Hi Sewists,

So here we are, is it our seventh week of UK lockdown, or eighth…? As we eagerly await the Governments announcement today on how we might exit the lockdown, the days, and indeed the weeks, are melding together for me. I hope you are all keeping safe and well in your respective parts of the world?

A few weeks ago I was feeling quite lost. My work is over for the meantime (along with my income) and I clearly needed a purpose. The obvious choice was to volunteer to make scrubs – however, there aren’t any initiatives local to me. After contacting a few a little further out, it turns out that they are inundated with volunteers but are gratefully accepting donations. To be honest, this knocked me back a bit, as financial support is not something I can offer at the moment… so I watched Netflix for a while…

Then, I set to making masks and dispensing them among friends and family. The enthusiasm with which they’ve been received has perked me up no end. (That and the news that salons in Germany are opening and there may be hope for me to return to work too, soon…)

So with my vigour restored a friend and I got together online – he expressed an interest in sewing some time ago (it’s ironic that we finally get the time to sew together when we must stay apart) and he wanted to jump straight in making a shirt!

It reminds me of a story I heard about a kind Aunt stepping up to the mantle to teach a young girl who was desperate to learn to sew. The Aunt thought long and hard about how she would go about introducing her young Niece to some basic sewing techniques and decided that hair scrunchies would be a fine place to start. She turned up to the first lesson when the Niece announced that if she couldn’t make a wedding dress, she didn’t want to make anything! – The ever-resourceful Aunt said, ‘Well, you’ll need something to put your hair up with… let’s start there!’

Not being as resourceful as the Aunt, I agreed to go straight in at the deep end and sew a shirt with my friend! So as a reminder for him (and to anyone else it may be of interest to…) here’s how we did the cuff placket. My placket pattern pieces always seem to go astray, so I often have to draw a new one, here it is if you’d like to use it yourself.


Cut the placket out of folded fabric so that you get two pieces that mirror each other. Then I apply a light fusible interfacing to the Wrong Side of each piece. Once it’s cooled down, I mark the sewing line onto the interfaced side with a Frixion Pen.

One piece placket with measurements

Placing the pattern pieces…

It’s easy to fall at the first hurdle here, as this is one of the odd times in sewing where you lay the Right Side of one piece (the placket) against the Wrong Side of another (the sleeve edge). If your shirt only has a slit marking the opening, line it up with the cut line in the middle of the placket.

Placket RS facing shirt WS

Attaching the placket

Sew around the box, keeping the needle down at the corners, pivoting and moving on. Then, carefully cut up the centre to approx 1.5cm before the end. Snip to the corners (… All together now…!) ‘UPTO but not INTO the stitches!’

Turning through…

Turn the sleeve over and fold the placket through the box to the right side. (Turn it back and snip a little closer to the stitching if you have pinched corners.) Give it a light press once it’s all neat and tidy.

Cuff placket turned to RS

Under lap.

Flip the under side of the placket over the rectangle opening, pressing the seams towards it… Fold the seam allowance over on the long edge of the under-lap, then fold it in half – it should fit perfectly into the gap and the folded edge should cover the stitching line…

Under lap seams pressed towards the placket.

… Once you’ve got it fitting nicely, press it in place. You could stitch it now, but I prefer to make sure that the upper-lap is sitting correctly over it before I commit anything to thread! This is where a basting glue comes in really handy.

Under-lap glue-basted in place.


This starts off the same as the under-lap; flip it over the rectangle (that is filled with the under-lap) and press the seams over the placket…

Upper-lap, seams pressed over

Fold the seam allowance on the long edge, then fold it in half over itself…

Fold and press upper-lap

Once you’re happy that it’s sitting nicely over the under-lap (and the stitches are covered up along the long edges) give it a good press to hold it in place while you fold the points.

Upper-lap pressed in place

Fold the corners down to shape the point. There aren’t really any tricks for this, you just have to do it nicely! And glue it down once you’re happy with it! Then you’re ready to sew.

Finishing up.

Fold the upper-lap out of the way so that you can sew the under-lap to the shirt (as close to the edge of the placket as possible) down the long, glue-basted edge.

Reposition the upper-lap and put it horizontally in front of you so that you can lift the upper-lap and see into it. To seal the top, you must first stitch across the width of the upper-lap (through all layers) approx 3cm from the point. Pivot and turn up, towards the point and pivot your way around it. Stitch down the long edge, to just past your start point. Here, make sure you are not catching your under-lap by gently nudging it to the side, out of the way as you finish sewing the long edge of the upper lap to the shirt… then … breathe! Here’s a map…!

Sewing direction for upper placket.

If all has gone to plan your cuff placket should look nice and neat (ish!) on the inside…

Inside of placket.

And something like this on the outside…!

Placket finished

Hopefully you found that either useful, interesting, or (dare I hope for…) both?! Either way, this one goes out to my hardworking-online-sewing-friend/pupil, Ian … He’s made a fantastic video clip showing off his finished shirt, check it out on Instagram Here! He’s really upping the instagram game!! And I only have this accidental shot in the park to show off my new shirt!

Providing shade for Fred in the park.

Happy sewing x

Notes to self on online teaching:

  • Make sure you are both using fabrics with a clear right and wrong side (or mark them clearly).
  • Be sure you are both using the same name for each pattern piece (ie. ‘upper and under lap’ or ‘inner and outer placket’ = same thing, but confusing.
  • Try logging in to the meeting on two devices each; computer or laptop for talking (and a wider angle) and a phone to show and see close-ups (switch the sound off on one device each to avoid feedback).
  • Use a contrast coloured thread so you can both see it clearly.
  • Explain the lingo as you go.
  • You won’t achieve anything in less than three hours!
  • The added bonus of sewing online with a friend is – I get a new shirt too…!