Design Details from Menswear Shirting:Topstitching

Shirting Details from Menswear:


Warning:This Post is Photo Heavy.

Often when a pattern instructs me to topstitch I just look at the garment and wing it.  Though it would only take a few seconds I have been too lazy to grab a shirt or two and measure the typical topstitching points to determine stitch depth.   The result is sometimes a shirt that subtly looks “wrong.” 

I have several shirts planned over the next few months and I want them to look nice.  Wanting to create a handy chart to place in my sewing area as a reference I decided to pull out a few of my husband’s shirts and measure the stitch depths. 

Why my husband’s shirts and not my own, you may ask.  Firstly, being thick in the middle I do not own many RTW women’s oxfords to use as a sample.  RTW won’t close around my waist. That is why I am sewing my own.

Secondly, menswear often sets the standard for women’s oxford-style shirts and after an in-depth look at my husband’s closet I realized that menswear manufacturers have it down to a science.  My husband owns essentially the same exact shirt in a variety of fabrics and colors.  Though we in the Western world are coming upon close to two centuries of men wearing a cotton collared shirt, strangely I didn’t anticipate how efficient and frugal men’s clothiers had become.

Here is a chart of my findings. 

I worry that the chart will come up too small so I will repeat the chart info with photos to illustrate.  I looked at three different types of shirts: a standard work oxford, a dress shirt of finer cotton, and a dress shirt of softer material.  There was very little variation in construction methods or design details.


The softest and dressiest shirts had edgestitched collars.

Most of the shirts had 1/4 inch topstitching at collar edges.

The inside of the collar band showed extra stitching at 1/4 inch. But it couldn't have been twin-needle-d because the 1/4 stitch line did not show on outer side.

The outside of the collar band is edgestitched.









The yoke front and back are edgestitched. The shoulder seam is topstitched at 3/8 inch with the seam pressed upwards toward neckline.







The outer edge of the cuff is at 1/4 inch. The inner edge at the wrist looks to be twin needle-d at the edge and 3/8ths. If you look you can see that the placket is edgestitched on only one side with the folded side left free of any stitching.









The button side of the front opening has a single row of topstitching holding down the folded material at about 1 inch. The buttonhole side has 1/4 inch topstitching holding down the bands.

The hem is a rolled hem with edgestitching starting right at one garment edge and continuing to the other end.
















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