Grainline Archer Sew-Along: Drafting a Cut-on Buttonhole Placket

Alright friends, the pattern drafting I am going to explain today is going to blow.your.mind. But in a good way. 😉

Let’s just say I am not a fan of the sewn-on buttonhole placket. Ridge-y seam allowances are not your friend when you are trying to create perfect topstitching and lovely buttonholes. So, if you want to replace the sewn-on version with a cut-on version you are in the right place. Caution: math and pattern-drafting will be required if you proceed!

To start this whole process, you need to decide 2 things:

  1. how wide you want the finished front placket
  2. how far from the edge you want your topstitching to be (minimum of 1/8 inch)

I am going to use the following assumptions to show you how to convert a shirt front with a sew-on front placket to a cut-on placket:

  1. My original pattern is the Grainline Studios Archer Button-Up shirt for women, which includes a 1 inch sew-on buttonhole placket
  2. My finished buttonhole placket will be 1 1/4 inches wide
  3. My topstitching will be 1/4 inch from each edge of the front placket

I made a quick little video that might help get your brain wrapped around this whole concept. (BTW – I used different starting assumptions in my video – just to show you that there is nothing magic about the above assumptions!)

Hopefully that helped you get a “visual” idea of where we are going with this drafting exercise.

Next, let’s talk about exactly how you would draft a new right front (for women) pattern piece, starting with the Grainline Studio’s Archer pattern, and creating a placket that is 1 1/4 inches wide with topstitching 1/4 inch from each placket edge.

1. Cut a piece of tracing paper that is a few inches longer than the Archer (right) front pattern piece.

2. As you face the tracing paper, draw a line an inch or so from the right edge of  tracing paper, and the full length of the paper. This line is going to be the new “cutting line” for the front edge of the right shirt front.

3. Draw a second line 1 1/4 inches away from the first line drawn. After construction, this is going to be the front (or outer) edge of the buttonhole placket.

4. Draw a third line 1 1/4 inches away from the second line drawn. After construction, this is going to be the inner edge of the buttonhole placket.

5. In between the second and third line, draw a dashed line exactly in the middle, which is 5/8 inch from either line. Mark this dashed line Center Front. My CF line is blue, and hopefully you can see all my other lines are red. 🙂

Grainline Studio Archer Sew Along by Sew Maris

6. Draw a fourth line 1/2 inch from the third line. Mark this area “pleat”.

Grainline Studio Archer Sew along by Sew Maris

7. Fold the paper on the third line that you marked “inner edge of front placket”.

Grainline Studio Archer Sew Along by Sew Maris

8. Turn the paper over, and bring the third line to meet (line up with) the fourth line. Tape the placket “pleat” down the full length temporarily with painter’s tape. This will hold the pleat in place so you can trace off the remainder of the shirt front pattern.

Grainline Studio Archer Sew Along by Sew Maris

9. Align the CF (blue dashed line in my pix) of the tracing paper with the CF of the Archer pattern piece (the cutting line). 

10. All the hard work is done! Now just trace around the correct Archer size you want, and cut it out. Don’t forget to draw the grainline and the pocket placements, as well as the notches. Take off the temporary painter’s tape holding your pleat down, press the pattern flat, and voila!  You just drafted a cut-on placket for the Archer!

Sooo, now that you know how to adjust a pattern to create a cut-on buttonhole placket, why in the world would you ever use a sewn-on placket. In a word, friends. grainline. Also, different fabrics. The only time I use a sewn-on placket is when I want to vary the grainline (bias, cross grain, etc) to add some visual interest to the front of my shirt, or I want to use a contrast fabric.

Now you know both options, and some reasons why you might like both, and you get to be in control of which process is best. Ain’t sewing grand?

Happy sewing!










18 Responses to Grainline Archer Sew-Along: Drafting a Cut-on Buttonhole Placket

  1. i’m right there with you about not liking sewn on plackets! i’ve noticed this fold-y type in RTW and i keep meaning to work out the math. definitely bookmarking this for later!!

  2. Maris, thank you! The video was wonderful! While we are on the topic of plackets, how handy do you feel it is to have a “Simflex” for buttonhole placements? I don’t have one, but have seen them and wonder if they are worth the $20 or so to get one? I also have been toying with the idea of making my placket (or maybe just the reverse side of it) or the inside yolk or collar stand, out of some silk fabrics. I was able to get these wonderful bags of silks from Robert Talbott, who is located not too far from me. I’m not sure if I have pieces big enough to do them all out of the same, but gonna go through the bags to see just what is there. I thought that might make a stamp of my “own” individual design. 🙂 Or maybe the inside collar stand and inside cuffs? Who knows… is there any rule as to what you should do “together”? If you change one part, then change the other part?

    • Karen,
      Thank you!

      The only rule as far as I am concerned is to have fun sewing. Experiment, play, and see what works for you. It is only a shirt, and once you learn the techniques you will be making loads more.

      Simflex: a handy tool. BUT. You do have to check the alignment every time you use it against a larger ruler or cutting mat grid, because it can get a little out of adjustment by opening and closing. My 2 cents!

      • Thank you Maris. I think I can use a ruler to do the buttons for now. Perhaps if one goes on sale and I am already ordering other products with shipping, then I might be tempted to put one in the basket.

  3. How lucky to have Robert Talbott’s outlet in your backyard; do you take orders?:) When I traveled for Threads and had authors anywhere near there, you can bet I always made the trip, usually with author in tow! Diane Ericson was my first “date” for such a trip, back when she lived in Carmel. SUCH happy memories:)

    I certainly echo Maris’s view of “rules”, but must add that having fun sewing means loving your results as well. In this context, I’d be inclined to go back and get an all-cotton shirting scrap bag there. I’ve gotten a few such bundles from there by mail and besides being perfect for class sample-cutting, I find them irresistible when bringing out my Inner Patchworker as you suggest; he’s (or is it a she?) never far anyway, and there are such treasures in the bundles I got—a shame to not put some of them to wearable use! I’m doing exactly that in some of my own current shirt projects.

    I’m assuming your main fashion fab is cotton? Since all the silks I’ve seen and bought from RT are from their tie-making factory, they’re all kind of heavy and not very machine-washable (without changing them—which of course may always be for the better! Just ask Diane!) which I’d kinda always want a shirt to be…but not necessarily, just something to consider.

    • Up until last year, Robert Talbott had an outlet in Gilroy (now closed), which was the store I have been to with it being only 10 min from the house. They would call me when they got in a new shipment of the shirting or silk bags, which of course, I couldn’t resist either one. Last count, I think I had 7 bags of shirtings and 5 bags of the silks! eek!! The best part – the bags were stuffed FULL for only $20/bag when I used a coupon. (My husband would lovingly roll his eyes when I brought home another bag. hahhaha)

      My original intentions for the shirtings was to make a “shirting quilt”. The silks were just beautiful and figured I could always find something to do with them. I think it all depended on what they were working on at the time, as to what type of silks they had in the bags. Most of my bags have quite a bit of lighter weight silks, with a mixture of some of the heavier tie silk fabrics.

      In the next week or two, I plan to take the afternoon and visit the outlet store in Carmel/Monterey which is only about 45 min away. They sell the shirting & silk fabrics by the yard at this store and I understand they are very inexpensive. I “heard” they were under $10/yd. While there, I’ll take some pictures to share with all of you. So YES, absolutely I take “orders”. Just let me know if anything sparks your interest from the pictures 🙂 I can’t wait to see what they have now that I am looking at it from the garment sewing perspective!

  4. Math and geometry; good thing I have a 7th grader in the house! I’ve yet to try the Archer, but I have been eyeing some vintage 50s Katherine Hepburn-type shirt patterns that are in the same vein.

    • LOL, Julie!! All of the techniques I am talking about in the Archer sew-along should transfer nicely to any shirt/blouse pattern. It isgreat fun – I hope you join in, either now or later!!


  5. Thank you Maris for your very clear instructions. I think it is so good to understand these options. I have been using a pattern tracing material that does not fold very well and I would like to ask what tracing paper you prefer and your source. I am loving the sew along and learning lots from all the discussion.

    • Thank you so much Mary Lou!! I agree with you – if you know about the options – and why you might prefer one method over another – you can make a great choice.

      I use “exam” paper for tracing patterns. Because I trace so many – it is cheap and does the job. If I think I am going to use the pattern really frequently, I copy onto tagboard or reinforce the paper with fusible interfacing. HTH!

      Thanks so much for joining in!

  6. Thank you for writing this tutorial. in the written instructions you put the placket width at 1 1/4″ with top stitching 1/4″ from edge. I thought I heard on video that placket is 1 1/8″ wide with stitching 1/8 ” from the edge. Did I miss something? Thanks.

    • You are so welcome, Lisa.

      Nope – you did not miss anything – in the photo sample/written instructions I was using 1 1/4 wide placket and 1/4″ topstitching because that is what I wanted for my denim shirt/jacket Archer I used for the sample. And in the video I used different dimensions – partially because I wanted to show that YOU can decide whatever dimensions you want – and partially because I had originally thought I would use it on one of my Archer samples. And still might! 🙂


  7. Thanks so much for this tutorial. Put this into practice today and delighted with the results. I will be converting all my shirt patterns from now on.

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