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How to Sew a Men's Shirt - First Steps

One of my great pleasures in being able to sew is in making things for others to enjoy. When my son was young, I made many of his clothes and on occasion, I would make matching button-down shirts for him and his father. Now that he is a teenager, he is a bit horrified by the idea of me making anything for him, unfortunately, but I still like to make shirts for my husband and when I spotted this Star Wars fabric the other day, I knew it was time to make him another shirt. Comic books and Star Wars together? There was no way I was leaving the store without it.

Men's (or boy's) shirts may seem intimidating because of the front placket and collar elements, but I actually find them to be easier than making women's clothes because they don't have as many fitting issues, especially casual style shirts (dressy, fitted shirts are more complicated). I am going to explain the process as I go in the hopes that you will be inspired to make a shirt yourself. It really is a lot of fun and it impresses people to no end, especially when you use a unique fabric.

The Pattern


Here are a few of the available pattern options for making a casual style men's shirt:

Mens Hawaiian Aloha Shirt #210 - This is my favorite pattern for making Hawaiian style shirts. The pattern is well drafted, and includes extended sizes up to 4XL. There are two styles, a standard button-down and a pull-over style with a short button placket at the neck opening. The instructions are clear and easy to understand.
Victoria Jones Aloha Shirt 210


Simplicity 5581 - This is one of the patterns that I have used before. It is fairly simple to put together and there is no back yoke. It includes a boy's pattern in the same style as well.
Simplicity 5581


Kwik Sew 3484 - I haven't used this particular pattern, but Kwik-Sew is a reliable pattern brand. I like this pattern because of the color block option. This is another fairly simple pattern with no back yoke and no collar stand.
Kwik Sew 3484



If you are interested in making a men's shirt, grab a pattern and some fabric and follow along with me as I explain and show the steps involved beginning with how to lay out the patterns and cut the fabric all the way through the finishing details. It typically takes me about 1 1/2 - 2 hours to cut out the fabric and 3-4 hours to sew the shirt from start to finish. I am meticulous (my husband says obsessive, but what does he know?) about matching pattern motifs along the front opening and pockets and I will show you some tricks for doing this. Please note that if you want to be able to pattern match your fabric as well, purchase between 1/2 a yard to a yard of extra fabric. One factor that affects how much extra fabric you will need is the pattern repeat. Typically, the larger the distance between the repeat, the more fabric you will need for matching.

If you are interested in purchasing Hawaiian style fabric, the best source that I have found is HawaiianFabricShop.com. I have ordered from them multiple times and the fabric is high quality and they ship quickly. Do make sure that you order enough fabric, because they do sell out of designs from time to time. They offer both 100% cotton and polyester/cotton blends.

In the next installment, I will explain the steps for Preparing the Pattern.

Until next time, happy sewing!

How to Sew a Men's Shirt Lesson Index

How to Sew a Men's Shirt - First Steps
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Preparing the Pattern
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Reading the Pattern
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Cutting the Fabric
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Matching the Fabric
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Pocket
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing the Yoke
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing Shoulder Seams
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing the Collar
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - the Collar Stand
How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing the Sleeves

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