by Pati Palmer with Helen Bartley

Before you read this blog, take note!

croquis for Butterick Palmer/Pletsch camp shirt pattern B6924
THIS CROQUIS shows the many fashion details and variations—not your grandmother’s camp shirt.

FULL BACK YOKE – If you are square on one shoulder and sloping on the other, you can alter both sides. Also, a one-piece yoke makes the high-round back alteration easier. AND you must cut double only once!

YOKE FRONT SHOULDER SEAM PLACEMENT is 2” below shoulder line marked on the yoke. This allows for gathers in View C to fill the hollow between shoulder and bust or add gathers when you transfer the bust darts to the shoulder on Views A and B. 

BACK PLEATS OR GATHERS – Choose the placement you desire by using pleat lines on Views A (center) or B (sides). NOTE: The pleats are deeper by one inch than on some shirts. If you want them narrower, take a vertical tuck down the back in the pleat area to make them narrow.  A deep pleat is nice in a soft fabric. You can always re-cut the back with narrowed pleats.

B6924 back pleats
B6924 camp shirt back gathers

SLEEVES – The ease is 7/8”, making the sleeve easy to set in in shirting fabrics.

SIDE SEAMS – 1” seam allowances allow for our new way of minimizing full upper arm adjustments, which we now use in fit workshops.

HEMS – Choose the hem style you want from three options.

COLLAR – Helen wanted right-angle points for making perfect collars. The sewing order for the collar is used in her Fit and Sew Shirts 5-day workshop.

PAINLESS PLACKET SLEEVE – Developed by Marta Alto for our Painless Sewing book, which shows how to convert any sleeve to this easy placket.

TISSUE-FITTING AND FABRIC-FITTING – All Palmer/Pletsch patterns include alteration lines on the tissue and fitting how-tos in the guidesheet. A little mistake was made on the tissue in this pattern. The dart point extends to the apex. OOPS! However, that will be OK if you do a full bust adjustment because the alteration moves it back automatically. If you don’t need a full bust alteration move the dart point back ¾” and redraw the dart lines. Now you are good to go!

the latest in a long line of campshirt patterns 

I designed 32 shirt patterns for McCall’s beginning in 1980, and the camp shirts have been unisex like the current Butterick pattern at right, B6846. But our new shirt, B6924, is designed and sized for women.

Pati Palmer with shirts

I used to dislike wearing shirts. I was the blazer lady and I preferred sleeveless tanks under them.

Then I edited and published Helen’s book Fit and Sew Custom Jeans. I needed to learn to sew REAL jeans details and perfect fitting jeans with negative ease. I made seven pairs and became a jeans hugger. Now I love wearing shirts because they are great with jeans!

The shirts on the rack are made from our new Butterick shirt patterns, and I’m wearing B6924.

You can use any of these shirts, the unisex shirt, or the camp shirt during our Perfect Your Fit & Sew Skills 5-day workshops in Vancouver/Portland or Michigan. Make a classic shirt or another style. Goal—finally to fit your body perfectly and to sew all shirt details perfectly and easily.

A fresh look for this camp shirt pattern

Helen and I bought the fabrics and sewed the shirts for the models to wear. We wanted fabrics that would sew easily and look fresh. View A is rayon, B is a high-quality cotton print, and C is a cotton lawn, all from Josephine’s Dry Goods here in Portland. Below is the photo spread in the Butterick catalog that features this pattern. The trendy matching shirt and trouser shorts (B6878) is a Rayon challis print

We love sewing together! Pati uses continuous sewing. Helen models latest trend. Pati packs shirts to send to Butterick.

Hazel supervises.

Hazel the cat supervises the sewing.
Pati Palmer shows different camp shirt styles.
Leave your pattern pieces out.

REMINDER: Leave your pattern pieces out until you are finished with the garment. It’s handy when you need to check for accuracy such as making sure the fabric is not skewed before fusing interfacing.

1” side seam allowances are provided on this shirt pattern.

