dive right back in to sew the next set of flat fell seams – these ones feature the seam allowances on the right side of the garment and extend all the way from the sleeve seam to the side seams.

Begin by pinning the side and sleeve seams with wrong sides together.  The seam allowances are offset – the back of the shirt has a small 1/4″ seam allowance and the front of the shirt has a full 5/8″ seam allowance.  Offset them by lining up the notches at the hem.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (18)

Here you can see the seam allowances offset and the hem notches aligned:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (21)

Sew the entire seam from hem notch to the sleeve ends.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (22)

Make sure to line up the seams at the armpit:

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (23)

Press both seam allowances towards the shirt front.  Press the 5/8″ seam allowance in half so that it’s raw edge meets the raw edge of the smaller seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (24)

Flip the entire package over towards the shirt back and pin it in place.  Stitch along the folded edge of the 5/8″ seam allowance.  Go slowly and tuck any fraying threads into the flat fell package as you go so that all you can see is the tidy fold.

I like to start at the hem and work my way towards the sleeve.  The sleeve feels a bit like stitching in a tunnel or, as my Nonnie described it, like looking down a well, but don’t worry, just sew slowly and shift your fabric often – you will get to the end of the sleeve soon!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (25)

Give your flat fell seams a final press and step back to admire how tidy and professional both the outside and inside of your shirt look!

Fairfield Sew-Along - Attach the sleeves (1)

Have a wonderful weekend!  I will be back on Monday with more of the sew-along.


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Fairfield Sew-Along: The Shirt Sleeve Placket

Introducing Fairfield Button-up

Today we learn how to sew a shirt sleeve placket.  There are many approaches to sleeve plackets such as a simple bound edge or a delicate slit with a facing, but the tower placket is the best choice for menswear.  It is very sturdy and produces a great structured appearance.  If you examine store-bought men’s shirts you will likely struggle to find anything other than the classic tower placket on each sleeve.

Fairfield-Button-Up-31

There are a few different ways to assemble a tower placket.  In the fashion industry it is common to use two pattern pieces: The main tower (which is the part of the placket you actually see) and a separate binding piece for the inner half of the slit/vent.

At first we drafted our shirt placket in this manner but, after examination of every shirt sewing pattern that I could find (as well as an extensive search of tutorials on sewing a tower placket) it became apparent that there are more resources available in the sewing community for a different sort of tower placket – the sort that uses only one pattern piece.  We decided to switch to this style of tower placket so that it is easier for you to find help within the sewing community if it is your first time sewing a sleeve placket!

After trying both methods, I have come to the conclusion that both the two piece and one piece tower placket are equal – neither is more difficult to sew and the finished plackets appear exactly the same.  I don’t really know why the industry and the sewing community have developed two different ways to sew a shirt placket but I am curious to find out.  The only reason I can think of is that we sewists prefer to cut out fewer pieces so that we can get sewing sooner!  Probably not much of a convincing reason!  Do you have a better explanation?


My musings aside, let’s start sewing:

The key to sewing a great placket is to mark thoroughly and sew precisely as a result of your markings.

I like to mark on the wrong side of the fabric with colored chalk and a ruler.  To make my markings I pin the pattern piece to the fabric and make tiny snips with my scissors at the top and bottom of each line – make these smaller than 1/4″ so that you are snipping within the seam allowances.

Use a ruler to line up each snip and chalk in your line.  Don’t forget to chalk in the placement line on the sleeve itself!

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket

Place the placket on to the sleeve so that you are looking at the wrong side of both the sleeve and the placket.  Line up the placket’s “Y” shaped marking (between line 3 and 4) with the placket placement line on the sleeve.

Notice that the Main Column of the placket is closest to the center of the sleeve and the inner placket is closest to the back of the sleeve.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-2

Pin your placket in place by placing a couple of pins overtop of the “Y” shaped marking.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-3

Sew the placket to the sleeve by stitching along lines 3 and 4 to enclose the “Y” shaped marking in a rectangle of stitching.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-5

Now here’s the part that may make you a bit nervous if this is your first sleeve placket.  We are going to cut into the sleeve placket to create what is called the “vent”.  This is the slit that allows the sleeve to open up wide enough for the hand to travel through the narrow width of the cuff.

Cut up the “Y” shaped marking:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-6

And then follow both branches of the “Y” by snipping to each corner of your rectangle of stitching.  Be careful not to clip into your stitching:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-7

To reduce bulk and make folding your placket easier, you can trim the seam allowances that you have just created.  I like to trim to approximately 1/8″.  Leave the triangle of fabric created by the “Y” intact.  Only trim the long straight seam allowances:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-8

Okay, trimming is done!  Let’s start the fun part – folding everything until it magically begins to look like a placket!

 

Fold along lines 1 and 6 – these are the two outer edges of the placket.  Press thoroughly.

If your fabric doesn’t press very crisply or if it frays easily, you might like to keep all of your folds from shifting around by dabbing a little bit of glue on the underside of the fold.  Many people like to use regular white glue sticks and a Q-tip for precision gluing.  Other people like to use double sided hem tape (which can usually be found in the notions section of your fabric store).

