Part #1 of Shirt-Making Details

There’s many reasons why we sew, but for me, one of the strongest reasons is that I’ve seen fabric I just HAD to have. Sound familiar? I know I’m not alone! lol!

Fabric often inspires much of my sewing and quilting projects, and not long ago I was sent a beautiful piece of fabric which had the look and feel of soft denim. I loved the colour and soft texture of this fabric and it screamed “casual dress shirt” to me.


I used a Kwik Sew pattern for the easy construction methods, yet this shirt has some classic style details, like the sleeve plackets and cuffs.


Whenever I come across a pattern I really like and am likely to make multiple times, I back the pattern pieces with fusible interfacing (no steam!) so they aren’t so flimsy and won’t tear. The interfacing also clings to the fabric so I don’t need to use pins or weights to hold down the pattern pieces while I cut. I usually use a 45mm rotary cutter to cut out my patterns, and use the small 28mm rotary cutter around the curves.

To store the pattern pieces, I use a bull dog clip and the hooks I’ve had since my days studying Fashion Design in College to hang the patterns on the back of my sewing room door; easily accessible and ready to go whenever inspiration strikes again!

Since I wanted a casual dress shirt, I loved that this Kwik Sew pattern called for serged seams instead of the usual more dressy, finely-tailored Flat-Fell or French seams. Any of our fabulous Janome sergers would do the trick, but I used the fantastic new Janome AT2000D air thread serger.


When I was in college, my sewing teacher stressed the importance of making the inside of a garment look as professionally finished as the outside. The serger definitely helps with this step by eliminating the raw edges while securing the seams.

Although many patterns don’t mention it, Edge-Stitching is another technique which helps give that professional finish by keeping the seams FLAT. It also helps cut down the need for ironing, and who doesn’t love that? There are many terrific Janome presser feet which will help you achieve perfectly even Edge-Stitching, which is typically about 1/8″ away from seam, and Top-Stitching, which is typically 1/4″ – 3/8″ away.


As pictured above, my favourite foot for Top-Stitching is the Janome 1/4″ with Guide “O” foot as that guide helps keep my stitching straight, even at top speed.


For Edge-Stitching, I love the Janome “G” foot, although this foot is typically used for sewing a Blind Hem. I align the metal guide, which is in the middle of the foot, along the seam line and move my needle position to the far left to stitch a uniform 1/8″ away from the seam. I sewed this shirt on my Janome MC 15000 Quiltmaker which has 91 needle positions, but many Janome machines allow you to adjust the needle drop position, so do consult your machine manual for more information.


As pictured above, the side seams, underarm seam of the sleeve, armscye seam and sleeve cuffs were all edge-stitched, even-though the pattern didn’t say to do so in each place. Again, there are many Janome presser feet available to achieve this technique, so use whatever works for you. If they didn’t come with your machine, check with your Janome dealer to see the many available options.

The Janome Cloth Guide is another of those indispensable accessories which helps you keep your stitching straight and consistent, especially when sewing a deep hem or a deep seam, like the front placket of my shirt, as shown below. The placket is 1.5″ wide, but you can position the cloth guide wherever you need it.


Many Janome machines come with a Cloth Guide, but there’s a few versions of it available if your machine did not come with one. Check your instruction manual and with your Janome dealer to be sure you get the right one for your machine. For example, pictured below on the left is the Cloth Guide which works with a number of Janome machines by securing it to the needle plate with the thumb screw. On the right is the Cloth Guide which comes with the sewing/embroidery combo machines like the Janome MC 15000 Quiltmaker and Janome Skyline S9, for example. This attached to the embroidery unit and works electronically.


Buttons and Buttonholes are usually some of the last steps when completing a garment, and they’re sometimes a source of anxiety and dread if you fear your machine isn’t up the task.


Buttonholes are a snap with the Janome Automatic Buttonhole foot, as pictured below. Use the Janome Button Sewing “T”foot and Janome Button Shank Plate, also shown below, to sew on a whole row of buttons in less time than it takes to find and thread a hand-sewing needle! Professional results as easily achieved when you have the right tools for the job.


Check back early next month for Part 2 of “Shirt-Making Details” as I share more tips and info on some Janome accessories which help make the process more fun and enjoyable, and results more professional.

Remember, inspiration often starts with the fabric so Happy Shopping!

I’m now seriously regretting sharing this buttery soft denim look chambray with Michael and Erin! There was none left for me but I DO like the shirt Michael has made and the button front dress Erin made – see it on this link.  AAH well, I may not have had time to sew the beautiful garments they made…..well done you too! Ed. 

About janomeman

As Janome Canada's National Consumer Education Manager, I'm SEW excited to share my love of sewing, quilting and all things creative with everyone at our fabulous new Janome Sewing and Learning Centre in Oakville, ON. Have an idea for a class, or to be put onto our mailing list, E-mail me at
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1 Response to Part #1 of Shirt-Making Details

  1. trinagallop says:

    Your tip on how to preserve pattern pieces for something you want to make over and over again… mind-blown! Will definitely be doing this to a few of my well-loved patterns. Thanks for sharing.


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