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Feb 12, 2011

Men's Shirt Sew-Along 11 -- A new collar for Negroni!

The Negroni men's shirt pattern is lovely.  I've seen some wonderful early versions in our Flickr group and it's great fun to see how different the results are depending on fabric choice.

Many people wanted to know how to convert Negroni, which has a camp collar, into a traditional dress shirt, like the one pictured above.  Today and tomorrow I'm going to show you how.

Our goals for today are:

1.  Draft new facing for right shirt front (button side)

2. Draft button placket for left shirt front (buttonhole side)

Let's take another look at the Negroni shirt.

Now here's a more traditional men's dress shirt.

The dress shirt has a front button placket on the left side (the side with the buttonholes on a men's shirt), a folded-under facing on the right side (the side with the buttons), a collar stand and a collar.  And no button loop.

The Negroni shirt, like many camp-collared shirts, has inner facings and no button plackets.  The convertible collar is one piece only.   As those of us who have made the Negroni pattern know, the inner facings are shaped with extensions along the neckline to help cover the raw edges of the camp collar (the center part of the collar is enclosed by the inner and outer back yoke).  Remember these?

To turn the Negroni pattern into a traditional dress shirt, nothing needs to altered on the original pattern pieces themselves.  We'll be making four simple substitutions: a facing, a button placket, a collar stand, and a collar.

1.  If you take a look at a men's dress shirt, you'll notice that nearly all have a button placket on the front left side.  The buttonholes are arranged down the center front of the placket.  This makes perfect sense: we want our buttonholes (and buttons) to create a vertical center line.   Since the buttonhole placket will cover the right side of the shirt (where the buttons are attached), we're going to create a simple rectangular facing for that (right) side. 

On some dress shirt patterns, there is a separate right and left pattern piece, and often the right front includes the facing, as below:


Please notice that on this McCall's shirt pattern, the center front line is where the buttons are located.  The edge of the right front will be 5/8" from that.  The remaining piece, measuring approximately 1 1/8", gets folded under.  The raw edge is generally finished with a 1/8" seam hem, though this can be wider on some patterns.  Regardless, since this is a facing, it will all end up on the inside of the shirt.   Sometimes this is stitched down to the shirt front itself, as below, and sometimes it is left loose.

Rather than redraft the Negroni pattern, we are simply going to add an attached facing to the right front.  This will be one long rectangle (with no shaped extension).   The top can have the same (slight) curve as the shirt front, but it's all going to end up as seam allowance anyway.  (I cut my facing a bit longer and just trim it against the shirt front neck curve.)

We start with a 5/8" seam allowance.  Let's have the placket centered directly under the button line, which is an additional 5/8" from the front edge.  So we'll be adding 10/8, or 1 1/4".  Next, to finish the facing's raw edge, let's add an additional 1/4" for a hem.  So the total width of the facing will be 5/8 + 10/8 + 2/8 = 17/8 or 2 1/8 ".

Are you with me?  I cut my placket along the selvage, so I didn't need that additional 1/4".  My facing measures 2".   Remember, this is just a facing; it won't be visible.  I have decided not to use interfacing on either placket or facing, btw.

The length of the facing should match the length of the shirt front.  It will be folded into the hem along with your shirt front.

We'll attach this facing, with it's outer edge finished, RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER at 5/8" and turn it under.

2.  Now we need to draft the left front button placket.  Here's what the left front of my McCall's shirt pattern looks like.   The placket piece is lined up next to it.

Like the right front, we're starting with a 5/8" seam allowance.  Again, from the front edge there's 5/8" distance to the center front. 

Traditionally, the shirt front button placket is drafted a bit wider than the left front facing.  We'll start with the 5/8" seam allowance, add 10/8 (or 1 1/4") so that the button holes are center front, and add 5/8", which will be turned under and topstitched down on the shirt front.  So our placket pattern piece will be 20/8, or 2 1/2".  We'll end up with a finished placket that is 1 1/2" wide and topstitched on either side at 1/4".  

The length of the left front placket should be the same as the length of the shirt front + 1/8" (so you can fold it under the hem fold since it's outside the shirt front.)  The top can have the same bit of curve as the left shirt front, just to be neat -- it will end up in the seam allowance when you attach the collar stand/collar.

We'll be attaching the front placket differently than we attached the right front facing.  Instead of stitching with right sides together and folding the facing under, we'll be stitching with RIGHT SIDE OF PLACKET TO WRONG SIDE OF SHIRT FRONT and folding over (over the front right side).

Here's my left front placket already attached to my shirt front (right side up).  It's hard to tell since right and wrong sides are identical, but I've stitched it right side of placket to wrong side of shirt, and folded it out and over, on the seam line.


Here's my placket, topstitched at 1/4" on either side.  REMEMBER: the edge that's being lifted by my finger is folded under at 5/8" and topstitched at 1/4".

The Negroni center front is 5/8" from the edge.  The placket should have the same center line.

Your assignment today is to look at some men's RTW shirts and see how the fronts are finished.  How wide are the plackets?  Sometimes they're drafted a little wider than this, sometimes narrower.  My Brooks Brothers shirt's finished placket is 1 3/8" wide; the center front is 3/4" from the edge on right and left sides.   The buttonholes are still dead center, and there's equal width on either side to the edge of the placket.

Tune in tomorrow as we draft a collar stand and collar -- a technique you can use for any shirt pattern whatsoever.

Please leave questions or comments here or in our Flickr group.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. I really like the plaid you chose for this version.

    (Great shot of you in the first pic.)

  2. Nice! Not only is that simpler than I thought it would be, it actually seems simpler than figuring out how to fold the cut-on facing and placket on my pattern!

  3. This is so helpful -- thank you Peter! Great shot of you in front of the stairs!

  4. Awesome! I've sewn both kinds of plackets (and some hybrids?) and I prefer the look of a separate placket, and I'd LOVE to do this to my final shirt, esp since I bought some contrasting fabrics to go with my main fabric.

    I'm going to re-read this tomorrow: I'm in bed with an awful cold today and my brain isn't working quite right. ;)

  5. Awesome Peter! i like the concept of new collar on this post. I appreciate the illustration give to make a well designed men's dress shirts. The check shirt is very good looking and i have gone through each & every bit of it. Awaiting for some more information on men's shirt.

  6. I am FINALLY starting on this project, working from the hub's favorite dress shirt. So far, so good. I'm scared stiff about drafting the extra collar piece, though!


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