Sewing Patterns for Men’s Clothes

Posted April 12, 2015 by sewingplums
Categories: fit + patterns

When you’ve learned the basics of how to sew, where can you go ?
Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee 2015, I’ve been looking for men’s patterns.
You might think there’s nothing for men learning to sew for themselves, between making a cushion cover and tailoring a suit, but in fact there are many options.

Sections here on pattern sources for :
Casual wear
Costumes
Activewear and Outdoor gear
Shirts
Suits, vests, coats.
These are all paper patterns unless noted.

Plus a final section on making your own patterns.

– – –

Casual wear

Burda
Burda Style download patterns
Butterick
Colette Patterns
Hot Patterns
Kwik Sew
Lekala download
McCall’s
New Look
Silhouette Patterns
Simplicity
Schnittquelle (German)
Stof & Stil (Danish)
Thread Theory (hover cursor over image to see photo)

Many of the download patterns at Burda Style previously appeared in Burda Style pattern magazine.
Occasionally there are stylish patterns for men in Italian pattern magazine La Mia Boutique

– – –

Costumes

Most of these sites aren’t pre-sorted for men/ women.

Burda Style download patterns
Butterick
Folkwear
Simplicity

There are several specialist pattern companies for historic styles.
Choose the era you are interested in at
The Great Pattern Review
That doesn’t link you direct to the pattern.
Here’s their list of links to sources.

That site also has a ‘futuristic-fantasy’ section.
For cosplay costumes for specific characters, you can usually find ideas on specialist sites for the character.

– – –

Active wear

Burda Style download patterns
Controlled Exposure
Green Pepper
Jalie
Round Earth Publishing – martial arts
Shelby Kaava
Storm Mountain Designs

Outdoor gear

Pennine Outdoor (mainly tents and sleeping bags, the item descriptions say what the leaflet is for)
Quest Outfitters (tents)
Rainshed (mainly special purpose bags)
Many free patterns for bike bags available on-line.

– – –

Shirts

Burda
Burda Style download
Islander Sewing Systems
Kwik Sew
Vogue
(and check the Casual wear sites)

Suits, Vests, Coats

Burda
Burda Style download patterns
Vogue

– – –

Make your own clothes patterns

Ready-made full size basic pattern blocks for men (average body shape) from Shoben Media :
shirt, pants, vest, jacket, coat.
casual top (includes instructions for making raglan styles from basic block)

Custom fit patterns

Don’t expect a perfect fit from these tools unless you’re lucky. They only cover about a quarter of all fitting issues. But they may give you a better fit than patterns for ‘average’ body shape.

‘Connect the dots’ tracing from a master pattern, by Sure-Fit Designs :
Shirts and casual jackets.
Pants for men booklet used with pants pattern.

Pattern making software
Wild Ginger PatternMaster Tailor Made

Formal Pattern Drafting books
Patternmaking for Menswear : classic to contemporary by Kim & Kim
Metric pattern cutting for menswear by Winifred Aldrich

– – –

Many other options :

Free patterns – with very variable quality of pattern drafting and instructions.
Craftsy is one source.

Vintage patterns
There are many vintage pattern sites. Good places to start are :
ebay
Etsy

The Japanese produce marvellous pattern books, with full size traceable pattern sheets. So long as you don’t mind they’re in Japanese ! with many good line drawings of construction. A fun challenge, but not for beginners. Sizes are small. Body sizes are given with the book information, in cm. Multi-size patterns, so they may be quite easy to grade up.
These are the books for men’s clothes at my favourite source, which shows many sample pages.
Simply Pretty

– – –

It’s worth checking a pattern at Pattern Review, to see if anyone has helpful advice. (I find it quickest to search by pattern number.)
Pattern Review

Man’s clothing may not show the almost infinite variations in style elements that there are in women’s clothes. The differences are more in subtle details.
You do have to search thoroughly if you want something stylish, but there is a lifetime of possibilities to explore !

– – –

Links available April 2015

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Patterns can’t fit everyone

Posted January 30, 2015 by sewingplums
Categories: fit of clothes

Many people complain that patterns don’t fit. But devising patterns that fit everyone is an impossible task.
We have problems with fit, not because pattern designers are doing something wrong, but because we each have a different body shape.

– – –

Our different shapes

There are some data from North Carolina State University, which I analysed in a couple of posts starting here.

They found :
About 1 in 8 of us has waist larger than hips. About half of us have no clearly defined waist, the rest have indented waist.
About quarter of us are larger above the waist than below.
About quarter of us are larger below the waist than above.

How can anyone possibly design a pattern which fits all these people – except some sort of sack, with belt supplied for people who want to show their waist.

