Sew-Alongers, what you are looking at is the first sleeve placket I ever made on my very first men's shirt. Not pretty, is it? Here's my first pocket:
I didn't know a topstitch from a topknot. I had never read a sewing blog. I show you these not to give you indigestion, but merely as a reminder that things gets better with practice.
I recommend putting a lot of energy into your muslins and make as many mistakes as you can. (I've already made a few.) You don't have to add interfacing, pockets, plackets, or even cuffs to your muslin if you don't feel the need. But if you're on new ground and learning new techniques, I recommend taking the opportunity to mess up with your crappy fabric.
Be gentle with yourselves. It's great to push beyond your "comfort zone" but perfectionism can be a real hindrance. My policy has generally been do your best in the moment and then move on. The stakes are not high, or shouldn't be.
Today we're going to start sewing a bit. When you're making a shirt, you can start where you want to start (though I wouldn't recommend hemming first). I generally like to get the piddly, exacting stuff out of the way early -- though there always seems to be more piddly, exacting stuff remaining. Some may prefer to interface what needs interfacing before the stitching starts -- we'll do that together soon.
Please note I am not following the order of the Negroni instructions exactly.
Our goals today are:
1. Create our pocket flaps
2. Create our pockets
1. Sarai has chosen to start stitching the Negroni shirt with the pocket flaps -- why not?
BTW, now is a great time to replace your needle if you haven't in a while. For my fabric (a quilt-weight cotton) and thread (the serger variety) I choose a #11. I find this to be a great all-purpose size that works for most things I sew. I use Organ brand needles -- my first brand and I stuck with it.
I have decided to do my top flap in my regular shirting and my bottom flap in contrasting gingham. This makes things easier to see, too.
NOTE: The seam allowance for the flaps is 1/4" -- remember this when stitching.
You're sewing the top and bottom flap together - RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER - around three sides at 1/4". You'll want to trim the seam allowance down to approximately 1/8". You'll then turn your flap right side out and press.
Whenever I'm doing something in two, I do them both at the same time to make sure they're matched.
Some people may want to clip closer to the corners -- see how things look when you turn and press. Are the edges sharp and thin enough? You want to avoid visible bulk but don't drive yourself crazy.
If you're using a point turner (that little wooden tool that looks like a blunt letter opener) don't force the point into the fabric but rather form the fabric around the point. Smaller stitches make it less likely that you'll force the turner through the seam -- he he.
My two flaps completed, I now want to topstitch on those three stitched sides at 1/4". I'm making this entire shirt with my Singer 66 treadle -- call me crazy.
I choose not to attach these to the shirt yet. Let's make the pockets themselves.
The Negroni pocket is rounded at the bottom, which personally I find harder to make than a rectangular pocket. Sarai offers free downloadable pocket variations on her website here. If you're having a lot of trouble with those curves just try a different pocket shape.
The directions are clear and you should be able to get to this point (see pic) without too much grief.
Now things get trickier. You're going to want to stitch down those folds at 3/8" and turn them, just like you turned the pocket flaps. I found it helpful to clip the corners before turning.
Now to shape the pocket, some people like to stitch the fold line and use their stitches as a guide. I opted to make a cardboard template and shape the edges over that with my iron.
I used the pattern piece to cut the cardboard and then measured off 3/8" and cut again.
Now I put the template 3/8" from the edge of my fabric, clip my rounded corners and press the edges over my template (with the steam iron).
To hold pocket edges in place before stitching them I sometimes use white school glue, which washes out. A little dab is all it takes.
Perfect? No, but good enough for right now. The most important thing is that the two pockets match each other. If two matching pockets are too much, just add one. Or go with no pockets -- I nearly always do, just for the aesthetics.
There are many ways to make pockets, each with its own challenges and benefits. Whichever method you prefer, the more pockets you make the easier they'll be.
Friends, that's all we're going to do together today. If you breezed through pockets and pocket flaps and want to move on, please do. We'll be tackling sleeve plackets tomorrow. You can start experimenting with these on your own if you like. Sarai's instructions for plackets are the best I've ever seen but they can still be a bit of a mind bender. If you're confused, looking at a RTW men's shirt sleeve can help.
A few people had questions about using rotary cutters and I thought this image might help. My weight is primarily in my left arm and my right is rolling the blade. I'm using an Olfa 60 mm. cutter, a size I find neither too big nor too small. For places I can't get to easily with the blade, I use my shears.
If you have questions or comments, post them here or in the Flickr group, where we also have some excellent resource links shared by our participants.
Happy stitching, everybody!