BUT OOPS! I forgot and added 3/8” to the sides by chalking on the fabric. I do this automatically when the side seam allowance is 5/8”. But on this pattern, the 3/8” I added made the seam allowances
1 3/8” wide.

After pin-fitting my fabric, I realized, “Wow! This is too big.” I repinned the seams at 1 3/8”. I usually add for my hips, but the pleats in the back allowed enough to go around me comfortably.


wrinkle pointing to center back

After basting in the sleeves, I saw wrinkles pointing toward my center back. This was caused by not having enough length at the CB. I did a 1/4” high round back alteration on the yoke. Should I have done more? Or do I need a low round back alteration too?

I can’t change it now, but in the denim shirt, I sewed the yoke to the back using a 5/8” seam near the armholes, narrowing to 1/4” at the CB. This gave me 3/4” more length at the CB. The wrinkle disappeared. I’ll look more closely next time I tissue-fit!

Fancy Neck Facing

As with the pattern pieces, I keep the guidesheet out all the time to follow the order of sewing. It is a double-check to prevent mistakes. Thank you, Helen Bartley, for contributing to this guidesheet! The “fancy neck facing” was her suggestion. We love hiding the seam allowances with a pretty cotton print self-made bias binding. It is a couture touch that eliminates hand-stitching.

fancy neck binding
fancy neck binding edgestitch

The “Burrito Method” for Finishing the Yoke

Follow the guidesheet if the “burrito method” for finishing the yoke is new to you! It is easy, tidy, and FUN!


When it comes to topstitching, I subscribe to the 4-foot rule, if someone is 4 feet away, they won’t see your mistake, and if they are closer, they are probably interested in something else!

topstitching alternatives

Helen suggested I use white topstitching on the denim shirt. This was an interesting TEST using a 3mm stitch length. For the top row, I changed the upper thread to white and left navy in the bobbin. Hmmm. Do I want that? So I put white in the bobbin for the second row.
Which do you like better?

I chose keeping navy in the bobbin. It made a prettier topstitch.  


I don’t like to share my mistakes, but why did I cut a size 10 cuff when my shirt is a size 12?? Will we ever know?? The art of sewing includes the art of fixing.

The size 10 cuff was 5/8” shorter, so I cut off 5/8” from the lower sleeve to make the sleeve fit. This worked well because my cuffs are usually too big anyway.

press open the seam allowances

I had already finished the cuff. Remember that enclosed seams need to be pressed open before turning to make a nicer edge.




For the “painless placket,” press the placket opening under 1/4” and another 3/8” to the snip that marks the placket opening. Then unfold it below the snip so you can sew the sleeve seam a little past the snip. Pin and stitch around the placket opening.

painless placket

We hope you enjoyed our blog!

Pati Palmer



Copy this list for a quick reference for when you are trying to find things on the Palmer/Pletsch website. Thank you for reading our blogs!



5-day shirt workshop Portland/Vancouver (Check out other locations too. This workshop is also offered in Michigan —

Interfacings for shirts:

Interfacing experts:

Find a teacher near you:

Sewing books:

Jeans book with the latest pant fitting for negative ease—the perfect companion to Pants for Real People:

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NEW: Seminars, Beginning Sewing classes, 1- to 3-day workshops with guest instructors. Coming: more Zoom classes.

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About the experts at Palmer/Pletsch: (Scroll down for FREE downloads such as the fitting order from our fit book.)

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Elaine Earnshaw

    I really enjoyed your inspiring blog. The fancy bias strip was a great idea of Helen’s. I had to smile when you included your mistakes, I think most of us can relate. You always include some valuable tips which I truly appreciate. Thank you for this informative blog and pictures of your shirts. You both modeled them very well and the shirts looked great on you both.

    1. Pati Palmer

      Thank you for the nice comments. Makes the extra time photographing tips when sewing worthwhile. I loved working with Helen on this pattern. She taught our beginning sewing program for years and used many of these tips for the camp shirt pajama pattern used in the program to make the shirt more fun and easier.

