Friends, I want to teach you all about plackets. Actually, I'd like you to read this first, from Wikipedia, and spare me some work.
Those of us sewing the Colette Negroni pattern have it easy: the only plackets we have to deal with are the sleeve plackets above the cuff. Those sewing more traditional dress shirts are no doubt making a front placket, where the buttonholes will be sewn (on men's shirts, this is the left front side; on women's the opposite).
As you now already understand, front button plackets are generally reinforced with interfacing to strengthen an area that is subject to stress (pulling, opening and closing, etc.). If you're not sure whether you need to use interfacing or not, just ask yourself if the fabric you're using needs more support in that area. (I do not interface a back yoke but I always interface a collar stand.) Try it both ways and then use the method that you like best. There's no right or wrong here.
As far as a sleeve placket goes, no interfacing is called for.
Our goals today are:
1. Create our right and left sleeve plackets
2. Feel good about our right and left sleeve plackets
There are a few different ways of making sleeve plackets. One way, like the Negroni pattern, presents the placket as one extended pattern piece. Another is to use two separate pieces (a separate under placket and top placket piece). Either way it all adds up to the same thing.
As I said yesterday, the Negroni instructions are very well written. And yet...somehow...is it me? What is it about sleeve plackets that makes them so confusing? I hope the following helps.
For me, the biggest challenge with plackets is always remembering which sleeve is the right and which the left, and which is the right and wrong side of the fabric. I have sewn beautiful plackets only to discover they were upside down or backwards. I actually once considered having my arms switched just to preserve my work. This is a very painful operation, readers.
1. The Negroni shirt sleeve pattern piece, when facing up, is the LEFT sleeve. Do you see why? The two notches you see at the top of the shoulder (the rounded edge of the pattern piece) designate the BACK of the sleeve, the single notch the front. Lay that piece over your shoulder face up. The line showing where you'll cut the placket is on the back side of the sleeve. (You have to turn your head to see it if you're the wearer.) Do you get that? So make sure you see that placket on the side of the sleeve that has those double notches.
I recommend laying out both sleeve pieces, right side up, and making sure that the plackets on the two sleeves are mirror images of each other. The top placket (with the little peaked roof on top) folds over the bottom, or under placket, toward what will become the side seam. Again, the placket is beneath the double notches, the back of the sleeve.
OK, so start folding. A seam gauge will help here if you haven't traced the lines from the pattern onto your fabric (I didn't).
OK, now I'm going to tell you what not to do. Don't cut through the placket line on either the shirt or the placket piece until you have stitched around the 3-sided box (p. 20, diagram 8 of Negroni instructions). You'll have a much easier time.
Regardless, make all the little folds as described in the instructions. Surai shows the left sleeve. I am showing you the right. They should be mirror images of each other.
When you've made your folds on the placket piece and stitched your box (the wrong side of both shirt and placket should be facing up), slash your placket. You're cutting through both layers of fabric: the placket piece and the sleeve. Those Y-shaped slashes must be cut right up to the stitch line -- but not through it.
You're then going to turn your work over, with right side up, and push the placket through the slit. It may look messy at first. If there's way too much puckering, check to see if your Y-shaped slash is cut up far enough toward the stitch line.
Press your work. Now it's origami time.
Fold the smaller under placket over and edgstitch (approx. 1/8" or less) along the outer edge.
Now fold the top part of the placket over that. The top piece (with the pointed roof) of the placket should fully cover the under placket. Here's a tip: when you're folding down the little peaked roof, and pressing, if the fabric isn't holding in place, use a dab of white school glue. It's much easier to edgstitch fabric that isn't shifting beneath us.
Now edgestitch the outer edge of the top of the placket, up and over the top of the roof and down approximately 1" and then across. Make sure before you go across that you have enclosed raw edges of the under placket.
The finished right sleeve placket looks like this (I've already added the pleat in this photo, ignore that):
The left placket:
A few RTW versions are below. Look at some plackets on RTW shirts you own if you're unclear about where to stitch.
I think the challenge here is accurate edgestitching. You may want to use a stitch guide for this, or a straight stitch foot if you have one. Depending on the shirt pattern, the placket may be slightly longer or shorter, wider or more narrow. What's important is that on your shirt, the plackets are similar (ideally, identical) to each other.
2. Now we want to assess our work. How do your plackets look? Did you follow the Negroni instructions carefully? Post a few pics on our Flickr page if you care to.
BTW, I've started a new discussion thread, "Learn from my mistakes!" It's a great place to confess your screw up in hopes of preventing others from doing the same. It creates good karma.
How's it going so far? Questions, comments?
Tomorrow we'll interface what needs interfacing and make our collars.
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!