Couple Shirts (Liesl & Co. All Day Shirt)

Another week another blue oxford shirt... I made this shirt and my Granville at the same time--assembly line sewing! This one is the Liesl & Co All Day Shirt, which I bought as soon as it came out. I rarely buy a brand new pattern, but this one I had to have, since men's patterns are tricky and this one looked like exactly what I wanted for Alex: simple enough to make multiples of, with details that could add a little differentiation between versions but still remain pretty neutral. This is a straight size medium, which is his usual size in Ralph Lauren shirts, but one size up from where his measurements put him on the size chart. I think in truth he's between a small and medium, but this very slightly oversized shirt is comfortable and looks good, so I'm not about to go trace between sizes. Shirts have a lot of pieces to trace!

Unfortunately, because I made this one and my Granville simultaneously, they both have the bubbly interfacing issue. Other than that, though, I think it's pretty much indistinguishable from Alex's ready to wear shirts, which is what I was going for. This is the first of my #menswearmakenine plans for the year and I'm pretty excited about it; I feel like it's really starting the year right! I can't really claim to be "looking forward to" making another one since selfless shirt sewing isn't really my favorite thing to do, but I do anticipate making a few more over the course of the year, at least.

Since I asked for fit advice last week, I might as well beg the same of you today: any suggestions to make this the best fitting shirt ever?

xoxo,
allie

ps: just wait until a rainy day in fall when Alex and I both get dressed in jeans, blue oxford, duck boots and Barbour coats by accident and don't realize we're matching until we both come home. this happens more than I'd like to admit.




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DIY vs RTW: Buttoned Up Basics (Sewaholic Granville)

It's been months since the first (and only) installation of "DIY vs RTW" but I think having signed up for #RTWFast2018 I might do a few of these this year, as I replace any worn out rtw with handmade items! This also serves as a new entry in my winter mini-capsule, along with my plaid skirt and knit blazer.

I made the Sewaholic Granville once before, in a navy and white gingham with short cuffed sleeves. This time I tackled my first tower plackets! If I'm going to sewing menswear this year, it's about time for me to learn to do a tower placket, right? I used a combination of the instructions from this pattern and the Liesl & Co. men's shirt which I made at the same time for Alex (in a slightly darker blue, yes we match) and it was much easier than I thought it would be. Cutting a hole into your nice fabric is always a bit scary but with accurate marking and crisp pressing the placket construction wasn't bad at all. I won't be attempting plackets in poly chiffon any time soon, but in shirting cotton they were entirely doable, so if you haven't tried one, give it a shot!

Unfortunately, the woven interfacing I used on collars and cuffs got super bubbly in the wash--I didn't prewash it, I didn't know I should, but apparently... ugh. I think my RTW shirt has sew-in, which I've never used, but I guess I'll be picking some up for my future Granvilles.

I'm wearing it here with another Sewaholic pattern and another little piece of my winter capsule, a navy twill Rae skirt. There isn't much to say about my flat-waistband Rae at this point that hasn't already been said here or here. This is officially a go-to pattern and I feel like I could basically just wear a combination of Rae, Granville, Ginger, and Ogden at all times and be set for most everyday occasions. Also, I love the way the Rae and the Deer and Doe Luzerne look together and repeated that pairing, previously seen here. (RE: this capsule, I have a pair of black Gingers all cut out and ready to sew and then that's all of my core items for that little capsule. Other than that it's just a classic khaki trench and I don't really want to buy all that fabric at the moment when I have other fabric to sew! I'll order some swatches first and take my time.)

Now for the comparison! I love the fit of the Granville--I'm sure it's not perfect but it's so much nicer than my rtw shirt, shown in pink. For reference, this is a Granville with no adjustments in a size 6, and the pink shirt is a Ralph Lauren slim fit oxford in size 2 (I think it's this, mine is about 10 years old so I'm not entirely sure).

