Long Sleeve Western Shirt




About: I am married with two children. Spring, summer, and fall are my very favorite times of the year. I enjoy working in the yard, sewing, cooking, quilting, gardening, and creating. I do this to keep my sanity.

Tailored fit clothing can make any body type look great. This tutorial will show how to make a tailored fit retro style western shirt. This shirt is made from denim with front and back yokes, snaps, flat felled seams, and pockets with flaps from a McCall's western shirt pattern. My husband prefers simple clothing with no trim or fancy designs. I top stitched it to make it look more stylish, but can you imagine how beautiful this shirt would be embroidered?

I never realized how frustrating it can be to buy clothing for people who are extra tall, big, or short until I got married. My husband is 6 foot 4, but he is very slim. Most clothing for extra tall people are made for the big and tall. I finally decided to make him a shirt. To my surprise it was not that hard. I made all of his shirts and vests for ten years, until we discovered that JCPenny had extra tall shirts available that fit him nicely. We bought his shirts from JCPenny's until JCPenny quit making the shirts in the style he liked. His shirts have been getting very worn, so I made this western style shirt over the weekend for the Sew Warm Contest.

I decided to alter this pattern into a retro design that he liked so well. He however did not want the pockets cut into the retro style so I left them the way the pattern was cut. A person can make a regular cut shirt from this same pattern by omitting the pocket flaps and yoke.

My husband has chronic anemia which causes him to be cold all the time. He wears all heavy weight cotton long sleeve shirts all year round. In the winter months he wears a wool vest with this heavy shirt as well.


Step 1: Materials

2 3/8 Yards 60 inch wide fabric (Pre-wash and dry the fabric before cutting).
Matching thread.
1 Yard fusible interfacing for: collar, front band, and cuffs.

Please note: If you are using heavy weight fabric I think you could make this shirt with out the interfacing. The interfacing makes it difficult to work with when making a flat felted seam.

Step 2: Supplies

Sewing machine
Ironing board
Snap gun
14 (1/2 inch decorative snaps)
Measuring tape
Straight edge
Seam ripper
Sewing pins
McCall's M4530 Men's Pattern

Step 3: Preparations

Cut out all pattern pieces that you will be using. I made view D.
Pre-wash, dry, and iron shirt fabric if you have not done that already.
Iron pattern pieces.

Step 4: Cutting Out the Pattern

To make this shirt longer in the body length and sleeve I had to cut the pattern where it says (to lengthen here) and extend it 4 inches in the sleeve, body, and front band. I add the length to the sleeves, body, and front band by placing the pattern pieces in place and extending the pieces the length needed. Using the chalk and a straight edge I drew the cutting line and cut the pieces. Please see the pictures.

Cut out all the pattern pieces making necessary changes as you go.
Mark all pattern pieces where needed.

If you wish to make the cuff pleats smaller don't cut out the sleeve until you read step 5.
For the most part I will write the pattern's instructions according to the pattern but will make notations where I changed them.

Step 5: Altering the Cuff Pleats

We did not like the pleats because they are harder to iron and added bulk to the shirt. We altered the pattern by marking the lower end of the sleeve taking off 1 and 1/2" at the cuff on each side and re-positioning the dart as shown. We began marking a slope from the middle of the sleeve tapering to the cuff section as shown on both sides of the sleeve. We tapered the sleeve to 3/4" at the cuff area. We could have taken off a full 2 inches and will do that on his next shirt. This will allow for a small tuck at the cuff area.

Step 6: Interfacing

Pin pattern pieces over interfacing.
Cut all the pieces out.
Iron interfacing to front band, cuffs, collar, collar band, pocket flap.

Please note: Use interfacing only on the lining side of each pattern piece.

Step 7: Shoulder Seams

I changed some of the sewing and cutting directions on this pattern because I am flat felling the seams. All flat felled seams are sewn 5/8" wide to give plenty of room for turning the edges under to top stitch. They are also sewn on the facing or right side of the fabric.

Pin the shirt front to the shirt back at the shoulder seams facing or right side out.
Sew the shirt front to the shirt back on the facing or right side of the fabric as shown.
Press seams open.
Trim loose threads.

Please note: The reason we are sewing on the facing or right side of the fabric, is so there will be no raw edges on the inside of the finished shirt. Don't pay any attention to the chalk line. I will be posting an Instructable on how to adjust for a drop shoulder later on.

Step 8: Front Band

I did not follow the directions in order (for the band) because it makes it easier to eyeball how to mark the yoke front to be cut later. Follow the instructions for sewing the front band to the shirt according to the pattern. Then top stitch as shown for a nice finished look. Please see bottom note for a suggested change.

