Tag Archives: men’s sewing

The jacket that nearly killed me

Or should I say kilt me? (Feel free to groan away)

If you read any of my posts from January, you probably noticed me whining about this jacket in the background. Well, it’s done! And you can read the full whinge over on The Sewcialists website, as part of their February “Sew Menswear for Everyone” theme month!



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Just Jutlands

Did I mention lately that I don’t need any clothes? I really really don’t. My husband, on the other hand, is in dire straits. Since he hasn’t needed a professional wardrobe for years now, and he hates shopping and is super picky, everything in his closet is ancient, worn out, and often ill-fitting.

And guys, he’s hard to sew for. Lord knows I’ve tried over the years, and sometimes I’ve succeeded (most often with loose overshirts.)

But did I mention he’s picky? Nothing gets a “oh, that’s perfect!” Everything gets criticism that at best is constructive but at worst is just demoralizing. He’s fussy about fit, fussy about fabric, fussy about style.

But I really don’t need clothes, and he does, and he won’t go shopping (nor do we have a lot of money for that, see the part about where my second job just went away)

Anyway, he needed some cool pants for the summer. He won’t wear shorts (see the part about picky) and while he couldn’t quite articulate it, I was pretty sure some casual linen pants would fill the slot.

Fortunately, I had just enough of the black linen I used for this dress for a good sized pair of men’s pants.

I was initially thinking very plain and simple, as much of a fit test as anything else. Then I made the mistake of telling him what I was making.

I had picked the Thread Theory Jutland pants, a fun pattern with great workwear details. I liked the combination of jeans style pockets in the front and darts in the back, which make for easier fitting on the fly. I was a bit worried about the slim fit of my other option, the Jedediahs. I was going to save the cargo pockets and reinforcement details for a future version, though. I planned to size up and add elastic to the back waist to allow for his highly-fluctuating waist size.

The first mistake was letting him see the pattern. Not that he didn’t love the details (the ones I was going to skip, you recall). He just wanted even more. Zip off legs! Accordion pleat in the back!

I protested, and the whole procedure nearly halted right then.

But I really don’t need more clothes, and he does. So I took a deep breath, and “compromised” by doing the added details as per the pattern, but not doing stupid zip off legs that he’ll never actually unzip because he only ever does that while wading in water fishing and if he takes his black linen pants fishing I’ll kill him. I don’t think he considers this a compromise.

Anyway, I don’t actually mind the process of constructing cargo pockets and the other reinforcements were very simple. (And frankly as cargo pockets go, the ones in this pattern are pretty Lite(TM). Just a couple of pleats. Not really 3D at all. I was actually a wee bit disappointed.) I did the pleats a wee bit too deep so the pockets are a bit small for their flaps. This turned out to be the least of my worries, however.

The problem is, this was my first time making up this pattern, and the details really pin down certain things. Where the knee should be. Where the hem should be. And it turns out, I kinda fucked those positions up.

When I traced out the pattern, I added length. My husband isn’t that tall, but he does tend to be long-legged and too- short jeans are a common issue.

Let’s just say they would not have been an issue as is. There seemed to be about 6″ of extra length on each leg, and I only added about 2″. I wound up making a 1″ tuck above the cargo pocket (topstitched down) and adding a seam to take out about 5″ more between knee and hem. Edit: and it turns out that was a little too much now that he’s actually sitting down in them. FML.

Because when worn “high” (aka as they should be) they’re way short even on me. But when we tested the length he had them slung low. Argh!!!

I also discovered when I went to sew them up (AFTER the cargo pockets were all in place, of course) that I must’ve screwed up my tracing, because my front and back inseams are about an inch off. WTF? Side seams match fine. Anyway, in the end I eased the extra length in. This will probably cause problems at some point, but linen eases pretty nicely.

They were also quite a bit fuller than he likes. Some of this is because I sized up, but some is just the style of the pattern, which is quite loose in the leg. So I wound up taking in the inseam (remember, outseam is fixed at this point by the cargo pocket on top of it) by about 3cm on each leg. That’s over 2″ off the circumference of each leg, guys. And I had already topstitched inside the tube to finish off the inseam. Rookie move on my part. I was a little cranky.

I wanted an elasticised waistband to accommodate his wildly fluctuating waist, and after some thought decided to go with the old buttonhole elastic. Maybe overkill in this situation, but the oversized pants would’ve been beyond wearable without it. Hopefully the convenience of the adjustability will outweigh the weirdness of the finish to him. What I didn’t do (which I would have in more fitted pants) was add some height to the back rise. I assumed the over-sized-ness would compensate. I was wrong. So they’re a little low for his taste back there.

I probably overdid it on the sizing up. Next version, I will size down, add height to back waist, and reduce the length a couple of inches.

Or just say fuck it and make something for me!

(Confession: I felt pretty goofy taking these pictures, but I haven’t worn pants this loose since the 90s and even then I only did it so they would hang low on my hips. So I had to style them as I would’ve in 1996, with a crop top and Docs, because sometimes you just gotta!)


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Slouchy dad style

The plan was to make Burda envelope pattern 6931 for my husband for Father’s Day. Back in the day he had a habit (which I found quite dashing) of wearing tuxedo shirts with the pintuck fronts loose as a casual overshirt. He also used to wear some denim chambray overshirts (90s guy that he is). And lately, his beleaguered wardrobe has been absent both.