And they didn’t even look at fit issues like short-long waist, square-sloping shoulders, high round back.
Or any of the other 80+ fit issues mentioned by Liechty and Co. in Fitting and Pattern Alteration.
Here’s a list of common fit challenges.

My most obscure body shape element is that I have unusual armholes. Liechty and Co. is the only book I’ve found which tells me what to do about that. We all have different preferred methods of fitting. I like ‘reading the wrinkles’. Sarah Veblen’s good book on this method, Complete photo guide to perfect fitting, has a section on fitting individual armholes. But she doesn’t mention the major pattern change I need to get a comfortable fitted armhole.

– – –

“Yay, this pattern fits me !”

It always annoys me when people enthuse that a pattern fits them out of the envelope, without saying anything about their body shape.
Suppose I recommend a pattern because it fits me marvellously. Should you rush to try that pattern ? Well, I have hips two sizes bigger than top, small bust, short waist, high hip shelf. If you have square shoulders, a generous bust, and slim straight hips, that pattern would cause you a lot of fitting work.

I’m planning a post on patterns that do give some help with ift.

– – –

‘Average’ is best

Many RTW clothing companies use a ‘fit model’. They choose someone close to their idea of ‘average’, and make their clothes to fit that person. Yes, there are people who make their living by having clothes fitted to them. There aren’t all that many people who are close enough to ‘average’ US size 8/ UK size 12 to be eligible !

RTW companies use ‘average’ fit, because over the whole population, fewer people will be far from these measurements.

In the same way, the best that pattern designers can do for fit is to design for ‘average’.
(Unless they’re willing to target only a small part of the market, see separate post.)
An ‘average’ shape pattern, statistically, though not for the individual, over all the people who use the pattern, will need the least fit adjustments.

– – –

Bad patterns ?

Of course there are bad patterns. In these days when cheerfully inexperienced people can sell terrible download patterns, we’re all aware that patterns need to be of professional quality. So they do have ‘average’ proportions, no mistakes, and all the pieces fit together properly in all sizes. And they have clear markings and instructions.

But patterns aren’t bad just because they don’t fit a specific person !

– – –

Learn to fit

I think pattern companies make a mistake by not making this fitting limitation clear. Then people are disappointed with their product, and don’t understand that disappointment is unavoidable.

Beginner sewers can be upset that their hand-sewn garments don’t fit them by magic, even though RTW doesn’t.
Few instructions for beginners mention that there’s a lot of learning to do with gaining fitting skills as well as sewing skills.

Yes, if you make your own clothes you can have beautifully fitting clothes. But only if you do the fitting work.

Well fitting clothes make you look as if you have a perfect body.
I once saw an exhibit about ‘couture’ which included dress forms for some people who were famous for being elegant. Oh dear, some of them were a mighty odd shape underneath.

So it is worth doing the fitting work !

There are several methods of improving fit. Such as taking measurements and altering the pattern. Or making a muslin and ‘reading the wrinkles’. Tissue fitting is often mentioned but is almost impossible to do without help. You may need to try several methods before you find the fitting method that works best for you. There are several Sewingplums posts about body shape and improving fit.

Those of us who are further from average have to do more fitting work. It’s just something we have to accept as part of being us.

I plan another post on patterns that do help with fitting, as that topic expanded rather.

Good Luck to everyone who is far enough away from average that they have to do fitting work on all patterns. It’s inevitable for many of us !

= = = = =

The Vivienne Files wardrobe plan : ’Starting from Scratch’

Posted July 17, 2014 by sewingplums
Categories: wardrobe planning

Janice of The Vivienne Files has been running a wardrobe building series which is simple, clear and step-by-step.

I brought the links together for my own use, and am posting them here in case anyone finds it helpful.
There has been an active discussion at Stitchers’ Guild.

The main sections here :
– list of links to the Scratch wardrobe plan.
– other wardrobe building plans from Janice.
– grouping the steps into capsules.
– some suggestions on personalising the plan.
– a few tips on co-ordinates,
– some designers and styles.

So many situations where building a wardrobe can be an inspiring idea :
– choosing a travel capsule,
– revising your wardrobe when you have a change in job/ lifestyle/ size/ climate or want to explore a different personal style,
– ‘shopping your wardrobe’ to check if you have any big wardrobe gaps.
– when you feel you have “nothing to wear”, your closet is full of clothes that don’t go together.
– when you feel your clothes are just tired out, or you’re tired of them.

