Thread Theory

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


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July Sewing Inspiration: Your Fairfield and Jed projects

Fairfield and Jedediah

An exceptionally elegant Fairfield and Jedediah combo made by Sarah for her husband to wear to their wedding.  Both of their outfits were handmade by the couple – they even made their shoes together!

I’ve been mailing out a particularly large number of Fairfield Button-up Shirt patterns lately (and their PDF counterparts are selling in greater numbers than usual too)…after a peruse of the latest Fairfield projects on Instagram, I can see that many of you have wasted no time getting to work!  Here are some of the most summery Fairfield’s you have all been making:

Fairfield Button-up 1

I like this monochrome take on a tropical short sleeve button-up made by Suzie.

Fairfield Button-up 2

And again, with the monochrome theme, this delicate floral Fairfield looks very versatile.  It was sewn by Lise.

Fairfield Button-up 3

For a wonderful beachy-vibe, this pineapple print Fairfield, sewn by Alicia, is perfect!

Fairfield Button-up 4

Meg’s take on the Fairifield in a romantic floral is perfect for her and her husband’s date night.

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Lastly, to fully embrace the balmy weather we’ve been having, this stunning hibiscus printed Fairfield by Angie is the epitome of summer!

Each summer, our Jedediah pants, or more specifically their shorts variation, crops up increasingly on social media.  Here are some of the versions that have caught my eye!

Jedediah Shorts 1

Matt could really use a pair of Jedediah Shorts in this versatile blue- grey – he’s wearing his lime green ones daily right now!  Nina sewed this pair for her husband and included my favourite detail from this pattern – the binding along the side seam.

Jedediah Shorts 2

Rumana made a slightly longer pair of Jed Shorts for her partner – I really like this flattering length and have seen a few pairs cut to just below knee lately.  Also, note her lovely binding in the photo below:

Jedediah Shorts 3

Jedediah Shorts 4

Stephanie’s take on the Jedediah Shorts, above, are a little shorter than the pattern calls for and in fact, are similar in length to the pair that I made for Matt years ago…he wore those ones to pieces!  This length is ideal for incredibly hot summer days.

Jedediah Shorts 6

This rich wine colored pair of Jedediah Shorts is one of four pairs of Jeds that Katie made for her husband!

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Another person to sew multiple pairs, Natalie really perfected the finishing details such as the elegant waistband clasps and fun pocket prints.  Two of her versions are above and below:

Jedediah Shorts 8

To bookend this post with another wedding image, Jen made a dressy pair of wool Jedediah Pants for her partner, Nick.  She slimmed down the legs a bit to suit this more formal style.  She really nailed it!

Jedediah Pants 1

Whether you are sewing a menswear outfit for a summer wedding or a trip to the beach, the classic lines of the Fairfield and the hybrid nature of the Jedediah Pants design mean you really only need one button-up and one trouser pattern for summer!


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Meet Ben (aka @sewciologist) and his me-made-wardrobe

 

Color-blocked Fairfield Button-up

Let me introduce to you an enthusiastic menswear sewist with an eye for detail and design!  I am in constant awe of the outfits Ben sews for himself and posts on Instagram.  He was posting consistently throughout Me Made May 2017 and I wanted to share every single one of his garments with you!  Ben graciously agreed to answer a few questions and share some photos on the blog so you are in for a treat today!  Make sure to take a careful look at some of Ben’s thoughtful design choices – which is your favourite?

Can you introduce yourself briefly and give a little run down on how you came to be such an accomplished sewist?

Thank you so much for having me! I am thrilled to be featured on your blog as you are one of my favourite menswear pattern designers. My name is Ben and I’m an Austrian living in Birmingham, UK. I’ve always enjoyed creating things of all sorts, but up until two years ago it never dawned on me that making my own clothes was a thing that I – or anyone – could do! My first contact with haberdashery in general was when I learned to crochet in primary school. On a whim, I dug out what was left of those skills a few years ago and started to make pillow cases, and when a friend came over for a ‘crafternoon’ with her sewing machine, I knew that that’s what I needed in my life. Fast forward a few months, past a number of totes and zipper bags and my first ever garment – a Finlayson sweater – saw the light of day.

Fairfield Button-up made by Ben

I don’t know if I’m really all that accomplished with what limited experience I have, but I’m certainly a very ambitious and adventurous sewist. I find myself easily bored and would much rather try out a new pattern than stick to a tried and tested one, as well as trying out new techniques as I go along. By nature, this has meant quite a steep learning curve for me, but I’m proud to say that I’m an entirely self-taught sewist, not least thanks to your sewalongs and the many video tutorials out there. I also owe a lot of my expertise to my part-time job at my local haberdashery Guthrie & Ghani which has encouraged me to push on and explore new skills, as well as the thriving sewing community of Birmingham.

