First Attempt: Men’s Button-down Shirt

I have sewn many things, but never a man’s button-down shirt.  This project is for my son in law, Brian.   A captive audience, one might say, but my dear SIL is willing to wear whatever I make for him.

We agreed on using McCalls 6044. The shirt is basic and the pattern envelope model looks great in the shirt.

McCalls 6044 pattern envelope

Anyhow, how difficult can it be to sew a man’s shirt? The fit issues are not quite as acute as shirts for women, obviously.  Here, I use measurements taken by Brian’s wife, Sarah, way over there in London.

almost finished
Front band too narrow.

The shirt is almost done (buttons and buttonholes remaining) and I am happy.  Its hanging on a standard hanger, which is why the armscye seam is hanging lower; i.e. the shoulder width is wider than the hanger. The recipient/wearer lives across the Atlantic, and when we talked about his shirt preferences he said he likes “a good oxford”. But then, he also likes the contrasting cuff-facing and collar-band a la “Cameron”.  Ok then, I could not find a really good oxford fabric either online or in the stores, so we went for a chambray for a first shirt – which can serve as a trial.

fabric and notions
Chambray fabric

If it fits well, the search for oxford fabric will resume.  Also, the contrast details will be saved for a subsequent shirt.  Because, there will be more…. (typed with eerie Halloween chuckle).

The following bullet points are mainly directed at the McCalls Pattern Company menswear experts:

  • The front band is a separate piece, and the finished width in this pattern is only one inch. It looks disproportionately narrow on the larger sizes.  I’ve been observing (staring at TV anchors’ shirts because cable news TV can be a font of sewing information) and looking up men’s shirts online, and reading up “Shirtmaking” by David Page Coffin. DP Coffin says the standard front band is 1.5 inches.

    Observing Glenn Thrush’s collar band 🙂 . Note the Halloween color coordination.
  • The pocket is proportionately very small on a large size shirt. Is there a standard size for pockets? Should the pocket pattern be graded to accommodate the larger sizes?
  • Should there be a separate back yoke in a standard men’s shirt? View D and E of this pattern has an appliqued yoke for a western shirt look, but not the classic yoke attached with a seam.
  • Should there have been a placket at the end of the sleeve? Rather than a “slit”? Just asking…

I am concluding that this is probably a simplified pattern for those of us who are just getting into shirt making.  So, Brian’s next shirt will have:

a) a back yoke

b) sleeve plackets

c) wider front band

d) contrasting cuff and collar-band facings

e) will be an oxford

Readers, the following questions are directed at you, if you’ve made shirts before.

  1. How much should the collar be set back from the front of the collar-band assuming a tie will be worn? I assumed that the collar should meet at the center front as designed in the pattern. collar closeup
  2. I’m scared to death of making that one buttonhole on the bulky collar band.  Tips?
  3. What do you use for interfacing the collar, collar band and front band?   I used “ShirtFuse”, to which I was directed by the sales staff.  ShirtFuse is ok but too stiff for the front band; next time I will look at other options. Recommendations?

I like this shirt and it’s casual-dressy vibe, but the final assessment rests with the wearer.

Brian works for a major news network, and he moonlights on the weekends as a photographer. If you live in London and need a photographer, look him up at Brian Campbell Photo . He gets the credit for my profile shot at top right.

Hope everyone had a good Halloween!






11 thoughts on “First Attempt: Men’s Button-down Shirt

    1. You used this pattern for yourself? How did the fit turn out? Feel free to use my machine for making buttonholes, if your shirt was destroyed by Harvey.


  1. Re: shirt collars I was taught to use an additional triangle of stiffening, about 3.5 cm base, at each end to make the points hold their shape without over-stiffening the rest. It worked for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you tried Mood Fabrics or G Street Fabrics? I’ve bought some really nice oxford from them. I also use an extra triangle of fabric at the collar points. Yes, band wider and placket on sleeves. It looks great and I’m sure he’ll love it! I make my husbands because he has extra-long arms.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I looked online at the Mood Fabrics offering but wasn’t quite sure about the colors. Will definitely order oxford and other shirting material after seeing this chambray shirt on Brian. Might need to perfect the fit a little more. Thanks for the tip, Rebecca!


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