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I am a mother, a 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 book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sewing a shirt placket

For a start let's talk about the continuos placket or lap method of finishing a sleeve vent. Before we go any further let's talk about what this little unit's job is:

To finish the raw edges of the little opening above the cuff that is necessary so your hand can get into the bottom of a sleeve where it is closed when the cuff is buttoned up.

That's it. 

Raw edge finishing of a little slash that is about 3 inches long. 

This is not worth having a nervous breakdown about. 

And that might be where making a traditional, inevitably bulky, continuos placket can take you. Too many layers in such a small space with the monumental challenge of trying to sew through 12 layers of fabric (including seam allowances) diagonally across the top of the vent, over a wide throat plate hole, as is necessary in a zig zag machine, is a challenge that in my books hardly ever turns out well.

By contrast a tailored shirt style placket is dead easy and produces immaculate results with very little mental engagement, around here always a plus.

The way I do shirt placket requires photo copies or hand drawn copies of my simple pattern piece. When I put these little numbers in I do not:
  • mark
  • measure anything
  • use more than a few pins
  • stitch down anything until I have pressed and arranged it by eye so I know it will look right, if it doesn't I re-press till it does.
I do the entire placket by eye and feel and it works great. 

This is how I do it:

Step one:

  • Cut out the placket piece.
  • Make a little clip at the bottom of the sleeve where the cutting line of the vent should be.
Step two:
  • Press under the two long edges of each vent by what looks to you like about 1/4". Just make sure that the pressing is about the same depth on each side.
  • Press under the little pointy peak at the top of the placket, clipping in about 1/4" where marked in the attached diagram so you can actually fold the second side of the peak in. Turn it around to the right side and if none of this looks even and neat try it all again at the ironing board.
Step three:

  • Pin the placket to the wrong side of the bottom of the sleeve so you are looking at two wrong side fabrics, this means the right side of the placket is facing the wrong side of the sleeve fabric.
  • Pin a paper copy of the pattern on top of the placket lining up the marked cutting line in the centre of the stitching box with the little clip at the bottom of the sleeve.
Step four:

  • Shorten your stitch length so you have smallish stitches and stitch around the stitching box.
  • When this is done tear away the paper and cut up the centre of the box and right to the corners.
Step five:
  • Turn the whole unit to the right side and press so the top of the box looks faced and square. If it is a little lumpy go back in a cut closer into the corners but don't stress about it - remember the placket part you see from the outside functions as a giant patch that covers all sins.
Step six:

  • You now have a pointy big side to the placket and a thinner side, wrap the thin side around the stitching on one side of the box, just as far as you need to so as to cover that stitching and top stitch it down. Again don't fuss too much about the top it will also be covered up by the placket patch.
Step seven and the last one:

  • Laying the whole thing in front of you fuss around with it with your hands until the placket part with the point covers what it has to and covers the part you just stitched up.
  • When you have it the way you think a placket should look put in a few pins and stitch the folded under edge down, around the pointy part and back across horizontally. Go look at a shirt you have for a better idea of what you are trying to make this look like.
  • You are done and it looks great.

Here below is my hand drawn pattern for a female sized sleeve placket. I have written in the directions for what to do with each marking so I won't get confused, which I often do when there are too many lines to figure out.

Note I don't actually make any of these markings, I just use the shape of the pattern to cut out the vents and the words and lines to remind me of how this goes together and what I am supposed to do.

Instead of marking I use photocopies of this drawing, or I trace off the outline shape and only the stitching box (cleverly marked with little stitches in this very home made drawing) and pin it to the placket and stitch through the paper in lieu of any more complicated markings.

The paper can then get torn off (easy if you use small stitches for stitching around the box), slashed, turned and the placket completed from the right side.

Pattern and instruction drawings for a sleeve placket below. Note this placket is fairly wide, it's one of several I have made up, but I thought it made the techniques easier to see. You might want to reduce this in width to suit your own taste, or use these methods with your own pattern piece:

Placket pattern and instruction sheet:

Placket pattern and instructions:


Colleen said...

Very timely. That's the next step in my production. I started out to make my son a trendy short sleeved sport shirt as you suggested earlier in the year. Then I remembered he lived in the north with little sun at this time of year. Switched to flannels and plaid and I think he'll appreciate it more. Thanks for your help.

Jodie said...

Thanks so much! I tried out a two piece version which worked well but I like this as well.

Unknown said...

This is now bookmarked and will most definitely be used when I make my next placket! Thank you very much for taking the time to post this for us - it is very much appreciated. My last placket wasn't particularly a thing of beauty, but I expect the next one will be much improved.

Anonymous said...

BRILLIANT!!! Thank you,Barb.

Donna E

CarmencitaB said...

Thank you!

Unknown said...

The newer version is SO nice - thank you to your hubby!

Phylly said...

I've hated the plackette that came with commercial patterns. A couple of years ago I learned the plackette you show here and use it onall my cuffed sleeves. So much easier to do and better looking. Phylly

Sharon said...

Thank you, thank you, this looks perfect and I look forward to trying it out. Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

I read several blogs and always, always
love yours. I have sewn for fifty years and would buy a book you write in a heartbeat! Go for it!

Teri said...

Thank you Barb. How much would you enlarge this for a man's shirt?

Barbara said...

Teri you might find this works for a man's shirt, it is not a thin as some I have used. The .pdf is a pattern so just measure it and compare to a shirt your husband likes. Hope you find this as easy as I do.

Kathie said...

as always, you make me smile and educate me... nice!