– –

Build up a wardrobe

It’s good to take at least a day on each step, as Janice did with her posts. Every time you add a step, explore the outfits you can make by combining these with your previously chosen items.
I think this is especially important early on, when you’re establishing your own best colours, styles and clothing needs.
Choose colours that flatter you and that you love, not just colours that go together.
Pick styles which make you feel and look your best.
Don’t try to mimic Janice’s choices exactly unless this is what makes you happy.
Think about what clothes you need for your climate and how you spend your time.
(A little more about these decisions in later sections.)

Step 0. choose 5 colours – 2 neutrals, ‘white’/ best light neutral, 2 accents
click here

Janice has a colour planner available for purchase, showing a huge range of possible combinations, see here.

Step 1. pants – main neutral
click here

Step 2. shoes – same neutral
click here

Step 3. cardigan; tee – same neutral
click here

Step 4. jeans – same neutral; shirt – ‘white’
click here

Step 5. accessories I – bag, watch, bracelet, earrings, scarf – same neutral
click here
(other suggestions – belt, necklace, hat, vest)

Step 6. 2 tops – 1 in each accent colour; mixed colour scarf
click here

Step 7. layer; pants; shoes – 2nd neutral
click here

Pause for review
click here

Clarifying preferences
click here

Step 8. 2 tops – any of colours, may be print; necklace – accent
click here

Step 9. dressy [winter] outfit : skirt; top; shoes – all in main neutral
click here

Step 10. casuals : jacket – neutral; top – mixed colour print; casual shoes – neutral or accent
click here

Step 11. personal style outfit : layer; top; bottom, to fill in your needs – both neutrals
click here

Step 12. winter outerwear : coat; boots; scarf – mainly neutrals but your choice
click here

Step 13. accessories 2 : bag, watch, earrings, necklace, brooch/ pin – mainly neutrals
click here

Step 14. leisure wear : 2 tops – any of the 5 colours or prints; 2 bottoms – mainly neutral
click here

Step 15. dressy summer outfit : dress – neutral; layer – may be accent; sandals – neutral or ‘flesh’
click here

Step 16. evaluating and balancing neutrals (complete core groups of both neutrals)
click here
Sort your wardrobe by colour, plus ‘bridging’ garments which combine colours. Too many or too few of one of your colours ?

Step 17. finishing touches
click here
Many examples of things you might feel are missing.

Step 18. simple neutral tops as background for accessories
click here

Final summary, no new items
click here

Worksheets available
click here

Supplement : Summer wardrobe, all the steps in one post
click here

– – –

Alternates

Janice has previously posted several wardrobe building schemes with different perspectives.
Some of them add some other considerations, which can be confusing. On the other hand, if they‘re more like your style, they may make things simpler !
Just pick one to start from, as a way of building up a basic group of clothes. You can branch out from it later.

Alternate 1 : a 15-piece wardrobe for Agnes
– 5 layers, 5 tops, 5 bottoms.
click here
Buy all 15 items from the same department at the beginning of the season, and no need to think about clothes again. . .

Alternate 2 : Four by Four casual wardrobe
– four groups of four
click here
Janice has many versions of this – click on Four by Four in the labels section of her menu.

I wrote a couple of posts about this at the time :
Wardrobe of relaxed basics
Variations of the relaxed wardrobe

Alternate 3 : the common wardrobe
– 12 neutral casuals
click here
This is rather different from the Scratch wardrobe. Here a small group of neutral casuals is used as the background for interesting accent colour accessories.
In the Scratch wardrobe most of the accessories are neutral in colour.

Again I wrote some posts about this at the time :
Common wardrobe
Accessory styles
Where do you like your outfit variety ?
I gave up on listing all the colours Janice explored, but you can find them if you click on ‘A Common Wardrobe’ in the Labels in her menu. An amazing example of Janice’s wardrobe gifts in action !

Alternate 4 : building a working wardrobe after college
click here
Another simple group of classics built up a few items at a time.

Alternate 5 : a two-suit wardrobe
– 24 items
click here
More basics using 2 key colours.

For someone else’s recent suggestions on wardrobe planning, there’s the Wardrobe Architect series from Colette Patterns.

– – –

Sewing this wardrobe a capsule at a time

Elizabeth (ejvc) has grouped the Scratch Wardrobe items into 6PACs for ease of sewing. Each 6PAC has its own reduced colour focus.
In a ideal world you sew a 6PAC each season. 6PACs are groups of items which make a capsule, so you have plenty of wearable outfits even if you only make these 6 items. There are active discussions each season at Stitchers’ Guild.
Elizabeth calls the main colours ‘base’ colours rather than neutrals, as some people aren’t happy in neutrals. She counts a colour as a base/neutral if you’d enjoy wearing a pair of pants in it. So if you love shocking pink pants, shocking pink is a ‘neutral’ for you :D
click here for ejvc’s post

Some people are happy to follow Janice’s Steps. Others feel they have a clearer overview of the process if they group the Steps in Capsules and then the Capsules into a Wardrobe.
I’m a ‘one step at a time’ person, so long as I know there is a flexible overall plan which works out in the end. But some people instantly relax when they see Elizabeth’s scheme.
So do whichever works best for you.

