Shirt Cuff Mike Maldonado’s way – part 2 of 2

This tutorial follows my previous post  – part 1 of 2, in which our hero made the cuffs! Now you have 2 beautiful cuffs, lets get attached!

Mike warns not to make the buttonhole before attaching the cuff to the shirt sleeve, as appealing as this may be. I’m not sure about you, but I’m the type to charge on through and do something only to live in regret ever after. Wait until you’ve attached your cuffs to your shirt, that way you’ll easily identify which side of the cuff to buttonhole.

I had a quick review of my husband’s shirts and almost all of them, casual and business shirts are made this way. You can tell a clean finished cuff by the double row of topstitching on one side, but that can be omitted if you prefer.



Step 1. After completing your (tower or other) placket, sew the pleat closest to the placket, leave the second pleat open at this stage – we’ll close that later. Leaving the second pleat open gives us wiggle room on the off chance that you didn’t sew your cuff with nanometre accuracy! This is a fantastic fail safe – thank you Mike! If your sleeve is gathered, then you should be able to coax some gathers in or out as needs. For ease of identification, the side you see above is the overplacket, the part you can’t see is the under placket – its smaller. We’re going to start sewing at the under placket end.



Step 2. Pop your cuff inside your shirt sleeve – cuff facing (the side you didn’t clean finish) to sleeve wrong side.

To confirm you’ve got it right… grab the cuff/sleeve seam allowance (SA), and flip the cuff as it would look when its sewn, you can imagine the clean finish side ends up on the outside (right side) of the sleeve. The sleeve above is the right sleeve. I would prefer to show you the left sleeve, that way the seam allowance would be on the right. Oh well, here goes my worst exhibition of ambidexterity.

Push the sleeve (not shown, its white) toward the back of the machine a hair – yes, just a hair. The cuff should begin a hair forward of the cuff – just a hair and mine’s fine FYI!

Now I don’t know about you but my machine stalls at the very edge of anything. Start in from the edge  about 6mm (1/4″) and make your first stitch a backstitch (thank you Janet Pray). That way you have one less line of stitching at the start and the machine has already bitten by the time you get underway with the seam going forward.



Step 3. Sew a beautiful seam using you desired allowance (whatever you decided to use when cutting the clean finished edge in the previous post) while flipping the clean finished side out of the way. As you approach the area where the unpleated pleat is, with needle down, go to the other end of your cuff and ensure its going to line up. Whatever is the difference becomes your pleat – make it now.

See the green tape, thats how I make sure my eyes don’t flip between the markings on the throat plate. It gives me a nice clear seam allowance.



Continue sewing the cuff onto the sleeve. You should end up with the cuff a hair inside the sleeve edge as you sew.




Here you can see it is all going swimmingly, nearly there.



The cuff has ended up a tad beyond the sleeve edge. Its not a disaster, but ideally I would fix that, I’d prefer it was within the sleeve edge a ‘hair’.



Step 4. Now turn the sleeve right side out and flip the cuff to the right (public) side. Prepare to edgestitch; it hadn’t occurred to me to change my machine foot – I’ll never get a job demonstrating sewing machines will I?!


IMG_0692If your machine stalls when you want to start close to the edge, you can thread a needle up and insert it at the edge of the fabric, give it a tug just as you start to sew to coax the machine into submission! I like doing this to assure me the *@%#$ machine doesn’t just sit there and stick making an unsightly knot on the back side. Then I hold my breath! If it sticks I swear a lot.



Step 5. Edgestitch close to the clean finished edge. Keep checking as you go that the edge of your clean finished side is a hair over the stitching line beneath. Then when you look at the underside, all should be well with the world. If it isn’t, you can try again, or never let anyone look inside your sleeve – because the outside will be perfecto!



Edgestitching on the inside, edited so you don't see where it isn't perfect!
Edgestitching on the inside, edited so you don’t see where it isn’t perfect!
...and the beautiful outside.
…and the beautiful outside.

You won’t believe how different my pleats were. They didn’t even make sense, so if I do ever make this vintage pattern for my son, that would be worth checking.

Now is the time to sew your buttonholes on the ‘over placket’ side. The button will go on the ‘under placket’ as per your pattern markings.

If you did it all backwards and the clean finish is on the inside – thats ok too, you can edge stitch and/or topstitch the outside anyway.

Please let me know if this isn’t clear. Its a tricky thing to explain without a video.


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