The Classic Shirt with a Twist

The Classic Shirt with a Twist

It's been years since I've sewn a fitted shirt with collar and cuffs. I'm loving every minute of the details that are required when cutting and sewing a more detailed garment. I find myself taking more time to cut, stitch, and press each portion of the shirt. 

But, before we talk about garment construction, let's talk about the fabric we selected for this garment. 

Fabric Selection:

To me, the Classic Shirt needs to be made from cotton or linen. I love the crisp look and feel of the classic cotton shirt. Our batik linen is in production and not yet available, so cotton it is. Which cotton you ask? I decided on our Nuance Gradation in the shade of Blue Nights. 

Nuance Gradation Blue Nights

Nuance Gradation is our name for an "ombre" style hand dyed fabric. Each fabric is hand dyed and changes in shade intensity from one selvage to the other.

A few of our shades change color from one color to a second color. The shade of Cantaloupe is an example of a two shade Nuance Gradation. 

Our fabric choice for the Classic Shirt is Blue Nights.  

Nuance Gradation Collection of Hand Dyed Batik Cotton includes 27 shades. The image at the right shows 24 of our fabrics. 

Just think of how beautiful a shirt can become using your favorite shade of Nuance Gradations. 

  • Danube would make a beautiful blue shirt
  • Hyacinth Violet which would change shade from a berry to a deep blue violette
  • Is your favorite shade brown? Definitely select either our shade of Brown or Adobe which transitions between burnt orange and deep pumpkin brown
Nuance Gradation Collection


Fabric Positioning:

Additional preplanning needs to take place when working with directional fabric. We will fold and position the pattern pieces a bit differently. We won't fold the fabric in half with selvages touching. This would result in shading from left to right on the garment. This would also be a very clever design element, but not what I am looking to create. 

I took a few pictures of the fabric draped on my body form. This is the perfect way to see how the garment will eventually look. 

Nuance Dark Up
Nuance Light Up

Shown dark selvage at the shoulder and light selvage at the hem. 

We selected this positioning for our classic shirt.

Shown light selvage at the shoulder and dark selvage at the hem.

I had first envisioned this positioning, but the light shade against my face was just too light for my complexion. 


Which position would you select for your garment? 

Fabric & Pattern Layout:

 As I mentioned earlier, I decided to position the dark selvage edge at the shoulder and the light selvage edge at the hem. I decided to start the hem at 1/2 inch above the selvage edge. I want the shirt to be as light as possible. The collar will be dark. Here are a few images showing the layout of the Front, Back, Sleeves, and Pockets.

Layout front Layout Back
The image is upside down ( light selvage at the top ). You will see throughout the images that the darkest selvage is not used in the shirt.  This is the back of the shirt with the hem placed at the light selvage edge. The collar pieces are positioned directly above the shoulder.
Layout sleeve Layout pocket
I positioned the sleeve at the same shade level as the arm opening. This way the shade change will be level (I hope) around the garment. On the left of this image is the front piece. On the right is how I positioned the pocket. I want the pocket to be almost invisible. Although I believe the stitching will give it away. One thing to remember - line up the "finished" top edge of the pocket with the pocket placement mark on the front piece.


Prep Work & Pocket:

Take the time needed to stay-stitch the collar openings along the front two pieces and the back piece. This is not a step to skip. If you come across a pattern that doesn't mention this step, remember to stay-stitch regardless. It's a great step to always complete. Also, follow the instructions to stitch the dart and attach the front placket and pockets. I chose the simple pocket without the button flap. 

 stay stitch front/back pieces Pocket


The Collar: 

I love the look of a collar with a collar stand. This is not as difficult to assemble as you might think. And, the instructions and illustrations provided in the pattern are a great reference. 

Interfacing is added to the front collar stand and collar. This adds stability and stiffness needed. I recommend a fusible interfacing from Pellon - Lightweight Fusible Shape Flex. I applied this interfacing also to the cuffs and the placket. 

The collar stand and collar are added to the garment after the front and back are sewn together. And, remember to add as much topstitching as you would like. 

 Collar stand


The collar stand has a front piece, with interfacing, and an inside piece. 

