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Feb 10, 2011

Men's Shirt Sew-Along 10 -- Finishing Up!

It doesn't seem possible but it's true: today the first part of the MPB Men's Shirt Sew-Along draws to a close.

Now I have a suspicion, judging from your comments (and lack thereof) that not everybody is at this point in their projects yet.  Let me reiterate: no one is required to have a muslin done by today; you are always allowed to work at your own pace.

That said, I do require all Sew-Along participants to have a completed shirt-like garment (no ponchos please) by the end of February, past which point you must personally request a 15-day extension.  Those who still have not completed a garment by March 15 will receive an Incomplete and may be required to attend summer school.  And please don't try removing the label from a store-bought shirt and using that -- you're only cheating yourself.

I try to be lenient but invariably some take advantage.  Like a nosebleed, a little gentle pressure helps.

And now onward.

Our goals today are:

1. Clip facings (Did we do that already?), turn and press

2. Attach buttons and make buttonholes

3. Hem

4. Pat yourself on the back or wherever you like patting

1. I think I covered clipping the corners of our front facings to create nice sharp top corners on our shirt fronts.  Now let's be sure to clip (or grade) the rest of our front facings too.  Once we stitch on our buttons and make our buttonholes, we'll no longer have access to them.

Basically we want to remove bulk wherever we find it.  When you're done, press the facings once again: we want to make sure that when we sew on buttons and make buttonholes, the facings lay perfectly flat against our shirt fronts.

2.  Now we're ready to talk buttons and buttonholes.

NOTE: I found the top button as marked on the Negroni pattern to be too high for my neck.  Button placement is very much a question of personal preference.  Before you attach your buttons, have the wearer try the garment on.  Where would he/she like the first (top) button to go?  Remember that the Negroni has a camp collar which spreads at the top.

 I generally don't mark my buttonholes until my shirt is nearly done and my Negroni muslin was no different.  I forgot, however, when I marked them that the pattern includes a 5/8" seam allowance.  I attached my buttons and then wondered why they were so far in from the edge (and why the shirt felt snug up front) until I remembered this.  Luckily buttons are easily removed and reattached, not so buttonholes.  Please don't make this mistake!

The button line should be 5/8" in from the edge of the shirt front, or 1 1/4" from the edge of the pattern piece.  Is that clear?  (The orange line above shows the seam allowance on the shirt front pattern piece.)

Having marked my buttons with the supposedly-disappearing ink pen, I proceed to stitch the buttons on.  I use a zigzagger sewing machine to do this.  I tape the button down first and then, using my button foot and with the feed dogs down, stitch them in place.

I am then ready to make my front buttonholes which, like my pocket flap buttonholes, I make with my vintage Singer buttonholer.  Again, make sure your facings are flat against your shirt front.  If you're making a men's shirt, the buttonholes should be on the left front side.

I always reinforce my buttonhole with a bit of Fray Check.

Now add your buttonholes to your cuffs.  Buttonholes go on the top (or over) placket side; the button is attached to the under placket side.  I've gotten these mixed up in the past with disappointing results.

I also add my buttons to my shirt pockets.

3. Now it's time to hem the shirt.  The method I generally use here is to fold the hem up approximately 1/8" (or as narrow as I can get it), stitch, and then fold up again and stitch once more.

I decided to get a little fancy this time and, after finishing my first line of stitching from front to front,  finished the front facings by stitching them right sides together and then turning them right side out.  This resulted in less bulk along the width of the facing.

I stitched the facings (right sides together) at approximately 1/4".

I clipped the bulk in the corner.

And I turned right side out.

I then stitched the rest of the shirt hem a second time.

And there you have it, friends -- my muslin is done and I need a shave.

The fit on me is good though not perfect.  Somebody with wider shoulders has already laid claim to it, however.

I'll address fit later.  For right now, I am happy to be finished!

I see in our Flickr group that quite a few people have posted photos of their muslins and most look awful nice.  Now it's time to evaluate our results.  Get those husbands dressed and photographed, whatever it takes.

Congratulations to those who've stayed with me thus far.  To the many who are catching up (or just getting started), hang in there.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. I'm not doing the same pattern for the sew along but yours looks so great I think I will have to add it to my wish list. Maybe I'll get it as a gift for my husband. That counts right?

  2. AGH! I am woefully behind the group, but did get the front, back and one sleeve in my muslin last night. I have a fitting issue-my husband is really tall, but not wide shouldered. The shoulder/sleeve seam hangs about 2 inches below where it should, and the shirt in the arm area is all bunched, front and back. (oh, I am using a Burda pattern, not the one most of you are using). I am thinking, if I just shave off at the top of the shoulder, and not the entire armscye, it will hang properly? then I will need to add length to the sleeve for him. Any suggestions? If this has been posted on the Flicker group, please redirect me. Thanks!

  3. Note to self: no more sipping coffee while reading MPB. Aack! Peter, your project completion warnings had me grinning, but the "gentle pressure/nosebleed" comment outright cracked me up ... fortunately for my computer's health and wellbeing, I had just swallowed. Alas, I'm not sewing along (this time), just following along from the sidelines, for education and entertainment. No disappointment on either count. Lookin' forward to Part 2.

  4. After playing catch-up this week due to a death in the family (no sewing time at all last week), I am up to adding the cuffs tonight and possibly even finishing up with the hem, buttons and buttonholes. I only added one pocket with no flap, as I knew I wouldn't wear it (if wearable) with both.

