Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Last Hurrah of Summer Sewing

I don't know what it's like where you live, but summer has come to a screeching halt here in Maine. I'm sitting in front of a little electric heater as I write this. It seems almost silly to be blogging about clothes that most likely won't get worn again until next summer. Bear with me, but here goes.


I managed to bang out two pairs of linen shorts in time for the Labor Day wedding. Both are Thread Theory's Jedediah pattern. One pair is made according to the pattern, with back yoke and patch pockets. The other is made without the yoke, it has back darts and welt pockets. Here is a link to a tutorial on the Thread Theory website that shows how to make this change. The Jedediah pattern is already my "go to" pant pattern. Having the ability to change the back pockets makes it even more indispensable.


First up, the patch pocket version.


The patch pockets are finished off with gingham bias binding.



Here I'm wearing them with my new linen camp shirt.

The Jeds shorts can be rolled up to expose the binding at the side seams. I tried it, but decided it just wasn't working for me. I'll leave that look to younger guys with better legs!


The patch pockets are placed a little higher than specified in the pattern. It just works and feels better for me. I added a little gingham tag just for fun.



Here is the welt pocket version in process. The Thread Theory tutorial shows how to redraft the back and add the dart. It also details how to construct the pocket. I opted to use Roberto Cabrera's pocket instructions because I'm more familiar with them. Either way, it looks complicated but it's WAY easier than you might think.



I have an earlier PDF of the Jeds pattern, and have changed the sequence of sewing them up. I make all the pockets first and then move on to the fly. I sew just a few inches of the crotch seam. It keeps everything flat, and makes constructing the fly much easier. Once the fly is finished I sew the flat felled inseams. Then I move on to the outer seams. It will look the picture above. I leave the crotch seam till last.


Here is the completed inside. It takes a yard of cotton fabric, a batik in this case, to make the pockets and bias binding for a pair of Jeds. This batik was only $5. Well worth the additional expense and time spent to have such a fun finish on the inside. I love it.


I'm a big brown / purple combination fan.

That's it for summer sewing. In retrospect I accomplished a lot this season. A suit, two shirts, two pairs of shorts and a last minute pair of cargo pants. I still have material for another pair of shorts, but I'm totally over them. Into the stash it goes until next spring.


On the horizon....



Dark brown velvet Jeds with a somewhat William Morris fabric for the pockets and trim. Fall has arrived!


Monday, September 8, 2014

The man who said he'd NEVER wear cargo pants!

Honestly, I never saw myself as the cargo pant type. But let's face it, there aren't a lot of choices out there for us guys.


I really needed up spruce up my wardrobe for last weekend's wedding, part of which involved a "casual attire" rehearsal dinner. I really wanted something different. And since linen practically screams "summer casual", I set my sights on a pair of loose fitting linen pants. Enter McCall's 2815.


I will tell you right now that this is the MOST dreadful menswear pattern imaginable. If you're thinking of making a clown costume for Halloween, you've got the bottom part covered with this pattern. They're beyond huge, sort of like having wings behind one's legs. There's loose, and then there's absurd. Adding to the horrors, a total of 3" has to be eased into the waistband. I'm sorry, but no guy wants his pants gathered onto a waistband. Isn't the drawstring supposed to take care of that? Who thinks up these things?


Essentially, I remade the whole pattern .... just in time to catch the ferry to Martha's Vineyard.


Loosely based on version B, with a decidedly asymetrical vibe.


I added darts to the back to take up the 1.5" of ease, and drafted pockets and flaps based on the pockets from my safari jacket. This pattern does not include back pockets (another strike against it). Dear McCall's, most guys like to carry their wallet in a back pocket.



The side pocket was the only original part of the pattern that I used. I drafted a different flap for it, however.

I adapted the fly and zipper shield from Thread Theory's Jedediah pants. I am more and more thankful for this pattern all the time!


Pocket flaps are uninterfaced. Lined with a pale green gingham from JoAnn's nursery collection!



Fabric from Gray Line Linen. Cording and buttons from Pacific Trim. The cording was a perfect match! Thank you sewing gods.



Flat felled inseams, outer seams with bias binding, a la Jeds. It makes for such a beautifully finished pair of pants. Well worth the little bit of extra effort.



Cargo pants for the old man. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks! Now if summer could only last a little longer.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Completed Wedding Suit

The wedding took place on Martha's Vineyard last weekend. To say it was a fabulous time would be a huge understatement. Not only was it the most extravagant wedding I've ever attended, it was a chance to spend time with my far-flung children. They were truly the "icing on the cake" of the whole affair, and a reminder that being their dad is the best thing in the whole wide world.


So here's how it all turned out ... Suit and shirt fabrics from Elliot Berman Textiles. Neck tie - vintage cotton knit Pierre Cardin, found on Etsy.







I added a pick stitch detail to the lapels, chest pocket and pocket flaps. I love this kind of customized detail. It really makes it MY suit. End result ... A slightly rumpled, yet classic, summer suit. I felt like a million bucks wearing it!



At the reception with my son and daughter. (She made her silk kimono dress BTW)


And we can't leave out Evan, the stylish Westcoast boyfriend!



And lastly, here I am with my Brother in law, father of the groom. (AKA nicest guy in the whole world).


So ends another project. Thanks to all of you who offered words of encouragement as I navigated the world of tailoring. It's been a journey! The suit is headed off to the cleaners, and I need to plot my next sewing project. Something for fall, my favorite season. Cheers!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Today's Man....for this old man

Look out! Here he comes. It's today's man.