Overall, I have some of the same drag lines on both shirts, but they are lessened greatly on the Granville. From top down: although my shoulders are likely slightly crooked, I think the slight pulling on the shoulders of the Granville is from a slightly off buttonhole--you can see it points right at it. The shoulders overall are much improved on the Granville compared to the really bad wrinkles on the shoulders of the Ralph Lauren. I'm not sure if it's a forward shoulder issue or if it's more of an issue of the neckline being too far back. The drag lines from lower back to bust likely have something to do with a combination swayback and FBA on both; the RTW shirt doesn't have bust darts which doesn't help. I'm not really sure if I should do an FBA on the Granville or if it's just swayback or... what do you think? The sleeves of the Granville are a bit long, I'll shorten them by about 1/5" next time. I'll also make a small change to the cuffs, rounding the edges slightly to match my RTW shirt (and the Liesl & Co men's shirt).

A few years ago Sarah (host of the aforementioned RTW Fast) did a whole series on sewing the perfect shirt, so it seems fitting to start my year in this way. Although I'm not going for perfect I know this fit can be improved, so I'm definitely interested in any or all suggestions y'all have for fitting this pattern! Let me know in the comments :)

xoxo,
allie

ps: i also made a little rae skirt (bc ofc i did) with the left over bits for a faux shirtdress... it's a bit chilly for that now but you'll see it in the spring for sure!



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New Year's Two-Piece Dress (Vogue 9291)

Thank you to McCall Pattern Company for sponsoring this post. Photography by Alex Craig.

Happy New Year! On this first day of 2018, I'll share one of my last projects of 2017--and one of my favorites! This year I wanted to do a modern homage to 50s designer Ceil Chapman, and took inspiration from the gorgeous portrait necklines and figure-flattering draping... but in the form of a two piece dress, a skirt and a crop top made with Vogue 9291! I've worn this to a few outings already and had so much fun wearing it; it's easy to wear and makes me feel super super glam!

The skirt I used is a simple dirndl skirt, the type you make with a few rectangles gathered together. I had pulled out a few more skirt patterns as possibilities but they were all based on circle skirts and required more yardage than I had. My favorite part of these skirts is that they are very efficient to make as far as fabric usage--I won't call it economical since one as full as this requires yards and yards but they use every single square inch.  This type of skirt is a classic 50s style and looks great with a petticoat like the one I'm wearing here! Ps: The poofier the skirt, the smaller your waist looks in comparison! ;)

The top here is the star of the show! It's made using Vogue 9291, which is actually on of Vogue's "accessories" pattern and includes three other scarf/wrap patterns. I believe this wrap is meant to be worn over a strapless dress to provide a little more coverage, and it would be gorgeous serving this purpose--I imagine it with a coordinating floor length gown (hello M7281)but it would be amazing with a wiggle dress too! Y'all know that I'm sort of obsessed with crop tops, though (also have you ever seen anything strapless on this blog? no.) so I had to go with the top and a separate skirt! When I'm standing still, it mostly looks like one piece, but when I move, the top and skirt move independently and you can see little glimpses of skin--nothing too wild though!

Although this is a designer Vogue pattern, I found it simple to make, especially given how complex it looks sewn up. The pattern calls for satin and "contrast" poly organza (for seam bindings--I went with my serger instead ;), but it looks great in this shirting for a crisper look or even novelty quilting cotton for a rockabilly look (calling all Viva Las Vegas attendees--imagine this in a great print with a high-waisted wiggle skirt). I made a straight size small with no adjustments.

Before embarking on this version, I made a "wearable muslin" of this skirt/top combo in yellow seersucker (with a more casual skirt) and immediately fell in love. Changing up the skirt style and fabric take this from a glamorous Old Hollywood frock to the perfect retro beach look, but you'll have to wait for that version: I'm going on a cruise in March and I think I'll wait to photograph it in warm weather--and with a tropical background! I also want to hack this into a proper dress, and I'm scheming how to do that--I think if I sew the pleated wraps into the opposing side seams I can add a skirt and insert a side invisible zipper...

