Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Everything you'll ever need to know about sewing a placket.

Hello dear readers. I recently got an email from a customer asking if I could help explain how to sew a placket. This is a question I've gotten numerous times working with vintage and vintage-inspired patterns. The placket was a commonly used closure in tap pants, trousers, dresses and blouses in the 1940's. They started to fade out of the spotlight with the advent of the zipper.

 I find that many new sewers are stumped by vintage patterns that automatically assume that one knows how to sew a placket.
I can even remember my first placket in a pair of 1940's tap pants... I had no clue what to do and frantically searched online for instruction. I didn't find any online, but what did help me a great deal was my well-worn 1927 copy of The Art of Dressmaking by Butterick.
I can't recommend this little book enough! Copies regularly come up for sale for quite cheap so if you see one, snap it up, you won't regret it!

The Art of Dressmaking can explain a placket much better than I can, I'm afraid. My sewing machine is buried under a pile of sewing patterns and I promised myself that I would deal with organizing the patterns before I allowed myself to sew. It's hard to explain a placket without sewing one and taking pictures in the process but between the book, and throwing together some illustrations in Photoshop, I think I have it covered for you!
So without further ado, here is the best instruction I have ever found on how to sew a placket:

Now, the placket referred to in the question sent to me is hidden in the side seam of a blouse.
These are actually a bit easier. The pattern asks for the seam allowances to be clipped at the waist (which are marked) and one side to be folded in and then bound with seam binding.
Here are super detailed instructions for making a really clean side placket in a seam:

To make a faced snap-fastener placket, cut two strips of for the facings, one 3” wide, the other 1 1/2"wide, both 1" longer than your placket opening. If your gamrnt has blouse fullness or is darted or gathered at the waistline, then the facing strips should be cut on the bias. On the wrong side of your garment, mark the seam allowances on both edges of the opening with basting stitches. At each end of the placket 1/2" from the opening, clip back and front seam allowances in to the seam so that they will lie flat. Be careful not to cut stitches of the seam. Trim seam allowances to 1/2". Baste the 1 1/2" facing to the front of your opening, right sides together, edge to edge. Stitch from one end of the opening to the other so that stitching line is continuous with that of the seam line. Trim the seam and turn the facing in along  the seam line.

Baste and press. Turn under the raw edge of the facing 1/4" and stitch close to the edge. Then slip stitch the edge to the garment. Stitch your 3” facing to the back opening in the same manner but do not trim  the seam.

Press the seam towards the raw edge of the facing. Fold the facing 3/4" from the seam line and baste along the fold. Press, and then turn the raw edges under 1/4", stitch close to the edge and press.
Slip stitch along the stitching line and sew your hook and eye at the waistline and snaps quite close together along the rest of placket.

And also, since I'm apparently on a placket streak, here are particular instructions for sewing plackets in underwear. These are particularly handy for the openings of tap panties and petticoats that don't feature a handy elastic waist.

And there you have it. If you're stumped on how to sew the slashed placket of your tap pants, or the side closure of my vintage wrap blouse pattern, you're all set to sew right through that baby!


  1. Thanks for the quick placket lesson. It's always great to have an arsenal of tutorials to do all these different finishes. Since learning to do a placket for a skirt, I've never worried about buying a zipper to match the fabric! I've also found a great tutorial for a continuous sleeve placket that I used when I made my 1940s box pleat blouse. So easy to follow! http://buzzybeesworld.blogspot.com/2010/10/tricks-of-trade-continuous-bound-sleeve.html

    1. Thanks for adding that, Miranda! The more info we have here, the better!

  2. I put plackets in my garments all the time - because I sew almost exclusively from 40's patterns and prefer snaps in a side opening (of a dress) instead of a zip. They always sit much nicer there.
    Actually, I was struggling with one just the other day. They are usually quite easy but this time I had some slippy rayon to contend with that likes to stretch all out of shape.
    My biggest problem is getting my seam snipped neatly and sewing my placket onto the opening so the stitching finishes EXACTLY where I've clipped the side seam. It all looks easy in the diagram but wrangling an almost completed dress under the sewing machine to sew a tiny section can be difficult.
    Is this difficult for anyone else or just me?

  3. Great tut! I didn't know that the reason plackets went obsolete - sort of - is because of the invention of the zipper!

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  5. Hi! I recently bought your wrap blouse pattern and, even after reading this tutorial here, still don't understand where exactly the placket is placed. On which pattern pieces are these two large O's you're referring to in the pattern instruction? Thanks for your help, I'd be ever so grateful.