Further adventures in shirtmaking

It’s good to be talking shirts again. The last one I finished was over a year ago! The inspiration for this one was certainly the fabric, a plaid cotton-linen blend I bought this summer with every intention of making something for myself. I was holding the fabric up to my face, using the mirror in Nathan’s office, and pondering what I should make when his eyes lit up and he complimented… the fabric. There is a world of difference between “that’s an awesome fabric” and “that fabric looks awesome on you.” Begrudgingly, I held the fabric up to his face and it looked so much better on him that the decision was made.

crabandbee.com | Plaid men's shirt, McCall's 6044

(The plaids match because I spent what felt like hours making sure – looks like they’re a bit askew in this pic!)

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about plaid placement, spending a little bit of time each day over a week. I drew lines on my pattern where I wanted the dark horizontal stripes to land, pondered the benefits of a yoke on the grain vs. on the bias, sorted out how to continue the line across the sleeve… all efforts that paid off in the end. You can’t just cut into a plaid without a plan, especially when you work with it as infrequently as I do. I believe the last time I touched a plaid was in 2011, on a shirt for myself that has long since been donated to the Goodwill.

I also used this shirt as an opportunity to make the following changes to the McCall’s 6044 pattern:

  • Reduced the sleeve fullness at the bottom by slashing and closing
  • Made what I understand to be a modified French placket
  • Widened the placket to 1.25″
  • Removed 1/8″ from the undercollar and inner collar band seam allowance
  • Added a back yoke (same as black shirt)
  • Graded from a large in the shoulders/arm scye to a medium through the waist (same as both previous versions)

crabandbee.com | Plaid men's shirt, McCall's 6044

Semi-scientific sleeve fullness comparison.

crabandbee.com | Plaid men's shirt, McCall's 6044

I decided to use a French placket with stitching – is there a proper name for this? – because I thought it would both look nicer and be easier to sew. Instead of using the placket piece included in the pattern, I extended the shirt front and folded it over twice and edge- and top-stitched. I love it – how often does “easier” and “better-looking” intersect? Both of the other shirts look puckered where the shirt front and placket were stitched together after going through the wash.

I also used Andrea’s order of operations for sewing on a collar – highly recommended. Instead of fusible interfacing, I used a stiff cotton lawn for my collar and collar band; with the smaller undercollar and inner collar band, the collar curves ever so slightly and is really well-behaved. Still working on the perfect points, though – they’re not as sharp as they look in the image above.


I forgot for a second time that I need to reduce the upper back width; I hackily removed 3/8″ from the back arm scye, grading to nothing at the shoulder, but I think there’s about 3/4″ or more of excess on either side. Unlike me, I think Nathan is broader in the front and may not need the larger size in the back. A pattern-making puzzle to consider; what does that do to the sleeve pattern?

crabandbee.com | Plaid men's shirt, McCall's 6044

This shirt has quickly overtaken the other two as Nathan’s favorite. How gratifying is that? While I’d like to claim that using this gorgeous fabric on something for Nathan is selfless, I really can’t – I get to see him wearing it all the time.


I started the shirt after a post-Scraptember dress break and have since started a jacket I’ve meant to sew since May! If you could see the instructions, you’d know why it never sounded good to start. Why yes, it is a Burda pattern – how did you guess? But it’s almost finished and I’m loving the results. Even if my welt pocket has a pucker in the corner…

crabandbee.com | Burda collarless jacket


44 thoughts on “Further adventures in shirtmaking

  1. Nathan’s shirt is a dose of motivation for me to get back to work on the shirt I’m making for Mike. I lost desire to work on it a couple weeks ago. It’s really cool that This has become a favorite shirt. It’s awesomely satisfying to have gracious recipients!

    1. I so agree – I don’t generally sew for others because I don’t like investing time in a project someone may not like or use. Nathan is a great exception and he lets me make him try the project on at every stage of construction, which I find weirdly motivating! Sometimes making shirts sounds great, and other times I’m just not in the mood. I hope you enjoy the process when you get back into it. 🙂

  2. wow this shirt looks awesome. you’re so good. i made my husband a shirt once and the fit was just a little off from what he likes, so it was rejected outright. good thing it was only a t-shirt!

    1. Thanks so much! Standard men’s clothing is so unadorned that it’s very obvious when something isn’t quite right to the wearer! Nathan has actually gotten rid of the first two buttoned shirts I made him (with my blessing) because they both had something wrong with them – tight through the chest, shabby fabric, weird print placement on the placket – and I think the third might be on its way out soon.

  3. It looks great! I’m especially impressed with how you matched the stripes across the front and sleeves. I need to get back into making men’s shirts — it’s been a while. Thanks for the inspiration!

