Fitting & Sewing a Western Shirt

Karen Reichardt - Vice Chairman of Sewing 2012 -

SHIRTMAKING - by David Page Coffin. A very interesting and well written book but it does not cover the Western Shirt. - Threads Magazine  #67 Oct/Nov 1996. If you wish to know more about shirt making I highly recommend this book and article. The link for the article is  -

100 Years of Western Wear by Taylor Beard. A picture book of the great cowboys.

Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer. How to fit women’s clothing. It is easy to read and very practical. Great pictures and drawings that will guide you through the fitting process. Available as a CD or book. Look for other Real People books by this author.

Preparation - Shrink fabric, trims and interfacing.


Fitting Why bother making a shirt if it isn’t better that something that is mass produced?

Materials - pattern, fusible quilters grid, pattern paper, measuring tape, markers and rulers.

Measure at the Adam’s Apple and add ½ inch. Make a practice collar band.

Starts at the Collar - Collar size is not given on all shirt patterns. Use the following chart to determine the man's pattern size from the neck measurement. If it is a multi-size pattern it is actually the larger size. Purchase the pattern by neck measurement only. This is the most critical fitting point. All other parts of the pattern can be easily adjusted.

Neck Measurement - Place the tape around the neck at the Adam’s Apple and add ½ inch.

I can't get the charts to transfer from the hand out to the web site right now.

  The learning curve has got me baffled - I will try again soon. Thanks

Body Measurements - These are given for reference.

Chest - measure around the fullest part of the chest just below the arm pits.

Waist - measure at the natural waist line which is just above the hip bones. Keep the tape parallel to the floor all the way around.

Shoulder - measure from the base of the neck to the shoulder pivot point.

Arm Length - with the arm bent at a right angle,measure from the shoulder pivot point to the wrist bone going over the elbow.

Sleeve Size - This is a ready to wear measurement. With the arm bent at a right angle, measure from the neck bone to the shoulder pivot point, continue around the elbow to the wrist bone.

Back Width - measure between the shoulder.

Height - All men’s patterns are designed for a height of 5 foot 10 inches.

Suggested Pattern Simplicity 5366 - S - M - L - XL and 4975 - 1XL - 2XL - 3XL - 4XL - 5XL

These patterns were chosen because they have a separate collar stand and front facing.

Other Patterns - McCalls 6044 or 2447 Kwik Sew - 3506 Folkwear - 212

Prepare the Pattern

Bond the pattern - Pellon or HTC Quilters Grid


Center front line - Must be on straight of grain

Center back line - Must be on straight of grain

Neck Line - effects interfacings, collars, & shoulders

Fudge factor seams - Fabric effects fit.

Length adjustment - 5’10” is the height the pattern is designed for,

Baste the Stitching lines - ALL Stitching MUST be 5/8 inch seans.

Sew shoulders and clip neck curve

Try on -T-shirt & necklace - pins & tape

Fitting changes Start at the top and work down - Back then front.

Changes must be make in the center of the pattern.

Rounded back - effects the neckline fit

Shoulder slope - will effect top of sleeve seam

Shoulder length

Broad back (rounded back) & hip room

Broad chest & tummy room

Underarm Seam - will effect sleeve seam

Sleeve expansion

Sleeve length - Extra length for active dancing.

Cuff Changes - Make a practice cuff or measure a well fitting cuff.

Interfacing - Pellon 906 -  Collar  - Collar stand - Front placket - cuffs - sleeve plackets -

Heat - Steam - Pressure - Time - Press once & cut once.

Sewing Instructions

new needle Universal 90/14 - fresh thread - set tension

Collar - stitch - trim - clip - understitch - sew ends - trim - clip - turn - topstitch - 

Collar stand - baste - glue press

Cuffs - Stitch - trim - clip - understitch - baste - glue press

Shoulders - sew - fuse web - shoulder support

Yoke - Applique  - anything goes - Pockets - part of yoke

Neckline stitching - ½ inch from line - required - clipping - required

Front band - baste - glue press - sew - trim band only- fold - glue press - top stitch

Snaps - Snap Tape Measure - Snap Source -

Back collar stand - trim and press

Collar and inside collar stand - attach using a template and trim

Edge stitch - increase stitch length

Side seams - final fitting

Sleeve Placket instructions

Sleeve seams - final fitting

Cuff attachment - Trim seams remove bulk to help snaps.

Bottom edge -Adjust & Hem