Archive for the ‘fit + patterns’ category

Sewing Patterns for Men’s Clothes

April 12, 2015

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.

If you’re looking for a “learn to sew” project book for men, the Merchant & Mills Sewing Book has a sequence of bags, home dec, simple clothes which are all suitable for both men and women.

When you’ve learned the basics of how to sew, where can you go ?
Sections here with links to 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, bivy bags, backpacks)
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

– – –

Other options :

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

Free patterns – with very variable quality of pattern drafting and instructions.
Sadly there’s no obvious good source focussed on men’s patterns.

– – –

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

January 30, 2015

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 !

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Ease levels

October 12, 2013

After those voluminous architectural jackets, perhaps this is a good time to talk about ease levels !
Ease is the difference between the body measurement and the finished garment measurement at the point of interest. (Finished measures sometimes on the pattern envelope, usually on the tissue.)

For example, if your bust measures 36 in, and the finished garment measure at bust level is 38 in. then the bust level ease is :
38 – 36 = 2 in.

In practice the amount of ease is a surprisingly complex matter, as it depends on ease of movement, stretchiness of fabric, personal preferences, layering, and design.

I’m always wanting to check ease levels, and never seem to find my version of the BMV patterns ease level chart, which I always need to adapt anyway, so here are some comments.

The original BMV ease table is here .

Some of us are not a RTW shape and have to buy garments which are huge in most places, just to be able to move without tearing the buttons off in our largest area. . .
Hopefully when we can make our own clothes, we can learn enough about fitting and pattern alteration to get round that problem.

– – –

Types of ease

Ease is not a simple matter of a few easy rules, as there are different types of ease for different purposes, as well as personal preferences to take into account.

There are 4 sorts of ease :

Negative ease

Garments made out of very stretchy fabrics, such as lycra leotards, may actually be made smaller than the body.
In these modern days of many stretch fabrics with different properties, pattern making books provide several different basic pattern blocks for fabrics with different amounts of stretch.

Movement ease

The minimum ease needed to be able to move.
For example, if you wore a skin tight garment in a non-stretch fabric, you wouldn’t be able to breathe.

The amount of movement ease needed depends on the amount of stretch in the fabric.
And people differ in their preferences.
Some people want to look sleek, and are happy to go without being able to move easily, to get the effect they want.
As in wearing a party dress which is too tight to sit down in. . .

In a close fitting jacket, with less than 2 inches of ease, you may not be able lift your arms easily above about 45 degrees.
So people who like freedom of movement often prefer 4 inches or more of ease in a jacket.
Most casual garments are made with more than minimum ease.

One of the problems with getting a good pants pattern is that they have both to look good while standing and feel comfortable when bending over or sitting.

There’s all sorts of specialist information available for particular sports, about the different areas of a garment where special ease is needed.

Layering ease

Here’s a diagram of the different levels of ease, adapted from the BMV table.

”ease-scale-sharpen”

This is an ease scale for non-stretch wovens.

CF . . . close fitting
F . . . . fitted
SF . . . semi-fitted
LF . . . loose fitted
VLF . . very loose fitting

Each level of ease assumes you want the garment to fit over the next one down : coat over jacket over blouse.
Though these days things are not quite so simple.

Jackets

The BMV ease table says jackets are not made close fitting.
But I know at least one pattern making book where the jackets are made from the same block as the dress.
Which means there’s not room for more than a camisole under, and minimum movement ease.
Say 2 in./ 5 cm. Perhaps less if the jacket is the focus of your outfit and always worn closed.

A jacket needs to be at least 1 inch larger than what it’s layered over, if it’s going to be worn as a layer over a blouse or shirt.
A lined jacket is often made 1 in. larger than an unlined one, for the same reason.
Then add at least 1 inch more, for each additional layer.

For layering a lined jacket over a sleeved shirt/ blouse, many people prefer at least 4 in / 10 cm. Especially in winter for more layering.

And also beware ease of sleeves. Fitted jacket pattern sleeves need to be checked. Many of them assume you’ll be wearing it over only a camisole or tank. So armhole and sleeve are not large enough to be worn comfortably over another garment with sleeves.

When you have a well-fitting jacket pattern, you may find you can wear a closer fit and still be comfortable. It’s a matter of personal preference and the usual clothes you wear a jacket over.
I need many layers for warmth, like to move easily, and am not close to a RTW shape, so most of my jackets are very loose fitting.

Coats

A bit bigger than jackets, as they’re usually designed to layer over a jacket.
The diagram has the coat ease levels BMV recommend for wearing over a jacket.

The BMV ease table says coats are not made close fitting.
But I have one coat pattern from them with ease of only 2 inches, obviously intended to be worn only over a top without a jacket.
So again, check finished measurements of a coat pattern to make sure you will be able to wear it in the way you expect.

Also the suggested ease levels assume the coat is worn over a jacket at the same level of fit.
For example, a fitted coat wouldn’t be comfortable over a very loose fitting jacket. There just wouldn’t be room inside the coat for all the extra fabric.

Design ease

The ease added by the designer to give the desired silhouette.
For example the 80s – 90s are famous for their huge shoulders and very loose fit.

For the last decade or so, fitted or close fitted has been the norm.
In recent seasons a ‘slouchy’ look has appeared – very loose fit has returned but without the huge shoulder pads supporting it.

– – –

Hip level ease

The main recommendations are for ease at bust level.

Hip level ease applies mainly for skirt, pants, shorts, culottes.
But also applies to the hip level of dresses, long jackets, coats.

On close fitted and fitted and semi-fitted styles, there’s often one inch less ease at hip level.
For example, if the bust level ease is 3 in. then the hip level ease is 2 in.

