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Mar 6, 2014

FIT Class # 6 -- Details, details, details!



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...

Have a great day, everybody!

36 comments:

  1. Love,love,love your site...I am making my very stylish younger brother a tailored shirt for his birthday later this month. I will be checking your site to steal tips and ideas.thanks in advance!

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  2. That collar is downright sexy. I'm so glad you're enjoying the class!

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  3. If you fold the sleeve pattern (or the sleeve) in half and then in half again you will end up with four quadrants. The front part of the sleeve is quadrant 1; the back is quadrant 4. The placket is placed on the line in between quadrants 3 and 4.

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  4. Well, you will soothe the shocking number of readers who seem to prefer that "men look like men" with today's post.

    All kidding aside, I am finding this series on your course experience so inspiring that I may enroll myself in a local class as well. If someone with your expertise can learn so much, a good course could work miracles for my sewing!

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  5. Thanks for the link back to your placket sew-along. With this knowledge and the sew-along, my plackets should turn out beautifully. I really appreciate you sharing your class with us. I live in the boonies, 100's of miles from any decent fashion college.

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  6. These posts are so interesting, thank you for sharing them with us. (I'm so glad you decided to take this course after all!). I remember reading somewhere (but can't remember where exactly) that top stitching in couture is done before the seams are sewn together. So, for instance, the to stitching line is sewn above the seam allowance of a cuff before the cuff is sewn onto the sleeve. This must've only been in situations where the to stitching was purely ornamental (so not like in my example perhaps) and was done that way to ensure conformity throughout. Somewhat unrelated, but your discussion reminded me of it! Rachel ☺

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  7. How will buttonholes be done in your class? Do the industrial machines that you all use have buttonhole capability? Or does FIT have an industrial machine that does buttonholes and nothing but bottonholes?

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    1. I guess I'll find out next week!

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    2. The machines are straight stitch machines, that's all they do. FIT does have some industrial Reece buttonhole machines, but they can be unreliable. In the past, the class has been sent to Jonathan Embroidery in the Garment District.

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  8. Great job. Your collar is sharp.

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  9. Nice shirt so far! The last photo's lighting looks like your thumb is bleeding from that pin.

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  10. Thanks for these posts. I love them. So glad you are taking the class and sharing it with us.

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  11. Maybe you add the two rows of stitching at the bottom of the little peaked-roofed house if it's a shirt that a person would roll the sleeves up often. That would put quite a bit of stress at that point

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  12. This class seems awesome. And your workmanship is beautiful.

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  13. I've made sleeve plackets like those three times. The last time I somehow managed to sew them backwards and that freaked me out so much I'm sort of scared of them now. Yours look great.

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  14. i am left with the idea that i should be practicing along with your posts. thanks for the exposure to a wonderful class and a person who sounds like a great instructor...

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  15. Your placket it looks very professional. Did you interface your placket? I never know whether I should interface mine or not. I can't wait to see you're finished the dickie. I see an A in your future.

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    1. As a rule, plackets are not interfaced. That said, if my fashion fabric were transparent (like silk organza) I could imagine using a lightweight opaque interfacing so you wouldn't see the turned-under seam allowances.

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    2. Thanks so much. My last placket was a little too bulky with interfacing.

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    3. Remember that interfacing is usually for stiffness; there's no need for the placket to be stiffer than the sleeve.

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  16. Thank you for sharing your class experience. The samples are beautiful and you will certainly be ready to turn out a professionally sewn shirt after the break.

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  17. "For better or for worse, solids don't lie." = another pearl from Peter.

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  18. I just did a short stint on plackets in my PM233 class. Our professor disccussed placement as being on the elbow line of the sleeve, so it'll be interesting to see what your Prof. B says!

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  19. Peter, I like the update
    and I did read the other post .. on masculine dressing, and I felt like you were speaking to me, having been ridiculed in the past for putting a touch of girly details in the clothing I make .. ie soft interfacing, more relaxed, choice of fabric in color, I must say it is time for men to get away from black, grey and blue ... even if I love navy blue ... to start pushing bright colors etc , I remember from the late 80's early 90's Byblos, did a lot of more pastels In beautiful fabrics for men, .. it brought a whole new meaning to me about how to dress masculine except bring that touch of woman's wear to men's clothing. I now strive to be less boring when I get dressed up ... that aside .. I do have some important questions:

    1. are you going to outline your fit - construction techniques that you are learning? ie industry construction techniques for putting your shirt together ?

    2. how do you like using an industrial sewing machine vs your vintage machines, and which of your vintage machine would you say gives you the best comparison to sewing on an industrial machine?

    all the best

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    1. Corey, I hope to do another men's shirt sew-along in the late spring or early summer; the last one was 3 years ago -- new and improved!

      As far as the machines go, I do like the industrials but I find backstitching a PITA as they can really fly if you're not careful. I have more control on my slower home machines; the stitch quality is comparable to my Bernina, Singers or even Kenmore (you need to have the tension balanced, obviously).

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    2. When I need to backstitch on my Juki industrial, I use my left hand on the reverse lever and my right hand on the hand wheel, and I backstitch one or two stitches. And yes, unless you have an electronic stitch control, the machine an get away from you very quickly.

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    3. I've tried that: it's extremely awkward.

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  20. For cotton fabrics, interfacing the plackets are not necessary since you usually can get sharp creases and edges. I have made several disco style shirts out of the poly charmeuse that Joanns sell, and I used light weight knit interfacing in the plackets and got great results, easy pressing resulting in nice edges and accurate topstitching without any bulk.
    interfacing

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  21. Most techniques have a reason for existing -- I never once questioned why we sewed across the bottom of that "little house" since it so obviously enclosed a raw edge. I do have to always stop and cogitate on which side faces which side, for turning and topstitching sleeve plackets. Also, I usually end up trying on the flat sleeve to remind myself how it will close around my arm, to place the placket properly. I have a couple of blouses that I wore anyway, with the plackets completely backward, sigh. I still don't know why I should have to measure from the selvedge to the grainline arrows -- along the entire length of the arrow -- when placing my pattern pieces onto the fabric to cut it out ... as per Our Miss Brooks in seventh grade home economics class. It seems an unnecessarily precise task for a fairly fluid medium like fabric. So, I don't do that any more.

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    1. I always check too, Lynn, by trying the flat sleeve on. You can't be too careful!

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  22. Thanks again for great FIT insights! I have a burning question: is the shirt placket you sewed on the course a one-piece or a two-piece? I always sew my shirt plackets as one piece, but have recently gotten the notion that two-piece plackets are the "professional way", although I really cant see any difference in end result, except that you can use two different fabrics for underlap and overlap in a two-piece placket, like you see in some shirts. what s your take? and what's prof. B's take :) ?

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    1. The placket we made for the dickey is just folded under 1 3/8" on the button side and twice 1 3/8" on the buttonhole side. When we make the shirt I guess we'll do something more advanced but I'm not sure which type of placket we'll learn. I'll keep you posted!

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    2. Oh sorry, Peter, I meant to say the sleeve placket :)

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