Tag Archives: men’s sewing

Conquering (?)

One of the first times I saw my husband, across a crowded goth club, he was wearing a romantic, slightly pouffy white blouse. 

This was the intended effect, though that was long before cellphone selfies so I have no photographic evidence.

Now, in the early days of this blog, the first shirt I ever blogged about making him was an attempt at recreating that long-lost shirt. But this wasn’t my first attempt. 

 A few years before that, shortly after we moved to Cowtown, I had tried to create much the same look, using Butterick 4486. I don’t even know how I came to own the pattern, though it’s still in print. 

I didn’t have much success. My fabric was a slippery, textured synthetic that had a vague linen “look” with none of the joy of sewing actual linen. I was completely mystified by the placket construction on the front, and had to bring the half-finished shirt front back to Saskabush to consult both my mom and her best-sewing friend. I was still puzzled. and then, after all that angst and anguish, when giving the shirt a final press I managed to iron a hole right through it. Argh!!! Into the bin. 

Needless to say, I was not a fan of the pattern. But I’m also a hoarder-in-training, so in stash it stayed. Until early this spring, when an old family friend contacted me, looking for a vaguely Mediaeval-looking shirt to wear for performances of a choir he’s part of that does Mediaeval and Renaissance style music. 

Well, I hemmed and I hawed and finally admitted to myself that I was intrigued (especially if it meant I could sew with some yummy fabric like linen) and I emailed him back with a price that I was fairly sure would send him packing, but he didn’t even blink. 

Next thing I knew we were exchanging inspiration photos and I was building a Pinterest board and a lot of what we were looking at was very reminiscent of Butterick 4486—not overly historically accurate, but certainly fun and evocative. It appeared the pattern would be coming out of 7 or 8 years in the naughty bin. 

He found me several links to linen fabrics on Canadian fabric websites I hadn’t even heard of—with reasonable shipping rates! OMG!!! So once we settled on a colour, we were off to the races. (By the way, despite all my camera’s efforts to make it look grey, the colour is a medium muted blue.)

I feel I need to proclaim right off the bat that this is not meant in any way to be a genuine historical outfit. It’s more 60s-Hollywood-does-Mediaeval. 😉 but I added little “authentic” touches as I could—all the visible stitching (except the felling on the sleeve seams) is done by hand. The buttons are cloth balls, sewn directly to the edge of the cuff. 

They’re pretty adorable, actually. 

Though I think making more than six would get pretty tiresome. My hand worked buttonholes are… Not as terrible as they used to be? I’m still a little squirrelly about charging someone money for them, but I’m tamping that down hard under the “my time is worth it, dammit!” mantra. 

I had a hard time settling on a seam finish. My first impulse was to flat fell everything. But, I was reluctant to do it all by hand (after all, this is a costume piece, not some intensively-researched recreation.) I tested the machine fell on the sleeves, but that still leaves a line of machine stitching on the outside. Which I didn’t hate enough to rip out, but I wasn’t loving. 

I had plenty of time to ruminate on it, mind you, while sewing the endless eyelets of the placket. (And finishing both placket and cuffs by hand.) I tucked under the end of the placket and hand-stitched it down—not perfectly invisible but all the seams are enclosed! Which is not the case in the instructions. Still not loving the construction, but at least I knew what they wanted me to do this time. 

I hand-felled the shoulder seams, which is lovely and authentic and stuff. For the side seams, I made French seams—maybe less authentic but a clean finish with no visible stitching. 

The hardest decision was how to finish the armscyes. I didn’t think there would be enough seam allowance to fell over the bulky gathers, so I spent a bunch of time researching and dithering, and then eventually just did it. 

I guess there was enough seam allowance after all. It’s a little odd with the gathering but I don’t mind it.   

Then there was the fitting angst, as this is a long-distance project and while I worked from measurements, things like the dropped shoulder and the amount of length that will be lost when the tunic-length shirt is bloused over a belt are wild cards I can’t really predict. And then I realized I had messed up my interpretation of my measurements and had to shorten the sleeves by several inches. Infinitely better than the opposite, of course, but it meant taking off the cuffs. Which I then proceeded to sew back on inside out. Twice. Kill me. Please. 

But the linen was a hell of a lot of fun to sew with! And it’s done, after a month of faffing around and endless hand-sewing. I’m in the middle of way too many intensive projects, by the way, mainly for other people. Blerg!

