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Jedediah pants!

25 May

It was with much trepidation that I embarked on the Jedediah pants from Thread Theory.  as part of G.’s Christmas present I had promised him a pair. I found some nice black babycord (from Truro fabric) which G liked – when it arrived it felt a bit lighter than I had expected but I think it will make a nice pair of summer weight trousers. Because I was a bit daunted, after I had the pieces all cut I left it sitting in the middle of the living room for over a week! I actually had them mostly sewn up in April but the man was away and I wanted him to try them on so I could perfect the length.

I’ve only made one Thread Theory pattern before (the Fairfield Button Up Shirt) and really liked her instructions. But for these pants/trousers I found them a little hard to follow at times. Especially for the fly – the corresponding images aren’t always next to the instructions and  maybe I was having a brain-fart day but I found it hard to to figure out what I was suppose to do.  I have to say I didn’t find the YouTube video which accompanied the sew-along much help for the fly – it didn’t have the level of detail I needed.  In the end my fly is actually quite good although my top stitching is appalling. But the man is unlikely to notice and on the black fabric its almost impossible to tell. It would also have been nice if there had been a top stitching guide for the the fly  as well as marks for where it is best to place the button loops.

That being said I did like the way the waist band facing was put in and the added detail of having contrast binding. Again it took me a little while to get my head around what I was suppose to do, but it worked out pretty well. With practice I’m sure I’ll make some really nice pants/trousers in the future. I’m thinking some nice chinos in burgundy or a royal blue. I made the size 40 which is the biggest size the pattern goes up to – they fit a bit smaller than RTW trousers and at the waist they are a bit of a squeeze. Because the waist button will be taking so much pressure I decided to add a hook and bar. Next time I may make the waist a wee bit bigger – I think I’ll be able to get some breathing room by simply reducing the seam allowance on the side seams.

When you really love something…

29 Mar

The first shirt I ever made G. was McCall’s 6044 in a blue poplin with white spots. I was super proud of it at the time and G loved it. Seven years later he still loves it but I look at it with horror  – all I can see are the mistakes, the poor stitching, terrible choice in buttons etc. But it’s been wearing thin and just the other week it literally fell apart. But it is G’s favorite shirt and, when you really love something…. he  wanted an exact replica. Luckily the poplin is pretty bog-standard and available in almost every haberdashery.

This time I was extra careful with my top stitching, used flat fell seams for almost everything and chose simple white buttons. And he’s over the moon to have his favorite shirt back. Having made this shirt so many times there really isn’t anything new I can say about it. It’s a great pattern, but I’m looking forward to trying something new next time.

Fairfield Button-up Shirt

9 Mar

Second on my list of Christmas presents I’ve made for my nearest and dearest this year is the Fairfiled Button-up shirt from Thread Theory.  I’m a little behind  in getting these finished I must admit! One is for my father-in-law and the other is for my BFF’s boyfriend. fairfield-buttonup-illustrationsIt’s the first time I’ve used a Thread Theory pattern but I really liked the look of the design and the end results I’ve seen floating round the blogosphere. I decided to make version both versions: one with the back darts and one with the gathers.

Both men ended up choosing a interweave cotton chambray fabric from Dragonfly Fabrics. Plus BFF’s boy asked if there could be a splash of red on the inside, so I chose a cherry crimson chambray (from Minerva crafts) for the lining of the collar band and cuffs. The interweave is a little bit heavier than other chambray but I hope it will soften with wear and be quite nice.

In terms of the pattern: I love it. It has both a regular and a large fit, ie good for those supper skinny bean poles and for the more well endowed men. And it really is such a great design.The instructions were super clear and really well laid out.  I loved the ‘burrito’ technique for the shoulder seams which leaves no raw edges or stitching visible! It was the first time I’d ever come across this technique and by carefully following the instructions it came out excellently. I also really appreciated the clarity on how to do the sleeve placket. I’ve only tried this once before and really struggled  but this time my results are pretty smooth.

