This is a quick way to give a plain tee or tank a little upgrade! The best part is, you don’t have to screw around with buttonholes because that part has been done for you already!
If you’re looking at me funny and wondering WTF a henley shirt is, it’s a shirt with a partial button placket down the front. Like our finished project here:
Things you’ll need for this tutorial:
- sewing machine (or needle and thread, if you’re old school and mega patient like that)
- a t-shirt or tank (you can make your own, if you like)
- the button placket from another shirt
Gather your materials. Here I’ve got my henley and my fabric, with which I will make a basic tee.
I happened to have a a henley shirt that I cut up a while ago to make a pattern. This is why I can never throw things away… I knew it would come in handy!
If you don’t have a henley style shirt, you can use a button placket from any shirt, really. A full buttondown will work just fine for this, you just need to trim it to the length you want. I think a plaid button placket would look super cute on a plain tee!
If you’ve searched your closets high and low and don’t have a button placket handy, there’s a really great tutorial for making a henley tee here.
The cute button print fabric I used in this tutorial is from Purple Seamstress Fabrics.
Cut out the button placket, leaving your preferred seam allowance. I like to gamble, so I went with 1/4″.
Note: leave yourself extra room around the top button and buttonhole. I did not do this, and I paid the price.
Mark the center front of your tee.
As you can see, I have opted to make my tee from scratch. If you’re making yours from scratch, it’s easiest to do the first part of the recon before you start assembling the shirt.
If you’re using an already assembled tee, no biggie. Cut the collar off and you’re good to go. You’ll just have a little more finagling to do when it comes time to sew and pin.
I chose to do a scoopneck… that is also something you can change if you want. You could do a crewneck, v-neck, empire waist…. It’s up to you.
Line up the button placket with the center line and mark where the bottom of the placket hits the center line (minus the seam allowance.
Measure the width of the placket, minus the seam allowance. In my case, it’s 1.25″.
Mark the shirt front to match. You should now have an outline drawn on the shirt that indicates where the placket will go.
Cut down the center line. Stop 1/2″ from the bottom of the outline.
Make an upside-down “V” cut, with each leg of the “V” stopped just short of the corner of the outline.
Line up the edges of placket and the shirt Right Sides Together on one side of the center cut. Pin it.
Sew it. I used a zipper foot and sewed right along the placket stitching.
Turn it Right Sides Out and see your handiwork.
Finagle time. Line up the other edge of the placket to the shirt front at the center cut.
Repeat… pin and sew.
Again, admire your handiwork.
Here’s where I cheated a little bit. I planned all along to sew the bottom of the placket to the shirt on the inside.
See? There’s the little V poking out.
But… it’s a screwy task, sewing the bottom of a square seam like that. So I chickened out and just topstitched it. Hehe!
Pin and sew! I used contrasting thread because I’m crazy like a fox.
Here we are, half way done!
Now it’s time to finish assembling the shirt if you’re making it from scratch. Attach the sleeves (or finish the sleeve edges if you’re making a tank) and sew up the side seams.
Now for the collar.
Measure around the neck hole. Mine is 30″.
Cut a strip of stretchy fabric long enough to go around the neckhole, plus 2″ inches for mistakes’ sake.
I used scraps from the original henley shirt.
I cut two 16″ strips and sewed them together for mine.
The strip measures about 2 1/2″ wide, so after I fold in half and sew, I’ll have a collar about 1″ wide. You can make it wider, if you’d like.
Fold the collar fabric in half, and starting at the center back of your shirt, pin the collar to the neck hole. Stretch the collar fabric a little bit while you pin.
Here we are, all pinned around, with some extra collar length left.
Trim the collar so it’s just a little past the shirt edge (or can at least STRETCH past the shirt edge) and mark it like so.
Repeat on the other side and cut where you’ve marked. Make sure you’re cutting off the side with the raw edges of the fabric. Don’t be a dummy and cut off the folded side like I did (duh.).
Pin the edges. I like to baste each collar edge before I sew the whole collar.
The trick is to get the fold of the collar in the seam allowance at the edges, so there won’t be any raw edges when you flip the collar up. I did this good on one side and bad on the other. Luckily, you can just rebaste until you catch that folded edge in your seam allowance.
This is where it would have been nice if I’d have left myself a little more room around the top button.
Sew the rest of the collar, flip it out, and voila!