We have a new baby boy in our family!
It’s time to make a celebration outfit!

Assembled supplies for making a baby boy's outfit.
Assembled supplies for making a baby boy’s outfit.

Careful shopping has yielded shirt fabric, patterned with little dogs, chosen because the baby has been born in the year of the dog. Thank you Cousin Larry, for suggesting that I use fabric patterned with dogs! The rompers will be cut from red fabric, also a celebration color. I’m using McCall’s vintage pattern 5228, a favorite pattern at least 40 years old, that I used when making clothing for my own children.

The shirt must be cut to match. Here is how it is done

Prepare the back pattern
Back pattern laid on-the-open
All patterns in pattern packets with instructions to cut on the fold need to be traced so they can be cut on the open.

Trace the back pattern so it can be cut-on-the-open.The back pattern is shown after it has had tracing paper added, folded, traced, and opened. The back is cut on the open to prevent problems such as cutting an underside that is off grain and that doesn’t match.

Top and bottom cut collars
A top and a bottom collar are needed if one is to produce a professional garment.
Tracing a collar pattern to produce a bottom collar.
Tracing a collar pattern to produce a bottom collar.
Prepare the collar pattern

Collars in the pattern packets needs to be modified. All of the collar’s seams are reduced to 1/4 inch. The collar is then taped with tracing paper. The tracing paper is folded under on the center back line. The work is turned over and the collar traced so that it can be cut on the open. The collar is traced  again to produce the bottom collar. After the bottom collar is traced, reduce the bottom collar 1/8 inch across the long edge/Reduce the side of the collar 1/8 inch at the point to 0 at the neck edge.

Reduce additional seam allowances 
The face side of a single-needle seam
Used to make high-end men’s shirts, this flat-felled seam is also referred to as single needle. It requires a 3/8 inch seam allowance on both sides of the seam. One side of the seam is sewn on a 1/2 inch seam allowance, the other side of the seam is sewn on a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
Instructions for sewing a single-needle seam
This illustration shows how the single-needle seam is sewn.


All of the patterns need reduced seams to speed the sewing and to produce professional work. The neck and collar are reduced to 1/4 inch seam allowances. The sleeve cap, 1/4 inch seam allowances; the armhole, 3/4 to sew the sleeve in with a flat-felled seam as done with men’s shirts – but this was really difficult.  A 3/8 inch seam allowance works better when sewing a small sleeve cap and the armhole.

The side seams and sleeve seams are given 3/8 inch seam allowances so they can be sewn single –needle. Single-needle is an industrial term referring to a flat-felled seam sewn on a sewing machine with only one needle. Double-needle is sewn with a machine that has two needles. Single-needle is high-end and easily done in the home. Double-needle is used to make moderately priced men’s shirts.

Tracing the front pattern
Trace the front pattern.
Preparing the right-front pattern so it can be cut to match

1. Trace the front pattern.
2. Turn it over. Mark the traced left side front pattern, Left side, cut this side up.

Checking that the grain line is straight
Check that the fabric is on grain. This must ALWAYS be done before cutting any fabric. Garments cut on grain have a professional look that can’t be obtained any other way.
Right front pattern laid to cut to match
The right-front pattern, laid to allow the finished edge to fold on the vertical stripe of the fabric. The neckline at center front will finish at the top of one of the squares.

3. Check the fabric to make sure it is on grain.

4. Lay the right front pattern on the fabric. Adjust the right front pattern until the fabric’s underlying design looks good down the center front. Pin the pattern to the fabric. The pattern is laid so that the neck seam will sew across just above a boxed dog. The front edge will fold along the edge of the boxes. The pattern is laid to allow the hem to finish at the bottom edge of the boxes. Here the fabric’s underlying design is traced so that the pattern can be moved to a repeat of the fabric’s design. 

Preparing the left-front pattern so it can be cut to match
Left front pattern laid over right front pattern, marked with underlying design for matching
The left front pattern, laid over the right front pattern. The left front pattern’s button placement is laid over the right front pattern’s button placement. Some of the underlying fabric’s pattern is traced on the left-front pattern to ensure that the left-front pattern can be laid correctly on a matching section of the fabric.


1. Lay the left front pattern’s center front over the right front pattern’s center front. Note that the left front facing doesn’t lie over the right front pattern’s neck edge. That is because the facing extends so that it can fold under the finished left front.
2. Trace some of the fabric’s patterns that lie under the center front onto the left front pattern’s center front. Make sure to trace the square at the top of the pattern, just below the neck’s seam line.
3. The left front pattern can now be laid over another section of the fabric where the design repeats, and cut to match.

The sleeve cuffs
Sleeve pattern with added cuff
Adding tracing paper to the sleeve pattern so as to provide cuffs for the shirt, gave the shirt more style. Always check the work, as is being done here.

To give the shirt more style cuffs are added to the sleeve pattern. An easy fix, all that was needed was to add tracing paper to the bottom of the sleeve pattern, then fold the paper.

Before cutting the pattern was laid over the fabric to make sure the sleeve would cut as planned.

Baby boy's finished shirt
The button placement is changed from the pattern’s placement to allow the buttons to lie on alternating squares down the front of the shirt.
Button placement

The button placement was moved from the pattern’s placement down center front so as to align the buttons with the fabric’s design.


215 884 7065

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2018.

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