Grainline Archer Sew-Along: Shirt Front Plackets

I don’t want to go into a lot of details here, dear readers, but I do want to apologize for not getting this post done earlier. My plan was to publish earlier this week, but we have had a few family crises that threw me waaaaaay off schedule. Apologies, and onward!

Yay! It is finally time to put some Archer fabric under our sewing machine needles, and we’ll start by making the button and buttonhole placket.

Grainline Archer Sew-along by Sew Maris `

What you’ll need:

  1. RIght shirt front
  2. Left shirt front
  3. Buttonhole band (interfaced)
  4. Pockets
  5. Thread
  6. Manila file fold cut into a 1″ wide strip
  7. Optional: Straight Stitch or Jeans foot and Edgestitch or Blind Hem foot

I kid you not, when I discovered tagboard templates, my sewing life changed radically.

If you learn only 1 thing  from this shirt-making sew-along, it should be take the time to make yourself some templates. Old manila file folders are the perfect material. They are cheap, sturdy enough to withstand plenty of handling, and can be ironed over (including steam!) without a worry.

I use templates to fold over shirt front plackets, turn up hems, turn over casings, and about a million other things. I have them in increments of (mostly) one quarter inch; I find these sizes the most useful. I initially made up a few in several sizes, but mostly I just cut them out as I needed them for various jobs. The only tricky part is marking and cutting accurately, because the whole point of using them for your sewing jobs is to increase accuracy. So, start with accurately cut cardboard templates. (Also think about other ways to use templates. How about tricky topstitching areas? Like the double row of high-contrast thread color topstitching around the fly front on a pair of jeans, right? Templates cut to the correct shape!! 😉 )


Left Front (button band)

Grainline Archer Sew-Along b y Sew Maris

Place your newly-cut-out 1 inch template against the wrong side of the left shirt front edge, and fold over one time. If you are working with a stripe or plaid fabric, make very sure that the stripe is perfectly even on the fold down the entire length of the shirt front. Press thoroughly with a steam iron.

Grainline Archer Sew-Along b y Sew Maris

Turn the fabric over the template a second time,  and press again. The raw edge of your left shirt front is now completely enclosed, and you have created the button band placket with 2 turns+pressing of the left front!

Time for some topstitching. If you haven’t done so already, spend a little time and experiment to find the settings you want to use. Fold over a scrap of fabric a couple of times, press, and try a few different stitching placement and stitch lengths to determine what you like best. Once you have decided, write the settings down and use them every time. Consistency. It helps create that professional, RTW look for your shirts.

Grainline Archer Sew-Along b y Sew Maris

I like using an edgestitch foot for this stitching job, and I move my needle 3 clicks to the right, and lengthen my stitch to 3.0. Your settings might be different, and that is fine, as long as you like the look and use the same settings consistently.


Right Front (buttonhole band)

OK, before we get started sewing on the right front, let me say a word about interfacing the buttonhole band.

If you are using 100% cotton fabric, and if you are using Pro-woven Shirt Crisp interfacing, I would counsel that you apply a strip of interfacing only 1 inch wide next to the center fold of the buttonhole band. Jen’s interfacing pattern piece is 1.5 inches widewhich places interfacing from the fold to the cut edge of the band. IMHO the Shirt Crisp is a little too crispy to turn/press really easily. How do I know? I tried it on this shirt. I could do it, but had to fiddle with the pressing. If you have already applied your interfacing, don’t stress. You CAN do it. You just may want to make a note on your pattern or cut down your pattern piece to 1 inch. Now, on to some more sewing.

Grainline Archer Sew-Along by Sew Maris

Right sides together, pin the interfaced side of the buttonhole band to the right shirt front, and stitch.

Grainline Archer Sew-Along by Sew Maris

Press the seam allowance toward the buttonhole band, and then trim both seam allowances. NOTE: You want to trim the seam allowance enough so that it does not interfere with keeping your buttonhole foot nice and level when you add buttonholes. I cut the interfaced seam allowance down to a bit less than 1/4 inch, and the shirt front seam allowance about 1/4 inch. That should keep them out of the way of your buttonhole foot.

Grainline Archer Sew-Along by Sew Maris

Using the 1 inch template again, press the un-interfaced side of the buttonhole band over the template. This is the folded edge that is going to be on the back side of the shirt, and cover the seam you just stitched. So double-check it does its job!

Glue-baste the band to the pressed seam allowance.

Grainline Archer Sew-Along by Sew Maris

From the right side, topstitch (using the settings you wrote down!) close to both edges of the buttonhole band. I like to use my Jeans Foot (might be called Straight Stitch foot for your machine), and I align my stitching slightly less than the 1/8″ edge of the foot. I like the Jeans foot better here because as you can see, there is not much fabric under the presser foot, and the “small needle hole” area of the foot keeps the fabric moving more smoothly than the Edgestitch foot does.

I stitched about 1/16 of an inch from both edges of the buttonhole bandyou might use different settings than I didand that is great. Make your Archer your own!

Grainline Archer Sew-Along by Sew Maris

Finished right shirt front and left shirt front.

Grainline Archer Sew-Along by Sew Maris


Finished right shirt front on top of the left shirt front, showing plackets all lined up and looking nice!

OK, I know I said this post would be about plackets AND pockets, but enough already. Pockets next! And I am also going to write an extra post about how you can use a cut-on shirt placket for the right front of the Archer. But it involves some math, so I need to make sure I am giving you the correct instructions before I publish. You will definitely like it for shirts where you want to maintain the same fabric and grainline for the buttonhole band thoit is definitely super cool.

Post some pixs of your Archers! Ask questions on our Sew Maris Archer Sew-Along FB page! Tweet about your project using the hashtag #SMArcherSA

Happy sewing!


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