I had the best of intentions last night. I laid out all my sewing aids to making sleeve plackets, cut two plackets, and started sewing. I thought I'd be done in 15 minutes. I made two mistakes straight off. First, I had a 16oz can of 8.1% Alc High Gravity Steel Reserve beer with dinner.
Second, I flipped on the Devils v. Philly Flyers Stanley Cup game on TV. Of all the parts of making a shirt, plackets require my complete attention. You see, I'm a left-right challenged guy, constantly mixing the two up. I'm better with right-side wrong-side, but only if there is a print on one side. Between left-right and right-wrong, I get hopelessly lost fast. I am so bad that to know my right from my left I have to look at my wrists. My right wrist has a large U-shaped scar that took years off my mother's life when as a small boy I rammed a french door chasing my sister in our apartment. "Mommy, I cut myself!" Oye!
To compensate, I have some guides and templates that I pull out every time I make a placket.
My mother and I both use David Coffin's method for shirt plackets. It's less fiddly than the usual pattern instructions and more reliable. Ignore the placket that comes with your pattern, and make one of Coffin's templates on cardboard.
To begin, my arms are not the same length. My right arm is a full 1" longer than my left. This is a huge difference in the world of RTW apparel. It's such a difference that I make a pattern paper for each arm and tweek the ease a little so that the cuff width is the same. All my life, my right arm has dangled below my shirt cuff. My suit tailors have all wept at the prospect of altering my jacket cuffs. Since I make my own pattern papers, the 'print' side is always the right side of the fabric, which is a little different than working with one pattern piece print-side-up and print-side-down. Assuming one hasnt had a 16oz beer, my paper pattern should be simpler. It's terribly easy to mix on the left sleeve and the right sleeve on the table, and it's very important to place the plackets on marks corresponding to the opposite position on the right side. A right placket goes on the right sleeve on the left side on the right side. Get it? I never do. I have to lay out my pieces very carefully matching to my xerox copy page from Coffin's book AND compare to my mother's sample. I can only image this is what a dyslexic reader must feel like. I carefully transfer marks to my fabric from the pattern.
All of the above said, I really do enjoy making plackets. They are a joy for me. Once you've mastered sleeve plackets, the same placket can be used for a collar opening. It's just longer. In his book, Coffin includes a pattern for extending a placket into an elbow patch.
Next, I'll attach the sleeves to the body and my next post will be about the cuffs. Yet another Coffin innovation. G'night!