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Hacking a Henley: The Dream Tee

Hi there! I'm Rachael Franco, from Sew Below the Willow Tree. I'm super excited to be sharing my henley placket mod for the new Dream Tee! This pattern is the perfect staple piece, and it just asks for fun modifications. So let's look at one!

woman wearing a grey waffle knit henlet dolman Dream Tee
Henley placket on the Dream Tee scoop neck

I'm going to preface everything I say here with this- do as I say, not as I do. I was a hot mess making this, and did a few things in a way I wouldn't recommend to others. I'll give some ideas and steps I didn't use that will work better. Forgive my mistakes, if you don't mind.

Now let's turn this awesome dolman into a henley!

I started by cutting all my pattern pieces as I would normally per the pattern. I used the scoop neckline option. I cut the scoop neckband per the pattern piece, and modified it after. My pattern pieces were:

- 1 x front bodice, scoop neckline

- 1 x back bodice, scoop neckline

- 1 x scoop neckband

- 2 x long sleeve cuffs (use whichever sleeve option you want!)

My additional pieces for the placket were:

- 2 x main fabric placket piece (2.5"W x 5"L, I'll get into calculating that below)

- 2 x placket interfacing (2" x 5")

Recommended piece not shown in tutorial: - 1 x interfacing (1.5" x 5")

My final placket is about 1" wide. You can make yours any width you want (I mean, within reason...), so I'll include why my pieces are the size they are and how you can adjust that.

The Neckband

After I cut out my neckband from the standard pattern piece, I needed to shape the ends. A henley band generally tapers to a curve on the ends at the placket, and you want to cut the band to make that happen. I trim off a bit at a curve on the end. Do so by folding the band in half long-ways and trimming, so the band is symmetrical when unfolded.

*Do as I say, not as I do #1- Trim this at a deeper curve. It will make your band stand up taller at the plackets. Mine disappear into my placket more than I would like*

Raw ends of a waffle knit neckband
I recommend less of a point and more of a dome for the ends of the neckband.

The Placket

So, I wanted my placket to be 1" wide. To get this finished size, I made my placket piece 2.5" wide. For the way I'm applying my plackets, I want a width double the size of the finished width, and a 1/4" strip on each side of the piece. The 1/4" on each side will fold under to give the placket a finished look. The placket will fold in half, so the 2 inches in the middle will halve to 1". Thus, 2.5" inches. If you wanted your placket to be 3/4" wide, apply the same idea:

1/4" + 1/4" + 3/4" + 3/4" = 2"

It's time to prepare the front bodice and the placket pieces. I applied my iron-on interfacing to my placket pieces. The interfacing is 1/2" thinner than the fabric piece, so center the interfacing, leaving the 1/4" edges empty. Press the plackets in half after applying the interfacing.

The two plackets, interfacing applied, and one pressed in half. Press both plackets.

I like to finish the 1/4" edges on each side with my serger. It helped keep an edge to press and turn under. You can use a serger set at the wide width (about 1/4"), or an overlock or zigzag stitch on a sewing machine.

Next I prepped my front bodice piece.

*Do as I say, not as I do #2: Apply a piece of interfacing to the wrong side of the bodice where you will be applying the plackets. My waffle knit is so soft, but the weave is loose and it would have benefited from the stability of interfacing. The piece should be a little wider than your finished placket width, and as long as your placket pieces. So, had I done this right the first time, it would have been 1.5" x 5"*

I fold the piece in half, and press down the middle at the neckline to give a memory fold. Open up the fold, and measure your guide marks for applying the plackets. The marks will be the outline of the finished placket's width. So, because my placket will be 1" wide when done, I marked 1/2" out from the center memory fold on each side. In the scenario above where the placket is 3/4" wide, you would mark 3/8" to each side.

Guide marks measured 1/2" off of the memory press in the center.

Now we get to the fun part. I aligned my plackets on top of the guide marks. On your placket piece, the line where the interfacing and edge stitching meet is where you will align your placket on top of the bodice guide mark. Basically act like the edge stitching is your seam allowance. You will use a sewing machine and straight stitch down this line.

