The Button Front Shirt

A Virtual Class with Mathew Gnagy

Do you love a button front shirt as much as we do? Crisp or soft, tailored or billowing, dressy or casual, the button front shirt (often mistakenly called a button down) is a workhorse garment capable of elevating the dullest of outfits into something with style and pizazz. The button front is also a blank canvas, ready for details which express your unique point of view.

The advent of the sewing machine has pushed aside many of the traditions and techniques of hand stitching. Wonderfully, there is now a strong movement to bring back the idea of slow fashion and recognize the particular joy of making by hand. Spending one’s time to create objects of beauty and quality with nothing more than our hands and a few simple tools is a journey worth taking. Join our instructor Mathew Gnagy, expert in the finest details of tailoring, as he demonstrates the order of operations and some of the best stitches, for a beautiful, hand sewn basic woven shirt. 

This course is designed to walk you through the process of making a modern shirt entirely by hand using techniques that are often quite different from those that are used when sewing with a machine. From limiting the use of straight pins, to the careful and intentional shaping of the collar fall, you will learn how to guide the fabric with stitching and your iron to create a garment with lots of possibilities. Not only will this specific garment be a versatile addition to your wardrobe, but you will understand the order of operations to make any future button front shirt by hand.

Saturdays April 30th, May 7th, 14th and 21st.


2pm – 4pm ET*

Virtual class on Zoom, link will be sent the day before class.


What To Bring
Refer to the materials required list. Materials are also available as a kit in our online store on the class sign-up page.

Basic seaming is helpful to take this course but beginning hand sewers are most welcome!

*All live session will be recorded and shared with those who register, for added scheduling convenience. Access to these recordings will stay live, long after the course ends to ensure a finished result.


Material kits are available for this class here

If you would like to use your own materials you will need:

  • 3 yards 45” wide fabric or 2.5 yds 60” wide fabric. Linen, Cotton or any natural blend. Silk is not recommended for this garment. 
  • No interfacing needed — collar and cuffs will be stiffened with self-fabric.
  • 10-12 buttons, size 14L-16L (1/4-3/8” diameter)
  • One spool of top stitching thread to match the color of the fabric.
  • Hand sewing needles, size 5 sharps or betweens, whichever you’re most comfortable with. If your fabric is tightly woven, use a size 6 needle. Needles smaller than size 6 are not recommended for this project. The size of the recommended thread will not work well with very fine needles. 
  • A thimble is highly recommended for long hours of hand sewing. There will be a brief tutorial at the beginning of the class.
  • Fabric cutting shears
  • Thread snips
  • Steam iron & board

The Pattern is scaled from XS to 2XL. It is meant to fit large and loose with a bit of a dropped shoulder and about 8-12” of ease around the chest. This design is quite long, almost a tunic length but with an artful cutout at the bottom of center front. You may also decide to make a more traditional straight hem, or to shorten the garment to your liking. The collar should fit comfortably with one or two fingers beneath the band. When in doubt, always choose the size which fits your neck — sleeves and body lengths can be adjusted as needed.

The course will consist of:

– Four live, virtual sessions with artist Mathew Gnagy
– Access to a private platform group for questions, sharing, and additional access to the teacher.

As with all long-form Tatter classes, a community will naturally form as we make this custom garment. There will be tremendous support along the way from Mathew and your fellow sewists. Additionally, participants will have access to the private platform to share photos and questions between our virtual sessions.

If you would like to join but have minimal hand sewing experience, do not fear! We also offering a Beginner Hand Sewing class that will get you comfortable with sewing by hand.

Mathew Gnagy

Mathew Gnagy is the author of five books on knitting and historical techniques in tailoring. He has worked in many areas of costume and fashion, from pattern maker, to dresser, tailor, and more. He taught in the BFA fashion program at Parsons for several years and prior to that was one of their hand knitting instructors. Gnagy’s business focuses on teaching people lost hand-work skills in an effort to both keep those skills alive, and to serve as an empowering alternative to fast fashion, toxic immediacy, and body dysmorphia caused by the marketing tactics of the industry.

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