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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Shirt thoughts

As I said I have been sewing shirts. I have a few thoughts worth sharing I think and a couple of shots.

First pockets.

Since I am making patterned shirts for the clientele with well-developed senses of humour and hipster sense I am matching patterns on the patch pockets in those times I can.

For a person who has extraordinarily wide tolerance for lack of attention to detail in the rest of her life it is interesting how little things in sewing matter to me. I hate it in RTW when they slap on a pocket out of pattern on the front of something and don't match the pattern.

It is actually very easy to match the pattern of a pocket to a shirt. 

Here's the method I use:

  1. Pin the front pattern piece to the fabric and cut it out. Leave the pattern piece on the fabric. So far to good.
  2. Since you are using a thin paper pattern you can usually see the fabric pattern pretty easy through the pattern piece. Lay your pocket pattern piece on top of the front pattern in position as marked. Again so far so good.
  3. Using a pencil lightly trace the main outlines of the pattern onto the pocket piece as you can see them through the layers of tissue.
  4. Mark the top corners of the pocket on the front and remove that pattern piece.
  5. Take your pocket piece and find a spot in a fabric scrap where you can lay the pocket pattern on matching your pencil marks to the pattern.
  6. When you position your pocket to the front to cut out all you have to do is find the corner marks and line up your pocket pattern so it matches the front and top stitch down.
This is what the end product looks like:

A shirt for me I will finish when I have the boys shirts done.

Because I am making the boys a sort of casual shirt, with a collar and band and buttons on the collar points I am using this pattern:

McCalls 6613
I am having a final fitting today so I can't speak to that yet but I have a few construction notes.

The first is that this pattern has separate pattern pieces for the front bands. This makes sense when you are trying to do something fancy like cut the band on the diagonal like they have in the man's shirt pictured above, or if you are working with a fabric that has a right side different from the wrong side, like I am.

Be aware however that this is not the usual, or the best way, to do a band in a standard, both sides the same, shirt fabric.

RTW shirts are made with the front bands being mere extensions of the fronts (to add this to your pattern measure your finished band width and add 2 X that to the fronts measuring from the seam allowance). In construction the button hole band is folded twice towards the front and top-stitched down along each long edge and the button band is folded twice to the wrong side and top-stitched along the inner, folded edge only.

I like this way of constructing a band best, once you have adjusted the pattern if you have to, because it is fast, easy and looks professional.

It also does not use any interfacing because you in fact have three layers of fabric on each side, or six layers over all.

In patterns like McCalls 6613 above with a sewn on band for some crazy reason they have you interface both bands. This is not a good idea, even if you use very light interfacing, much lighter than you would for the collar (if you try to use collar weight interfacing for this your wearer will not be able to bend forward without impaling themselves in the neck with their button band).

Instead you need to forget about interfacing the band at all and just don't trim the seam allowances once you sew the bands on. This will give you a weight and support very similar to the first product and to a professional feel to the shirt.

All that said here is my latest son shirt, with the button holes all done but not cut and the buttons not sewn on. I have to position the collar buttons first. This fabric was originally intended for shorts so I was a little short and had to do a contrast for the inside yoke and the pocket matching described above was not possible. I tried the best I could with the fabric I had to extend the sails of the pattern so it is better than nothing.

I am pretty pleased with this shirt overall:


Carol in Denver said...

I love your fabrics and your helpful instructions. On the one hand, having not quite enough fabric can lead to creativity in the finished garment. On the other hand, it may force us to make choices we'd rather not make. To avoid such problems, always buy more fabric than you think you'll need.

That's my advice.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to explain your method for matching pockets to a garment's pattern. It's great. Could you elaborate on your front band method, especially how you fold the fabric. I got lost in folding fabric to the back and to the front. The shirt is super.

BetsyV said...

On most of the men's shirts I make, I make a narrower-than-standard, single welt pocket. It's a much smaller pattern-matching area. I make it narrower, opening about 3" (7.5cm) wide, so his reading glasses don't tip over sideways and get lodged inside the pocket.

marie bartels said...

Very nice shirt!

Anonymous said...

Great matching of pocket to fabric pattern on your shirt. The fabric print looks delightful. I'll bet it will be one of those shirts you wear for years and it will only improve with age. I did find the pattern-matching instructions difficult to follow and would love a visual. Perhaps it's the word "pattern" - meaning the paper piece and also the design on the fabric.
Vancouver Barbara

Graca said...

Fun fabric and cool shirt!

Anonymous said...

Your shirt looks great. Since I fear collar bands I read your method with interest. But I am having a hard time understanding the fold method. What happens to the collar? Could you elaborate. Nora

Jane M said...

I am going to be cutting out some shirts for Mr. Lucky and thanks for the pocket matching tips. I too am a little curious about your collar band method and would love to see more details if you ever get the chance. Sew grateful...

Jane M said...

Whoops, just saw that you meant the front lengthwise bands. I use a Kwik Sew pattern which has exactly what you described, the folded layers that don't require interfacing. Easy peasy.

Patricia Gardner said...

I have just gotten back from vacation at Myrtle Beach with my two darling granddaughters. I have been catching up on reading sewing blogs. I read blogs rather than sew. I might start sewing again later, but now I read. I missed your blog. I think you are such a real person. I've read your blog for 2 years, since I found there was such a thing. Thank you. I enjoy your blog so much. Makes me smile. I need to be moderated and posted. Just wanted to tell you how much I like this. BTW, the dress looks great with the belt. Not so great without it.

Angela said...

Very helpful post. I will refer to your pocket matching instructions and your front band instructions when I tackle a button front shirt. Also, I like your shirts and hope your sons do, too.

Anonymous said...

Oops - I just reread your post and realize you are talking about front bands, not collar bands. You can ignore my post. Nora

Kay said...

Wow, great job on the pocket matching with the French street-scene shirt! Both shirts look like such fun!

You say the shirts will have button-down collars (Or maybe it was other shirts you will be making). Will you put buttonholes on the collar points, or will you permanently sew the buttons? I can't imagine how difficult it would be to sew a buttonhole in a collar point.

Patricia Gardner said...

When I commented a few days ago, I meant to say "I do NOT need to be moderated." Sorry. I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the blog, not have the comment published. I don't know when I am going to learn to stay away from FB or blogs when I cannot find my glasses and I am brain fuzzy from lack of sleep because I am coming off 3 weeks of sleeping with grandchildren. None of mine will sleep alone. Again, I apologize. Keep blogging, please.

Lynn Barnes said...

Another reason for using separate button bands is for economy of fabric. With narrow-width fabric, there is often not enough room to place an extended-placket pattern piece on the doubled fabric -- and sometimes not on the single layer! That said, a folded band extension is a quick-but-not-dirty technique. To Nora, above: One completes the button band/placket before attaching a collar stand and collar, on a standard shirt. Therefore, the method of applying the band does not matter. Hope this helps.