Sewing for Men - Sweater and Lon Sleeve Shirt

It’s very clear, based on your inspiring Instagram account, that you sew many of your own clothes – even now that MMM17 is well past, do you still find yourself wearing your handmade garments on a daily basis?  What type of handmade garment do you tend to wear most often?

I definitely try to wear as many handmade garments as I can every day. Wearing something I’ve made gives me a sense of confidence that I haven’t known before. I feel that it is a skill that is no longer quite so widespread, so it makes me all the more proud to be wearing me-mades. As a matter of fact, I have promised myself that I won’t buy anything that I can make or that I can learn to make. “Quintessential Ben” likes to dress in a smart casual way typically consisting of a pair of chinos and button-up shirts, but I do try to explore different styles and go out of my comfort zone more often. Still, my favourite garment is definitely the Fairfield shirt. I have now made a number of them and it’s one of the few patterns I don’t mind making over and over! I love how different fabrics give it a completely different look. For my next one, I’m planning a looser-fitting denim version with mother-of-pearl snaps – and maybe an added pocket flap and some funky topstitching on the yoke?

Me Made May - Sewciologist

When planning a new garment, where do you find inspiration?

I don’t often find myself influenced by current trends in fashion as I feel that I have a fairly settled and consistent taste. I generally prefer style lines and creative pattern cutting over colourful or intricate prints, so I like to seek out patterns that make a striking impression even when made in a plain or subtly printed fabric.

I also like to be inspired by the fabric itself. For the last few weeks, I’ve been under a self-imposed “fabric ban” as an incentive to work away on my existing stash – even though I have the sinking feeling that it’s still growing rather than shrinking… In a way, that has actually fuelled my creativity as I’m now thinking about what I can make with the more outlandish things I bought or picked up at a swap.

Ben the Sewciologist

What resources would you recommend to a man interested in sewing his own wardrobe?

A lot of help early on in my sewing journey has actually come from indie patterns such as your own, as I’ve found them to be particularly beginner-friendly. I’d always recommend starting on one of those rather than a Big Four one, which would typically presuppose a lot more knowledge of sewing terms and techniques.

Community is incredibly helpful as well. If you don’t know anyone else in your area, I’d say have a look online! The number of menswear sewing bloggers has increased over the last few years and there are some great blogs out there: the fashionable and virtually iconic Male Pattern Boldness, the debonair Male Devon Sewing, or the incredibly talented Mensew, to name just a few, are all treasure troves of tips and inspiration. Instagram, too, has a growing community of menswear sewists which can be found under hashtags like #makemenswear, #menwhosew or #mensewtoo.

Sewing for men - button down shirt

And lastly, I can only recommend turning to womenswear sewists for guidance. Many of the techniques will be the same, and there are so many wonderfully talented women out there who have a wealth of knowledge we can only admire and benefit from. Not to be too political, but I do think that in general men would do well to listen to women more often and with greater humility!

Strathcona T-shirt

Do you have any pattern, fabric, or tool requests that you would like to be made better available to menswear sewists? We’d love to hear your wishlist!

Where do I start?! I would love to find some crisp shirting material like Oxford cloth in more modern colours to make nice workwear, but so far have found it difficult to find in the UK. I’m very keen on buying lots of natural fibres and sustainably sourced fabrics for things like formal trousers, which is also not always easy to come by. Pattern-wise I have been on the lookout for transitional outerwear like a bomber jacket or a trench coat, but in general I’d love to see more adventurous and fashion-forward designs out there. Another thing that’s hard to find is a good book on fitting menswear. Fitting is an art in itself, and getting it right makes all the difference between a good garment and a showstopper.

Men who sew - Ben the Sewciologist

Thanks, Ben, for sharing your inspiring garments, your can-do attitude and some of the things that inspire you!

Did you notice the multi color buttons on the pale pink shirt with contrast trim?  I love how subtle yet completely unique that feature is!  I must remember this idea for my next Fairfield…


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Merry Christmas from my Mom and I (in our Lazo Trousers)!

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Merry Christmas!  I hope that the next few days find you surrounded by loved ones and in good health.  I am about to begin my holidays (I will be back to blogging in the first week of January) so I wanted to sign off with a fun ‘editorial’ style shoot of my Mom and I decked out for Christmas in Lazo Trousers.

