Shirt-making: Yay or Nay?


Shirt-making is not for the faint of heart.

I am talking about tailored dress shirts for men or women that you might buy at Brooks Brothers or Nordstrom. Starched. Crisp. Plenty o’topstitching. You definitely need to put your big-girl panties on before you tackle plackets, collar stands, collars and cuffs on these babies.

Recently I decided to add a few must-be-ironed-before-wearing items to my overwhelmingly knit wardrobe. I broke out my yet-untested Classic Shirt pattern by Ce Podolak and traced off my size according to the pattern measurements. I grabbed some nice white cotton with blue stripes from my stash, cut it out and fused Light Shirt Crisp interfacing to the collar, cuffs, collar stand, and front plackets.

Problem #1. No instructions in the envelope. Not that surprising, really, as I probably own a couple of hundred patterns, and those instructions could have snuck their way into any one of the envelopes. I planned to use the same process (mostly) as I do on my husband’s dress shirts, so no biggie.

Problem #2. After mostly completing the shirt, I tried it on for fitting. Uh oh. Looked like a sack. I added the optional back darts to try to introduce a little more shape into the garment. Better, but not great. More drastic measures required. I re-shaped the side and sleeve seams to remove the excess fabric bulk (i.e. I serged off a huge swath of fabric on both sides). MUCH better. Ahhhh, Ce’s web site says “Cecelia began designing The Classics to help fill a void for better-fitting patterns for the mature figure.” That’s the problem – my immature figure! 😉

The good news is I have an actual shirt in my closet. But it is just an OK shirt IMHO. Not terrific, not terrible, just OK. My favorite part is the KILLER cute buttons from Stitches. They increase my enjoyment factor immensely.


I should probably write some tutorials for you wonderful readers about shirt-making, because I have tweaked and tuned the process enough that I can help you make a pretty great-looking shirt. Hmmm, something to ponder!

Have you ever made a tailored shirt? Did you enjoy the process? What worked and what didn’t for you? Are you inspired to try again? Do tell!

Happy sewing!

Maris Olsen




8 Responses to Shirt-making: Yay or Nay?

  1. Maris, I believe help with the elements of shirts is something that most of us can use help with, or maybe I should just speak for myself. Any tips/techniques would be highly appreciated, because I know that you know what you’re talking about! Thanks again.

  2. I do quite a few shirts (blouses) and am always intrigued how they are each drafted a bit differently and thus fit differently, too. Sewing a blouse is a “sewing work out” for me, but a nicely sewn, well fitted blouse is always a great garment.

  3. I love shirt-making! I am not sure why but it is what I turn to when I’m in a sewing slump. Lately, I’ve been having a love affair with Grainline Studio’s Archer shirt and have plans to make more! I have found lots of helpful hints online but I’ll bet you have great tips that I hope you’ll share with us!

    • Thanks Cissie! I LOVE shirt-making too! You have intrigued me with Grainline Studios – I haven’t tried any of their patterns. What do you like best about them? I hope to get my shirt-making tips “packaged up” soon! 😉

  4. I like the dainty collar! I’ve made changes each time I’ve made it but basically it’s just a nice pattern with pretty good instructions, although I don’t follow their order of construction.

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