On my first version however (the one with the red facing) I  slightly f*cked up on the sleeve and side seams. Because I was running low on my matching thread I decided to just use French seams instead of flat fell seams. So without reading the instructions I jumped straight in and did them on a 5/8″ seam allowance. But when it came round for the second shirt I realized that oh no the seam allowance on the shirt back and sleeve back was just 1/4″ while on the front it was 5/8″ and that the seam allowance had already been offset. Which i think means that on the first version i did the back of the shirt and sleeves will be pulling tight. I hummed and hawed for a while on this and decided that as it was all finished and ready to be posted, I’d let him try it on first before unpicking the lot.  I did however get it right on the second version. And the detail of the stitching I am quite pleased with.

In summary: I love this pattern, the instructions are great and the design is lovely. It takes a while to cut out but it is definitely worth it!

Version 1 with back pleat:

Version 2 with back darts:

 

 

#makemenswear

3 Dec

G. has been after me to make him some new shirts for a few months now. To be fair most of his shirts that I’ve made him (which now dominate his wardrobe) have been patched and mended and re-patched and re-mended. He really is in need of some new shirts.

As McCall’s 6044 is tried and tested and much loved, I really see no reason to try a different pattern. As usual I’ve made version C, this time out of an indgo cotton chambray from Dragonfly Fabrics. The fabric washed really well and feels very soft.

There isn’t too much to say about the construction of the shirt – the pattern is quite straightforward and instructions are easy to follow. I used French Seams on the sleeves and sides, and flat felled seams on the shoulders. I tried to infused a little creativity by using a different fabric for the facing of the collar band and cuffs. The chambray bird print I used to make my McCalls 4769 dress seemed complimentary to the polka dot both in color and texture.  But I forgot to change my bobbin to a light blue, so the stitching is very obvious on the inside. But I still think it looks pretty good. I think one of my New Year’s resolution will be to branch out from the staple men’s shirt and make more menswear (#makemenswear).

 

Pajamas for G.

16 Mar

After Christmas G had some major pajamas envy when he saw how wonderfully cozy my BFF’s and my Carolyn pajamas were. So he requested I make him a pair.  Initially he was adamant that he wanted the same fabric as my pajamas but that was more couple cutsie-ness than I could handle. In the end he decided he liked  this gorgeous brushed cotton from Truro fabrics.

However it took me a while to find a pattern I liked. In the end I settled for Simplicity 3971 – version B. He is a robust, manly sized man, so I’m making size L (chest 48-50 and waist 44-46) which requires alot of fabric: 5 1/4 meters! As I don’t actually have enough floor space to cut that all out in one go I did the top first, then the bottoms.

After the rigor and detail of my Carolyn pajamas I found the Simplicity 3971 very basic. I added certain details like piping, using the  same contrast fabric as I did mine, as well as top stitching around the collar and down the front. My sewing on the collar however is wanting. The angles made inserting the piping a challenge and if you look closely there’s stitching visible where there shouldn’t be.

I decided to use flat felled seams  which adds considerable more time to sewing but makes them soo much stronger.  I personally am a bit of a sprawler and I flail and roll about a lot in my sleep which puts extra strain on my seams (especially the bottoms). Plus I wear my pajamas around the house most of the time time – doing chores, lounging, dishes, cleaning, and sometimes even gardening. So all the more reasons to make them durable. Where it wasn’t possible to use flat felled seams, I used my snazzy double overlock stitch to finish them (like on the arms and side seams, which are sewn in a continuous go) and on the outside leg seams. The bottoms were ridiculously easy – no pockets, fly or waist band.

While my pattern matching is quite good on the top, it’s really quite atrocious on the bottoms. Looking at them, you wouldn’t know that I spent ages when cutting them out to ensure that the plaid would match. I obviously was trying to match the wrong bits! But in reality G. will never notice and I’m not going to loose sleep over it.

So just in time for the weather to warm up, G. at long last has his own pair of cozy flannel pajamas. They’re ridiculously unfitted but I guess they’ll be extra comfortable.

 

 

 

 

McCall’s 6044

14 Feb

Back when I first met G. he had this simple black shirt, with a Japanese collar, that he looked quite dashing in. In it, he quite swooped me off my feet. But that was almost 8 years ago and the shirt has long been assigned to the rag drawer. Err well it should be assigned to the rag drawer. So to celebrate our anniversary at the beginning of February  I decided I’d make him a new one. I sewed this up in mid January but didn’t have a chance to photograph him in it until to day.