The stitching line needs to stop about 1/2" before the bottom end of the placket piece. Backstitch at this end point.

The red line is the same as the red line in the image above.

Under the edge stitched "seam allowance", I cut the bodice along the bodice guide lines, as close to the placket as possible without cutting through any of your stitching or the placket itself. I did not cut past the bottom point I stitched to.

Cut the front bodice only down the red line. Do not cut past the green line.

After the strip is cut down the middle, the inner and outer stitched edges will be folded in and under, and the placket is folded in half. When the edges are folded under and the placket in half, the placket will be fully enclosed. I clip mine in place, and turn both plackets to the center, overlapping them on each other. With the front bodice facing up, tuck both plackets under the bodice, and make sure the strip you've cut is laying neatly and straight down along that line 1/2" from the bottom of the plackets. Stitch the placket to the front bodice just under that line. The strip of bodice fabric can be trimmed. If you want to finish the bottom of the plackets with the strip, you can run over the bottom edge with a serger or overlock stitch.

Next we'll play with the bodice pieces and the neckband.

Back to the Neckband

Now that the placket is totally prepped, I sew my front and back bodices together at the shoulder seams as the pattern instructs.

I fold the neckband long-ways, just like I would to put it on a standard banded neckline, and I clip the pointed ends to keep them neat. I sewed the neckband into the placket, rather than just sewing it straight to the top. That option is perfectly viable, but I like the clean finish of having the stitching on the top of the placket hidden.

To make this happen, I open up the plackets flat, and fold the top edges back and inside out. The raw edges of the bodice neck, placket top, and neckband will be aligned. The point of the neckband is tucked into the inside-out placket, all the way to the fold.

The point of the folded neckband tucks into the inside-out plackets.

I recommend basting the neckband at this point, at the seam allowance, making sure the stitched edges of the plackets are still folded in to the wrong side. Turn the placket right side out to make sure the placement is neat and the placket seam allowance is tucked in nicely. If the placement and edges look nice, go ahead and clip the rest of the neckband to the bodice neckline per the pattern, and sew with a stretch stitch.

Turn the placket right side out. I chose to top-stitch my plackets down the long inside edges to enclose the stitched edges. I used coordinating thread for my placket and button holes, which makes it really hard to see. Enjoy this poorly doodled picture of my plackets for reference.

Topstitch down the red lines to enclose the seams, about 1/8" from the outer edge of the placket.

Buttons & Buttonholes

I'll quickly go over positioning the buttonholes and buttons. There are a few ways to do this, but here is mine.

I know I want a button at the very top of the placket, so right below the top seam allowance is where I want it placed. Then I want 2 more evenly spaced below that. I judge it roughly, place my button where I want it to land, and mark the top and bottom edge of the button onto my fabric. The buttonholes will be placed on the top-most placket.

My automatic buttonholer is super finicky and dramatic, so I choose to do mine manually. Do your buttonholes in the way that makes you happy.

Once the buttonholes are stitched and opened (and confirmed to fit my buttons), I lay the plackets neatly on top of one another, and mark the line of the buttonhole onto the bottom placket.

*Do as I say, not as I do #3: I used a regular old pen to mark my fabric at every point that needed marking. My chalk wasn't working so I had to resort to pen. I know mine will wash off, but be better than me and use something meant to mark fabric that will wash away*

I prefer to do my buttons by machine rather than hand, so I do a little bit of guess and check on stitch width, lower my tension and stitch length, and get my button lined up according to my marks.

And next, the placket finale! It all fits!

The last thing to do is to finish the shirt the way the pattern instructs. I finished the side seams, added the long sleeve cuffs, and hemmed it at shirt length.

Voila! Finished henley Dream Tee!

I hope you found my mod tutorial helpful, and I hope to see lots of henley Dream Tees in the future! Happy Sewing!

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1 Comment

Jan Allison
Jan Allison
Nov 02, 2019

I love this, Rachel!! The "Do as I say, not as I do"'s are perfect. I do that everytime I try to figure out a hack. I'm going to need a ton of these!

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