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Top Drawer Shirts

Threads magazine - 156 – Aug./Sept. 2011
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For shirts that don’t fade into the background, add unexpected elements, such as trims, pieced collars with contrasting fabrics, and eye-catching hems.

A basic button-front shirt is a wardrobe staple. A simple silhouette that works with lots of jackets and bottoms, a comfortable fabric, a flattering neckline and collar that can be worn in multiple ways—no wonder we turn to the shirt so often when planning an outfit for work or play. But there’s no reason a shirt has to be plain. Add a couple of subtle details (some that are mostly hidden from the outside) to give your next shirt interest, whimsy, and the thought-out look that the most expensive custom and designer men’s and ladies’ shirts have.

Applied ribbon trims; contrasting hem bands and bindings; and fabric inserts, small and large, add style without subtracting substance. Each of the details described below is easy to incorporate into most shirt patterns, or, with little trouble, is adaptable for shirt designs that have different collar or placket configurations. Follow my instructions, or just use these ideas as inspiration for your own take on the upgraded classic shirt.

Trim it with ribbon

Simply appliqué a strip of ribbon here and there—so it’s more a design enhancement than a true embellishment. Choose a good-quality ribbon that’s supple and soft, so it doesn’t change the garment’s hand or irritate your skin during wear. Velvet, satin, and pretty prints, in widths of 1⁄2 inch or narrower, are ideal.

Button placket detail

Apply this detail immediately after cutting out the pattern and before beginning construction of the shirt.

1 Chalk-mark the center-front line on the right side of the shirt’s underlap side.

2 Fuse a narrow strip of fusible web tape, such as Steam-A-Seam, centered on the chalk line to temporarily hold the ribbon. Remove the tape’s paper backing, and finger-press the ribbon over the tape. Fuse the ribbon with…

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