  2. Diane Olson Sanders

    Thank you for the idea for adding the pretty print strip covering the collar seam. I hope you will keep the blog going as even we seniors who have sewn for 60+ years can learn from them.

    1. Pati Palmer

      Thank you for giving us reasons to keep on blogging about our patterns. Pati

  3. Mary Ann Mlynarski

    Noticed in your description of “1 inch side seams” you mentioned something about this helping with a new way to fit the upper arm. Is this available as an add on to your fitting books?

    1. Pati Palmer

      Mary Ann,

      It is a new idea for those with large upper arms. It is in the teacher training files but not in the book. If you send me an email at I will email you with the full bust/upper arm handout when I return from Mexico May 28th. Pati

  4. Joan

    Love this new pattern, Pati and Helen! I haven’t sewn a “real” collar since I was in my twenties (LOOONG time ago) and this is a good pattern to work on collar skills, and extend my top wardrobe beyond my favorite T-shirts. I love your teaching blogs and hope you continue them, as you REALLY teach in them, yet they are full of personality! Love Helen’s dress version!

    1. Pati Palmer

      Thank you for your nice comments. I love sharing in our blogs and the extra efforts are made worthwhile when I get comments like these. Helen has been a great contributor also. Pati

  5. Alice Birney

    I cannot wait to make this shirt. This blog post fills me with confidence. I’m wondering if you can share the source of the fabric used for Helen’s dress. What a great idea and that print is just spectacular!

    1. Pati Palmer

      Helen’s dress is a beautiful weight rayon fabric from You can write and see if she has any left. I am in Mexico and don’t have the style number available, but you might look through all of the swatches on her site to find one you like. It drapes and sews beautifully. Pati

      1. Alice Birney

        Found it! Thanks so much

  6. createdbyher

    Very trick, adds something to, this trick also makes fabric Non-Stretch.

  7. Dara

    It’s Always so nice to read your blog, Patti. Thanks so much for All the helpful information!

  8. Pati Palmer

    Thank you. Nice comments keep me motivated to keep writing blogs!! Pati

  9. raquel

    What a great pattern: versatile and practical! I love the long dress hack too! How big is the upper arm measurement? The detail of the collar is fantastic, it reminds me of those old Tommy Hilfiger shirts, full of details. Thanks for the pictures too!

    1. Pati

      Thank you for the great comments! The upper arm has about 2″ ease and the measurement depends on your size. If you are full busted and full in the upper arms, I can send you a handout we’ve made where you fit the sleeve before doing a full bust alteration. Then some width can be added to the sleeve underarm seam as well as to the side seam of the blouse BEFORE you do a full bust alteration. Just send your email and request “Full upper arms and bust handout” to patipalmer@aolcom.

  10. Linda L

    This blog post was so helpful. I have used your pattern-fitting method for years. I love reading additional information about sewing this camp shirt. I will definitely try the bias binding technique.

  11. Kristie

    I am so excited to find your blog & newsletter! I recently purchased B6924 and after seeing Helen’s Camp Shirtdress, I am inspired to make one for myself. Did she just extend the length? Do I need to add extra ease at the hips? Any tips you are able to share are much appreciated.
    Thank you so much for this inspiring Blog.

  12. Carol T

    I am so excited you explained the wrinkle in the picture on the back of your shirt. I have had this myself and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it meant! Now I will try this myself on my next shirt. Thank you so much.

  13. Julie Harris

    I enjoyed this blog as much as the books, thank you!

  14. Marie Maccarone

    I am having trouble with the HIGH ROUND BACK ALTERATION on your camp shirt.. ..”cut on the horizontal and vertical lines, making hinges at seam intersections. The vertical line will lap below the neck seam line.” I cut on the horizontal line.. .. but what vertical line ?? and how does the vertical line lap below the neck seam line ??? The drawing on my pattern instructions is very faint, and I am at a loss. Thank you so much for your help.

  15. Carol

    I made the sleeveless camp shirt recently and love it. I’ve been wearing a lot during the hot August days. It’s cool and classic style. Thank you.

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