This week's class was dedicated to making shirtsleeve plackets.
If you've never made a sleeve placket, I explain the process in my 2011 Men's Shirt Sew-Along here.
Plackets can be tricky (we sewed our first one, at the beginning of class, on craft paper) but once you get the gist of it, it's pretty straightforward.
Despite my experience sewing shirts, I learned something new -- as I always do in this class. You know that narrow line of stitching that runs across the width of the placket, forming the bottom of the "little peaked roof"?
That line of stitching should be high enough to anchor down the turned-under bits beneath it (see photo below). You can pin from below and mark on top to make sure you're at the right height.
That never occurred to me before. If you sew that line of stitching too low, then the seam remains open and the turned-under corners of your sleeve placket (like those at the edge of a double welt pocket) could come out after repeated washings of the shirt. I asked about adding a second line of stitching, as one often sees on plackets (usually a bit lower down). Professor B. said that, since there's a button along the placket, that eliminates the stress point and hence the need for a second line of stitching.
We did not address where on the sleeve the placket goes, but
simply the creation of the placket itself (which we sewed onto a piece
of fabric we'd pre-cut for class). Professor B. did say, however, that since there's a slight curve to the
sleeve edge, the placket should be placed roughly 1/16 - 1/8" off the
edge, so you have something to trim down to (i.e., to shape the edge of
the placket so it mirrors that of the sleeve edge).
One of the best things about this class is the focus on being absolutely precise. The expectation that things look professional forces me to raise my game.
As I've said before, if I were learning all this for the first time, I'm not sure how I'd be doing. Most of the other students seem to be catching on and, if asked, I try to be helpful in a low-key way. (I'm learning too.) A few people, I notice, are struggling with shirting that tends to fray too easily, or with fabric patterns that are too distracting to allow you to see your work easily. For better or for worse, solids don't lie.
Here's one of the collars I made for Tuesday's class. It does look a bit nicer than most of the collars I generally make, which may also reflect the quality of the Sussman irons we use in class.
Something else, collar related: I was wondering why, last week, we were instructed to topstitch the collar band (from the inside) before the collar/collar band was attached to the shirt. Why wouldn't you do this after everything has been attached, and from the outside (as you generally do in home sewing)? Professor B. explained that, since, in the production of a factory-sewn shirt, many people are involved, you want the collar/collar band segment to be as close to finished as it can possibly be, so that it is ready for the person who's job it is to attach it to the shirt. Does that make sense?
Here's another shirtmaking tip -- though it could be used anywhere: When you're folding over your front plackets (on the front of your shirt, where the buttons and buttonholes go), to make sure you're folding the whole length of the placket evenly, insert straight pins along your fold line. When you fold and press, the pins will be perfectly flat against the surface of your ironing board when the seam is even -- and you can pull on the pins a bit to ensure this.
We're given a lot of these helpful hints, with the understanding that we're to use them if they help us, but there's no obligation. For example, I don't edgestitch with a zipper foot (as Professor B. recommends) because I'm used to using the edge of my straight stitch foot. Plus, changing a foot on an industrial machine requires a screwdriver.
Next week we'll attach the collar and collar band to the dickey itself, and then the following week we hand in our completed dickey, to be evaluated as our midterm. The week after that we have break and then it's on to making our final shirt (for which we've already practiced making cuffs and sleeve placket). Time marches on...
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!