Placket openings need careful sewing for success, but greatly increase the quality look of your garment.

This post focusses on sleeve cuff and neckline half-plackets.
(If you’re looking for support with a full length button placket : try this detailed photo tutorial from SewAndrew.)

A half-placket finishes a slit in the main fabric – a slit made so when cuff or neckline is open it’s possible to get hand or head through.

The simplest way of finishing a slit is with a facing.
faced slit
photo from : Faced slash-slit opening (Sewingplums)

The next simplest is probably to have a curved bottom to the opening and cover the edge with bias binding.
bias bound opening
Sustainable Style book

Openings where one side of the opening lies over the other are called plackets, which this post is about.

Zippers became available about a century ago.  Before that, plackets were also used for waist openings in skirts, pants and dresses. So there are many techniques.
I’m just covering the basics of plackets which finish a slit cut into the fabric. There are also several methods which finish an opening in a seam, these are usually easier and I haven’t included them.

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Plackets have two or three layers.

SLEEVE opening plackets :

It’s surprising how many pattern companies don’t show the back of their long sleeves, so you don’t know what sort of placket, if any, you’re letting yourself in for.

Continuous band/ lap sleeve placket
When this type of placket is fully closed, the added band is folded behind the main fabric so is entirely hidden. There are three layers, the main fabric and two layers of added strip behind it.

contin band
from Sure-Fit pdf

Here’s a photo tutorial pdf from Sure-Fit Designs.
I would add to that : the secret of success lies in the initial stay-stitching (as well as working slowly and carefully). Don’t sew a sharp-bottomed Vee : sew and Y-cut a blunt bottomed Vee – see my tutorial on sewing a faced slit opening.

‘Tower / steeple / castle / house’ sleeve placket

The added band is visible.
tower placket
from Lynn Cook pdf

2 main methods, using 1 or 2 fabric pieces.

1 fabric piece :
shirt placket pdf from Lynn Cook of Australian Stitches.
Photo tutorial from Cutting Line Designs (scroll down for Part 1).

2 fabric pieces :
sleeve placket tutorial from shirtmaker Pam Erny.
Here’s another method from Pam Howard.

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NECK opening half-plackets :
These use much the same techniques.

Polo / hidden placket – added fabric strip is behind main fabric.
Sewn the same way as the continuous band sleeve placket, see above.
The added band is wide enough for buttons and buttonholes, say finished width = button width + 1/2″-1.5cm.

Here’s a video of someone demonstrating a polo to industrial sewer trainees.
She is sewing a stable doubleknit fabric which doesn’t fray, so the technique is easier than doing this on a woven (see Sure-Fit sleeve placket above).
For a ‘polo’ placket : sew the buttons to the lowest layer, and make the buttonholes through both the added band and the main fabric.

She calls this a ‘rugby’ placket : sew the buttons to the lowest layer, and make the buttonholes in the layer under the main fabric. See more below.

Henley / tab placket – added fabric strip is visible, and inserted into the main fabric. Many variations on how to do this.

henley placket
Vogue 9378

Often sewn the same way as a tower/steeple shirt sleeve placket.
So use either of those methods.
Here are pdf instructions with pattern pieces for the one-fabric-piece version, from Blueprints For Sewing patterns. (She refers to her Cabin pattern.)
Here is another photo tutorial, this one from Liesl Gibson of Oliver&S patterns, also with pattern piece for a 1-piece ‘tower’ placket.

Here’s a Professor Pincushion video using yet another method.

If the bottom of the placket tab is inside the garment, that also needs a different technique, see half way through this photo tutorial from kbenco.

Hmm – many pattern companies and retailers call all half plackets a ‘polo’. Henley and Polo need very different sewing techniques, but it’s often not obvious from a photo or line drawing which technique is used.

Rugby placket

The true ‘rugby’ placket has three layers, with no buttons on the front of the shirt, so the buttons can’t injure anyone who brushes against this area. Both the button strip and the buttonhole strip are behind the main fabric.

Weird Fish

There are at least three ways of making a three layer placket.

This video for a hidden button placket from Bonnie Wiscombe shows a method in which all the placket layers (button strip, buttonhole strip, visible top strip) are added strips, somewhat like a henley. Add the buttons to the bottom strip, the buttonholes to the middle strip. If you are using a light fabric, you may like to interface the added strips to give more support.

In rugby shirts, the button and buttonhole strips are added behind the main fabric, which provides the top layer.

Fashion rugby shirts have the added strip made in the same fabric (usually stable doubleknit) as the main garment, and sewn in the same way as a polo placket, see above.

In a true rugby shirt, the button and buttonhole strips are made in twill fabric or twill tape for added strength. Only the outer layer is the main fabric. Making one of these thoroughly bemused the contestants in the Sports round of the 2020 Great British Sewing Bee.
The free Pleated dress pattern from In The Folds at Peppermint magazine
has detailed drawing-style written instructions for making this type of placket. It’s related to the one-piece tower placket but with an extra layer. I suggest it’s easier to add the buttonholes, which are in the middle layer, before finishing the placket.

Tutorials for a hidden button jean/pant fly are different, as those are made in a seam. The instructions are usually found with zipper instructions.

Exposed zipper half placket – Many exposed zipper neck openings are in a seam, so are easy to make.

half zip placket
McCall’s 8143

If you want an exposed zipper ending in the middle of the fabric, make it like half of an exposed zipper pocket, see post on zippers or pockets.

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For a buttoned opening to blouse, jacket, skirt, dress. Most are straightforward. Getting a good result is a matter of care and accuracy, no special techniques needed. Here’s a detailed photo tutorial from SewAndrew.

Here’s a ‘press along’ video for a hidden button placket, from Atelier Saison.

The pattern making needed to open up the front of a pullover pattern, to add a full length placket using either a cut-on band or a separate band, is quite easy. Here’s a post from Sewingplums : adding zip, button band.
Here are a couple of easy photo tutorials for pattern altering and sewing, from :
100 Acts of Sewing.

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Good techniques to add to your skills. Like zippers, well-made plackets make clothes look more ‘professional’.

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First published July 2020

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