Even if you don’t work in an office, a shirt will always manage to end up in your wardrobe. A tailored – I mean fitted – shirt is even better; it makes you stand out from the crowd by showing off your body in a “sexy” but acceptable way. Whilst this class doesn’t teach you how to fit garments, it will teach you how to sew a professional shirt that could easily cost $100 or more from a quality store.
Lesson 1 – Introduction
Pam discusses her history, such as how she got started with sewing. I loved the story of how her friend commissioned her to make her wedding dress not long after Pam got started, and they even provided a photo of the dress on the day.
The Classic Tailored Shirt class should teach you how to sew a classic tailored shirt, as the name suggests, which includes a separate band collar, machine stitched pockets, sleeves with plackets and cuffs, and a topstitched double yoke.
Lesson 2 – The Anatomy of a Shirt
This lesson demonstrates the features of the shirt. For example you will see what a separate band and collar looks like, a no dart front (typical of this style), sleeves with plackets and pleats, a separate yoke and a shaped hem line with flat felled seams.
About the Pattern
For this class you will be using Kwik Sew #3555, View A with long sleeves. Pam does cover some other pattern options, and is kind enough to offer discount links to these patterns in the class materials section.
Adjustments For This Class
The Kwik Sew pattern only has a 1/4″ seam allowance. For the type of seams that Pam plans to teach, you will need to go and increase the seam allowances to the standard 5/8″. Pam shows you how to simply do this with some coloured wax paper and a notched pattern wheel. The only places you won’t need to add the extra seam allowance is the centre front and centre back.
Pam suggests the following fabrics: linen, 100% cotton broadcloth, 100% cotton Oxford cloth, cotton sateen, or for the cooler months a pin whale corduroy.
Pam explains the differences between interfacings such fusible woven cotton, non-woven fusible cotton and soft knit.
A nice part of the lesson is when Pam also covers other notions that you might not own but are quite helpful to have, such as a teflon iron shoe.
Lesson 3 – Lay Out, Cut Out
If you are familiar with cutting your fabric then you will most likely be able to do this lesson without watching the video. However if you are a beginner at sewing, then this lesson might be quite appreciated.
Pam demonstrates how to make sure that your pattern is laid accurately on grain, even going as far as to explain why it should be done.
Pam shows you how to cut the material accurately with the standard tailor’s shears that most people will own.
Other than cutting out the patterns, Pam covers the importance of marking your pattern such as clipping your patterns and how to make “speed tailor’s tacks”.
Using some smaller cardboard templates Pam explains how to match different types of patterns or fabric with nape, including the possibility that you might need to buy extra fabric just to be safe.
Unmatched dominant stripes will be quite noticeable, particularly when it comes to the shoulders; Pam shows you how to match these strong stripes.
If you are planning to buy patterns or stripes to your fabric, this is a very short but handy part of the lesson to watch. Pam provides a singular example on how sometimes a pattern isn’t made on grain, and thus unfortunately cannot be used.
Lesson 4 – Shirt Front Option
If you wish to have a slightly more fitted shirt, Kwik Sew #3027 has darts. This whole lesson is about how to sew and press darts.
Lesson 5 – Shirt Fronts
The first step will be to press the front band in preparation to sew.
Pin and Sew the Band
Pinning perpendicularly to the band will help stop the front band from skewing whilst you sew. You don’t need many pins, but a few will just help you get that perfect result. Also consider using a specialized foot to help you get nice straight top-stitching. Pam only shows you how to sew one of the front bands, but honestly you will get the idea even if you are a beginner following along.
Sewing the Pocket
Pam’s shirt has only one pocket – in which case the pocket will traditionally be placed upon the left front of the shirt. You can choose to have none, one or two.
In order to make sure that the pocket is accurate, Pam sews each edge at 5/8″ (exactly where the fold will fall). This is a handy little technique; I often find that my pockets will ever so slightly skew when sewn.
Just notice that Pam sews the pocket flap on the wrong side of the fabric. I actually prefer my flap sewn to the front, so the topstitching sits just above a visible fold of fabric. Just personal preference.
Attaching the Pocket
You don’t simply back-stitch your pocket to secure it in place; instead you should sew a decorative reinforcement stitch. This not only looks much neater, but actually reduces the stress placed upon the pocket corners, spreading any pull across several stitches rather than one. This is vital if you regularly place items in your shirt pockets – the added stress can ultimately lead to rips and holes forming around back-stitches.
Lesson 6 – Shirt Back and Shoulders
Make a note when starting this lesson; the pattern Pam is using includes a double layer of fabric for the back yoke. Not all patterns will include this style feature in which case you can skip the first third of the lesson, but if your’s does then this step will include how to lay out the material in order to get the best results.
Attaching Fronts and Backs
Since you are working with a double yoke, you will start by sewing the front yoke and the front of the shirt together.
The Yoke Trick
If you do ever sew a shirt with a double yoke, then Pam’s trick taught here is an absolute must. A number of times I have twisted and pulled the material to try and sew it… Pam’s trick of rolling the fabric honestly makes me wonder why I never thought of doing it that way before. It’s one of those things you probably wouldn’t think of yourself, but once you know it, its a no brainer.
Lesson 7- Collar and Band
A tailored shirt will have an ever so slightly smaller under-collar – thus when worn you will never see the under collar poking out.
