April 13, 2014

Shirt details

I'm making a new shirt for E. One with short sleeves. It's been a while but I've made so many that all my shirt-making habits are well established. And short sleeved shirts are quick to make because they lack some of the most labour-intensive bits of a shirt: sleeve slits and cuffs.

In this post, I thought I'd share some of the details of this shirt. Details which are easy to make but apparently not very common. At least, I've never seen them on other blogs.

First: Nice, simple, professional looking, decorative hems for short shirt sleeves. I've seen hem like these in RTW and they're easy to make if you plan ahead.

It starts with the pattern: Trace your pattern on a piece of paper, decide on the sleeve length you want and draw a straight line for the hem. Determine how deep you want your hem to be and draw a line below and parallel to the hem at that distance (mine is 3,5 cm). Cut the paper you don't need off along that line, then fold along the line for the hem and cut out the sleeve. This way, the shape of the sides of the sleeves will be mirror in the bit for the hem.
Now, you can cut out the sleeves as usual.

The sewing of the sleeve hem happens at the usual stage in the construction of the shirt: near the end, when the whole thing has been assembled and all it still needs are hems, buttons and buttonholes.

With the shirt inside out, press the hem width to the inside of the sleeve.

Turn the sleeve up further, at the same width and press again, encasing the raw edge in the new fold.

Stitch at about 0,5 cm this fold.

Fold it back again and press flat.

Turn the shirt right side out. Your sleeve has been hemmed without any ugly edges on show. It has a sort of mock-cuff or mock-turn-up (the stitching is hard to see on my sleeve because I stitched exactly on the black stripe) which is in fact nothing more than a tuck, parallel to the hemline, which just happens to work as a hem too.

The second thing I wanted to show you is a simple cheat's method for hemming curved shirt tails. I've never liked fiddling with those narrow hems which pull at the  shaped bits on the bottom of a shirt. And I'm not above using techniques I've learned in dress making for menswear.
I use bias tape. The regular store-bought variety, cotton for E, cotton or satin for myself. Preferably fairly narrow, 1 or 1,5 cm.

Stitch in the fold, on the right side of the shirt. If you're using a facing at the front, let the tape end in the facing. If you want to hem the whole front, let the tape extend about 1,5 cm at the front edges so you can fold those back to form a finished edge.

Press the tape to the inside of the shirt, in such a way that the seam falls in the inside.

Stitch the tape down along its edge. 

And there you have it. An effortless curved hem.

I hope everything is clear and you can use these finishing details.
I'll show you the shirt properly later this week.


  1. Thanks for sharing these techniques Lauriana, your posts are always so interesting and informative. Look forward to seeing the finished shirt :)

  2. What a great way to finish the hem, it looks so crisp and clean. Nice job. Thanks for sharing

  3. That hem idea with the bias tape is a great one!

  4. As you say, simple, but these are brilliant. My husband has some Oswald Boateng shirts that have brightly coloured bias tape at the hem, but it never occurred to me to do that myself, duh. I like the mock cuff on the short sleeves too, it looks smart, and also uses less fabric than an actual cuff. Thank you for showing these details!

  5. Very neat looking hem. I like it!

  6. Thanks Lauriana - good tips.

  7. Thanks for the great tips on using bias tape for the hem. I tried it on a shirt for my husband and it worked really well!

  8. Thank you, fantastic tips! The shirt I made for my little boy turned out great.