The shirt front/back is sandwiched between the two collar stands and stitched. Take the time to trim the seam down to about 1/8". This reduce excess bulk inside the collar stand. 

Also, make sure you mark all the dots on the collar and cuff pieces. As you can see, they are important. 


Before the collar is added to the collar stand it is stitched along the outer three edges, seams trimmed and clipped, and turned right side out. 

Topstitch as you would like. It's best to stop stitch before the collar is completely attached to the collar stand. 

Once the collar is attached, trim the seam to 1/8" and clip along the curve. 

top stitch collar stand

Next we topstitch along the right side of the collar stand to seal the seams and add finishing details. 


The Cuffs (part 1): 

It has been a long time since I stitched a sleeve placket and cuffs. I love the detail. 

Attach cuff placket Turn to the right side

The cuff placket is sewn to the wrong side of the sleeve. Take the time to baste fold lines as instructed. This comes in handy when pressing the placket in place and topstitching. 

Clip as close as you can into the two points of the opening. 

Turn the placket to the right side and press the opening flat. 

The next steps are to fold and top stitch the (right) narrow edge. 

Form the placket Add the sleeve tucks
The larger placket (left side) is folded back on top of the (right) side of the sleeve opening. We then press and topstitch the placket in place.  The pleats are formed next so we are ready to add the cuff once the sleeve is attached to the main garment. 


The Sleeve:  

As with most sleeves, it is necessary to sew two basting stitch lines along the top curve of the sleeves. There is slight gathering needed to fit the sleeve into the opening. This is not an inset sleeve. The sleeve is attached to the front/back pieces before sewing the side seams. 

Sew sleeve baste stitches serge sleeve seam
The sleeve requires a bit of gathering in order to fit the design of the sleeve.  Once the sleeve is attached to the garment seal the edges with a zigzag stitch or a serged edge. I serged the edges using a 3-thread overlock stitch. 


Next it's time to sew the side seams and sleeve. I always start sewing at the edge of the sleeve opening and finish at the hem of the garment. If I need to make any adjustments it's easier for me to adjust the hem of the garment. 

The Cuffs (part 2):  

With the side seams and shirt seam sewn, we can now attach the cuffs.  This was a tricky step for me. Lining up the edge of the sleeve placket with the dots on the front/lining cuff pieces was the trick. This goes back to the importance of marking the dots and stitch lines. 

finish the cuff turn and smooth the cuff

Remember the steps we took to add the top collar to the collar stand? These are the same steps to follow for the cuffs. We stitch the right side of the cuff to the sleeve and add the inside piece to the outside of the cuff. 

The edge of the inside cuff is folded and pressed to create a finished edge. Use fusible web or glue to secure this edge to the sleeve. Topstitch to close the opening. 

The double sided fusible web keeps the cuff from slipping off the sleeve. 

The Point 2 Point Turner is a great tool to have in your toolbox. The curved edge helps form the curve of the cuff. 


The Buttonholes:

So many people try to avoid garments with zippers and buttons. I used to be this way. Now buttonholes don't phase me at all. I test them on the same fabric in my project and dive right in. Believe me, no one wants to remove stitches from a misplaced buttonhole, but practice before you start and it becomes as routine as sewing a side seam. 

The classic shirt pattern includes a placement guide for the front placket and the cuff and sleeve placket. Mark your buttonholes and your classic shirt will be ready to wear - after you attach the buttons!

button placement guide

In Summary: 

I thoroughly enjoyed making the Classic Shirt by Liesl & Co. It took me longer than I expected, but well worth ever minute of it. I love how the Nuance Gradation Batik looks in this garment and will definitely make more to add to my wardrobe. 

I may even length the shirt and wear it as a shirt dress. Oh so comfortable!  We will see!  

If you have a minute, watch my Class Shirt video, available on our YouTube channel. Click the image below to jump over to YouTube. I add a few more comments, tips and techniques. Happy Sewing!  

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Classic Shirt on YouTube

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Until Next Time ~

Keep Sewing, Smiling, and Sharing



Diane Magidson

did your yardage amount change because you cut the garment on the cross grain?
do you need more fabric to do this?

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