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The purpose of the shoot isn’t to show you the trouser design details (since I have been overwhelming you with posts about the particulars of the pattern!).  These photos are meant to give you a glimpse of the Lazos in action!  We both chose to style our Lazos the way we would wear them to Christmas dinner.  My mom’s pair is made out of a synthetic fabric that was terrible to work with (loads of static and it frayed like crazy!).  I like how it has a bit of body though and does not wrinkle easily…it also doesn’t press easily :S.  My pair are made out of the beautiful tencel I was telling you about from Blackbird Fabrics.  They are VERY comfortable but perhaps turned out a bit big because my weight has been fluctuating lately and I thought I was ready to size up (only to fluctuate back down by the time the trousers were finished).  I am usually a size 2 but sewed a size 4 this time.  As a result, they sit about 1-2″ lower on my waist than intended and perhaps look quite casual because of this.

lazo-trousers-for-christmas-10I paired my Lazos with a cozy angora sweater and, as per normal, tucked my sweater in.  I like to emphasise my waist (and wear heels) when dressing up because doing so makes my legs feel a bit longer.  My Mom wore a flowing silk blouse and vest over her Lazos because she never tucks her blouses in.  I think the tapered legs pair nicely with a loose top and long vest.

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My Dad and my parent’s dog, Jake, joined us for the photo shoot (and Matt was behind the camera, of course).  It ended up being a bit of a family portrait session!  We can’t help ourselves at Christmas: We hammed it up and embraced the cheesiness by attempting to create a continuous loop of Christmas crackers.  Jake was trying to help:

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It was difficult, but in the end, we managed 😛  You might notice my Dad is wearing his buffalo check Fairfield shirt…he reports that he wears it very often.  In fact, he wears a t-shirt under it so that he doesn’t have to put it in the wash daily and thus can wear it more!  So there you go – we are a family of red handmade clothing this Christmas (unintentionally matchy-matchy but I kind of like it!).

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I’ll leave you with one last photo to round off 2016…Jake!

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Happy holidays!  May the new year bring many great projects for you (and us!).  Thank you for giving us such a stable, fruitful, and connected year!  We look forward to many more like it.


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Buffalo Check Fairfield Shirt

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A couple of weeks ago my parents took Matt, my sister and I on a family holiday to Lund, on the Sunshine Coast (B.C.).  This is a couple of hours by ferry from where I live in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island.  The trip was a joint birthday celebration for my parents who have birthdays in October and November…and it was highly anticipated by Matt and I who were REALLY looking forward to a weekend holiday!

In honour of my Dad’s birthday I sewed him a couple of new garments.  Today I’ll show you his lumber-jack inspired Buffalo Check brushed cotton Fairfield Button-up!

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My sister took these photos of my Dad when we reached the end of our Saturday hike.  We walked up to Manzanita Hut which is part of the Sunshine Coast Trail.  Based on our small one day hike and the larger four day hike my sister went on last spring, I would highly recommend the Sunshine Coast Trail if you are looking for a hiking adventure in B.C.!

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This Fairfield Button-up is sewn using the red and black buffalo check from our shop.  We only have a few more meters of this and it is sadly no longer offered by our fabric distributor!  We have quite a lot of the blue and white and black and white variations though!

I used the band collar from our free ‘Alternative Collar Styles’ download (you can find the link on the Fairfield Button-up page).  I love the casual vintage vibe that this style of collar lends to the shirt!  It is reminiscent of workwear from the 1930s.

Instead of buttons, I used rugged snaps (the same snaps that we include in our new Rain Jacket Hardware kits!).  My thinking was that my dad could wear the shirt open as a second layer over t-shirts if he wanted to.  The heavy snaps help to give the workshirt an appearance of outerwear.

Since I knew my dad would not be wearing the top snap closed, I covered the neckline seam with cotton twill tape so that it could peek out as a little bit of extra detail (you can just see it in the photo above).

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In terms of sizing – this one is simple: It is a straight size XL (Average Figures) with a centre back pleat!  I didn’t make any changes to the pattern to fit my dad.

I already know he will get lots of wear out of this shirt because every time I’ve seen him since our trip he has been wearing it (that’s why he is so much fun to sew for!).

Enough about sewing though…Here is the best of photos to please all of you dog lovers out there: Our pup, Luki, cooling off on the way up the mountain!

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He LOVES lying in puddles.  Can you tell?


 

In other news, did you receive our newsletter earlier this week announcing the launch of our Rain Jacket Hardware kits?  If not, you may want to subscribe so that you don’t miss a some big news items coming up in the next month. 😉

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For those of you who haven’t read about our new kits yet: I gathered our hardware kits together with Matt’s Dintex anorak in mind.  After your enthusiastic response to my post on his new jacket, I thought I would set out to find all of the hardware I could not easily source while sewing his jacket.  That way, you could make the same jacket…but even better!

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We’ve included my favourite anorak snaps (super rugged, super easy to install).