    I definitely like the shirt, although the muslin would benefit (as would I) with another 20 pounds gone. This plan is also in the works.

    Thanks very much for posting the link to Pam Erny's site and her method of attaching interfacing to the facing. I am using a sew-in (good quality cotton muslin) and I used this technique, stitching a narrow hem then turning the muslin over the edge and stitching in the ditch. It does look very much like piping; I'll try to get a picture posted.

    Truly enjoying the sew-along!

  5. Your "muslin" looks great! Seems like Michael will be getting more than 1 shirt (when I get my act together) out of this sew-along. ;-)

    I hope I won't need an extension and can catch up once my costume sewing is done. But I'm still intimidated by felled seams, so I hope my procrastinate urge doesn't derail me.

  6. I'am catching up, quick quick...just got the pattern !!!!

  7. I thought it was interesting that you attached your buttons *before* sewing button holes! On the patterns I've worked with, it's quite the opposite.

    On several of the shirts I've made prior to this sew-along, the button holes are placed a full inch from the edge front and are typically 3" apart, not so on the Negroni. Interesting, I'll have to see what difference it makes, if any.

  8. I'm not sewing a shirt, but I have to say that you did a beautiful job with the muslin. I really am interested to see the final shirt.

    Debbie, if I can do flat felled seams, anybody can do flat felled seams!

  9. On the buttons, I lay a pin across the center between the holes before I tape down the button before sewing it on, so the thread leaves room for the fabric when the buttonhole is fastened.

  10. Yes, I have sewed nothing. A nagging piriformis injury is making it impossible to sit for longer than 30secs. I aim to have muslin completed and on said husband by the end of Saturday. I'm impressed that you sew buttons by machine. That scares the crap out of me.

  11. Yeah, I'm scared of sewing buttons by machine too but I think I have the foot and it must be so, so much faster than by hand. Might have to try on some scrap. Inspiring. I am maybe halfway through my second muslin which I hope will be a wearable shirt, although my husband is a bit iffy about the fabric.

  12. Jane and Carol - even if you turn the handwheel by hand to sew on buttons, it's still faster than doing all the sewing by hand. ;-)

  13. Piriformis! I had to look that up.

    Debbie's right, ladies: use your zigzagger to attach those buttons. With the feed dogs down I straight stitch a few times in one hole, then adjust the zigzag width so that the needle moves to the adjacent hole, and then stitch back and forth maybe 10 times, then back to straight stitch in the first hole. Does that makes sense?

    It helps if you have needle adjustment too; it's easier to move the needle than the button once it's under the foot.

  14. Just peeked at the photos on the flicker group- congratulations everybody! I really look forward to part 2 and am sure I'll be returning to Peter's posts for help when I start a shirt. That won't happen till well after the sew along is over alas.

  15. Hi Peter,

    I'm running a titch behind, and am wondering - when you do the flat felled seams, should the edge stitching show on the outside of the garment? I have found this step mildly confusing, and have sort of created a french-looking seam. Thanks!

  16. Rachel, yes. The edgestitching should run parallel to the first stitch line, approximately 1/4" from it.

  17. I am completely behind, as my muslin is not even cut out but I am confident that I'll be caught up by this weekend.

    I can't believe Debbie Cook is intimidated by anything sewing related, either.:0

  18. I'm way behind because of travel last week, but the muslin is almost ready for DH to try on. Hope I don't encounter huge fitting issues, though this pattern looks like it's cut for the slim athletic type. However, I'm motivated by the two beautiful shirting fabrics I bought from Silk Road and can't wait to get them sewn. Glad to see I'm not the only one who's way behind schedule. Rock on, sewers.

  19. Everything done except button placement, will have to wait for my husband to get home to try it on for that. I will probably not end up actually sewing buttons on it since I have no intention of it being a wearable muslin. Will use it to do some practice buttonholes though. I'm mostly happy with it, have a few questionable parts on the cuffs but I think I learned enough to be able to pull it off on the real garment! I will post pictures as soon as I can get my husband in it. I am looking forward to some feedback on the fit.

  20. Would it be appropriate for me to share my blogged button-sewing by machine tutorial? I didn't want to without asking. :)

    Also, @Debbie: I just flat-felled both the sleeve/shoulder AND the side seams, and it was totally NBD! I **know** you will have no problem. :) I think you're just being modest.

  21. Thank you, Peter! You're so nice!

    Here it is: The Macaroni & Cheese Method! How to Machine-Sew a Button!

  22. Yikes! I'm several weeks behind, obviously. And just finished my muslin tonight, so I feel the need to apologize for being late, and thank you for continuing to forge ahead without us (me).

  23. Do you read comments on old posts? I would love to let you know how helpful these sew along posts are for people attempting shirts and jeans long after the sew along has ended.

    I would also love to know which template you used for your buttonholes.

    Thank you for your wonderful, informative and super charming blog.

    1. Yes, I do! Thanks for the kind words, Ms. McCall.

      I think I used a 5/8" template, or one size up; I honestly don't remember. Of course, your choice will depend on the size of your button.

  24. to make the side flat-felled seam lay, um, flat. in the armpit angle, especially. fear I have butchered beyond! Liz

    1. Liz, does your side seam include flat-felled seams from the shoulder? Have you tried steaming and pressing with a wooden clapper? What is your fabric?

  25. Some of the pictures no longer load larger versions...

    1. Unfortunately the photos are no longer hosted on Picasa, but rather Google photos, where they can no longer be supersized.


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