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V8801—men’s jeans

Men's Jeans

Men’s Jeans

I’ve been wanting and not wanting to sew jeans for Osiris for YEARS. For all the usual reasons: he is picky and has some specific fitting issues. Frankly, making shirts for him hasn’t been hard—as long as the sleeves are long enough and he gets the details he likes, he’s pretty much happy. But jeans—now that’s all about fit. Scary, scary fit.

So, let’s start with his main requests: slim/tapered legs (but they can’t be too tight) and a rise that isn’t too low. Fit issues will be leg length (easy) and his curvy-for-a-dude butt. (potentially horrifying. The fitting challenge, not the butt itself. I quite like that bit.)

I have a couple of patterns I’d like to try, starting with Vogue 8801. I’m kinda hesitant since what is out there for reviews are fairly mixed. (Everything from too tight to too loose to right on, but some concerns about the pocket placement and yoke proportions seem more consistent.) I was pleasantly surprised my husband’s 32″ waist and 37″ hips were within the same size range—but then he’s a little “chunky” right now, which makes him a lot easier to fit. (When he’s not “chunky” he has a 28″ waist, try finding men’s pants in that size. 😉 )

I also compared the Vogue pattern to an old indie pattern* I have that looks like it stepped right out of the rodeo. And was pleasantly surprised that they were very similar in overall size and rise. The Vogue seems to have a narrower front, but wider back pieces, and the angle of the legs is a bit different.

Curved yoke piece.

Curved yoke piece.

I made (perhaps unwisely) a few preemptive fitting adjustments. These are the same curvy-butt adjustments I make for Tyo (and to a lesser extent myself): increased height at CB with a wedge, and curving in the top of the back yoke. This may throw off the waist size, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Happily the waistband has a CB seam which should help with tweaking the rear fit.

At Osiris’s request, I’m using stretch denim. He’s had some health issues the last few years that contribute to a lot of weight fluctuation and variable bloating, so stretch denim has become his friend. The denim I’m using for the “muslin” pair is just barely stretchy , but the one I am hoping to make the “good” pair out of is both beefier and stretchier. (Frankly, it is taking every bit of my willpower not to make it into something for me… I totally downloaded the Ginger jeans pattern a few weeks ago… 😉 )

Fabric. And pocket lining.

Fabric. And pocket lining.

Another thing I’m curious but ambivalent about is the shaped waistband in this pattern. I mean, I’m all about that in my own jeans, but I wear them low, where curvature is needed—not at all where Osiris wears them. And they’re supposed to be interfaced (I even bought waistband interfacing, which of course won’t work with the contour band). If I do interface, I’m thinking I’ll go with a knit fusible, to get some extra heft but keep the stretch Osiris is loopin

Anyway, wish me luck!

 

*Designer Jeans #260, from Sharon Marie Studios, which appear to have been published out of Edmonton, Alberta, in the late 70s and early 80s. I have actually collected the entire family—men’s, women’s, baby, and a couple different size range of children’s jeans. My mom squealed when I showed them to her—apparently she made me a pair of jeans with one of the kids’ patterns when I was small.

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Have you seen this pattern?

20130820-064427.jpg

Kwik Sew 1808

Ok, not actually this pattern, which I picked up for half a buck at the thrift store the other day. It’s unopened, and that 80s style of dress pants with the front pleats and the slash pockets is exactly what my husband likes in his dress pants. But look at the shirt on the guy on the left. Gun flaps buttoning to pockets? Nifty details. Maybe not for everyone, but I can’t help but wonder of this was referencing an actual pattern (maybe another Kwik Sew?) or if it was just a flight of fancy. It seems like it would be fun, if it were a pattern… Although with my luck my husband wouldn’t ever wear it.

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Christmas Shirts

A Shirt for my Sweetie

A Shirt for my Sweetie

The Muse of Creative Titles has deserted me, sorry. Well, really, there was pretty much zero creativity in this whole project. I made the two prime men in my life, my husband and my father, shirts for Christmas. It occurs to me that perhaps I should’ve made one for my brother, but, well, he’s in Australia. He gets heat for Christmas. Every year.

