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How to Sew a Men's Shirt - Sewing Shoulder Seams

The next step is to sew the shoulder seams, attaching the left and right fronts to the yoke. The shoulder seams will be encased inside the yoke and yoke facing. There are two methods that I have used to do this. One is slightly easier, but doesn't look quite as nice. I will explain both and you can choose which one works best for you.

Yoke and Shoulder Seam Top Stitching Method

  1. Press the shoulder seam allowances of the yoke facing toward the wrong side, the amount of the seam allowance.

  2. Sew the left shirt front to the left side yoke piece, right sides together. Repeat on the right side using the right shirt front. Make sure the yoke facing piece is kept separate. Press seams toward the yoke.

  3. Flip the shirt over so that the yoke facing is on top. Lay the yoke facing flat so that the pressed over edges match up with the shoulder seam line you just sewed. Pin or baste in place. If you use pins, pin from the right side so that you can remove the pins easily in the next step.

  4. On the right side of the shirt, stitch just above the shoulder seam so that the seam catches the folded edge that you have pinned/basted in place.

Yoke and Shoulder Seam "Burrito" Method

For these illustrations, I made a smaller scale mockup with fabric that is easier to see than the Star Wars fabric.

Here you can see the completed shirt back sample with the yoke and yoke lining pressed so that they are aligned at the shoulder seam.
sewing men's shirt yoke


Baste the left shirt front to the left side of the yoke FACING, right sides together. Use a slightly smaller seam allowance than called for to eliminate the basting seam from showing when the final seam is sewn. Repeat on the right side using the right shirt front (not shown in the sample image).

Make sure that the yoke piece is not caught in the seam (see next photo for clarification).
sewing men's shirt yoke


This image shows how the shirt front should be sewn to the yoke facing, keeping the yoke free.
sewing men's shirt yoke



Place your shirt on a flat surface with the shirt fronts facing up. The yoke facing should be up and the yoke should be folded down (you can see the faint outline of the yoke showing through the shirt back).

Start rolling up the shirt fronts toward the shoulder seam as tightly as you can and rest them close to the shoulder seam.
sewing men's shirt yoke


Next, roll up the shirt back in the same fashion toward the shoulder seams (you can roll them up together, but rolling them separately makes it easier to turn them right side out later). The yoke will become exposed as you roll up the shirt back.
sewing men's shirt yoke



Once the shirt fronts and back have been rolled up, pull the yoke piece up and over the rolls and align it with the basted shoulder seam. The right sides of the yoke and yoke facing should should be facing each other. Pin the seam, making sure that the fabric rolls are kept clear of the seam area.
sewing men's shirt yoke


Starting at the armhole edge, sew the shoulder seam, removing the pins as you go. I recommend starting at the armhole because this is the narrower side and the rolled up fabrics can make that seam tight and a bit difficult to sew. I have found that if you start on the other side, the seam can become crooked as you approach the tighter area because your sewing machine foot may try to push away from the rolled up fabric.
sewing men's shirt yoke


Check the seam to make sure it is straight. Press it flat and then turn the shirt right side out. Do this by reaching through the neckline and gently pull on the rolled up fabric pieces, bringing them out through the neckline area (this is one of the reasons why it is important to staystitch the neckline).
sewing men's shirt yoke


Ta da! Now your shoulder seams are clean on the outside and inside. Press each shoulder seam flat and admire your handiwork!
sewing men's shirt yoke


The next tutorial will focus on sewing the collar together.

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

David Coffin is the go-to person for learning how to make men's clothing and tailored clothing.


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This content was written by Tamara Bostwick. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Tamara Bostwick for details.



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