– – –

Personalising the plan

Love dresses and skirts ? lace and frills ? studs and skulls ? Need many layers for warmth ? Have greyed warm colouring ? Many reasons why the items Janice picks may not be ideal for you, so try not to get stuck on specifics. If you’re not a city-dwelling working classic with clear cool colouring, it may take a bit of thought and experimenting to adapt this wardrobe to your own needs, but the basic ideas are very simple to deal with.

My e-book has some suggestions on identifying your own wardrobe needs.
click here

And there’s this post with some questions to get you thinking about your personal style.
click here

It’s also important to dress for your colouring.
Which describes you ?
light – dark
cool (blue based) – warm (yellow based),
clear – muted
low contrast – high contrast

The approach to colouring which works best for me is ‘signature colours’ – colours from your hair, skin, eyes, blush, veins.
I enjoy Imogen Lamport’s posts on this ’signature colours’ approach.
click here (search for signature colour)
But some people don’t look good in their personal colouring, and prefer the ‘seasonal’ approach. So try both.

For choosing clothes which enhance the details of your body shape, there’s the excellent and fascinating workbook ‘Flatter your Figure’ by Jan Larkey.
click here.

– – –

Co-ordinates

And then there’s the art and skill of choosing clothes that co-ordinate.
Several of my posts with suggestions on co-ordination linked to from this page.

Basically – you’ve simplified co-ordination by using only a few colours and a few prints.
Also just use a few silhouettes and a few style elements.
It’s easiest to have collars on tops and not on jackets, or collars on jackets and not on tops.
Make sure your layers are big enough, especially at the armholes and sleeves. Many fitted jacket patterns have sleeves that only work over a sleeveless top or camisole. Raglan and dolman sleeves fit over most other sleeve styles, but not vice versa.

– – –

Designers and styles

One way of making it more likely your clothes co-ordinate is to use patterns from only one designer.
Of course I can’t resist having fun with patterns and styles, so here are some of the possibilities.
(Instructions hugely varied in quality.)

simple classics with advice on easy pattern alterations :
Angela Wolf : patterns plus Threads videos on how to alter them : One Pattern Many Ways One, and Two.
Nancy Ericson : patterns with newsletters, booklets about variations.
Silhouette Patterns : patterns for several cup sizes, with DVD on pattern making,
Sure-Fit Designs : basic fitted slopers with booklets and videos about style alterations.
See also my posts on wardrobe pattern books linked to from this page.

modern classics :
Burda Style,
StyleArc

chic couture :
Claire Shaeffer
Marfy
Ralph Rucci

dramatic, high fashion :
Bootstrap Fashion
Lekala

softer :
Hot Patterns,
Loes Hinse

dresses/ ‘vintage’ :
Colette
Eliza M

loose and frilly :
Folkwear
Tina Givens

knits and active :
Christine Jonson
Jalie

crafter/ artisan :
Indygo Junction
Merchant & Mills

arty :
Cutting Line (under shop tab),
Marcy Tilton
Sewing Workshop

– – –

After all the thinking involved in writing Sewingplums, I have a fairly clear idea of my wardrobe needs and my personal style, my colouring and body shape, but I still learn something new from most wardrobe plans. I much enjoyed exploring this one. And am looking forward to using it as a guide for what to sew.

= = =

A Change in Direction

Posted November 16, 2013 by sewingplums
Categories: sundry messages

I’ve noticed many blogs have a natural life span.
I’ve recently begun wondering if I was repeating myself.
What I wasn’t at all expecting is that I’ve quite suddenly stopped having a head full of ideas about what to say here.

Not that I’ve stopped having ideas but they’re about other things !

So I’ve decided to stop posting here. A good time to stop, with the holiday period coming up.
I may post occasionally when I feel strongly about something. But at the moment anyway, posts won’t appear regularly.

I’m hoping to do more sewing – but for some reason I feel no inclination to blog about it. And happily many people write such good blogs on that.

A four-year commitment, that’s pretty amazing !

Many thanks to you all for your interest.
I’ve found it very rewarding to see how many of you wanted to visit here and see what I had to say.
I’m planning to leave it all available in the hope it continues to be useful for reference.
My most visited posts are ones written several years ago anyway !

Best Wishes to you all, and Many Thanks for your encouragement.

Enjoy sewing lovely life-enhancing clothes.

:D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

= = =


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