A shirt for my Father

A shirt for my Father

Since I was stressed for both time and mental energy, I followed the pattern, the Colette Negroni, to the point of slavishness. I made a size M for the hubs and a size L for my Dad. I was terrified that both would be too small, but both turned out pretty much perfect. I made zero pattern alterations (since I used the short-sleeve version. I hadn’t bought enough fabric for long sleeves for either version, because I am braindead; I would’ve lengthened the sleeves on both if I were doing long sleeves) and used fabric I had picked up ages ago, a grey and black linens with (probably unfortunately) a bit of stretch. And yes, plenty of that good ol’ linen wrinkliness. I had actually chosen the pattern and the fabric for my husband ages ago, as the short-sleeved version of the Negroni has the exact style details of a linen shirt my husband bought during our one and only (and very overwhelming) trip to New York, back in… well, we didn’t need passports to do it, let’s leave it at that. Which shirt he’s subsequently worn to death.

Collar closeup

Collar closeup. I did the little loop as per the pattern; I probably wouldn’t do it again. It doesn’t seem like it’d ever be functional.

Unfortunately, the odds of me getting actual modeled shots from either giftee are pretty much nil, so, you get stuck with boring hanger shots. Most of which are of the grey shirt for my Dad, since, well, photographing black.

Sleeve hem

Sleeve hem

I used an extra-long triple stitch for the topstitching.

Sleeve cap

Sleeve cap

I flat-felled the shoulder seams according to the pattern’s instructions. The first set turned out quite badly, the second set somewhat better. I’m not sure I’m completely in love with the method, but like I said, zero mental energy for researching creative techniques. It’s certainly adequate. (And I have a long history of attempting to flat-fell shirts and giving up in disgust and going with the serge-and-topstitch method.)

Front facing

Front facing

My Dad’s shirt had to feature one detail that my husband’s never do—a pocket. I didn’t do two out of fear of having to make them match, but I knew he’d want one to pop his glasses into. Which he did, within moments of putting on the shirt. So, win. I do like the method for finishing the top of the pocket, and the little triangles to secure the top corners. I should’ve used a template for the pocket, though, it was not as well-shaped as it should’ve been.

I made round-ended buttonholes, the kind a buttonholer puts in, using a setting on the Janome Memorycraft, just because I could. And, well, my buttonholer generally ends up being precisely not where I am most of the time. Like most of my sewing supplies these days, since they’re spread out across three different houses. /sigh.

And that, as they say, is that, and probably more detail than either shirt really deserves. I think they were both well-received, though. So I am satisfied. And I promise I’ll have something more fun to blog about soon! 🙂

 

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Holy Frock!

A tale of terror, tailoring, and tragedy.

The Coat.

Okay, I’m no good with suspense. I need to get this over quickly. I finished Osiris’s frock coat.  This is what it looked like Friday evening, as we headed out for a night on the town.

Closeup.

Here’s a slightly-clearer closeup.

And this is what it looked like Sunday afternoon…

Continue reading

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Fantasy sewing: Fantastic Menswear

A little while back, Peter posted one of his periodic dirges discussing the dearth of stylish modern menswear patterns. However, not one to be a negative Nellie, he went on to highlight one of the more exciting periods, historically, in menswear, the 1970s, and, in particular, the patterns Butterick—the Fashion One—put out for men during this time period. (And the ready availability of said patterns today, often in uncut condition—which probably says something about why they don’t still make ’em like that)

This touching paean niggled something in my memory. Something about 70s menswear.

Butterick 4711

Aha! there it is, folks, Butterick 4711, a men’s suit pattern I thrifted for, as you can see, the princely sum of a half dollar, uncut except for the vest. And designed by, or at least approved by?, Robert L. Green, whoever that is. (Ok, apparently he was the style director at Playboy during the 60s and 70s, among other things.)

While I certainly couldn’t resist this pattern, especially in the size 40 (exactly my husband’s size! Well, for the jacket, anyway), the odds of me actually making it up are, ah, infinitesimal. My husband, despite being only a couple of years older than me, came of age firmly in the 80s. He’d be much more likely to wear this pattern (image also courtesy of Peter) than a very 70s suit.

That being said, Peter’s post prompted me to pull out the pattern and peruse the instructions, as one does, y’know. Some nifty details emerged:

A very nifty fly indeed.

French Fly! (Or at least, that’s what Carolyn called it. See her tutorial. See it now. (durr, I wasn’t paying attention and scanned the picture of the fly, but not the part of the instructions concerning it. Oh well. Go read Carolyn’s tutorial instead.)

