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How to Make Clergy Shirts

Updated April 17, 2017

A clergy shirt, whether for a Halloween costume or school play performance, is a simple and inexpensive costume to make. The clergy shirt is typically recognised as a plain back shirt with a somewhat high collar. The shirt is all black except for a white square in the centre of the collar. This shirt is easily layered to keep the wearer warm if you are using it for a costume in the chilly October month.

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  1. Select a slightly high-necked shirt, either long sleeved or short sleeved in plain black. The shirt will be a cotton or jersey material with a plain front and no buttons. Choose a white shirt of the same style. The white shirt can only be long sleeved if the black shirt is also long sleeved.

  2. Cut a square out of the centre of the front of the collar on the black shirt. The square should approximately be an inch wide and an inch deep. The bottom of the square cut out may protrude slightly below the collar of the shirt and into the shirt itself, which is fine.

  3. Hem the frayed, cut edges of the black shirt using a sewing machine or a simple hand stitch, such as the blind hem stitch. A blind hem stitch is a sequence of three straight switches then one zigzag stitch repeating across the edge.

  4. Dress in the white shirt.

  5. Pull the black shirt over the white shirt. The white shirt should only be visible through the cut out square in the collar of the black shirt.

  6. Choose a long or short sleeved button-front shirt in black with a button-down collar.

  7. Cut a strip of poster board in a rectangle shape that is approximately six inches long and one inch deep.

  8. Place the button-up shirt on, securing all the buttons.

  9. Slip both ends of the poster board rectangle under each side of the collar, in the area created by the buttoned collar. Press the strip in until both ends are completely under the collar and the front lies flat.

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Things You'll Need

  • Black shirt
  • White shirt
  • Scissors
  • White poster board
  • Black button up shirt
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread

About the Author

Michelle Barry

Michelle Barry graduated from Salve Regina University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Since then, she has worked as a reporter for the Wilbraham-Hampden Times, an editor for Month9Books and Evolved Publishing, editor and has spent the past seven years in marketing and graphic design. She also has an extensive background in dance.

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