Thursday, June 7, 2012

DIY: Party Shirt

I realize that not all of you will benefit from this DIY project, but for anyone wishing to continue the Air Force tradition of "party shirts" (aka tuxedo shirts worn underneath the mess dress jacket), this is especially for you. 

DIY: Air Force Party Shirt

What You Will Need:
~1.5 to 2 yards of fabric {I personally think that two different, but coordinating look the best as the picture above shows}
Sewing machine
Thread {I suggest white, that way if you make a mistake sewing, it won't be very obvious}
Seam Ripper {This one is important!! You will be doing a lot of seam ripping}
Patience {It doesn't take a ton of time, nor is it extremely difficult, but it does take some patience, especially when you have to redo the sleeves three times because your husband convinced you they were on the wrong way, even though they weren't}

1. First things first, take the shirt out of the plastic and take a look at it. Note the sleeves and the back, as that is what you will be replacing. Turn it inside out.

2. Once you have it inside out, look at the part of the sleeves that connects to the back/shoulder of the shirt. Your goal is to get those sleeves off. Now this is my recommendation: I would suggest starting with the lower stitches {i.e. the straight stitch one, not the serged edge/zig zag edge}. One side of the stitches look pretty and simple. The other side looks a little messier. Seam rip from the messier side, working towards the right, as in, as you continue to seam rip, you will be going clockwise. After undoing a few stitches, you should be able to pull the thread and have it all come out. {I tried to take a picture of this and it did not turn out well.} Then doing the same thing with the top/serged stitches--rip out some of the stitches on top and in the underpart, and after a little bit of that, you should be able to rip it right out.

*Note: If that makes no sense, don't worry about it. It took me several shirts to even learn how to do it. It's not necessary, it just makes seam ripping much faster. If you cannot figure out my confusing instructions, just seam rip it out as best you can. It may just take a little while.

3. Once you have seam ripped both sleeves, you should be able to take them out and your shirt will now look like Larry the Cable Guy's shirt. Sleeveless. From here, you are going to work on the cuff part of the shirt.

4. This part is easier than it looks. Just be careful not to seam rip the cuff fabric. All you're going to do is detach the cuff from the sleeve.

5. And then you're going to seam rip out the little cut out thing that is part of the sleeve. Also, make sure you seam rip at least one of the sleeves open so you can use it as a pattern to cut out the sleeves from your "party" fabric.

6. When you're done with all that seam ripping, you'll have three pieces for each sleeve--two of which you'll need to keep--the cuff and that little piece of fabric that went into the cut {sorry, I have no idea how to even describe that}.

7. Next, it's time to...seam rip some more!! Exciting stuff huh? It's time to seam rip the back off of the shirt. Now, if you understood anything from step 2, I'm going to try to explain the easier/faster way to seam rip the back. Remember how there is a messier looking side and a cleaner looking side on the straight stitch? Start at the bottom of the shirt and seam rip a couple of stitches from the "messier" looking side and just pull the thread and it should just pull off. If that's super confusing, just seam rip the back part of the shirt off {both along the sides and across the top}.
{sorry this picture is kind of weird}

8. Use the back part and the sleeve that you have seam ripped off as your pattern to cut out the fabric. When I cut out the sleeves, I folded the fabric over and just cut one out and had two sleeves. {Sorry, I didn't take any pictures here.}

*Note: Make sure you prewash your fabric. It'll make it softer and easier to deal with.

9. Now comes the pinning!! Wahoo!! Okay, it's not really that exciting, but it's important, so here we go. First, you're going to want to pin and sew the sleeves together. To do that, fold each sleeve in half the hotdog way, pin them about a 1/4"down (on both sides), and sew a straight stitch all the way down. You will probably want to reinforce the stitch by sewing and additional straight stitch halfway between the edge and your first stitch.

10. Next, you're going to put on that random white part of the slit in the sleeve. Pin it on, and sew it up!

11. Now you're going to sew the cuff on. Keep in mind that the stiff part goes on the inside (aka closer to the skin). Pin the cuff on, paying close attention to both the front and the back to make sure that you pin the cuff onto the fabric on both sides. As you are pinning, note that you will probably have to fold over part of the fabric to make it fit within the cuff. It's okay. That fold was in the original sleeve in case you didn't remember. Sew it on and there you go! {p.s. unless you are a perfectionist, if you make a mistake and don't get the cuff on both sides, just go back over it. You really can't tell if you're using white thread.}

12. You're going to put the sleeves down for a minute and work on the back part of the shirt. First, hem the bottom so that the bottom edge looks nice. Then pin and sew the fabric onto the top first. You'll want to do a straight stitch across the top. Pay attention to the outside {that's where I stitched it from} as that is the part that will be seen, and make sure it's really close to the edge. {In my pictures, you can see that the outside stitch is closer to the edge than the inside stitch. Don't worry if they aren't the same, just as long as you've sewn it on both sides, you're good.}

13. Next you will want to sew on the sides. All you do is pin them on and do a straight stitch all the way down. I would suggest using the holes from when you seam ripped it out. As you can see, my stitches are a little bit below the bottom row of holes--the person I made this for wanted his shirt a little more fitted {which I ended up making it even more fitted than this}, but you get the idea....right?

13. Phew! Now that you've got the sleeves done, it's time to put them back on! This part is pretty easy. Just pin the sleeve on {make sure you pin the correct sleeve on the correct side!! I had to redo two shirts because I messed that up}. The open part of the sleeve {aka that little slit that you sewed that white bit onto} should face away from you. When you pin it on, make sure the seam is at the bottom {aka not on the shoulder}. And when you sew it on, I would suggest starting at the armpit and working your way around, that way it will look a little nicer {with the backstitching and everything}.

{{What you'll see in the picture: I matched the edges of the top of the sleeve together, making sure the seam was at the bottom. Then I put the top of the sleeve at the top of the shoulder of shirt. Then I pinned it on there first and based all the other pins off that.}}

Annndddddd then you're done!! Take a step back and admire you're newly made Party Shirt! Check out the other party shirts I've done here.


  1. Even though I have no one in my life that requires me to make a party shirt, this was still a pretty cool tutorial :) Maybe I can do it for my fiance's wedding shirt!

    1. Your comments always make my day happier :) You should totally make one!! That would be super sweet! Also, we should swap blog buttons. I will put you under my "sponsors" tab. What do you think?

  2. Thank you! I finished my shirt on Wednesday and I'm wearing it tomorrow. :)

  3. Thanks for this tutorial! I am doing one now. Guys have it much easier with that back yoke - I have to deal with the collar!

  4. Thanks for sharing your helpful tips and tricks! And @Erin, I cut a straight line across the back avoid dealing with the color.

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  7. Thanks for posting. The Army has adopted this tradition as well. I am going to try this on my dress mess and see how it turns out. I understood a lot of your directions, so with me luck. Thanks again.

  8. Thank you for a great tutorial! I was going to make one for my husband and seeing this helped me go for it! So far, so good.

  9. Do you have any good info for doing a female party shirt?

  10. I'm in need of a female party shirt. Any suggestions?

    1. I make them, but I'm not sure if the author of the blog makes them too. I don't want to hijack her post if she does.