Now, I'm not going to lie to you. A tailored button-down shirt, with all the menswear details-cuffs, sleeve plackets, stand-up two-piece collar-is a lot of work. (Not that it isn't fun, see-if-I-can-do-it, go-ahead-and-challenge me work, if you're into that type of thing :)
If you're not into that type of thing, fortunately there's an easier alternative-the convertible collar shirt. Without cuffs, collarstand or sleeve plackets, these babies are a breeze.
If you'd like to design either of these types of shirt, (and why wouldn't you?) you'll find our newest lesson useful. "Button-down shirts" is now available on the lessons page. Once you've gotten those shirts down, you could branch off into round yoke shirts, shirts with fancy back yokes, fancy sleeves, fancy this, fancy that....
One thing I'd like to mention before you go diving into your button-down shirt adventure, is this. I've found that one of the best places to get fabric for shirts is...well...the thrift store. Stop shaking your head. I've got a good reason.
Aside from the fact that many of the men's shirts at the thrift store have hardly been worn, (I'm sure there's a story there somewhere...) many of them have a wrinkle-free finish that you can't get from fabric at the fabric store. For a fascinating article on wrinkle-free finishes, read this. Any parent can tell you that wrinkle-free goes a long way toward making a shirt wearable. (Look for a wrinkle-free tag. Don't trust looks.)
A couple of tips for refashioning adult shirts into child shirts:
*If the buttonstand is a decent width that will look proportional on the child for whom you're sewing, place the center front of the shirt pattern right straight down the middle of it, and you won't have to fool with sewing your own buttonstand.
*If you cut the child's long sleeves from the man's shirt long sleeves, you may find that the man's placket extends up into the area you want to use for the child's sleeve. What I do in this instance is pick out the stitches of the placket, lay the sleeve flat, and cut out the child's sleeve. Then I fold the right sides of the slash together and sew a narrow "V", like a dart, and hide that part in one of the sleeve pleats.
*Each yoke (top and bottom) can be cut in two pieces if there's not enough fabric left to cut them continuously. Simply add a seam allowance in the middle of your yoke instead of cutting on the fold. (Make sure any stripes match!)
Enjoy yourself. Button-down shirts are so fun.