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You’ll also find some awesome reflective YKK zippers that are perfect for dark stormy nights.  The two short zippers are ‘extras’ to use for customising your jackets (you could ad d armpit vents as commonly found in ski jackets or all manner of zippered pockets).

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When purchasing the kit, you can choose between a zipper suited to the Closet Case Files Kelly Anorak or a longer zipper to use on the Hot Patterns Hemmingway Windcheater (which is now back in stock along with the previously sold out Workshirt and Breton Top).

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The toggles and drawstring have been sourced from Rose City Textiles.  A few of you mentioned this outdoor/technical fabric shop when I blogged and Instagram posted about Matt’s Hemmingway jacket.  It is a Portland-based shop that sells mostly to designers and manufacturers…and unfortunately, they are currently going out of business.  They are selling off their wares in large lots so, with wonderful help from staff member, Annette, over a long phone call, I was able to find matching toggles, cord ends, and reflective shock cord perfectly suited to high end outdoor gear!

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In addition to the full kits, I’ve added sets of toggles and cord ends to the shop.  Would you like me to list any of the other materials separately?  For instance, would you prefer to purchase the snaps kits on their own?  Or shock cord by the meter?  I have priced the full kit as the best deal…but not all of you will want the whole kit!  Just let me know what you would like listed individually and I will do so right away.

And, in other news before I sign off:


  • Pattern Review is hosting a Menswear Sewing Contest and we are the sponsor!  Enter for your chance to win a $100 or $50 shopping spree in our store!
  • As I mentioned before, get ready for some big news in the coming weeks (there are two things that I’m keeping secret for now!).  Sign up to receive our email newsletter to make sure you stay in the loop.
  • Did you miss out on your favorite color of waterproof Dintex?  Not to worry!  I’m holding a pre-sale right now.  Simply place your order right now and it will be shipped to you (along with any other goodies you order) as soon as it arrives at our studio.  The pre-sale ends next Tuesday, Nov. 22nd. 10am PST.


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Association of Sewing and Design Professionals Conference

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This Sunday Matt and I will have a Thread Theory booth set up at the Westin Wall Center in Richmond (near Vancouver, B.C.) for the annual Association of Sewing and Design Professionals Conference.  The vendor area will be open noon until 6pm and the public is welcome (even if you aren’t attending the conference).  Will any of you be able to stop by to say hi in person?

You may have heard of the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals if you read Threads Magazine.  It is an North American organisation with a mission “to support individuals engaged in sewing and design related businesses, in both commercial and home-based settings.” (I pulled that right from their website – you can read all about it here.)  Every year Threads Magazine presents the approximately 400 members with a sewing related challenge and displays the winners in their magazine…this was my first introduction to the talented professionals that are part of this organisation.  Members include recognisable names such as Susan Khalje (couture specialist) and Connie Crawford (pattern designer).  I look forward to meeting many of these talented people in person at the vendor market!

Also, no less thrilling, I will be vending alongside some other very inspiring companies (Blackbird Fabrics!  Clotho! Farthingales! Fit for Art Patterns!).

Even though I enjoy working from home with the world at my fingertips online, it can be extremely refreshing to get out and engage with the sewing industry in person.  It has been just about a year since Matt and I did our last vendor market so it is high time to pack up the car, jump on the ferry, and set up our little booth.  I look forward to a weekend of sewing talk, putting faces to names, and spreading the word about Thread Theory!  Plus…we will be doing a detour to visit Science World like the couple of geeky kids that we are. 😛


Aside from letting you know about the chance to meet face to face, I have two things to share with you today!

  1. You still have a 3 days left to email me with proof that your purchased the PDF Fairfield Button-up before the tissue pattern was released.  I will give you an $11 discount on the tissue pattern to thank you for supporting Thread Theory while you waited for us to send the design to print!  Email me at info@threadtheory.ca
  2. Speaking of the Fairfield, check out this amazing rendition!  Robynne sewed it for her husband (and also sewed her own shirt) for their anniversary photos.  Plus…their dogs are very cute in matching bandannas 🙂

fairfield-button-up-in-gingham


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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.

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Stitch along the entire hem.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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:

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

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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.

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

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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).

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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″.

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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!

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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And a photo of the stitched cuff/sleeve:

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

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Here is the tidy package that you will have created!

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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!

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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.

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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):

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Flip the sleeve tab right side out and press.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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:

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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.

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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!

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

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

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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.

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

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

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Make sure to line up the seams at the armpit:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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:

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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).

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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.

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

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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.

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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:

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

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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:

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

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

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

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

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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:

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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.

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Give your placket a final press and admire it!

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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!

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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!