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-9

Clip horizontally towards line 5 so that you can free up the other seam allowance on the main column in preparation to press it over.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-10

Now press it over and tack it in place with glue/tape if desired.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-11

It is now time to create the attractive triangular point that is often found atop shirt sleeve plackets.  I’ve photographed two ways to do this – the first is the way I have seen in several shirt making books and tutorials.  The second way is the one that my Nonnie (my grandma) developed when she tested out our Fairfield Button-up.  We ended up including it within the instruction booklet because it makes it easier to create an even point!  That being said, her method includes smaller bits of fabric to fold…if you have have troubles with dexterity, you might like to stick the the first method:

Method 1:

Fold on a 45 degree angle so that the top right corner of the column is folded to meet the bottom left corner.  Press thoroughly and secure in place with glue/tape if desired.Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-12

Fold again on a 45 degree angle so that the top left corner meets the bottom right corner.  Shift the fabric around until the point of the triangle appears centered.  Press and glue/tape in place.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-13

Method #2:

Fold along the horizontal fold line to divide the extended portion of the main column in half.  Press and glue/tape if you would like.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket point-2

Fold both the left and right corners inwards so that they meet in the middle.  This will create an even triangular point.  Press and glue or tape if you like.  If you are not using either of these tricks to secure your folds, try temporarily pinning your triangle in place so that it doesn’t become unfolded in the following steps.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket point-3

Now our point is formed, we are ready to flip the entire placket to the right side of the sleeve.  Prepare to do this by pressing the seams where the placket joins the sleeve:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-14

Push all of the placket fabric through the slit/vent.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-15

Flip the sleeve so that you can view the right side.  Carefully press along the three sides of the vent so that your sleeve placket is inclined to sit moderately flat:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-16

It’s time to finish the inner column now!  Shift the main column out of the way.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-17

Fold along line 2 to enclose the vent’s raw edge.  Your inner column will look like binding.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-18

Stitch 1/8″ from the edge to secure the column in place.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-21

We can now finish the main column.  Spread it out so you are looking at the wrong side of the column.

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-22

And then fold it in half along 5 to enclose the final raw vent edge.  Press thoroughly so that the column looks even and the point looks symmetrical.

The main column is positioned directly on top of the inner column like so:

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-24

Edge stitch along the main column from the bottom of the sleeve, around the triangular point, down the other side of the column for about 1″ and then across the main column.  Stitching across the main column encloses the raw edges at the top of both your main and inner column.

Fairfield-Sew-Along---sleeve-placket-23

Give your placket a final press and admire it!

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-25

Don’t worry, by the time you get to the second sleeve it will seem much less of a mystery and you will fly through it!

Fairfield Sew Along - sleeve placket-26


Resources:

An excellent Threads magazine article that teaches how to sew a precision placket.

This video demonstrates the placket as two pieces (the main tower and the inner binding).

This Sewaholic tutorial demonstrates how a differently shaped pattern piece can also lead to a classic tower placket.


 

Good luck with your plackets!  Take your time and use your iron lots.  We will continue with our shirts on Friday.  See you then!


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Fairfield Sew-Along: The Yoke

Fairfield sew-along

Today we are sewing the yoke on our Fairfield Shirts.  I like to use a method that many sewists lovingly refer to as “the burrito method.”  It results in a yoke seam and shoulder seams that have no exposed raw edges.  Let’s jump right in:

Begin by attaching your yoke pieces to the shirt back.  Lay one yoke piece on your work surface right side up.  Lay the shirt back on top of it with the wrong side up.  Baste the two layers together if you like (not necessary but it’s helpful if you are trying to maintain a perfectly matched print).  Lay the last yoke on top of this with the wrong side up.  This last yoke will be your yoke facing.  It is the visible yoke in the photo below:

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (45 of 81)

Stitch all three layers together using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (44 of 81)

Grade the seam allowances so that one is 1/8″, one is 1/4″ and one is 3/8″.  This will help to reduce bulk.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (46 of 81)

Press both yokes upwards.

Button Up Shirt Sew-Along (48 of 81)

Edgesitch 1/8″ from the bottom of the yoke.  If you would like, you can also topstitch along this seam 1/4″ from the bottom of the yoke.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-3

Now it is time to sew the shoulder seams.  To do this, let the yoke facing drop out of the way. You will only be working with two layers of fabric – the shirt front and the yoke.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-7

Pin the yoke and front shoulder seams.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-4

Stitch these seams using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-8

Now this is the point in to process when you will begin to understand why it is called the ‘burrito method’!  We will now proceed to wrap up our shirt so it becomes the filling and the yokes become the tortilla.  Let me explain:

Lay the shirt back onto your work surface so that the right side is up (you will be looking at the wrong side of your shirt front).  Make sure that the yoke facing is still drooping downwards.

Roll up the shirt back until you reach the yoke seam.  Roll up the shirt fronts until you are close the to shoulder seams:

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-9

Rolling up the shirt back will have exposed the yoke facing.  Fold it upwards and over your rolled shirt.  With a little bit of tugging you will be able to join the yoke and yoke facing shoulder seams with right sides together (and no other shirt fabric in the way).

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-10

Pin the shoulder seams and stitch using a 3/8″ seam allowance.  You will be stitching over top of your previous stitching line.  You can grade these seam allowances to reduce bulk too.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-11

To dismantle your burrito wrap, pull all of the rolled fabric through the neckline.  You will be left with finished shoulder seams:

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-12

And a gorgeous interior featuring absolutely no visible seam allowances!

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-13

At this point you can edge stitch along the yoke shoulder seam if you would like – this is purely optional.  I like to do this extra stitching if I have decided to top stitch and edge stitch the majority of the seams.

Fairfield Sew Along - burrito method-14

And now you’ve completed a proper shirt yoke!

For this tutorial I used the same photographs that I traced to create the illustrations for our instruction booklet.  I thought it might be helpful to show you the photographed version of my instructions.  If you are stuck on any steps and want a different perspective than the photographs and illustrations provide, there are tons of excellent resources available!  Be sure to check these three out in particular:

Video Tutorial by The Sewing Arts Center (it’s very clear!)

Tutorial by Male Pattern Boldness (scroll down past the collar drafting part of the tutorial)

Tutorial by Grainline Studio for the Archer Shirt

I will be back on Wednesday to show you how to sew the sleeve plackets on to your Fairfield.  See you then!