One last plug for this new favorite pattern--if you serge your seams instead of making organza binding, this is a quick sew! Wondering what you should wear for a Valentine's Day night out? Not any more you aren't--plus, if you're catching this on January 1st, there's a $5.99 sale on the Vogue website...

xoxo,
allie

ps: this looks SO CUTE with a swimsuit too as a little cover up! and now i'm pondering how to make it into a bikini top for glamorously lounging by the pool...



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Ready to Wear Fast 2018!

Today I want to announce that I will be taking part in the 2018 Goodbye Valentino Ready-to-Wear Fast! This means no purchasing clothing from January 1st to December 31st, 2018. Last time she ran this event was 2014 and I didn't feel confident enough in my sewing back then to commit... but this year, having made jeans, coats, bathing suits, underwear, and even a wedding dress, I am really excited to say I've signed up! Here are the rules, from Sarah's blog:

What exactly is the Ready To Wear Fast?

The Ready to Wear Fast is a vow to abstain from buying clothes for one year. You will give up buying clothes from January 1 – December 31, 2018.  You may sew anything, and you may fabric shop as much as you would like!  The purpose is to Save Money and Improve Your Sewing Skills, but believe me, the rewards of the commitment will exceed your expectations.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.
1.May I buy sweaters since I don’t knit?
No, you may not buy sweaters.

2. What about bathing suits?
No, you may not buy a bathing suit.

3. I’m attending a ball this year. May I buy a ball gown?
No you may not buy a ball gown.

4. Do I have to make my wedding dress?
Please buy the wedding dress of your dreams. A wedding dress or bridesmaid’s dress is the only exception.

5. What about scarves?
No

6. What can we buy during 2018?
You many buy underwear, socks, jewelry, handbags and belts.

7. Can we buy shoes on a Ready to Wear Fast?
Y E S !!  Shoes are allowed – Enjoy 😉

8. Can I wear the Ready to Wear clothes I bought before the Fast?
Yes, absolutely.

9. May we accept gifts of clothing?
Of course.

10. Can we buy thrift shop clothes to refashion?
No. I encourage you to refashion clothes from your closet.

As you can see, the rules are pretty strict--if you want to supplement your sewing with thrifting, vintage shopping, etc, this is not the pledge for you, although, of course, you're welcome to create your own version of the fast to keep yourself accountable! I'm going a littttle bit stricter, and I'm going to include underwear in my vintage pledge--I need a kick in the pants (get it?) to start sewing my stash of lingerie patterns and fabric. I also want to try and sew from my stash a decent amount. I don't feel like I need to eliminate my stash entirely, but I really should look through my stash and the stuff I don't think I'll use, put it in the "muslin" pile, or toss/donate.

Here's a little list of what I hope to accomplish by the end of the year:
1. push myself to tackle intimidating things, like bras and underwear
2. make the things I don't like making, like tees, or go without
3. cut down on spending on both clothing and (more importantly) fabric
4. assess wardrobe and stash and clean out both
5. feel fully confident sewing knits and using both my serger and machine on knit fabric
6. create a full me-made "resort" capsule for my cruise

That last one is the most fun I think! I'm still working on my Winter Capsule but I also plan on putting together a mini capsule for a week-long cruise using mostly items I've already made and a few simple things. That will also include swimsuits! I want to make at least one or two in the next few months, since the cruise is at the beginning of March--but don't expect modeled photos when I'm sewing swimsuits in January!

If you want to participate, please note that you must sign up with Sarah by the end of the month! Go to the announcement page to get all the details. Will you be participating? If so, good luck! If not, what's holding you back?

xoxo,
allie

ps: i am preparing for this challenge by buying a black sweater! 



