Sewing a mans shirt

Stitching a mans shirt

Stitching a mans shirt

Times up, I’m going to do exactly as I said I would, and that’s talk you through my remake of a mans shirt!  You know the one I ripped on the elbow a few weeks ago and dismantled to use as a personalised pattern.

Well the time has come for me to put my money where my mouth is and stitch the shirt.

If you remember I deconstructed the shirt one panel at a time, noting the (assumed) process in reverse, now this isn’t necessarily the correct process for a shirt, but it is the way that made sense to me, and it kinda works in my head, so I’m going to stick to it for now. Ready?…here we go.

I picked up some shirting material a few weeks ago on Goldhawk Road, I choose a white cotton with an obvious striped, because when you’re making something rather challenging that’s not from a commercial pattern I find a great idea is to use a bold and definite cloth (what on earth was I thinking?!?)

First this is to lay out that paper pattern that I drew on my dot & cross paper on top of the fabric. I opt not to do this on the fold, which would make it quicker to cut out, as I want the stripes to be as symmetrical and balanced as possible, especially on those obvious areas, arms, back, fronts, collar, yoke, button placket, cuffs….erm…pretty much everywhere. <shuffles off quietly to sob in corner>

In all honestly, I have to say that I’m actually buzzing with excitement, I cannot wait to do this.  I cut out all the pieces and lay them out for a photo call.

I begin my stitching by joining the two outer yokes together on the centre seam. These I’ve decided to cut on a bias line, just to give some extra detail to the shoulders of the shirt, I’m hoping that it works. Sure enough it did, albeit a millimetre or so out of perfection, but not bad.

I then join the yoke inners/facings, again on the centre seam. I trim back and then press open both of the stitched seams to get a nice flat lie on the cloth.

Next I dart the backs of the shirt. Now this is one thing I really should have left until last, as this is my easing for a good fit. But I didn’t really think that far ahead. This however gives a garment a nicer more shaped look, I press these darts outwards.

Following this, I sandwich the top edge of the back section between the yoke outer and inner, I do this with my yokes upside down, essentially aligning all 3 raw edges and stitching together. Now I press up the outer yoke, ensuring the inner yoke is down and top stitch just off from the seam.

I kind of do the same for the fronts, sandwiching them in between the yokes, but this time I just press the yokes under and topstitch all 3 pieces together.

Next up is the collar, now this really is all about precision. Nothing on a guys shirt is more obvious than a wonky lopsided collar. I use fusible interfacing to give this a bit of stiffening so that it holds it’s shape, I join the two pieces, layer the seams and turn them through. To make sure that this looks the business once it’s all together, I take my time and ensure that the topstitching is more precise than Mr Precise on National Precise Day!

The collar gets inserted into the collar-stand and once again gets turned out.

The button stands are now interfaced, applied to the front sections and topstitched, making sure that the obvious stripe is central and balanced. Followed by joining the collar on the neck edge, firstly the outer and then turning under the inner edge and edge stitch it closed.

The sleeves are a whole new beast, there’s no getting away from the fact that these take a whole lot of pinning. I choose to do the traditional flat fell seam on here, which basically means you single stitch the seam, then trim it evenly, followed by turning under and edge stitching. This is the same kind of seam as you get on your jeans or most casual trousers. It holds up a lot better over time to the extra stresses put on it.

It’s at this point I do the same to the side seams and sleeves, I do these in one go. Forgive me but I thought you didn’t need me to show you how many pins were required here. That said I did notice when dismantling my old shirt for the pattern that commercial off the peg shirts use quite lot of glue in the seams, this now makes perfect sense, it must be so much easier if they don’t unravel and pop out every time you stitch. I don’t beat myself up too much about this :’(

Much like the button stands I sandwich the cuts of the sleeves with the plackets and securely stitch in place around the edge.

Following this I take the two cuff parts, again I interface them to give them stability, stitch together, clip the curves, turn through and press well.

Then I join them to the sleeve ends trying to match the stripes as best I can.

Almost there now, I finish the button stands and cuffs by applying the buttons and stitching the corresponding button holes. This is done with my machines single buttonhole stitch, then with the aid of a pin slid through at either end to ensure I don’t over-run, I use the seam ripper to cut cleanly through.

And finally, I double turn the hem and edge stitch in place, with the aid of just one or two pins ;o)

Ok so maybe it’s not exactly in the same order or process as a pattern would tell you to do it, but I am pretty darn chuffed with the outcome, and I’ve learnt so much along the way. Mainly not to use bold stripes!!

And finally….

Until next time.

Matt Chapple, winner of the Great British Sewing BeeMatt x

The stitcher. A magnet for foolery & prankster at heart. Loves being creative, whether with some wood and a saw or with a needle and thread. Attempts to disguise his past time activities as manly pursuits, but is actually pretty handy at sewing!


  1. Fiona1 4 years ago

    Hi Matt
    I’m have only tried sewing a shirt once but on cheap polycotton and a solid colour. The result was ok but the collar was wonky. Your sewing is meticulous and all the striped lined up. I wondered how much fabric did you cut out of in order to achieve this?

  2. Fiona1 4 years ago

    Hi Matt
    I’m an amateur sewer and have only tried sewing a shirt once but on cheap polycotton and a solid colour. The result was ok but the collar was wonky. Your sewing is meticulous and all the striped lined up. I wondered how much fabric did you cut out of in order to achieve this?

    • Fiona1 4 years ago

      Haha I edited the ‘sewer’ and cancelled the post but it showed up twice

  3. Rose 4 years ago

    Hi! Just found your site and I think it’s great!
    Well done! You basically did it the perfect way!!
    Once you start with a self made shirt you’ll never want to go back to buy one!!!

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      Thanks Rose! Glad you like the site and shirt re-make. I totally agree, this is a keeper of a pattern!

  4. R 4 years ago

    It looks pretty good from where I’m sitting. I’m impressed at reconstructing a pattern from a garment.

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      Thank you! The best thing is now I have the pattern I can re-make the shirt. Happy days…Matt

  5. FHC 4 years ago

    Excellent job done – I like to see traditional tailoring in a loud pattern. What cloth will you use for the next one?

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      That is a very good question…I feel another shopping trip coming on! Matt

  6. Deb's 4 years ago

    Well done Matt :-) Would have loved to have seen a photo of you in the shirt, just to see the finished item being worn of course. :-)

    • Author
      Matt 4 years ago

      Thanks Deb’s…Ok a photo will be coming soon….I promise….

  7. A proper shirt made from scratch – very impressive! Thanks for the flat fell seam demo, too!

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