Hello my awesomesauce stitching fiends! This is our final flannel sewing post! I am really happy to have my shirt finished, and really grateful not to have to look at this particular plaid for a while! Today we are putting together our lined cuffs, sewing up buttonholes, and sewing on buttons. Pretty easy stuff that leaves us with – a COMPLETED SHIRT! Yay! Let’s get started! Here is our overview:
So first, we need to pin the long, straight edge of the outer cuff to our sleeve raw edges, right-sides together. We aren’t going to sew yet – we are checking and adjusting a seam allowance. You may remember that since we sewed a French seam for the side seams, we have a slightly narrower sleeve. Therefore the sleeve edge will come short of the sleeve cuff. This means our wrist will be 1/2″ tighter than the original pattern. If you are concerned about this, let me know, and I can explain how to keep the original wrist size. For now, I’ll assume you can all lose that 1/2″: I am at 5/8″ seam allowance on each edge, which is the predicted 1/4″ short on both edges (this means I did all my cutting, and sewed my side seams, accurately). After you’ve noted how much to change the cuff seam allowance, un-pin. Now – draw the adjusted seam allowances on the wrong-side of the lining, and pin the lining and cuff together, right-sides together, flipping up the cuff lining’s straight raw edge 5/16″ (this is 1/16″ past the staystitching line at 1/4″). I used pen to mark my adjustments, after making sure it did not show through to the other side: Starting right at that lining’s folded edge, stitch around the cuffs. Notch and trim (I use pinking shears as a workable shortcut), and steam-press that raw edge of the lining piece up – again, at about 5/16″. Now, time to re-pin the outer cuff to the right-side of the sleeve edge. It should match up perfectly. Carefully keeping the lining away, sew the outer cuff and the sleeve edge together, at 3/8″. After stitching, flip that lining back and you will begin to see how soon we’ll have a finished cuff! We are about to handsew our cuff lining closed. You can give a brief steam-press to shape the cuff, first. To handsew, I generally use wax on my thread. I take a doubled (or in the case of button sewing, quadrupled) 100% cotton thread and run it through wax, then steam-press it. You can buy beeswax and holder at most fabric shops (as shown below). Sometimes I just use a hunk of beeswax bought from the Farmer’s Market. The wax is not essential but helps the thread’s strength. Right before sewing. Ahh…. I love how accurate, and beautiful, this cuff is! Pin (making sure your satin “heals” after pinning – practice on a scrap or within the seam allowance) and start handstitching that folded edge right to the 3/8″ seam you just made on the machine: An EXTREME CLOSE UP of my whip-stitching. You can barely see the two lines of machine stitching – at left, the staystitching on the lining, and just to the right of that, the machine-stitching of the outer cuff. So OH MY GOSH we have a shirt, all except for the buttonholes and buttons! Shown here: I’ve just placed the buttons in their location on the shirt. I’ve decided to make this shirt more of a jacket-style, so I have used fewer buttons and wider spacings, eliminated collar buttons (which I don’t like anyway), and reduced the sleeve plackets to only one button instead of two: Believe it or not, button-spacing is an art and a science in shirtmaking, and I’m not going to get too involved in a discussion here. Suffice to say, place a button on the collar stand, and make sure the remaining front buttons are equally-spaced. The bottom of the placket can have a little more free-hang than the rest of the button placement distance, as that open hang will make sitting more comfortable. If you are still nervous about button placement, either comment here, send me an email, or check another shirt in the closet. One handy thing about this shirt is if you’ve been cutting and sewing accurately, you can use the plaid itself for the vertical button placement of that front placket (and I did). So! Here are some of my marked button locations. I used pins to mark. Sometimes I use thread, or a sticky washaway stabilizer. It depends a lot on the formality of the garment, and the way the fabric behaves. Pins are probably fine for your shirt: OK, now I have to tell you. I am a washable-stabilizer fiend. I use it often. In this case, I am using a sticky kind, and I am using it on both the public side of the shirt and the inner side (as you can see by the folded part of this front placket). I find stabilizing under a buttonhole yields a lot better buttonhole. It also helps the plaid grain to shift less. I ain’t gonna lie though – most plaid flannels are going to try to shift a bit. And for the love of jiminy – I hope you have been practicing buttonholes, using the exact number of fabric layers and the exact thread and the exact desired buttonhole size. Don’t even come at me with your strugglez if you don’t practice first! I have to tell you that placing and sewing buttonholes perfectly is art and science. I have had many buttonholes that were slightly-off grain, and many that were not uniformly distanced from the garment edge. But hey: RELAX. First of all, if the buttons are sturdy, you’ve done your job. No one is going to notice a little bit of wonky. May the Buttonhole Fairy bless your efforts. So – getting ready to make a buttonhole – shown here, on the front placket: I used the blue line in the plaid motif for my vertical placement. You can barely see this blue line under the stabilizer, in the below photo: My first buttonhole, EXTREME CLOSEUP: So then just make… a billion more of those. And, just like for the pocket buttonholes, feel free to put a li’l fabric glue up in here. Time to sew buttons! I have a bunch of pictures to show you how to make a good, sturdy, and near-invisibly-sewn button. First, thread your needle with a quadruple-threaded and waxed length, about 20″ or so. Set that aside for the moment. For button placement – on all buttons – we’ll use the same technique. I will show you button placement for a cuff button. The only thing I will add is that when you are ready to place your front buttons, really make sure you have that shirt placket lined up well (you can see my results at the end of this post). To place buttons, stab with a pin 1/8″ in from the edge of the buttonhole straight into the corresponding layer beneath. Like so… then carefully lift that top layer… And then stab your needle from about 1/2″ away, making sure it is between the cuff’s fabric layers, and emerging at that pin-marked spot: Remove the pin. Making sure a tiny bit of thread trails from the original needle-entry locale, carefully tie a super-firm knot right where you just brought your needle through: First knot – tied (we will be trimming that errant thread tail at the button’s completion): Sew the button. Since I have four threads I only need to take one stitch through each pair of holes! Sometimes I do two, but usually one: Before stabbing the needle through to the backside for the last time, wrap the threads around the button’s thread “throat” three times: Tie a knot right there… And again, stab the needle through to hide that thread tail, keeping the threads between cuff layers, and emerging 1/2″ away again: See these thread tails? Gently pull on them and trim them right at the fabric’s surface, being careful not to cut the fabric: Button – sewn! You can use a wee bit of fabric glue or fray check on that knot we tied at the button thread throat. Here’s what your button looks like from the back side. SWANKY! And here’s how it looks all buttoned up! Now, using the same techniques, finish placing your buttons! The finished shirt – perfectly ined up in front, mirrored pockets, adorable little boy: So my dears – can you even believe it, we are finished! Now as of this writing there is only one other plaid shirt in our Sew-A-Long Flickr pool, but I am hoping that is going to change soon! We will be starting Round Two of this sew-a-long on December 1st. In the meantime I will be reviewing my posts and fixing any typos. I appreciate all who have participated, and who’ve helped make this sew-a-long a good one!