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#menswearmakenine 2018

From left to right, top row to bottom row:
Elastic Waist Shorts - Thread Theory Jedediah (seen previously here and here)
Hoodie - Clothes for All Seasons
Pajama Set- Vogue 8964

Chinos - Clothes for All Seasons
Button Down shirt - Liesl & Co. All Day Shirt
Trench Coat - Japanese coat book

Pea Coat - Thread Theory (or Japanese coat book)
Tee shirt - Clothes for All Seasons
Boxers - Clothes for All Seasons

Is the first 2018 resolution post you've seen? I mentioned in my post about Japanese menswear sewing books that I want to sew more menswear, and although I've never participated in #makenine before (since I usually change my mind about things a hundred times and also, make way more than nine things in a year) I've decided that nine is the perfect goal amount of men's clothing for a year, especially since I've made Alex mayyybe 9 things total in all the years I've been sewing. Time to double my record!

Do you sew menswear? If you do--or if you haven't, but want to start!!--I'd love it if you'd join me and use the hashtag #menswearmakenine to follow along as we do some selfless sewing. See you on the 'gram!

xoxo,
allie

ps: expect to see more of Alex on the blog! i guess i'd better brush up on my photography...



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Where do you find Patterns for Men?


I've been sewing for a while now, and recently I've noticed that I've been keeping the clothes I made around longer since they're of a higher quality and I've gotten a better understanding of my personal style. There are definitely staples I'm missing (and I hope to fill some wardrobe holes through my classic capsule wardrobe) but in 2018 I'm less interested in "maintenance sewing" for myself and more interested in branching out to things like lingerie and the topic of today's blog post... sewing for men!

It's insanely annoying to find decent men's patterns, so this is meant to be a round up of all the men's pattern companies/patterns I can find, but also a call for y'all's suggestions; if you know of a great men's pattern company I haven't included here, let me know, I'd love to add it!! In the meantime, this is what I've found so far...

Thread Theory - Probably the most well-known indie pattern brand for menswear! Sweaters, tees, underwear, even coats. In addition to their in-house line, their pattern shop also carries some of the other brands mentioned here (Colette, Merchant and Mills, and others) so check here first and save on shipping!
Patterns I've made: The Jedediah pants, which I've made into elastic waist shorts seen here and here. Really lovely wearable pants with clear instructions.

5 Out Of 4 Patterns
 - A rare boxer shorts pattern, among a few other men's patterns.
Patterns I've made: none.

Colette - I had high hopes that Colette's Walden line of men's patterns would take off, but it looks like it has died off instead, with just three patterns: a camp-collar shirt, a duffle coat, and a convertible bag. Their newer offshoot Seamwork does have a few men's patterns as well.
Patterns I've made: The Paxton raglan, which ran super small and fits me rather than Alex, possibly user error.


Burda - As a general rule, it's safe to assume that anything an indie patternmaker puts out has been done by Burda, better, cheaper, and 5 years ago... if you're willing to wade through their website, trace and add seam allowances, and go it alone or wade through minimal/terrible instructions. The same seems to hold true for their men's selection, which is the most varied of this list.
Patterns I've made: none.

Sew Sew Def - Mimi G's magazine has been including a men's pattern in each issue of this magazine and they really vary from a pretty standard tee to skinny jeans with lots of seaming and welt pockets. Not really sure what's going on with Sew Sew Def since it's marketed as monthly a year but there have only been 5 issues in the past 8 months and no sign of a November issue...? If you're into trendier looks, get it while you can!
Patterns I've made: none.

Tailor Taylor - Primarily a menswear sewing blog (sadly not updated for about a year), but Tailor does have a backpack pattern and kit.
Patterns I've made: none.


Jalie - the go-to online shop for activewear/dance/swim has men's patterns as well! Alongside your usual unisex tee shirts and sweatshirts, Jalie has really specific and unusual patterns for men, like singlets, bodyshirts (for dance, I think?), "gymnastic pants"(??), footy pajamas... even a men's thong. You do you, Jalie, you do you.
Patterns I've made: none.

