Member since 4/20/09
Date: 5/23/11 1:40 PM
You can turn any cuff into French cuffs by doubling the width of the cuff pattern, add on an additional seam width, and then add on a bit more so that if you need the extra fabric when you fold the cuff back you have it, and avoid a rush trip to the fabric shop. Also, make the cuff about 3/4 inch wider (button to buttonhole width across the broader part of the cuff) to allow for additional room that might be needed for larger cufflinks.
What you are doing is making the cuff doubly wide from the lower edge of the sleeve bottom down to the end of the sleeve, which would otherwise end at the bottom edge of the cuff. A 3 inch wide cuff would have a 6.5" French cuff, with the distance from edge to edge being up to 1/2 inch wider than the regular cuff for room for the cufflink to show.
You also want a margin of the folded back cuff to just barely cover the edge of the top of the cuff -- about 1/4 inch, so that when the shirt is worn without the jacket sleeve over it, there is no unsightly (?!?) seam showing. Be sure to use a good interfacing to make the cuff stable. Add in the button/link holes on the cuffs so that they are at the right height. I am sorry, but I don't remember the rule for placing the cufflink holes for men, but they are not that far different from buttonholes/button placement. I inherited my Grandfather's cufflinks, and love wearing them with my own suits.
Also, you want to be sure that the turned back French cuff isn't too long overall, and you also have to be sure that the cufflink part doesn't stick out of the suit or jacket sleeve in an unattractive way.
When I got all those cufflinks, I tried lots of different adjustments in width, and finally settled on a cuff that allowed 1/2 to 3/4 inch at the edge of the cuff for the cufflink to show off, or if it's a button like cufflink, not more than 1/2 inch from the cufflink edge to the edge of the cuff. The cuff frames the cufflink to make it show off.
If you cut your 'experiments a bit larger, you can always take off, but you'll never be able to add on to what you start with.
This means that you want to practice. When I do French cuffs for myself, I interface them with either an interfacing for the purpose (Shirt Tailor), or with silk organza because my own French cuffs are most often silk shirts. Sometimes I double the silk organza. For practice fabric, I will do a mock up of one cuff in a fabric that is absolutely as close as I can get in terms of hand and I interface it with the real interfacing I am going to use, baste stitch it on, and see how it goes under a suit jacket.
Interfacing is the key to a good French cuff. As they are a longer regular cuff, folded back for hooking together with cufflinks, you want to be sure that what you have is going to stand up to a day of wearing also, and not wimp out and sag off the arm. I have been seen wearing a mock up shirt, which is the sleeves of my "muslin" having one cuff with one interfacing in it and another of a different interfacing, if I am uncertain of the ultimate result. I wear this odd shirt the entire day, but never in public. The next time I am "testing" I just rip the cuffs off, and attach the new candidates, which are always carefully marked. If I am careful, I can reuse the interfacing, as I use sew in, not fusible, and then only if I've not actually done the buttonhole. Test cuffs are more often pinned in various places for the best location of the cufflink holes.
Another tip form the voice of experience is to underline in addition to interfacing with very sheer silks, or rayon with soft "body." A second layer of fashion fabric is often a good choice for underlining a solid, or a double layer of organza interfacing works well too. You can make French cuffs even in a knit shirt, but be sure to use a Shirt Tailor type fusible in those, just to make sure they will hold the cufflinks and not sag into the sunset, so to speak.