Assuming you have never used iron-on interfacing before, Pam walks you through the steps.
Notice that buttonholes actually vary sides based on gender; women’s buttonholes will be on the right and men’s on the left. It’s a historical reference to when hand-maidens would dress the ladies.
Sew all edges with right sides together, leaving the neck side open. When pressing, favor the upper collar. Finally topstitch.
Joining Collar and Band
It’s important to lay the proper sides of fabric together; ultimately you want the interfaced section of the collar to face outwards and the interfaced band to sit against your neck. Notch the corners and press.
Collaring the Shirt
Sew the collar to the shirt with right sides together, easing excess fabric evenly across the entire seam. Fold the collar right side out and pin the collar edges in place.
Pam hand stitches the entire collar edge down, but you can chose to topstitch it in place if you’d rather.
Lesson 8 – Sleeve Plackets and Cuffs
Another noticeable feature of a quality tailored shirt is the placket – think that V opening that allows you to unbutton the cuffs.
This is one aspect that people struggle sewing; it’s small and fiddly. Pam covers how to install a placket in great detail. I have to say that I love this part of the lesson as I somehow almost always end up ruining my plackets. It’s also helpful to know this step as I have come across a few shirt patterns that don’t include instructions for cutting a strip of fabric for the placket when it is needed.
Extend your interfacing just past the fold line of your cuff to make sure that you get a nice crisp fold.
Lesson 9 – Setting In the Sleeves
Line up your notches, remembering that one notch represents the front and two represents the back of the sleeve.
Pressing the Shoulder
You will need to trim your seams, before using a tailor ham to press the seams towards the sleeve. By pushing them towards the sleeve, as opposed to towards the body, will help the sleeve cap fall a bit more smoothly onto the arm by providing that “puff”.
If you have never sewn a flat-felled seam, then you are really missing out; it’s my favourite seam since it’s so easy and quick to make, and yet is a very effective way of hiding raw edges whilst looking great from both the inside and outside of your garment.
The next step of the lesson is to “wear” the garment so that a fit buddy can pin the side seams (and underarm seams) to make sure that the garment will comfortably fit you. I prefer adjusting the pattern prior to cutting fabric, or you can just continue sewing the shirt according to the pattern.
Once you have sewn your side seams, you should once again sew flat-felled seams.
Lesson 10 – Pleats and Cuffs
Your cuff will be slightly larger than the sleeve edge; this allows you to close and then fold the cuff so no raw edges are seen.
Pressing Pleats and Cuffs
Press the pleats as you would for the finished product.
Sewing and Turning Cuffs
With right sides together, sew the edges of your cuff together. That way when you turn your fabric out, no raw edges will be seen.
Like the collar, Pam hand stitches the cuff in place.
Lesson 11 – Buttons, Hems and Finishing
It’s very important to place your second button down at the bust point – it’s ok if your top button isn’t the same distance between the other buttons.
Pam uses a buttonhole foot to sew her buttonholes and a buttonhole sized chisel to open the holes.
To make pressing easier, sew a guide stitch along the fold line. Double roll your hem and stitch.
Top-Stitching The Cuff
Since other sections of the garment are top-stitched, it makes sense to do these same finishing details on the cuff.
Edge-Stitching the Collar
Similar to top-stitching the cuff, you want to edge-stitch the collar to help give a decorative finish.
Sew your buttons on to your shirt.
Lesson 12 – Variations on a Theme
Pam shows you how different types of fabrics – such as linen or silk dupioni – can give different looks. She also very briefly introduces the idea of a franken-pattern; combining two or more patterns to create a unique look. by combining different materials and patterns appropriately, you can even create jackets with linings.
There are 11 different shirts and jackets that Pam shows you, proving the vast different looks that you can create.
- Metric Conversion Chart PDF, provided with all Craftsy sewing classes.
- Supplies and Instructions PDF which details the required and optional supplies, notions, recommended resources for buying supplies, a list of helpful books and sewing terms, and detailed instructions and patterns for certain steps taken in the class.
- Discounts – usually about 20% – of fabric sold by Mood Design.
- Discounts – usually about 20% – of select Kwik Sew patterns #3586 (Women’s Plus Size 1X – 4X), #3422 (Mens S-XXL) and #3555 (Misses S-XL).
Pam freely admits when she makes mistakes, and regularly reminds the viewer that it takes practice to achieve some of the skills. For a beginner, this reassurance is very calming and positive.
Pam takes each step nice and slow, but an intermediate or advanced sewer might find this frustrating. Despite this, she is very thorough
The Classic Tailored Shirt is really designed with beginners in mind; it takes the viewer through the complete process of types of material, to how to prep and cut material and finally how to construct the garment. A beginner will really benefit from some of the technique lessons, such as how to sew darts. The course, in essence, is a step by step visual guide of how to sew tailored shirts.
I believe intermediate sewers will find the class too slow for them as many of the skills required would have already been developed. Advanced sewers will probably not find anything helpful in this class.
Having said all of that, if you are a person that wears a lot of tailored shirts and you want to save some money by sewing them – or even making them perfectly fitted or unique to yourself – then you may very well enjoy this class. Overall, The Classic Tailored Shirt by Pam Howard effectively teaches all the foundations that you will need to know in order to produce professional quality shirts.