    One idea about making the back fit more closely (if that’s what you’re aiming for): in addition to taking width out of the back, consider making the top of the shirt back piece (the side that gets sewn to the bottom of the yoke) a slight convex curve instead of a straight line. (The bottom of the yoke remains a straight line.) The effect is basically like taking out a small horizontal dart on each side of the shirt back. I learned about it in David Page Coffin’s shirtmaking book, and it really helps get rid of that extra fabric in the back/underarm area, and makes the back of the shirt look a lot smoother. Anyway, just a thought! 🙂

  4. That is a gorgeous shirt on him – impeccably made of course. Your stitching on that one is to die for… and your sneaky peak of your jacket is divine. The diagonal stripes next to your silver zip teeth is lovely together. I didn’t even notice the pucker in your welt and was happily admiring it until you pointed it out! Can a good pressing tame it?
    That tip above sounds wonderful. I just recently acquired that shirtmaking book… I really must start reading it! It’s like I think that simply by acquiring the book and installing it on my bookshelf, that somehow I automatically imbibe the knowledge. Der, you have to actually read it Melanie!

    1. Haha, I do that, too. Or, I lightly breeze through multiple sections until they’re all a jumble in my head!

      I *think* that pucker is because I was battling between a welt that met the seamline and a facing that was completely flat. I actually didn’t notice the problem until I took a picture of it – it’s hard to even see the welts when I’m trying it on – so it’s not horrible but I am interested in learning more about why it happened.

  5. Sharp as! That check matching is so pleasing to the eye! Conversation with the husband: ‘who’s that dude?’ ‘Someone who’s wife makes him shirts’ ‘oh. Wish I was one of those’. Worlds smallest violin plays in background.

    1. Thank you, Gail! I’m guessing I would still be dithering about what to make for myself instead of made up into a shirt if I’d kept it 🙂

  6. This looks awesome! The plaid is so striking and it’s perfectly placed! You’ve reminded me I need to adjust the sleeve fulness on this pattern before I make it again… I completely forgot! I’m really looking forward to seeing your jacket! As for the little pucker, you can try hitting it with steam, then sort of dragging your thumbnail over it to kind of stretch it out. My tailoring teacher says that’s totally legitimate. 🙂

    1. Ooh, you’re taking tailoring… very cool! I’m going to try your teacher’s method and will report back! And I have no idea why that sleeve is so fluffy.

  7. the shirt looks amazing. love the fabric you used and the bias elements, but i can’t get over the little sneak peek of the jacket! it looks amazing!

  8. I don’t know, I think it’s at least semi-selfless. At the very least it merits a replacement fabric for you. 🙂

    It looks great, and looks great on him. I can see why it would become a favourite.

  9. That’s a seriously nice shirt! I’m not sure that I could have given up that gorgeous fabric, but gosh it looks good in shirt form. Can’t wait to see your jacket!

  10. Hahahaha – love the “he complimented the…. fabric” LOL – been there, just haven’t actually made anything with that wonderful black and white buffalo check – it’s mine darnit MINE. Okay but your awesome post is really making me reconsider. He looks great in this shirt, the fabric IS awesome, and I am super pumped to see that jacket! 🙂

  11. Oooo gorgeous shirt for a gorgeous guy!! I’m actually enjoying sewing for my guy more often than I ever thought, and it IS a pleasure to see them wearing the stuff we made! Although Nick gets a bit annoyed anytime we’re together and he’s wearing one of my handmades as I tend to zone out, staring lovingly at a particularly nice area of topstitching or something! Ha! But this looks great – beautiful job! And I’m excited by that jacket!

    1. Aww, I passed along your compliment to the husbo while he was half-asleep this morning – he was very flattered. It’s difficult not to ogle the details on menswear when it turns out well!

  12. this shirt looks so great! love the fabric you used. i’m also a fan of the simple turn instead of sewn on placket for the front–no extra matching! i know there’s a faux placket method you can do where you essentially make a tuck, which hides the raw edge of the folded under edge. so it looks like a sewn on placket but isn’t… that probably doesn’t make any sense but i think the fashion incubator blog has info on it somewhere. anyways, great job on this shirt!

    1. I think I get it! I’m also interested in the style where a sewn on placket folds back towards the side seams, with the placket seam hidden underneath and it’s top-stitched closer to the buttonholes. (Gosh, it’s hard to describe plackets!)

  13. great job, he looks very happy indeed. and the fabric does suit him really well.
    with your jacket, it’s such a tiny-weenie-small pucker in the corner… really. I want to see it ready! 🙂

    1. Yah, it’s one of those things I let myself get obsessed with during sewing and then forget about when I’m done sewing. Should be able to share it soon!

  14. Oh wow. This looks great! The collar tips are looking sharp and sassy from the pics! And what a compliment that he has been wearing it so much!

  15. when I saw this post my first thought was : keep a hand on the lid of the laptop in case boyfriend enters room 😉 … love it … it’s perfect!

  16. It looks great. My boyfriend saw it over my shoulder and wants one the same! Thanks for the sleeve fullness tip – I made him another shirt where the sleeves ‘wing’ out and I wasn’t sure how to fix it, so I’ll give that a go. Can’t wait to see this jacket!

    1. Haha! Sounds like you could’ve taken a page from Sasha’s book and had your hand ready to shut your laptop for when your man walked by! Now that it’s too late, tell him thanks from me – very flattering! I’m not sure if that’s the “proper” way to reduce sleeve fullness but it worked well without any side effects.

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