On dissecting a RTW shirt here’s what I learned, and what I tried in practice…

  • the “flat felled seams” are not true ones – the pieces on the shirt I took apart had been folded, pressed, and both lines of stitching topstitched rather constructed in the usual way, this would be too fiddly for me. I also observed that they are constructed with the outer fold toward the front of the garment. I found the flat felled seam turned out quite lumpy in places. In future I might reverse it (the inside of this seam was much neater), or use a simpler enclosed seam

  • the button placket is not applied, rather it is an extension of the shirt front, folded and stitched to look like an applied placket. I tried this and will definitely use this technique again if it’s appropriate to the style. It really speeds up the construction of this part of the garment. It looks dead neat too!

  • the faux placket lines up with the inside edge of the button stand
  • the RTW sleeve is completely symmetrical, a made-to-measure sleeve (at least from the book I have) is slightly higher at the back – I have thought for a while that commercially made clothing has less ease and that the pattern pieces are in general more ‘flat’, this makes me think I might be right in some cases at least. It must  make construction quicker and simpler
  • a line of machine stitching keeps seam allowance of collar stand in place (in my sewing manual it says to tack this and remove later). This is on the inside of the collar stand, is visible when the collar is unbuttoned, but creates a double line of stitching with the stitching that holds the stand to the body. This made the construction of the collar quicker and less fiddly. However, it is tricky to get the tram lines running parallel

While some of these points only make sewing a shirt fractionally faster, I can see why they are incorporated into the RTW construction process as every little trick helps speed things up

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