Big 4 - Consisting of McCalls/Butterick/Vogue and Simplicity, the "Big 4" pattern companies provide a consistency often lacking in indie patterns: you basically know what you will get for better or worse. (On a side note, I LOVE this, which is why I make so many big 4 patterns, more than most bloggers I think.) Although they generally only publish one or two new men's patterns a season, they all typically have 4+ pattern releases a year, putting them about on par with a larger indie company as far as men's patterns go. Bonus: a lot of these patterns are technically unisex and have a men's and women's pattern in one envelope so you get a pattern for yourself too!
Patterns I've made: Simplicity 8528.

Hot Patterns - Although none of these are particularly fashion-forward, Hot Patterns has hard-to-find patterns like jeans and coats for men with nice styling. I especially like the H. P. Hemingway Windcheater and the button-fly jeans, though fairly wide-legged, would be perfect for more vintage-inclined men. Raw denim anyone?
Patterns I've made: none.


Wardrobe by Me - A decent selection of men's knitwear--tees, cardigans, sweatpants, etc.
Patterns I've made: Rebel Raglan, made for Alex.

Peekaboo Patterns - A great selection of menswear basics, if a little too basic: pajama pants, tees, robes, etc.
Patterns I've made: none.

Ottobre
 - this beloved Finnish pattern magazine (think Burda) has "Family" issues in addition to the more frequent "Kids" and "Women" publications--these issues have clothes for men and women alike, but have more of an emphasis on men's clothes since they produce women's patterns year round! You can buy a single issue for about 10 euros, and they ship to the US. Not bad considering the most recent family issue included 11 menswear patterns!
Patterns I've made: none.


Merchant and Mills - Alongside women's patterns, M&M offers a tee shirt, a camp collar shirt, and a field-type jacket as well as a tote and rucksack in their signature "heritage" style.
Patterns I've made: none.

Vintage - There are decades of sewing patterns available for men on etsy if you are able to look through the sometimes cringey pattern illustrations! Obviously a 70s bellbottom stretch poly jumpsuit is always going to look like a men's bellbottom jumpsuit, but a collared shirt can only change so much. On the other hand, where else are you going to find a bellbottom jumpsuit pattern or a men's kaftan?
Patterns I've made: none. 

Patterns for Pirates - This popular PDF pattern company has four men's patterns: a henley, a tank, sport shorts, and joggers.
Patterns I've made: none.


Free Sewing (formerly Made to Measure) - To be quite honest, I'm a bit perplexed at this one as it really seems... too good to be true? Joost de Cock has been hard at work building this site, featuring fully customizable patterns that are all free. You enter in your body measurements (just like Bootstrap/Leko) as well as style preferences (i.e. collar type, placket type, yoke dart, hip flare, omg so many options) and print out a custom pattern... free. You try it and tell me how it goes, okay?
Patterns I've made: none.

Japanese sewing books - I first learned of these types of books through Mainely Dad who made several gorgeous coats out of one. I've just ordered two of these pattern books for men (one on everyday clothes and the coats one as seen on Mainely Dad) and you can read my pre-sewing review here. I will note that the menswear books seem to be more classic styles than the women's fashions are; a lot of the women's patterns are sort of oversized and drapey or look like little kids' clothes in grown up sizes, but the men's patterns are your standard button downs and sweatshirts. (Although a drapey, Yohji Yamomoto style pattern book for men would be amaaaazing right?)
Patterns I've made: none... yet!

Did you notice how many of these pattern companies had "none" after "patterns I've made"? I hope 2018 will be the year I rectify that... but in the meantime, have you made anything by these companies? Which patternmakers am I missing?

xoxo,
allie

ps: a few menswear bloggers it's worth mentioning: Male Pattern Boldness, Mainely Dad, Tailor Taylor (archived?), Mensew.



