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How to Make a Precision Placket

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A well-proportioned pattern and fusible web tape yield a crisp, precise sleeve placket for any button-front shirt. Pattern: Vogue 8747, view D. Fabric: Swiss cotton shirting.

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 It’s been replaced by a continuous binding that finishes the vent, but lacks crispness.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

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  1. User avater
    karoljean | | #1

    Great article. I can't wait to try this.

  2. User avater
    Scheri | | #2

    Great idea adding placket to bottom of capris

  3. bbieri | | #3

    I have used this placket pattern and it is great. It is the same as in David Coffin's book. However, I did not think about using the steam-a-seam. Great idea.

  4. Elaray | | #4

    I recently made a dress with a front placket and I wasn't 100% thrilled with the outcome. I wish I had this information then! That's okay – I have it now.

  5. Princessaimee | | #5

    What an amazing article! A beautiful technique. I will bookmark this for future reference. Thank you Marguerite and Threads!

  6. User avater
    bbenson833 | | #6

    Marguerite is amazing....thanks for sharing this pattern!

  7. fotofashion | | #7

    One thing I always do where clipping a corner is concerned is to shorten the stitch length about 1/2" before the corner and continue the short stitch length until the entire corner is sewn.
    Beverly A.

  8. user-1118050 | | #8

    Thank you for another great sewing idea. You always make it so easy.

  9. User avater
    Nerdychick2001 | | #9

    thanks for the clear explanations and great photos to help me visualize this.

  10. LeahBoyan | | #10

    I've used the placket pattern from David Page Coffin's book and love it! It is flawless. I have altered the pattern slightly to increase the seam allowance. This helps me in two ways: 1) it's easier to turn under 1.25 inches rather than 1/4 inch, and 2) the seam allowance acts as an interfacing to give the placket more body. I alter the seam allowance on the 'right hand' side (the one with the #6 fold to 1.25. The 'left hand side' I increase the seam allowance to .5.

  11. whoneedlesthis | | #11

    I used to make my shirt sleeve plackets in two separate pieces, until I was altering sleeves on an expensive RTW shirt and first saw this one!
    Once I changed to a one-piece placket, it looked so much more neat and professional.
    Thankyou for including a printable pattern piece for us, now all my shirts and blouses will look fabulous!!

  12. User avater
    teariana | | #12

    I was wondering about different ways I might use this when I first opened it and then while copying I saw the capris. Great idea.

  13. User avater
    CarolW | | #13

    I've been trying to adapt a placket pattern on my own with varying success. This looks like just what I need. Thank you!

  14. sailcocktail | | #14

    Wow, so very clear! I nearly tore my hair out over the placket the first time I made a man's dress shirt. This will become a staple technique for me, I am sure.

  15. scrubble4 | | #15

    I like the PDF downloads. A great way to tangibly increase my resources. Thanks

  16. AltheaDi | | #16

    This and all of your how to are so helpful. Thank you.


  17. User avater
    charbroiled | | #17

    This works very well with crisp/firm fabrics. I had a little trouble working it on a brushed cotton though - too soft I suppose.
    Also - I discovered that when converting a continuous lap opening to this placket opening it increased the sleeve seam length by about 1 1/2 inches. It no longer fit the cuff seam.
    Adding/increasing the pleats looked bad, so I gathered the excess to make the seamlines match.
    Redrafted the sleeve to remove the excess for the next time.

  18. user-4042188 | | #18

    I need to make a few more of these to perfect the technique - the ones I have made look great - on the outside. Wondering how to get a really nice clean finish on the inside - like you see in men's dress shirts, at least the ones hubby has. Any ideas or tutorials, etc. Would so appreciate it.

  19. user-4042188 | | #19

    I need to make a few more of these to perfect the technique - the ones I have made look great - on the outside. Wondering how to get a really nice clean finish on the inside - like you see in men's dress shirts, at least the ones hubby has. Any ideas or tutorials, etc. Would so appreciate it.

  20. user-7415951 | | #20

    Can't wait to try this!😊

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