finally, finally! the lovely guy who supports my addiction, obsession, useful skill of sewing FINALLY has his own garment to show for it. i should have done this ages ago, but… well… i don’t really have a legit excuse.

i picked up some plaid shirting from and used mccalls 6044, which i picked up for $1 at joanns. i mentioned in my last post that i had a laundry list of gripes about this pattern, but upon further reflection i’ll just call these “changes” and QUIT COMPLAINING. 

overall, this is a decent pattern. the fit for my husband is an unaltered, straight out of the envelope size small, and it’s basically perfect. (to all of us who do extensive alterations on patterns to get a decent fit… I KNOW! so not fair.) and it’s not that he doesn’t fit a standard RTW size, but he’s small-framed and those sizes aren’t heavily stocked. ultimately i want this pattern to serve as a business shirt that i can make over and over whenever he needs a new one. right now he needs about ten. i went to his closet, checked out all the details on his RTW, and here is is what i changed.

i drafted a back yoke piece that was straight across the back (instead of the western style—though i love me a good western shirt) and did the whole two piece yoke sandwich thingie (or “burrito” as described by peter at MPB).

then i added 1″ in width to the back piece so i could add pleats. his casual shirts have two pleats out toward the shoulder and that’s what i did here. his dress shirts have a single larger pleat in the middle, so i can easily change where i pleat the back piece as needed.

for the long sleeve version in this pattern, there are two pieces to the sleeve. typically there is a button placket at the cuff, but to get around doing a regulation placket, you are instructed to turn the SA’s in and topstitch. eh. not gonna cut it for me. all i had to do was lay the sleeve pieces together along the seam line and cut it as one. but, then i had to figure out and draft the button placket. i had instructions on how to sew it in a book, and after a bit of puzzling i worked out the dimensions and drafted my own. if anyone is interested in having this pattern piece, i plan to create a .pdf with instructions at some point. i measured the plackets of his existing shirts so what i have is a pretty standard size, though it could be customized according to preference.

i didn’t flat-fell the seams on this one, though i plan to for future makes. i did serge and topstitch for a faux flat-fell. i set the sleeves in flat, so topstitching the side seam and down the arm was something of a challenge. it was like sewing in a tunnel. not sure if i’ll be skilled enough to flat-fell it this way… if anyone has tips for me on how to do this, please speak up! i’m a complete newbie on this one.

i bought a 1/4″ piecing foot for quilt making (i have grand plans to use up my leftover fabric scraps and turn them into my very first quilt), but i found it came very much in handy as a guide for topstitching, fancy that.

the only thing i plan to change for future shirts will be how the front button placket is done. it’s fine as writ, but it requires a bit of lining up so that the inside and outside edges line up perfectly when topstitched. there’s an easier way that minimizes both bulk and room for error. next time i make a shirt (and i’ll be fabric shopping for white shirting this week—wish me luck!) i’ll elaborate and show how it’s done.

so what did i learn? the button down men’s shirt is not to be feared ladies! it took a little more of my attention since the process was not my normal autopilot dress or tee shirt, but difficult? not really. okay, the collar can go very wrong very fast, but other than that, not difficult. you will see more of these from me. and maybe even one for me if i ever get around to it.

so there.

i did it.

—lisa g.

UPDATE: click here for the sleeve placket template

26 thoughts on “menswear!!!

  1. Gail says:

    So nice! I really love all the changes you made, and I'll be keeping them in mind for when I do my hubby's shirts. I would certainly be interested in a PDF for the sleeve plackets – they look fantastic!Awesome job!

  2. Andrea B says:

    Funny that you posted this today because I'm working on a plaid shirt for my guy right now (I keep sewing for him — what's wrong with me?). I used a hybrid of this same McCalls pattern and a rub-off of one of his shirts, so I could add a back yoke and do real sleeve plackets. I did a super easy "cheater" method for the sleeve placket, though (Google "magic placket gigi sews" if you're interested). Still, it'd be great to have access to your pattern piece since you were clever enough to figure it out yourself. Those things look like labyrinth blueprints to me.

  3. Barbara J says:

    Nice work! Looks great on your DH. I took a Craftsy class and learnt much from Pam Howard. I've been making shirts for my dad, sis and uncle. I need to make one for myself! I like the Burda Jakob(men) and 7136(ladies). Pam did a supplementary tutorial on the sleeve tower placket and put it up on YouTube. You can view it here: don't think I have the skills to sew a real flat-felled seam. It's just too hard with sewing in a tube and all. I barely managed the mock flat-felled seam!

  4. Kathy says:

    This looks fantastic. I used the same pattern last year (my first official "man garment", too)and the thing fit my guy right out the of the envelope, too! What the heck?! Ladies don't get the same breaks ever with patterns!

  5. twotoast says:

    What a great shirt – it looks fabulous and it is hard to believe that this is your first attempt!Making work shirts for my hubby is on my 'to do' list for sewing this year – he desperately needs a dozen or so, so I will be following your blog and watching out for the 'top tips'!

  6. Leslie says:

    This came out terrific and looks like a great fit. I think in my 16 years of marriage I've only made my husband a shirt once or twice – eek! Seeing your project makes me want to give it a go this year.

  7. lisa g. says:

    oooh i've heard of this method but never looked it up. i'll check it out! for the yoke i just drew a line and split the back piece, then added SA's. nothing difficult!

  8. poppykettle says:

    Woohoo! This is just a bit exciting 🙂 And the end result looks great! Hubby looked suitably chuffed. And cosy. It's really nice to know shirts aren't that bad – I'm planning to making some for myself this upcoming winter 🙂

  9. liza jane says:

    Awesome. The sleeve placket looks super professional. I made this pattern for my husband a couple of times and I really missed the back yoke piece. But both of his shirts were casual and short sleeve so it didn't seem to matter. If I make it again, though, I'll add a back yoke. And maybe a sleeve placket if I'm not too scared!

  10. Jessica says:

    This looks awesome! I'm not up to the task of sewing for my Mister yet, as he's super picky when it comes to his style, but I wanted to say that I love this fabric choice. I'm looking for something similar to make up a shirt dress for me, so I have to ask; do you have any opinions on the fabric that you'd like to share?

  11. lisa g. says:

    thank you!in regard to fabric choice, look for something that is labeled "shirting fabric" preferably cotton. stay away from anything in the quilting section, it just won't hold up well to repeated laundering. plaid is always a nice choice as long as you are neurotic enough to match it all! i'm sure the more i make shirts, the more opinionated i'll be on the topic. good luck with the shirt dress!

  12. ArtfulAddiction says:

    You know, I'm in the process of making a buttondown shirt for my husband using the SAME pattern! I'm having a hard time getting it to fit correctly, so I can't wait to be finished with it. I'm going to try the whole pattern again one size smaller and see what happens. I like the additions you made also, as I was expecting the pattern to have those same options, only to find out it didn't. I think I will have to give those a try on the next one.

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