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Japanese Pattern Books for Men

I recently purchased two Japanese sewing books off etsy and thought I'd do a little (pre-sewing) book review today. Unlike many of the Japanese sewing books that get a lot of press (Drape Drape for example, or Pattern Magic) these two are for men! It's so hard to find decent men's patterns (Thread Theory being the standout) and the ability to purchase a book for $30 and have a whole men's pattern wardrobe was just too tempting to resist. I've been watching a lot of Korean dramas and all the male characters are so well dressed--it's really inspiring me to do some selfless sewing for my leading man! (Although he's much too nice to star in a kdrama :)

The first book is Men's Coats by Ryuichiro Shimazaki (keep in mind that these translations tend to vary from site to site). You may be familiar with it from the "Mainely Dad" Japanese Pattern Challenge blog where Duane tried to make all of the coats in the book. If you are into menswear sewing and don't know about this blog, go get lost in it for a few hours! He is very talented and has a wonderful eye for creative details. The projects in the book are all coats, but there's a huge array of styles, mostly classics: trench coat, pea coat, etc. I originally found it because the selection of men's trench coat patterns is absolutely abysmal, especially considering what a classic style it is, and remembered that Duane had made a wonderful, professional-looking trench--and just look at that trench sample! Gorgeous right? While I was nervous about purchasing a coat book entirely in Japanese, a language I definitely do not speak even a tiny amount of, the coats in the book and on the blog look so, so good, in the end I couldn't resist. The only overlap here with my existing pattern stash is the pea coat, since I recently purchased the Thread Theory pea coat pattern during a sale. Honestly I would have paid $30 for an OOP or vintage Vogue men's trench pattern alone, though (and, for example, the retail price of this Vogue pea coat pattern is $30, although we all know to shop the sales and get them for $5).


The second book I am very excited about. The title is Men's Clothes for All Seasons and it really seems like a very comprehensive men's clothing pattern book, with a little bit of everything. It really does contain everything you would need for casual clothing year round: five button down shirts, four tees, pants, a few layering pieces (hoodie, sweatshirt, field-type jacket) and even pajamas and boxers. I do have a few men's button down shirts patterns already (the Thread Theory Fairfield, the Liesl & Co Everyday Shirt, and a McCall's and a Vogue both of which I have forgot the number, oh, and the Colette Negroni--now I'm really ashamed that I've only ever made Alex two shirts! They do say that buying patterns and sewing clothes are two separate hobbies...) and I also have the Thread Theory Jedediah, so there is some overlap, but this book (plus shipping) was $30 so even if I only make half of the patterns I still consider it a good deal. Finally, all of the patterns should be built off of the same block, so if I decide to do any fit adjustments, I think it will be pretty easy to apply it to a whole wardrobe of items--actually, there aren't 15 full patterns, there are mix and match pieces. That said, I'm pretty much in the dark when it comes to men's fitting, so I don't think I'll be doing too much of that!

Between the two books, I feel like I could easily never have to buy another men's pattern again--actually, I think I could make an entire men's wardrobe if I added one book on formalwear and one knit underwear pattern!

One drawback is that the sizes are small, smaller than american sizes at least. Alex is pretty slim (he wears a small or medium in shirts and a 32 or 34 pant) and I think he'll be a large in most of these patterns; 37" chest, 33" waist, and 38" hip is a size L in the Clothes for All Seasons book. It does go up to 3L (XXL) but the max waist size is only a 36. Something to think about if your man is American-sized :) I have also heard that they run short--Alex is slightly taller than the average American man at 5'11" and the average Japanese man is 5'7" according to Wikipedia--so I'll be doing a lot of measuring and lengthening I think.

Have you sewn from a pattern book before, Japanese or otherwise? I'm embarrassed to say that although I own several pattern books, I've actually never made anything from any of them!

xoxo,
allie

ps: keep an eye out for another post this week with all my meanswear sewing plans for 2018!



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