Sew a casual mens button up shirt
Hey y’all, today I’m updating a very popular old post and adding video to show how to sew a men’s shirt with this DIY pattern. This post is originally from 2013, and I’m happy to say that the Coach still wears the original shirt. And note that you can purchase the pattern with printable instructions below, or read on for details on the free version without printable instructions.
Both the original shirt and the new one I sew in the video were made from rayon challis, and I even decided to make one of these for myself to use as a swimsuit cover. I’ll share the hack details for my version after the original instructions.
A while back I sewed a shirt for my husband the Coach, and then people wanted me to share the pattern and my cool brother said he would model a shirt made from the same pattern in Robert Kaufmen Architextures fabric that I fell in love with, and this post came together. So, before we get to the men’s shirt pattern and tutorial I give you the Math gEEk shirt.
The EE is because li’l bro is finishing his degree in Electrical Engineering (aka EE or double E) and all the math on this fabric made me think of him (and my dad, who is also a double E). (Also, as of this post update li’l bro has been working as an EE for a few years now). This shirt is made from the same pattern I originally used to make Hubby’s shirt, which you’ll be able to download below. I got li’l bro to help me recreate the formulas on glass from A Beautiful Mind, as well as capturing him where he actually works/studies right now – on the computer.
As you can see, the quilting cotton shirt drapes a little differently than the rayon shirt, but it’s still cool. I do a lot of boy sewing. But not so much MAN sewing. Before this shirt, I had made the Coach a grand total of two items – some mesh reversible gym shorts and a bathrobe. He wears them both, but never outside the house. And I hadn’t made anything for li’l bro since…never, I think.
One of the first challenges in sewing for men is patterns. There aren’t a whole lot of them (or at least there weren’t at the time I originally wrote this post. There are more now). Since the Coach is so picky, I just had him try on a few non-sporting apparel shirts he owns and tell me what he did or didn’t like about the fit. Then I took two that were closest to being his favorite made a pattern to sew a men’s shirt.
The next challenge in sewing for men is fabric. I had picked up this Free Spirit Novella Rayon in Rain Aqua at my local quilting shop intending to make something for a boy with it. To my surprise, when I showed it to the Coach, he said he’d wear it. Another trip to the store (men’s clothing needs more fabric than boys’, after all) and muslining my pattern with an old bedsheet, I whipped up this shirt.
The fabric is just the right lightweight drape for this, and despite the bright colors, has a kind of hipster feel that works well in Austin. I left the hem straight because Hubby prefers it that way (no tucking required) and resisted the urge to put on pearl snaps instead of buttons (too far over the hipster line). And the final challenge? Getting a good picture. He’s not used to being in front of the camera for my blog like the boys and I am.
To sew a men’s shirt for yourself, you’ll need:
- 2 yards of fabric
- 1 yard of lightweight fusible interfacing
- Buttons or snaps
- The pattern…
The pattern is in a men’s size small/medium (somewhere on the small side of medium – finished chest measurement is 43″ and this needs at least 3 inches of ease over the chest measurement of the guy in question). If you need to make the pattern bigger or smaller, check out this post. To get it, click your preferred option below to get the free pattern only as a newsletter subscriber, or to buy the digital pattern + printable instructions for $2.
Please note that all my free patterns are licensed for personal use only (no selling items made from this unless you purchase it) and by downloading you are agreeing to this license.
To sew a men’s shirt, follow the instructions in the video below, which you can also watch on YouTube here. Note that I do a little bit different construction in the video than in the photo tutorial. Both ways work, choose whichever makes the most sense to you.
Start by printing out the pattern, using Adobe Reader with scaling set to “Actual Size”. Trim around the outside of the gray boxes and tape together at the circles. Cut your fabric according to the cutting instructions on the pattern. Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of one collar piece, and the shirt facings. 1/2″ seams are allowed on this pattern. I’ve used pictures from both shirts in this tutorial, don’t let the changing fabric throw you.
Start by pinning one of the yokes to the shirt back, right sides together. Stitch across, and the press the seam up towards the neckline.
Next pin the shirt fronts to the shirt back right sides together at the shoulders and stitch.
On the other yoke, which we will refer to as the yoke lining, press the straight edge 3/8″ to the wrong side.
Place the shirt face down and the yoke lining face up. Pin the shirt facings to the yoke shoulders on the side closest to the neck as shown below and stitch facings to yoke lining.
Place the two collar pieces right sides together and stitch around the 3 straight sides. Trim the seam allowance down to 1/4″ .
Turn the collar right side out and press. Topstitch if desired.
Pin the collar in place along the neckline, with shirt right side up and collar right side up. Start by matching the center collar to the center back neck, then continue to pin towards the shirt front edge. Your collar should end up about 1.25″ from the fold line of the facings. Check to make sure this is even on both sides, then baste the collar in place.
Now fold the facing and yoke over so that they are right sides together with the shirt with the collar sandwiched in the middle. Pin along the neckline, matching center back and shoulder seams. Stitch. Check for puckers, etc, then trim the collar seam down to 1/4″.
Match the yoke lining to the shoulder seams of the shirt, and stitch the outside shoulder edges together, stopping where the yoke is sewn to the front facings. In the picture below, the shirt is inside out and the yoke lining is flipped so that the right side of the yoke lining is against the wrong side of the shirt fronts.
Turn the yoke lining so that the wrong side of the lining is against the wrong side of the shirt back. This encloses the raw edges of the shoulder seams. Pin the pressed edge of the yoke lining over the seam joining the yoke to the shirt back. Turn the shirt right side up and stitch in the ditch of the yoke/shirt back seam or topstitch just above that seam (whichever you prefer) to secure the yoke lining and enclose the raw edges.
Lay the shirt out flat, right side up, and pin the sleeves in. First line up the front and back edges of the sleeve to the edges of the armholes. Pin from the edge toward center, stretching either the sleeve or shirt body as needed to ease the curve. Stitch. The picture below shows the pinned sleeve on the left and the sewn in sleeve on the right. You need to finish this seam using your favorite finishing technique (tips here).
Sew the underarm and side seams all in one seam, matching the underarm seams. Finish this seam as well.
To finish your shirt, iron the facings on the fold line, then topstitch close to the edge to keep them from rolling out. Hem the bottom and sleeves. 1″ is allowed for hemming on both, so turn under 1/2″ twice. Sew the buttonholes or apply the snaps and you’re done.
To sew a men’s shirt modified for myself, I decided I wanted to channel grandma chic and make myself something like a house dress. I used a palm print polyester crepe that I bought at a fabric warehouse. I lengthened the pattern 6 inches, straight down. Remember that I’m short, so you may want to lengthen more than I did.
The other hack I made was to the hem – I added side vents. To sew side vents, you do not serge the seam allowances together if using a serger. Mark where you want the split to start, then backstitch there when sewing the side seam. Fold the raw edges of the seam allowances under and toward the seam, then press and stitch them down as illustrated below.