Let’s be honest here—he needs clothes about as badly as I don’t. If he were a little more fun to sew for, I’d just make them, but he’s wildly picky so anything I make (including this shirt) is a big risk.

However, for Father’s Day I couldn’t quite resist trying a slouchy, comfy, yet tux-inspired style using this pale rayon “denim”.

Since I was (justifiably) terrified of sewing pintucks in the wiggly denim, I took the added step of making a starch dip for the fabric that would become the front pieces. This was highly successful in turning it from something that draped and wiggled at the slightest touch, into something that felt and behaved not unlike paper. All you do is boil up a bit of cornstarch and water into a sauce (minus the usual flavourings), dilute, dip, and dry.

This would’ve worked very well for the pintuck topstitching, except that I wanted to sew them on my new-to-me Elna, which handles topstitching thread better than any of my other machines. However, I don’t have an adaptor to use my edgestitching feet with her, and getting high precision pintucks without precision feet is tricky for me. If your sewing skills are up to it, I salute you! Mine fall short. The resulting pintucks were very far from as neat and regular as I would’ve liked. I could only hope that once they were washed and slouch-ified all would be forgiven.

I was, however, dispirited, and a few other things that irked me about the pattern didn’t help: there was no separate back yoke, and the cuff placket was made with just a simple bias strip rather than a tower placket.

I realize these are stylistic decisions that probably say more about my own prejudices about a “proper shirt” than anything else. Regardless, my enthusiasm had distinctly waned, and there were other projects with more pressing deadlines.

So the whole thing languished for several weeks waiting on a hem and buttons because I just couldn’t stand it. But finally, just in time to be late for Father’s Day (and for no particular reason except that I didn’t have enough time for a serious project and had run out of other quick things I could tackle), I found the motivation to finish it off.

It really wasn’t much more work to finish the hem, and the laundering to remove the starch fortunately also left the tucks much softer, which I think makes the unevenness much less noticeable (and if you feel differently you can just… feel that way and not tell me about it. Same goes for the general wrinkliness.)

So anyway, at the end of the day I like it and I think it fulfills the vision I had in my head. Let’s just hope it also works for my husband.


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This is another one of those projects that seemed like a good idea at the time. Actually, i didn’t even mind the making so much. It was the making myself start making it that sucked eggs. I have a terrible time motivating myself for unselfish sewing.

The backstory is, I made my dad a shirt for Xmas—a short sleeved Negroni—back when we first moved back from Cowtown, and he has dutifully worn it every time we get together with them ever since. Which is flattering the first few times and then you realize he is definitely just wearing it because you are there, and then you have no idea if he actually even likes it at all.

In either case, though, it seemed like a good idea to give him another daughter-made option. So at least he’ll have options he doesn’t like.

After some digging around my Fabricland, I finally found a shirting that inspired me. It’s actually a home dec fabric, a medium weight cotton twill with a woven-in stripe. It’s a little thicker and a little softer than a quilting cotton.

For a pattern, since I was doing this as a shop project, I went with McCall’s 2447, in all its dated glory. I didn’t want a super-fitted or overly fussy pattern, and it actually seems fairly nicely drafted. It has a proper grain-elevator placket for the sleeve, a neat pocket detail, separate button band, and the collar isn’t as huge as I had feared. I checked the finished measurements and opted to make a medium rather than a large, because it’s hugely oversized. I’ve added 2″ to the sleeve length, which will hopefully be enough. I also made a cut-on button band rather than going with the separate route, because I was worried about stripe issues, but I like the option of the separate band for contrast and detail purposes.

I got a bit of coordinating quilt cotton to make contrast facings and a few other touches of color. The fun of menswear is in the little details, and it takes the right mindset for me to get in the mood.

I don’t feel like this is a crowning example of shirt making. My stitching isn’t quite as precise as I’d like, and the soft twill liked to shift around. I topstitched some of it at about 1/4″ and some is edge stitched and I like the edgestitch better, but not enough to go back and redo it all. I used three machines in construction, not counting the serger, which I only used to finish the armscye since I’m too lazy to flat-fell. I used my usual Janome for the main construction, with walking foot to facilitate stripe matching on the collar and back yoke. I used my grandmother’s old Rocketeer for the buttonholes. And I used a 70s-era Elna a friend gave me last summer for the top stitching, since it has a speed control, which is pretty much my favourite thing for top stitching ever.

On the other hand, I really like the overall effect. I like my little blue touches.

I kicked ass on the buttonholes (once I smartened up and put wash-away stabilizer under them all.)

I really like my pocket mod. (I used the pattern piece provided but not the construction method.)

And I think for a slouchy comfy shirt it might actually be just fine, even if I won’t be showing off my fine details.

To be honest, the more the topstitching trauma fades, the happier I am with it. It’s a soft, casual shirt but not sloppy, which I think SHOULD suit my dad’s current retired-professor lifestyle.

Who knows, he might even actually like it!


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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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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… ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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?


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! ๐Ÿ™‚



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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. ย This is what it looked like Friday evening, as we headed out for a night on the town.


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 patternย (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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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.


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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