Shirt Making In The UK.
(019). There are very few shirt manufacturers left in the UK. – Unless you want to produce bespoke shirts. We are still a world leader in bespoke shirt making.
For large scale manufacture it is probably a better option to go abroad. It should be far cheaper, and the quality can be excellent if you choose the right factory. But you must be sure of what you are doing, otherwise it can be a complete nightmare.
For small scale, or medium scale production runs there are still some options left in the UK. But you need to decide what type of shirts you want to produce.
We produce custom made shirts, made to your exact requirements.
The seam construction is the very first thing that you need to consider, as it determines the type of factory that you need to use. There are three basic choices when it comes to shirt seam construction. A good case can be made for each method : –
Flat Felled Seams.
The vast majority of mens formal shirts are constructed with flat felled seams on the side seams, underarm seams and armhole. It produces the neatest and most professional finish, with all the seams enclosed. It is also very strong. Virtually all specialist shirt factories would use this construction.
The flat felled seams require a special twin needle machine with a lap seam folder. Sometimes called a double lapped seam, as the fabric edges fold over and lock into each other, so that there is a perfect finish on the outside and the inside.
The machine forms this seam with a double row of top stitching in one go. The lap seam folder wraps the two edges round each other, while the machine applies a double row of top stitching.
It is possible to use a fake flat felled seam that looks acceptable , but while it may be OK for sampling, this would not be economically viable for production purposes.
Basic Overlocked Seams.
Any clothing factory should be able to construct a shirt using this construction. It is very simple and it is the cheapest method. But it isnt the sort of construction you would us eon a high quality shirt.
Although French seams would not be used in high volume shirt manufacture, they are a high quality finish and provide a strong seam. They dont look as neat as the flat felled seam, but could be regarded as a superior finish.
French seams are more likely to be used in designer mens shirts where the higher costs of production can be justified. For some fine fabrics the seams may have to be overlocked together before applying the french seam construction.
Although it is possible to make mens casual shirts with standard overlocked seams as womens shirts are normally made, this tends to look cheap on a mans shirt. Generally mens shirts need a traditional menswear construction, using flat felled seams.
As most standard factories do not have the machinery for this construction it is normally necessary to have shirts made in a shirt factory. an acceptable alternative for a casual or designer shirt would be to use French seams instead of flat felled seams. Although this is more labour intensive, the appearance is acceptable for a designer garment.
Collars And Cuffs.
The next thing to consider is what type of collar and cuffs you want. A mass produced shirt will likely have quite generic collars and cuffs because the factories are set up that way.
The collar is the most visible and most important part of a mans shirt. A formal shirt will have around ten or twelve components. It may have removable stays, which would need pockets on the under collar.
The collars and cuffs may be fully fused, or may have non fusible interfacing to give it body. With the more rigid interfacing, it would be cut to the shape of the finished collar, without seams.
The upper collar interfacing is cut smaller to allow the collar to fold in the correct place.
This all requires skillful and experienced pattern makers. It is not a job for a generic pattern maker.
There is generally very little variation in mens shirts,so most can be made by specialist shirt factories, using highly automated processes and specialist machinery.
Although a single needle lockstitch machine is still used for much of the construction, some of the seams require special machinery for a traditional finish.The side seams, underarm seams and sleeves will be a flat felled seam construction, and the collars, cuffs and pocket will be die cut.
This could be considered the ideal for mens shirt production as it produces a good quality finish both inside and outside. It is both efficient and cost effective. And it results in a very durable garment.
These specialist factories are however, less flexible and may require very high minimums. If you want something a little different or quirky, then they may not be able to assist you. Even if you want a slightly different pocket, they may not be able to help as the machinery is very expensive and so is tailored for a small range of shapes.
A conventional factory does not have all the machinery that the specialist factory has, but they are far more flexible. They can make your shirts either using plain overlocked seams in place of the flat felled seams, or they can use french seams.
If the internal finish is not important and your shirts rely on the design, or fabric as a selling point rather than the quality of finish, then a plain overlocked seam may be sufficient. It is simple and inexpensive.
A very professional finish can be achieved using french seams rather than flat felled seams. It can even be regarded as a superior finish , although it is not as cost effective or efficient. Many designers will choose this construction as a luxury finish.
The construction then becomes a specific selling point. A french seam can be achieved on any normal sewing machine, but it requires at least two separate operations. If top stitching is required, then a further operation is needed for this.
Our Shirt Making Service.
We can supply a complete service from start to finish, no matter what stage you are at. Even if you have no designs, fabrics or sketches, we can sit down with you and develop or source these. We can then supply the patterns, grades, samples and production.
We only do small production quantities, but if you would like to manufacture a greater quantity than we deliver, then we would be happy to refer you to good quality factories that can help you further.
There are very few production facilities in the U.K. for good quality, small scale men`s shirt production. We offer shirt production alongside our pattern cutting and sampling facilities, so we can provide any quantity from one upwards.
Obviously the more shirts you have per style, size and colour, the less each shirt will cost. But we have no minimums . The MOQ ( minimum order quantity ) is the first thing that many startup brands look for in a factory.
specialise in helping small startup brands who are not able to produce large quantities for each style.
Mens shirt patterns tend to be quite standardised, with little variation from style to style.
Mens Shirt Construction.
We use various construction methods for our mens shirts, depending on the type of finish required. Some customers want a simple overlocked seam construction with a soft collar, because a soft look is required, or because the fabric or print is more important than the seam finish.
Button Placket Types.
The front button placket is one of the most visible parts of a mans shirt. It is important to decide what type of placket you want. Because it is a very visible part of a shirt it is important to ensure that the finishing is perfect.
On designer shirts it is common to see tight stitching on the front. This pulls the fabric up and causes unsightly ruching along the placket edges.
Most button plackets will have a triple layer of fabric, with some fusible interlining to give it body. Some shirts can be made with a soft placket that does not have interlining, but would normally still have the triple layer of fabric.
There are a number of different placket types :- A French placket is the most basic construction as the front edge is simply folded back, while the buttonholes hold the fabric in place, without top stitching. There is also a popover front, a fly front, tuxedo front.
Some plackets need to be made by a specialist shirt factory, but most can be made using conventional machinery.
Types Of Shirt Making Machines.
These are some of the machines that may be used in mens shirt making. Not all factories will have these machines, but specialist shirt factories should have all of them and more :
- Single needle lockstitch machine.
- Double needle lockstitch.
- Multi needle lockstitch.
- Feed off arm
- Button stitch machine.
- Button hole machine.
- Fusing machine.
- Collar and cuff turning machine.
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