Turn in seam allowance on long unnotched edge of front band.
Trim pressed seam allowance to 3/8"
Pin front band to front, having raw edges even.
Press seam toward front band.
Turn front band to inside along foldline.
Slipstitch pressed edge over seam. (or top stitch as suggested).

I pinned the front band opposite of the directions so when the last seam is sewn it is on the right side of the fabric so you don't need to slipstitch it. I like the looks and ease of this much better.

Step 9: Shirt Yoke

Pin shirt yoke together at shoulders wrong sides together.
Sew the shoulder seams 5/8" on the right sides of the fabric as shown.
Trim loose threads.
Press seams open.
Trim one seam to 3/8 inch. Please see bottom note.
Fold edge as shown and go back and top stitch as shown.
Trim loose threads.
Press well.

Note: I usually trim the seam that is the closest to the back of the shirt so that the last fold is folded toward the back of the shirt and stitched.

Step 10: Attaching Yoke to Shirt

It was easier for me to pin the yoke to the shirt and then turn under the hem because I needed to alter the yoke front to make it a retro yoke.

I placed the shirt on the ironing board and placed the yoke over the shirt matching all the areas evenly.
I simply turned under the back yoke hem 3/8 inch and pressed it in and pinned it.
Then using a ruler I marked where I wanted to cut the fabric at a point on the front yoke.
I cut it off at the chalk line.
Then I turned under a 3/8 inch hem and pressed it in and pinned it.
Then I sewed the yoke to the shirt at the pinned edges.
I double stitched it as shown.
Trimmed all loose threads.

I went online to see what a 1950's retro front yoke design looked like and cut the front to look like it: http://www.etsy.com/listing/76846733/uncut-sewing-pattern-vintage-1950s-mens?ref=sr_gallery_4&sref=&ga_includes%5B0%5D=tags&ga_search_query=1950s+western+shirt&ga_page=2&ga_search_type=all&ga_facet=

Step 11: Pockets

Following the patterns instructions for sewing the pockets. We made the pockets deeper and narrower and triple stitched the stress points because my husband wanted stronger and deeper pockets. We did this by not turning down the top edge of the pocket as much and turning the sides in more.

Turn upper edge to outside along fold-line.
Stitch ends.
Turn upper edge of pocket to inside, turning in remaining seam allowances.
Place pocket on shirt and sew leaving the top pocket area open.
Top stitch if desired.

Step 12: Pocket Flaps

Follow the patterns instructions for sewing the flaps. I top stitched for a nice finished look.

Stitch flap sections together in a 3/8" seam, leaving upper edge open.
Edge stitch flap.
Pin flap, interfaced side down, to front, placing seamline along stitching line.
Stitch along seamline.
Trim flap seam allowance to a scant 1/4" being careful not to cut the front.
Turn flap down.
Top stitch upper edge of flap through all thicknesses.

Step 13: Sleeve

Follow the instructions for sewing the sleeve except, sew the sleeve from the face side of the fabric so you can make the flat felled seam. The sleeves and shoulders are basically sewn in reverse of the directions so you are sewing from the right side of the fabric.

Stitch 2 seams on each sleeve top using the longest machine stitch. I stitched one at 5/8" and one next to it closest to the edge of the sleeve top.
Pin the sleeve at each end of the the shirt matching the notches.
Gather the sleeve carefully by pulling the threads on both seams at the same time.
Gather the sleeve until it fits the shirt sleeve opening.
Pin the sleeve wrong sides together.
Machine sew 5/8" around the sleeve.
Trim off loose threads.
Press seam open with iron.
Cut off one seam to 3/8" on the side that is the closest to the back of the shirt.
Fold the remaining seam edge over 3/8" and press.
Fold the seam over the sleeve as shown and pin into place.
Machine sew close to the edge to make the flat fell seam.
Trim all loose threads.

Step 14: Continuous Flap

Follow the instructions for the pattern for the continuous flap. Please see bottom note.

Turn in 1/4" seam allowance on one long edge of continuous lap.
With right sides together, pin lap to sleeve, placing remaining 1/4" seamline along stitching.
Stitch. Please see bottom note before doing this.
Press seam toward lap.
Turn pressed edge of lap to inside over seam.

I stitched the right side of the flap so no slipstitching is needed. The directions have you sew it where the flap is turned to the inside of the shirt and slipped stitched.

Step 15: Sides

Pin back to front together at sides; pin sleeve edges together.( wrong sides together)
Stitch in one continuous seam 5/8".
Trim loose threads.
Press the seams open.
Trim the seam that is the closest to the back of the shirt to 3/8 inch.
Turn the remaining seam under 3/8 inch and press.
Fold it over as shown and top stitch the edge to form the flat felled seam.

