How I sew button-up shirts

How I sew button-up shirts {Heather's Handmade Life}

I talk a lot about the clothes I sew for our daughter — we all know she’s my life-sized Barbie baby — so today I thought I’d share some details about the button-up shirts I sew for our son.

While I have quite a stash of different dress and tunic patterns for our daughter, I’ve only ever really used two shirt patterns for our son. But by using different fabric, snaps, buttons, trimmings, etc. they all end up looking like very different shirts.

How I sew button-up shirts {Heather's Handmade Life}

When I first started sewing button-up shirts for him, he was four years old — maybe just turning five? It feels like ages ago. I was only sewing dresses at that point and a button-up shirt felt WAY TOO COMPLICATED, but I was determined to try.

Find a pattern and stick with it

I bought the Maxwell Shirt pattern from ShwinDesigns, and I must have made DOZENS of them before he outgrew the pattern. (It goes from 12-18 months straight through size 8.) I mean, really, you don’t need multiple button-up shirt patterns — just pick a nice easy one, and get comfortable with it.

How I sew button-up shirts {Heather's Handmade Life}

I think it was just this past spring when I bought a larger version — the Jet Button Up pattern from ShwinDesigns’ tween/teen line.

How I sew button-up shirts {Heather's Handmade Life}

It’s almost exactly the same shirt, except this one has a different back yoke detail that comes to the front of the shoulders so you see it straight-on. There’s also the option to make a long-sleeved shirt, which I’ve only done once (for D’s Christmas concert).

I prefer short sleeves since (A) he runs warm, and (B) they can be worn year-round, and just layered with a cardigan if it’s really cold.

Cut out the pieces

I try to go slowly and carefully when I’m using a new pattern, but it’s hard not to rush through. I print out all of the pieces, tape them together, and then cut out the size I need. (TIP: I often cut a longer length so the shirt lasts longer. So if D is a size 7, I cut a 7 but with the length of an 8 or 9.)

Both shirts call for interfacing* (white-ish stuff that looks almost like dryer sheets, and you iron it onto some parts to make them stiffer) on the collars. I have skipped this in the past if I don’t have it, and it just means the collar is more casual/floppy, rather than crisp. Lately I’ve been using really heavy-duty interfacing for ultra-crisp collars, and I don’t even have to iron them — they’re good to go straight out of the dryer, woot!

How I sew button-up shirts {Heather's Handmade Life}
I cut out FIVE shirts in a single afternoon, and piled up the pieces so it was faster when I went to sew them up.


Make more than one at a time

Once I’ve tried the pattern at least once and know I have the right size figured out, I’ll “batch” my shirts. I’ll cut out all of the pieces I need for one, and then I’ll grab another piece of fabric and cut out all of the pieces again — using the original pieces as my “pattern pieces,” since they lie more smoothly than paper.

Once the pieces are all cut, it takes less than an hour to sew up a shirt. I usually wait until I have a couple finished and then add the snaps — I like this kind* — since it’s faster to do in batches, and I don’t like messing with buttonholes.

D wears a handmade button-shirt to school almost every day, and tends to wear T-shirts only on the weekend. He’s still fine about me laying out his clothes every night, and will wear whatever I decide without complaint (hallelujah!) so I’ll take that as long as it lasts! 😉

DIY clothing tree

When he outgrows his button-up shirts, I either save them (for a future nephew/niece or grandbaby, perhaps), cut them up and use them in quilts (especially if it’s a really rare/special fabric I don’t have more of) or hand them down to C! Sometimes I’ll sew a shirt onto them, or just leave them as is. I even use the Maxwell pattern to make her her own button-up shirts now that I’m on a jumper kick.

I love being able to sew button-up shirts for D because it’s fun to pick out fabric together — especially if it’s Minecraft or Super Mario, he says — and make clothes that match C’s. I know they won’t want to be “twinsies” forever so, again, I’m gonna ride that train as long as they’ll let me!
How I sew button-up shirts {Heather's Handmade Life}

Have I inspired you to attempt sewing a button-up shirt for a little guy or girl in your life? I hope so! There’s a lot of cuteness to go around.

How I sew button-up shirts {Heather's Handmade Life}

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