The Orange Flannel Shirt, Part 1

Hello everyone!  I hope your holidays have been peachy keen so far.

My Black Friday Haul

In the midst of the unbelievable San Francisco Black Friday shopping crowds, I stopped at Britex Fabrics to check out their 30% off Black Friday sale.  I scored four yards of 32-inch wide Japanese-made selvedge denim at $13/yard (after discount). This will be a future ‘hipster jeans’ project.


I also found a wonderful black melton wool remnant at roughly $32/yard after discount. I hope it will eventually become a peacoat using Vogue 8940.


It’s good to have goals.

The Orange Flannel Shirt

But I’m getting way ahead of myself.  I’m still working on the Chambray Shirt project, and as another waypoint I’m making a flannel shirt for Jim.  I thought about labeling this as another muslin, but the truth is that it’s intended to be a real wearable shirt that also happens to be another fit test.

I’m using this cut of orange cotton flannel that I bought from Joann’s a year ago (the Platitudes collection).  I have some comments about this fabric, which I’ll be saving for another post.


Modifying the Pattern

After the previous muslins, I came to the conclusion I could make the Medium cut of the pattern almost as-is, but use the neckline and collar from the Large version. So I modified the pattern by tracing off the Large necklines on my existing trace and trimmed it. And I swapped in traces of the Large version of the collar and collar stand.


Positioning the “Medium” yoke piece on the original pattern, to trace off the “Large” neckline.


The pink line is the new, “Large” neckline of the yoke.


Tracing the “Large” neckline onto the shirt front.


The pink line is the new, “large” neckline of the shirt front.

Plaid Matching

I’ve written extensively on plaid matching in the past, but here’s a few more things I’m learning along the way:

  • It’s extremely important to get the fabric squared away before you cut.  And that requires checking everywhere.  I use a transparent quilt ruler to check that the plaid pattern is square across the entirety of the piece I’m about to cut.  On this shirt, the left front won’t match up quite properly with the back piece along the side seam.  I know that without having sewn them together yet.  It’s because the fabric for the front piece was slightly askew during cutting, and I didn’t notice it.
  • Along the front of a shirt, I now match plaids along the front center line.  This is the line where buttons and buttonholes go, and it should be marked on the pattern piece if you haven’t already done so.  This center line is also useful for lining up the back piece and yoke (both centered right down the same line), the collars and collar stand.


  • For the collars and collar stand, if your pattern gives you a half-piece that you place on a fold, you have two choices. You should either pin the fabric on opposite sides of the fold to match them, or trace out a full-sized version of the collar piece and cut that.  I matched and pinned the fabric, and it turned out well for me.
  • Matching plaids can consume large amounts of fabric.  When shopping for fabric, I would add at least 1/4 yard, probably more like 1/2 yard, to allow for positioning items to match up plaids.

The cuffs were positioned so that the buttons would fall on a centerpoint of the plaid design.


To get the desired plaid pattern on the cuff, I used more fabric area as leeway for positioning the pattern.


Cutting items on the bias also uses more fabric. And matching the plaids on the pocket flap to the pocket body uses up even more fabric than the shapes suggest.


I’ve now settled into my own construction sequence for shirts. I like to make all the constituent pieces (otherwise known as ‘the fiddly bits’) up front, then assemble them into the finished shirt.

I start by making the collar, then the cuff pieces, then making and attaching the sleeve plackets.  I then make and attach front pockets if the design calls for it.  Then I join the back yoke, and shoulders. Then I attach the collar, followed by sleeves. Then I flat-fell the side seams, and attach cuffs. Finally, bottom hem, buttonholes, and buttons.


A good sleeve placket really depends upon precise measuring and folding of the fabric. In particular, I’ve noticed that careful work pressing and creasing with the iron is essential for a clean result. I’ve learned to line up folds as cleanly as I can with my fingers before pressing, and to press down without sliding the iron around.

This cotton flannel is a challenge.  It handles and folds mushily rather than crisply, so it’s really tough to get clean fold lines.  And because it mushes and stretches, it’s difficult to align the placket to the sleeve precisely. Stitching the initial box that surrounds the sleeve opening was an exercise in faith.


That chalk line may or may not be the center of the placket opening.

The good news is that because the flannel is so mushy and imprecise, it gives you some wiggle room to fudge things the way you want them sometimes. I was still able to get an acceptable result.


A finished sleeve placket

Next Time

I hope to have the orange flannel shirt finished and modeled, and we’ll see how well the pattern alterations worked out. And assuming that goes well, we’ll be ready — finally — to work on the Chambray Shirt.

1 thought on “The Orange Flannel Shirt, Part 1

  1. David

    Great challenge! I also matched plaids with a previous pair of trousers I did and that certainly was some work. You’re doing great with your shirt, can’t wait for the modeling pictures!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *