How to Make a Precision Placket
Download this pattern for a perfect placket and learn how to make this classic sleeve finish in this article from Threads #161.
Design is all about details, especially when it comes to a classic garment like a button-front dress shirt. Many shirt patterns, however, leave off one small detail that can make all the difference between a homemade and a professional look: a sleeve placket. It's been replaced by a continuous binding that finishes the vent, but lacks crispness. On the rare pattern where a placket is included, it is often too short and too narrow to handle easily.
You don't have to make do with an inferior vent finish. I'll show you how to add a classic sleeve placket to any shirt. My placket pattern and method make it simple to get professional-looking results. The pattern adapts easily for each wearer, and its 1-inch finished width gives enough room for buttons.
I recommend making a few sample plackets for practice. The payoff is a polished, refined sleeve finish.
Mark the sleeve and prep the placket pattern
Make a practice placket first, and use a fabric with obvious wrong and right sides to eliminate confusion. Precise, on-grain cutting ensures the placket's foldlines crease crisply and accurately. Carefully mark all foldlines, clipping lines, and stitching lines.
* Download the full-scale placket pattern now - Set your printer to "Scaling: None" for correct pattern size.
1. Cut the sleeve according to your pattern. Mark the sleeve head's front and back. Mark the vent line. To determine the correct placket length for your sleeve, measure along the vent marking from the sleeve's cuff edge to the sleeve head. The placket length is 1⁄3 of this measurement. Lengthen or shorten the placket pattern as necessary from its bottom edge.
2. Use this pattern to cut the placket on the fabric's straight grain. Make tiny clips in the fabric to mark the foldlines, stitching lines, and the slash line. It's helpful to draw and number the lines on your first placket sample with a fabric pen or pencil to ensure accuracy.
Sew a crisp placket into any sleeve
Replace the continuous vent binding on any shirt pattern's sleeve with an impeccably finished classic placket using this method. You'll need 1⁄4-inch-wide fusible web tape, such as Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, and a hot iron for a crisp finish. Using these fusible strips helps maintain accuracy while turning and pressing the narrow seam allowances, and holds them securely in place for stitching.
1. Lay both sleeves right side down. Position them so their cuff edges point toward you, and the sleeve fronts face each other. Pin each placket, right sides down, on the sleeves' wrong sides. The placket's tall column faces the sleeve front. Align the slash line with the sleeve vent marking.
2. Sew through both layers along stitching lines 3 and 4, pivoting at the top corners. Cut through all layers along the slash line. Clip into both corners at the top of the vent, being careful not to cut the stitches.
3. Press both columns toward the slashed vent over the seam allowances. Trim the vent seam allowances to 1⁄8 inch to eliminate bulk. Don't trim away the clipped triangle at the top of the slash. Fold and finger-press the placket's foldlines toward the placket's wrong side. Then, flip the placket to the sleeve's right side through the vent.
4. Cut a strip of 1⁄4-inch-wide lightweight fusible web tape, such as Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 for both placket edges. Finger-press the strips, paper side up, to the right side of both column outer edges. On the tall column, the fusible strip should stop 11⁄4 inches from the top edge. Press with an iron to fuse the web tape to the placket.
5. Remove the fusible web tape's paper from the inner column's edge. Fold the edge along line 1 to the placket's wrong side. Next, fold along line 2 and bring line 1's folded edge to meet stitching line 3, enclosing the seam allowance within the column. Finger-press, then fuse with an iron.
6. Topstitch along the inner column's outer edge from the cuff end to 1⁄4 inch below the top. Pivot, and stitch across the column to just past the vent. This encloses the clipped inner triangle and helps the placket lie flat.
7. Flip the tall column right side down over the inner column. Remove the fusible web tape's paper from the column edge. Then, fold along line 6 to turn the edge to the placket's wrong side.
8. Fold the column along line 5, and bring line 6 to meet stitching line 4. Finger-press the edge in place. Once everything is aligned accurately, press the column's cuff end only with an iron to adhere the fusible web tape.
9. Fold the tall column's top along the diagonal foldlines to form a point. Cut a small piece of fusible web tape, and finger-press it to the point's wrong side. Remove the paper, then finger-press the point to the sleeve. The point should be perfectly centered over the column; check with a ruler. Press the entire placket with an iron.
10. Topstitch the tall column with an open-toe foot on your machine. Stitch from the placket's cuff end along the outer edge to the placket point's tip. Pivot with the needle down, and stitch the remaining edge for about 1 inch. Then pivot 90 degrees, and stitch across the column to the first topstitched line. This secures the tall column to the inner column. Pull thread ends to the placket's wrong side and knot.
11. Add decorative topstitching to the placket's point. Form a square or rectangle; topstitch an X; or add other stitched shapes or lines. This is a good place to be creative.
12. Add a small buttonhole and button to the placket, if desired. Finish the sleeve and attach the cuff according to your pattern's instructions. You now have a professional-looking sleeve with a precisely formed placket.
Tip: Add this placket at tunic hem vents or pant and capri leg vents, as shown with Simplicity Threads 1919, view D, in cotton twill. Adjust the placket length from the bottom edge to fit the hem vent.
by Marguerite Leblanc
from Threads #161, p.55