How is a Custom Dress Shirt / Formal Shirt Made? A Step-by-Step guide

So how exactly is a Custom Dress Shirt / Formal Shirt made? To some it may seem like a step too far to have a custom shirt made, but to others it’s a necessary requirement to feel and look professional. The word “striped” alone isn’t detailed enough to describe the variations on offer. There is normally a full selection of designs and colours to choose from for the fabric of a shirt. These can be checks, stripes and particular weaves of the fabric.

We may know a colleague that had a few shirts made in Hong Kong with their initials on the sleeves, or even a staple suit from Vietnam, either way it’s always interesting to take a peek at the process.

Step 1 – Measuring for the Custom Shirt

A tailor takes the measurements of the Dress Shirt.
A tailor takes the measurements.

Measuring for the Shirt is the first step to the process. Firstly, the tape measure is passed under the armpits and around the chest / back (as per the image above to measure the back width). The preference for the fit can be finalised when the pattern is drawn up at a later stage.

Next is the waist measurement. Measurements are taken above the waistband for approximately one inch. Then the hips are taken and to ensure accuracy, the customer must stand with his or her legs together to ensure accuracy.

For the arms they are measured separately. Interestingly, most people have arms of slightly different lengths. The width of the back is an additional measurement that is used to check the chest measurement that has been taken. The back measurement determines the total length of the shirt, and it is from the bottom of the collar.

The neck measurement must be exact, and enough room must be allowed to ensure the collar does not become too tight later due to washing. The customer normally confirms how narrow or wide he wants the collar. Generally, a rule of thumb (literally) is a thumb or half an inch.

Step 2 – Creating the Custom Shirt

A tailor finalising the pattern of a formal shirt
A tailor finalising the pattern of a formal shirt

After the measurements are taken, the measurements are drawn up on paper, cut out and then traced on to cloth. When working with patterned fabrics, the cutter must take account of the pattern sequence so that all the lines run together perfectly on the finished shirt. In the most traditional process, the material is cut out with large shears.

Step 3 – The Fitting of the Shirt

A fitted Formal Shirt.
An example of a fitted shirt

The fitting is used to ensure that the custom-made shirt fits properly. Shoulders of different heights are compensated for at this stage by adjustments to the yoke. The yoke is the panel of fabric that is just behind your collar that goes over the tops of your shoulders. Even the most traditional shirtmakers use sewing machines wherever possible. However, much is still sewn by hand.

As a general rule of thumb, buttons are always sewn on by hand. Although buttonholes are not always sewn on by hand and only sewn on by hand at the express request of the customer.

Step 4 – Finalising the Finished Custom Shirt

All that remains to do is iron the finished, sewn shirt to a professional standard. Then it is wrapped in plastic for handing over to the happy customer. We’ve made a detailed guide here that explains in detail the best process to iron your shirt correctly too.

The shirt can be picked up in days or weeks after the fitting or mailed.

So, there you have it, a succinct guide on how a Custom Dress Shirt is made. Here are some of our other posts below:

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