How to Sew a Shirt by Hand

Hand sewing a shirt is not as complex as it sounds, nor is it unnecessary in the face of sewing machine popularity. Shirts, particularly dress shirts, are often better if sewn by hand, as the technique increases the ease of the seams and provides more comfort than a machine-sewn shirt. In fact, some shirt sewing techniques can only be done by hand.

Things You'll Need

  • Shirt pattern
  • Standard sewing supplies
  • Shirt fabric and matching thread
  • Thread wax

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Find a pattern for a shirt that you would like to make. You can find many different types of shirts from all of the major pattern companies, such as Vogue, McCall's, Simplicity, New Look and Kwiksew, or you can also find some free shirt patterns online.

Determine the size pattern that you will need to make a shirt for yourself. Using a measuring tape, take your measurements at the bust, waist, hips and shoulders. Use the largest measurement to determine what size pattern you will need. If necessary, scale down the other measurements to fit you.

Cut your size pattern pieces and pin them to a double layer of your shirt fabric. Cut the pieces from the fabric, paying close attention to how many of each piece you will need and which pieces need to be cut against the folded part of the fabric. Most likely, you will need two sleeve pieces, one back piece, one front piece and one collar piece. You may also have cuff pieces, plackets and belt pieces, depending on the style of shirt you are making. Transfer all markings to the fabric.

Pin the back and front pieces of the shirt together at the shoulders. Thread your needle and knot it at the end, then run it through a bit of thread wax so that it goes smoothly through the fabric. Using a tight backstitch, sew the shoulder seams and tie off the thread at the ends. Press and trim the seams, and finish them as desired, either leaving them raw or using an overlock stitch.

Stitch the shirt sleeves to the body pieces at the armholes, then finish the seam allowances. Stitch the side seams of the shirt together from hem to sleeve hem. If you are making a dressier style of shirt, you may need to stitch the side seams and underarm seams separately before attaching the sleeves to the armholes. Press and finish all seams.

Fold up the hem on the shirt bottom and sleeve ends, then pickstitch in place and press. If necessary, stitch any plackets, cuffs, buttonholes and buttons to the shirt.

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