Step 16: Cuff

Pin, turn under hem, and sew cuff following the instructions for the pattern.

Turn in seam allowance 5/8" on notched edge of un-interfaced cuff sections; press.
Trim pressed seam allowance to 3/8".
Stitch un-interfaced cuff sections, leaving notched edge open.
Turn. Press.

Step 17: Attaching the Cuff to the Sleeve

Pin cuff to sleeve, placing double small circles at the underarm seam and large circles at opening edges.
Pin in the pleat to fit the sleeve and stitch.
Stitch the cuff to the sleeve keeping pressed edge free. See bottom note.
Press seam toward cuff.
Stitch cuff seam.
Top stitch if desired.

I usually pin the cuff opposite of the instructions ( pin wrong sides together and sew them on the facing or right side of the fabric so the final seam will be top stitched on the right side of the fabric. This eliminates slip stitching.

Step 18: Collar

Follow the instructions for the pattern.

Stitch collar sections together, leaving edge with notches open.
Edge stitch finished edges.
Top stitch.

Step 19: Collar Band

Follow the instructions for the pattern.

Turn in seam allowance on single notched edge of uninterfaced collar band section.
Trim pressed seam allowance to 3/8".
Pin uninterfaced side of collar to interfaced collar band between large circles.
Pin uninterfaced collar band over collar.
Stitch, leaving neck edge open.

Step 20: Attaching the Collar to the Shirt

Pin collar band to neck edge, where it is necessary.
Stitch, keeping pressed edge free.
Press seam toward collar. band.
Slip stitch pressed edge over seam. I did not slip stitch this part I stitched on the machine and it looks fine to me.

Step 21: Hem

Make 5/8" narrow hem at lower edge of shirt, continuing to open edges.

Step 22: Snaps

Mark where all the snaps go.
Using the snap gun attach the snaps to the shirt front, cuffs, and pocket flaps.

Step 23: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts

My husband was very happy that he got two tailored shirts because of the Instructables Sew Warm contest. He also got two lined vest. Everything fit him perfectly. He is happy because the shirts are warm. This has been the first time we made shirts that fit so nicely. We have the pattern down to a science. I like to flat fell the seams because I don't have a Serger and I don't like raw seams on the inside of a garment. It takes almost two days to make a shirt like this. It is time consuming but the shirt will last for several years. He said these were his favorite shirts. I am making a cloth pattern for these shirts and will have an Instructable about that when I can do it.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you will make a custom tailored shirt you can be proud of. Have a beautiful day!



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    18 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    You have made one happy camper here!
    Hurricane Ike, which was the size of Texas if I remember correctly, took the roof off of my home. I was just starting this shirt when it hit. Had my fabric cut out and was about to get busy. It rained in every room and tore my place up.

    The roof is back on and most of the home repair is done. (No insurance...it's been a long haul.)

    Tonight I unboxed this unfinished project and realized I had lost the instructions. I'm thinking to myself...how hard can it be? The little voice in the back of my mind became fairly loud and who-are-you-kidding sanity reappeared.

    Internet to the rescue -- and an Instructable, no less. Aw-right! (I'm a big fan...member...etc.)

    I cannot thank you enough.

    It's only my third shirt. And my tailoring skills are those of a novice. I'm a 52-year old man who likes to weld and do woodwork and use bad language when I'm forced to do a plumbing repair. Being a bachelor, I'm on my own.

    So, you bet I'm grateful for this Instructable. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.

    Now...wish me luck.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome job sunshiine!!! Someone had recently asked why there was no instructables on men's fashions, so now I have to find that question and let the author know there is one.

    I'm impressed. :D

    11 replies

    Sorry if this is a repeat but it seems my comment did not post. Thank you for viewing my page and for commenting. I will be posting more on how to make shirts and vest that may interest you. Have a super day!

    By the way this shirt can be made more simple just by following the instructions without flat felting the seams. When I first started making these shirts I did not flat felt the seams. I did not have much experience sewing garments either. So shirts really are not all the difficult to sew.

    Thanks so much for stopping by to see this Instructable and for commenting! I will soon be posting a men's lined vest and a lined shirt that might interest you. Have a splendorous day!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for commenting canuckgirl! I am dragging by my heels to get the rest published. Hope your day has been beautiful!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You're welcome! I am also frantically working to beat the deadline.... *gasp*
    I hope your day is going well too.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for commenting bajablue! It has been a long haul to get these done with my schedule the past few weeks. I will be over to see what your up to in the next day or two! Have a beautiful night!