Welt pockets!

Welt pockets that hang from the waistband–COOL! Maybe you’ve seen this detail elsewhere? I don’t think I have, not that I’m overly versed in fine tailoring. Still cool.

Vest with odd neck bit.

Odd back-neck strap on the vest. Apparently whoever made the vest before thought it was odd, too, as it’s been clipped off the front pattern and pinned in place on the other piece.

I didn’t get into the jacket instructions, partly because they’re too involved for the amount of time/energy I have right now, partly because it’s for only a partial lining, which isn’t acceptable in menswear as far as I’m concerned, not that I’m any kind of expert.

Now, my husband won’t wear any element of this suit, as I said, except perhaps the vest. My husband does wear vests. And wear them very well, I may add. 😉 My very ticklish fancy is currently dying to make him a soft and summery vest in white slub linen. Of course, I don’t have any white slub linen… but a plain white linen would do (see photo at the top).

Of course if I propose this, he’s going to ask where his jacket is.

/sigh.

But it’s a good fantasy, isn’t it?

Oh, I also got, at the same time, the coordinating boy’s suit pattern:

Butterick 5205

If only I had a sartorially adventurous twelve-year-old boy to sew for. No? Maybe not.

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Frock Coat Defrocked

Coat---PROGRESS!

Just in case you’ve forgotten (I nearly have), this is the coat where I try to turn this pattern:

Lekala 6066

into this:

Christopher Walken in The Prophecy

I made two muslins, and extensive alterations—more for freedom of movement than fit per se.

And I would’ve sworn that the best things about both muslins was that the shoulders FIT.

Well, I tried the shell on Osiris and the shoulders are huge. I honestly couldn’t tell you anything else about the fit, I couldn’t see past the massive, sloppy shoulders.

Yes, the shoulder-pads were in place.

I’m not quite sure what’s going on. There is a lot of room in the back (as per his demand), but that’s not the issue. It’s like the shoulder point has expanded. Which it shouldn’t be able to, right? I’m hoping some re-adjustment of the pads/sleeve headers will help the issue. The armscye also seems low, where I swear the opposite was going on in the muslin. This may be a difference between firm sheet and soft (ish) wool (ish)?

Shoulder not-so-easing

The easing of the back to front shoulder also didn’t go super-duper well. Too much to ease, not enough wool content in the fabric, and I couldn’t find my tailor’s ham. (Also, way-overexposed photo to show detail)

I’m also wondering if I should be attempting to create a more tailored structure. I’ve been following Sherry’s RTW sewalong, which is lightly-structured but not really Tailored-with-a-capital-T. Neither was the inspiration garment for this project, of course, but I’m wondering if that’s some of the look that’s missing. Hard to say, hard to say. Maybe a little bit late at this point, too, unless I want to pull the whole thing apart and add a fully tailored front (it’s not like I have a shortage of hair canvas…)

Grum. It doesn’t help that I’m not allowed to take fit photos, and he’s not exactly keen on standing around while I attempt to note down every little wrinkle.

But he does like it. Or says he does.

On to construction and confusion.

Sleeve vent

Sherry has one lovely post on sewing a sleeve vent, which she helpfully links to from her sewalong. And I obediently followed her directions for adding a mitred corner to the sleeve pattern.

Mitred sleeve vent

For both the upper and under-sleeve.

For future reference, you only want the mitre on the upper sleeve (the top portion of the vent). The under sleeve needs a regular corner to underlap beneath the top side of the vent.

So, unless I wanted my vents open, I either had to re-cut the under-sleeve (which I doubt I have fabric for) or get creative.

Creativity. See the little seam?

I got creative. I pieced in a little snippet of left-over block-fused fabric. You can see just a little bit of the seam. It’s a bit bulky, but it’s going to be invisible once the buttons are stitched on anyway, right?

*headdesk*

Next up—figuring out how to line a vent. Ideally without resorting to massive hand-stitching, although I must admit soothing, mindless hand-stitching does seem a bit more attractive than brain-busting RTW-style sitching tricks, right now. Hmm. Maybe I’ll insert the whole damn lining by hand. If not, I’m thinking this book should cover it.

Lining resource

If I can get a good fit, anyway.

Also, I forgot pockets.

That’s probably unforgiveable, isn’t it?

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