36_m6044_zb01

McCall’s M6044

I picked up some lovely crisp black Japanese poplin from the Cloth House in Soho along with some great little buttons. I used McCall’s M6044 which I love. I’ve made G. numerous shirts from this pattern such as this short sleeve version in a liberty print. This time I made  Version B but obviously not adding the full collar. Its a great pattern to use while I get more comfortable with my new machine. And has given me ample opportunity to try out new presser feet and try to features.

I got to break in my new edge stitch presser foot – it’s the first time I’ve ever used one. I used it on the pocket, cuffs, neckband, and front facing, and the results were amazing! It almost feels like cheating being able to now do such even stitching no wobbling away from the edge now.

Because I wanted the shirt be be extra sturdy, I  used flat felled seams on the shoulders, on the sleeve seam above the sleeve opening and on the armholes. Because the main arm seam and side seams are stitched in one go, I used a french seam but then top top stitched over this on the main body.

IMG_3188Then I got to try the BEST feature on my sewing machine: automatic button holes. What a dream. I’ve always been disappointed in my button holes, wanted to hide them as they were never perfect. No more shall I fear. The memory feature means that once I’ve done one the correct size, my new machine remembers and does it automatically. Hallelujah!

Anyway, it came together beautifully, fits him wonderfully and he looks as dashing as he did all those years ago.

 

 

A silky Christmas

23 Jan

When we were living in India a year or so ago, I went on a bit of a silk buying spree. Towards the end of it G. held up one bolt and said he wanted a dressing gown out of it. It was a black and white floral – not my cup of tea, but if the boy wants it, why should I stand in the way of him and his floral delights. I also got myself some in a crazy red floral.

But in my silk haze I completely failed to think about how much fabric a dressing gown takes and as a result, months after we moved back to the UK I discovered with horror that I hadn’t bought enough for either of us to have a dressing gown. And so it sat, sadly on the shelf month after month. The silk I got for me, eventually became the lining of my BHL Victoria Blazer. And every so often G would remind me that I promised him a silk dressing gown. But I must admit it wasn’t the top of my sewing list …

RobeThen in October I had a brilliant idea – I’d make him one for Christmas. First I spent ages looking for the right pattern and eventually settled on  New Look 6233. I then scoured around online looking for some affordable silk (given that I’d need 4 meters of it)! Eventually I found some black silk charmeuse satin.

See I’m not normally so organised when it comes to Christmas but as I sew in the living room and G is an attentive lad, I would have to wait until he went away. And at the end of October I had such a window: 1 week where he’d be in the US for work. So I ordered my fabric and then waited. And waited. And waited. By the time it arrived there was only 3 days of my window left. And so began my perils of sewing with bloody silky, charmeuse, satin.

I wish I could tell you that I first did my research on techniques, to learn the pitfalls I needed to avoid. But alas I jumped in head first.

One of my biggest problems (if we put aside the slipperiness for a moment) was pressing folds. My iron had to be on a low enough temperature not to wreck the fabric, but this had very little impact on making a nice fold. Particularly challenging when it came to the pockets and hem.  The hem especially was, quite frankly, a nightmare. Thankfully no one, other than me, should be looking that closely at his thighs because the hem line wobbles up and down.

Pinning seams was a challenge as I don’t have a large worktop surface so the weight of the fabric kept pulling the garment off my ironing board as I tried to pin each seam. I had decided to use French seams so reduce fraying and because I wanted the insides to look nice. I used a 60/8 needle and the stitches did look quite nice but again the issue of pressing them posed a problem and so the seams are rather puckered in appearance.

I’ve since learned a good technique which is to iron over a damp dishtowel. This allowed me to use a slightly warmer iron (than the silk setting) and it made both my folds firmer, and gave a better general finish.

I did manage to get it done before he came back and so it  remained hidden in my closet hanging inside a dress until Christmas. And once it’s on it does look pretty nice.

But photographing black garments is not my specialty, especially silky ones. It seems like the photos really capture the faults in the seams, the puckers etc. So I’ve struggled since Christmas to get photos worth sharing.

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