I've bought a few new (actually old) patterns lately, and this McCall's pattern from 1986 is one of them. I picked this up for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's a little different; which is something we guys struggle to find. There's just not much variety out there for us.



I've decided to make this version, View E. Some of you will no doubt see that this pattern is very similar to the Willi Wear shirt that Peter over at MPB just made (and didn't totally love). This version has a camp collar and button tabs at the chest pockets. Little details like that make it much more interesting and wearable IMO. Stripes tend to feature heavily in a guy's wardrobe, usually vertical stripes on a shirt or suit. Honestly, it gets a little tiring after awhile. So this combination of both vertical and horizontal stripes seems refreshing.

The second reason I picked this pattern was for View B, but I will have to devote an entire post to it. It involves an incredible surprise that came in the mail. So stay tuned.


I'm going to be making my shirt from a striped linen that I picked up during last year's MPB day. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend this year, but it looked like a blast as always.


This fabric is from Gray Lines Linen on W 39th St. They have every kind of linen imaginable, from metalic linens to linen velvet, even linens to make your own dish towels. I just love this store. Everything is neatly arranged and the prices are ridiculously reasonable. In fact, the last time I was there this fabric was on one of the sale shelves for $4 / yard. Incredible. 100% linen, 60" wide.



I'm learning that I need a sloped shoulder adjustment on just about everything, so I checked my TNT shirt pattern against this McCall's pattern. Yup. I need it here.


I traced off the pattern and made a quick and dirty muslin. In typical 80's style it's oversized, but I'm OK with that. I like Hawaiian shirts, and this shirt has a similar fit. What I didn't like was the shirt tail hem (way too long), and the lack of a back yoke (flimsy and cheap looking). So I set out to improve on Today's Man.



I squared off the hem, shortened it considerably and added little extensions that will become side vents. The back will be an inch longer than the fronts in my version.



I learned from making my last pair of pants that making a French seamed pocket is really very simple to do. Here it is in progress on the chest pocket. Why the pattern directions don't include such a simple step is really vexing. I swear they just want us to be dissatisfied with the end results. No wonder so many people give up on sewing! This shirt would be a frayed mess inside if made according to the instructions. I can just picture a guy (most likely having this shirt made for him) saying, "um, yah, thanks for the shirt", and then trying to lose it in the back of the closet.


This was another easy improvement. Understitching the pocket bag, which gives the pocket opening a crisp finish and prevents the pocket from poking out. It takes all of 30 seconds. Of course the instructions don't include it.



The facing is interfaced with Fashion Sewing Supply's Pro-woven light crisp fusible interfacing. I can't rave about this product enough. Because it's woven, it can be stitched to the facing,turned and then fused. It makes a beautiful clean finish, and you can skip all that trimming of the interfacing, folding over 1/4" and then topstitching. It's a big time saver and the results are so much nicer. Here you see it tacked into the horizontal pocket seam. It overlaps the pocket bag slightly and helps keep it in place.


I added a back yoke and small pleats. Simple. Now it seems like a real shirt.


Here is one of the little button tabs. Surprisingly, they actually work and keep the pocket closed. I was worried that the button would just pop through the loop. I'm pleased with how they turned out, and they give this shirt some much needed pizazz.



I made a French seam down the sides, ending at the vent. A little clipping here and there... Fold the extensions in and then stitch them down. I then bar tacked along the bottom of the French seam.


So here is the new and improved Today's Man. I know I'll truly enjoy wearing this shirt. Now to make a pair of linen shorts to go with it.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Home Stretch, or....The All Day Waistband

I had a feeling that the waistband would be time consuming, and man was I right. I used the construction techniques from Roberto Cabrera; and while I love the results, there are probably much easier, and faster, ways to finish off a pair of pants.


The waistband is constructed before sewing up the crotch seam, so it's done in two halves. They're just basic rectangles sized according to the width of waistband that one desires. I'm making a 1 1/2" inch band, which is pretty standard. I've interfaced the bands with Prowoven Medium sew-in interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply Co. It's stiff stuff! The belt loops are sewn and turned instead of folded and topstitched. It's a more polished look, but a real PITA. The interfaced band is sewn onto the pants, catching the belt loops which have been basted into position.



Next I constructed the inner lining with its attached curtain. The curtain is a bias strip of shirting, folded in half and stitched onto the lining. There's a box pleat at the center which adds some wearing ease. It's a classy detail, and I love getting to use my leftover floral fabric this way.



The seam allowance of the lining / curtain is diagonally stitched to the seam allowance of the waistband. The tops of the pockets are caught in this seam. You can also see that the belt loops have been brought up and tacked onto the waistband.



The seam allowance is folded down, the lining is pressed into position and slipstitched to the top of the waistband.



This pattern has a right fly extension, otherwise known as a French fly. I've lined it with my shirting. At this point, having abandoned the pattern instructions, I'm just making things up as I go along. It's all hand sewing, so I just press things into position until "it works". I've also added a hook and eye closure, which came with the worst instructions ever. That it works is a miracle.



Eventually, the back seam has to be sewn. I made some bias binding to finish off the seam. At this point, what's a little more work, right? My little Clover bias gizmo makes this a breeze, and it does make for a nice clean finish. The waistband lining is then worked across to the center back, where it's folded back and stitched into place. Here you see one side completed.



The finished front. A buttonhole is made in the French fly, and the button is attached at the seam level of the waistband.


The completed waistband. A ton of work, but beautiful. Whew! What a day.