It’s no secret that the instructions in a Helen’s Closet pattern are some of the best around, and the Cameron Button Up is no exception. There are over 6 (SIX!) pages for the sleeve placket alone. Gone are the days of this tricky step scaring sewists away from more advanced patterns! Today we have a step-by-step tutorial on how to sew a sleeve placket, packed with clear photographs and helpful tips to supplement the Cameron instructions.
How to Sew a Sleeve Placket
First things first, we highly recommend sewing a test placket on a scrap of fabric first. This step can be challenging, and practicing complex techniques is a great way to learn and build confidence. Plus, it only takes a small scrap of fabric, so why not?
*Note that for the purposes of this tutorial, this sleeve piece is not to scale. To create a practice placket, you do not need to cut a full sleeve piece.
Once you have finished constructing the back yoke and sewn the front and back shoulders together, it’s time to sew your Cameron sleeve placket. If you haven’t already applied interfacing to your sleeve placket piece, now is the time to do so. I’ve applied interfacing per the piece included with the pattern, but if you are using a lightweight or drapey fabric, you may want to consider interfacing the entire piece.
Transfer the placket line marking from the sleeve pattern piece onto the wrong side of both sleeves. Transfer the markings from the pattern piece to the wrong (interfaced) side of the sleeve placket pieces. Note that the taller side of the placket is referred to as the “tower” side, and the shorter side will is called the “binding” side.
Working with the “tower” side of the placket, press the two angled edges and the long edge of the placket 1/4” (0.6 cm) towards the wrong side. If you are having trouble pressing those small corners, try using tiny pieces of double-sided tape like Wonder Tape to help keep them in place.
On the “binding” side of the placket, fold the vertical edge at the notches, 1/4” (0.6 cm), towards the wrong side and press. Fold at the next set of notches, another 1/4” (0.6 cm), and press again. Note that we are pre-pressing for a later step.
Working with one sleeve at a time, lay it wrong side up in front of you. Use the sleeve notches to determine which side is the front and which is the back (the front sleeve will have one notch and the back will have two).
The placket will go on top of the sleeve, wrong side up. Make sure the “tower” side of the placket is pointing towards the front of the sleeve. If it is not, use the other placket piece. Line up the “Y” shaped line on the placket with the line marking on the sleeve.
Pin the placket in place, confirming that it is lined up with your placket marking.
With the placket facing up, sew around the box outside of the “Y” shaped line, pivoting at the corners. You can unfold the binding side to have more room to sew. Use a shorter stitch length here for increased strength and precision.
Cut the sleeve and the placket open along the “Y” shape.
Stop 3/8” (1 cm) away from the top of the box and cut on an angle into the corners. Clip close to, but not past, the stitching line.
Working with one side of the placket at a time, press the placket away from the sleeve, towards the ‘Y’ opening. This will help with turning the placket to the right side.
Fold the placket through the ‘Y’ opening towards the right side of the sleeve. The right side of the placket and the sleeve will be both be facing up.
Finger press the top of the box opening flat. If the placket is not laying flat, check your cut lines and make sure the “Y” shape extends into the corners of the stitching line as much as possible.
Working with the “binding” side of the placket first, press the seam allowances away from the sleeve and onto the placket.
Using the pre-pressed lines on the “binding” side of the placket, fold the placket 1/4” (0.6 cm) and then 1/4” (0.6 cm) again. The binding should now be folded over the seam allowances, fully enclosing them and just covering the stitching line.
Pin in place and sew, 1/16” (0.15 cm) from the edge, stitching the entire length of the placket binding to the sleeve and press. This will create a small tuck on the binding side of the placket.
Working on the “tower” side of the placket, press the seam allowances and tower away from the sleeve and onto the placket. Make sure the fabric underneath the tower is lying flat and the placket opening is straight (not angled).
Pin the “tower” side of the placket to the shirt. Sew vertically, from the top of the tower down to the round dot marking. I find it helpful to pre-mark this line with a fabric marker. Keep the angled edges of the tower folded in towards the wrong side here.
Fold the tower back over the placket at the stitch line you just made. The right side of the tower will be facing up again.
Line up the sides of the tower with the stitching on either side of the placket. Pin in place. Double check on the wrong side that you’ve pinned things evenly all the way down the placket. Adjust your pins if necessary.
Find the top of the placket opening by inserting a pin on the wrong side of the placket. Mark across the top of the placket opening on the right side of the tower. This is where you will topstitch the placket into place.
Starting at the bottom of the sleeve, topstitch the placket to the sleeve opening, 1/8” (0.3 cm) away from the edges. Sew all the way to the angled top of the “tower”, pivot, sew around the top of the tower and down the other side to the top of the placket opening. Stop and pivot to sew across the placket and backstitch.
Make sure to go slowly during the step, stopping to readjust as necessary. Here is what your finished placket will look like:
Congrats! Sewing a sleeve placket is one of the hardest things in sewing and you just did it! Now you’re ready to take on all the button ups! That wasn’t so bad was it?