I Drafted and Sewed a Button Down Shirt

Sewing a button down shirt with a pattern that I drafted off of a shirt that I already own.

IG: barrowsandwights


Instructables page for the painter’s tape method of taking a pattern from an existing garment:

Patterns Mentioned:
Simplicity 1544
McCall’s M6044

Simplicity 1544
Sewing My Style – Nikki G sewalong video playlist


Title Card:
Photo by Anton Atanasov

Logo designed and drawn by A.R. Gergler

Background Music:
Fantasy Motion [loop ready] by Alexander Nakarada
Link: https://filmmusic.io/song/8059-fantasy-motion-loop-ready
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Raise Your Shields by Alexander Nakarada
Link: https://filmmusic.io/song/7883-raise-your-shields
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

End Screen:
Photo by Anton Atanasov



I’m Adrian, I use masculine pronouns, and I’m working on a vintage inspired, history bounding type wardrobe for myself.

Button down shirts are a staple of any masculine wardrobe, modern or historically inspired. I’ve made a few of these guys by now, so I’ve had some practice, but getting the fit exactly right is something that I’ll be hunting down for a while yet.

For now, I’m trying to solve one fit problem at a time.

For context, I have used two commercially available patterns for button down shirts in the past – Simplicity 1544 and McCall’s M6044.

The Simplicity pattern fits me well in the shoulders and it’s easy enough to adjust for my hips, but the armholes are huge, even bigger than the already large armholes on shirts that I’ve bought in stores. Also, the back seems to be too big, but that’s a problem that can be hidden when I’m wearing a vest or waistcoat so it’s not a huge priority at the moment.

The McCall’s pattern has similar issues. The shoulders are a little bit big for the size that should fit me and again, the back is too wide. I did try to narrow the top of the back on one shirt, which helped with that piece, but it also caused some other fit issues. Again, the armholes are too large, and I’m not a fan of the sleeve in this pattern. It’s cut in two pieces, but the second seam is in an awkward place and it looks like it’s only there to avoid doing a sleeve placket for the cuff opening. Plackets can be fiddly, but I’ve practiced it enough that I don’t mind doing them.

The thing is that I have a button down shirt that I bought from Target ages ago that has nearly perfect sized armholes for me. I haven’t yet figured out if it’s the curve of the shape or how the sleeve fits into the space or what, but I’ve had a goal for years to take a pattern off of this shirt so that I have a well-fitting flat pattern as my basic staple shirt or a pattern that I can use to alter other shirt patterns.

I don’t have any footage of actually taking the pattern from the shirt. I think I did it about 3 years ago? 4 maybe? Actually making the shirt ended up on the bottom of the list for a long time. Since this is a men’s cotton shirt with nothing delicate that can be easily damaged, I used a painter’s tape method that I probably saw on Pinterest. I’ll link to the Instructables page I’ve found in the description so that you can check it out for yourself, but it’s basically covering each piece of the shirt individually with layers of painter’s tape, carefully pealing it off in one big sheet, and sticking it to some paper where you can make notes, add seam allowance, all that jazz. I took the pattern this way for the front, the back, the back yoke, and the sleeve. I supplemented these pieces with the collar, collar stand, cuff, cuff placket, and button band pieces from the Simplicity 1544 pattern, since these smaller pieces were nearly the same dimensions when comparing the Target shirt against my Simplicity shirts.

I cut my pattern pieces from a thin white cotton fabric that I pulled from inherited grandma stash. I have no idea where Grandma got this from, but the fabric is more narrow and much thinner than I’m used to seeing. I don’t know how many yards I used, but I usually buy 3 yards as a very safe estimate for a shirt in my size and that typically leaves me with sizeable chunk of extra fabric.

To be perfectly honest, 3 yards is just a much easier number for me to remember when I go to buy fabric. Especially if I wasn’t planning on buying fabric.

I added 5/8” seam allowance to my pattern pieces back when I took them, but I used ½” seam allowances when assembling this shirt to give me a little bit of ease.

I more or less followed the assembly instructions from the Simplicity 1544 pattern, just to use as a reference, but did skip around a bit so that I could batch sew as many things as possible at one time. If you want an in depth tutorial on how to assemble that pattern, there is a sewalong playlist linked below that goes over every step.

I’m pretty excited at how well fitting this shirt turned out to be and I think this weird draft will definitely be one to play around with for some time. Since filming the making of this shirt, I have already experimented with combining the back and back yoke pieces for a single back piece on this cotton muslin shirt and I’ve calculated out an addition to the front piece to include a built in button band on this cotton plaid shirt.

Although I have fabric set aside for two more button down shirts that I’ve had for ages, I’m going to hold off on any more experiments for now to see how I like wearing these three and make any notes about other fit issues that I may encounter.

But I am confident that you will see me wearing more versions of this shirt in future videos.

Please feel free to subscribe to see more videos like this coming up soon. Like this video and share it with anyone who might like to watch it. Commenting below is encouraged. I used to be very intimidated by sewing this kind of shirt. Are there any intimidating projects on your list that you want to try making? Let me know.

Thank you for watching to the end of this video. I’ll see you soon. Goodbye.

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