Sam's Fairfield Button-Up

HelenHelen's Makes, Menswear23 Comments

Sam’s Fairfield Button Up

Sam wearing a Fairfield button up in a black and green plaid cotton shirting fabric.

I’m excited to welcome Sam back to the blog to showcase one of the handmade gifts I gave him for Christmas 2020! I actually wrapped it up and gave it to him slightly unfinished, but it was a good thing I did because we ended up deciding to take it in a bit and reposition the pockets. It also took me a little while to finish up the buttons and buttonholes, but now the shirt is done and he can finally wear it! 

Sam models a men's button up shirt pattern.
Sam in a plaid cotton button up shirt. This men's sewing pattern has a separate block drafted for larger figures.

This is the Thread Theory Fairfield Button Up shirt in plaid cotton shirting from Blackbird Fabrics a few years back. I actually have a Kalle button up in the same fabric, and this is not the first time I have made Sam this shirt pattern either. This time we lengthened it for his height and preference (he loves a long button up) and I did a few muslins to nail the fit for him before investing time in this plaid matching. I really like this pattern because it actually comes with a block drafted for folks with larger figures, so that was a good jumping off point for Sam’s shirt. It’s well drafted and the instructions are aces. 

Sam's Fairfield button up shirt viewed from the side.

I’m so happy with how this shirt turned out! Sam has a broad chest so it was important to us that this shirt didn’t gape and pull in the front. He also likes to roll up his sleeves to the elbow, so I made sure that the sleeves were not too tight so he could comfortably do this without cutting off any circulation. 

Men's button up shirt sewing pattern, the Fairfield button up.

It was really fun to work with this beautiful shirting and match the plaid across the front. The secret is finding the center front on the pattern and making sure you line that up on the same place in the print for both right and left shirt fronts. In this pattern’s case, the placket is built into the shirt front (which I LOVE). If there is a separate placket piece on your pattern, pattern matching can be a little bit harder, but you also have the option to cut it on the cross grain or bias like I did here on my Kalle shirt. 

Helen wearing a Kalle Tunic in plaid cotton shirting fabric. Cutting a button placket on the bias makes pattern matching easier!
Men's shirt pattern with the back yoke cut on the bias.

I opted to cut the yoke, pockets, and sleeve plackets on the bias. I would not recommend cutting the sleeve plackets on the bias though – I did interface them to ensure they kept their shape, but they were so fiddly to work with due to the bias cut that I don’t know if it was worth it, to be honest. It looks nice but a straight grain might look even better. 

Close up of sleeve placket cut and sewn on the bias.

As for the pockets—I completely misplaced them the first time around! I was actually a bit disappointed when Sam tried it on because the shirt looked quite odd and baggy. I was confused since I had put so much work into fitting it! After staring at him strangely for a minute, I realized that the pockets were too low and off to the side, causing the whole shirt to look oversized! Once we unpicked and re-positioned the pockets, it was like a whole new shirt! Whew!

Men's shirt pattern before and after. Pockets in the right spot can make a dramatic difference in perceived fit!

Sam is smitten with this new shirt and I feel inspired to make him more button-ups! I got some flannel from Blackbird this winter and I have a few more cotton plaid shirtings in my stash that are calling to me. After years of sewing for myself primarily, it is a nice change of pace to play dress up with Sam. 

Sam laughs joyfully while wearing his new Fairfield button up.

Happy sewing!

Helen & Sam

About the author


Helen Wilkinson is the designer and founder of Helen's Closet Patterns. She also co-hosts the Love to Sew Podcast! Helen is obsessed with all things sewing and strives to share her passion and knowledge with the sewing community.

23 Comments on “Sam’s Fairfield Button Up”

  1. I love this so much!! I’d be interested to hear more specifics about the fitting changes you made to the pattern as my partner has a very similar shape to Sam and I have the same pattern, but haven’t quite nailed the fit yet for his broad chest and shoulders!

  2. This is simply Perfection. So appreciate you posting about this men’s buttondown. I’m in the middle of a men’s Simplicity 8753 men’s shirt—I’ve measured accurately for size, the shoulders are way off; I’m disheartened. Yet your experience has given me hope and I will try this pattern for another try at a nice shirt fit for my husband. Graciously thank you!

  3. Sam looks marvelous. I would not have expected pocket placement to make such a huge difference. My hubby is bugging me to make him something. He is 6’5″ and also has trouble finding shirts that are long enough. How much did you add to the length?

  4. Helen, this is the quintessential plaid shirt. You’ve done such a beautiful job. I’m just making my first Fairfield, for my son Sam. The pattern is great, far superior to other men’s shirt patterns I’ve used, though I did find it VERY slim fitting. Thanks for the inspo!

    1. Thanks Marial! I used the version drafted for larger men and did not find it slim-fitting, but maybe that is the difference between the two?

  5. This shirt looks great Helen! I love this TT pattern for men’s shirts – very detailed instructions and nice touches that elevate the whole garment. I made this Fairfield shirt for my son for Christmas in a whacky OAK fabric I bought in LA a few years back, and his smile when he tried it on for the first time compares to Sam’s! Great job on the bias placket – looks really great.

  6. This shirt looks great Helen! I love this TT pattern for men’s shirts – very detailed instructions and nice touches that elevate the whole garment. I made this Fairfield shirt for my son for Christmas in a whacky OAK fabric I bought in LA a few years back, and his smile when he tried it on for the first time compares to Sam’s! Great job on the bias placket – looks really great.

  7. Hi Helen! Gorgeous shirt–lucky Sam!! One question: had you followed the markings on the pattern for the initial pocket placement?? I’ve made my man a muslin of this same shirt, & decided to “freestyle” the pocket placement; very poor result! Was thinking I’d have him try it on & situate the pockets where best on the next shirt.How did pocket success work for you two???? Many thanks, THK

    1. Hi Teresa! Yes, I did follow the markings but because of all the adjustments I made it may have gotten out of whack – I’m not entirely sure what happened to be honest! I think sewing pockets last is always a good idea when possible!

  8. I love this shirt Helen… like you, I have mostly only sewn for myself all of my adult life(I used to sew clothes for my Barbie when I was a child!) I have promised my husband and daughter a Jackson sweatshirt this spring. Once they saw my Jackson sweatshirt in a delicious tencel fleece, they both said “I’ll have one of those!” It’s a terrific pattern and a real pleasure to sew up… got some more tencel fleece and will be printing off their sizes ASAP for matching father daughter Jackson’s…

  9. The shirt is so nice and the colour suits Sam very well. I just bought that pattern. Like you I have mostly sewed for myself but recently I asked my husband “if I would sew you something, what would you want the most”? He said “a shirt that fit”! I have never sewn a button up shirt but seeing your made really encourages me.

    1. Hi Johanne! Thank you! It was really satisfying to sew and I just took it one step at a time. Making the muslins was worth the effort to get the fit right before sewing!

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