But allow for your personal needs.
For example, as my hips spread 4 inches when I sit down, I make sure there is at least that amount of ease at hip level.

On loose and very loose fitting styles, the finished garment measurements are often straight up-and-down. Hip level is often the same as the finished garment measure at the bust level.
But as the ease at bust level is more than 8 inches on these loose garments, that’s usually no great problem – unless your hips are 3 or more sizes larger than your bust.

– – –

This is all very dry. Ease is not a simple matter, but it is useful to understand how ease works and what your preferences are.

– – –

Link available October 2013

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Pant patterns and body shape

August 24, 2013

3 years ago (!) I wrote a post on pant styles for different body shapes.
Which suggested patterns that help with pant fit.
Also one of my most popular posts is on adding wedges to pants patterns.
Since then, I’ve seen two more patterns which deal with different pants fit difficulties.

The fit issues I’ll mention are :
– long or short rise,
– deeply indented waist,
– midriff larger than hips,
– protruding stomach,
– large or flat butt, deep torso, large thighs.

– – –

Fit for Art Eureka pants

”eureka-butt”

Those aren’t 3 different styles, they’re 3 different rear sizes !

Pattern information here, with videos about fit.

The basic pattern has CB or side seam zip and tapered legs. Brief instructions for making other styles.
No instructions for inserting zip. Try this free Craftsy class on zips (not fly zips).

No pockets, so add your choice by copying across from another pattern.

The advantage of this pattern is it offers 3 different back pattern pieces for each size.

”eureka”

Basically, a pattern choice for people with a flat butt, an average butt, or a large butt.
The largest back also helps people like me who have a deep torso, or people with large thighs.

The patterns differ in :
– length of crotch extensions,
– angle of CB seam,
– shape of crotch curve.

This pattern doesn’t claim to be a quick and easy fix. You’re expected to make a test garment (perhaps several) marked with horizontal and vertical reference lines. Then adjust it according the instructions until the reference lines are horizontal and vertical on your body.

This is based on Sarah Veblen’s fitting ideas. She has a pants fitting class with pdfs and videos based on this pattern, at Pattern Review. Or get help from her direct, by video or e-mail and photos, contact information here.

– – –

Sure-Fit Designs Pants kit

Pattern information here

The SFD pattern uses waist, high hip, hip, and crotch length measurements.
Find the dots corresponding to those measurements on the master pattern, and join the dots to trace off your pattern shape.

”sfd-pant-grid”
(Sorry about the quality, this is a screen shot from an on-line video, not the pattern ! I have an earlier version of the pattern.)

Looks complex, but the grid is for finding your crotch length.

There’s DVD support for fitting, and for making a jeans pattern (closer fit).

And many support videos at the SFD Video Library
(scroll to about 2/3 down the page)

Sadly this pattern doesn’t work for me, even as a starting point for fitting tweaks.

My back is several sizes larger than my front.
Well, I could get round that by taking separate front and back measures, and drafting the Sure-Fit front and back to these different measurements.
(See my post on getting to know my sizes.)

Large or small waist

I also have a deeply indented waist. When such people buy RTW pants to fit our hips, we get spare fabric flapping around at the waist. We need more than minimal darts.

My large high hip pads mean I need 3 back darts for a good fit to the waist. Here is my ‘hip template’, back on left.

”hip-templates-web”

Perhaps I can’t complain about the Sure-Fit pattern only having one standard dart. Such an extreme waist-high hip difference is rarely mentioned by anyone. Some writers even rule against having that many darts that wide. I’ve only seen one example of a pattern like mine – one of the people in Lynda Maynard’s CD-book on De-mystifying fit.

In contrast, if your midriff is larger than your hips, the last thing you’re concerned about is adding more darts. In RTW, the best you can hope for is to find a company that designs for rectangle shape people, with waist similar to hips. Rather than for the ‘average’ person with waist smaller than hips.

Sure-Fit Designs do consider whether you’re bigger at mid-riff or hip. She talks about ‘heart’ and ‘diamond’ body shapes, rather than ‘apples’ and ‘pears’.
The master pattern includes both high hip and low hip measures. So if your high hip is larger, that can be represented.

(The only person with this body shape I’ve seen being fitted is in Lynda Maynard’s Sew the Perfect Fit class at Craftsy, though that’s for a skirt not pants.)

Deep body

The need for more than one waist dart isn’t my only problem with SFD pants.
SFD assumes that, if you have a long crotch measure, the extra length needs to be added to the rise.

While for people like me, with a deep torso because of deep pelvic bones or large butt, or large thighs which cause a similar issue – what we need is longer crotch extensions.

”3rects-web”

All these lines are the same total length.
Think of them as a simple diagram of a vertical cross section through your lower torso mid-line from front to back. Which is most like you ?

This shows that just knowing the crotch length measure alone is not enough. You also need to know where that length is.
Are you longer or shorter than average from waist to crotch – are RTW pants always too long or too short for you here ?
Or are you longer or shorter than average from front to back :
– Do RTW pants collapse at the back ?
– Or give you big ‘smiles’ – fabric pull lines pointing to the crotch ?
– Or just plain feel uncomfortable and cut into your crotch, especially when you sit down ?
– Or do your pants pull down an inch or more at the back when you sit down ?
Big thighs also mean you need more fabric between your legs.

The Eureka pattern deals with this depth issue directly.

Unlike the Eureka pattern, all SFD patterns have the same crotch curve shape and CB seam angle. And all SFD patterns with the same hip measurement have the same crotch extensions.

However, Sure-Fit pants do solve fitting problems for many other body shapes.

– – –

Add princess seams

If your main fit issue is a protruding stomach, start by letting out the CF and side seams. If that doesn’t give a good result, add princess seams to the front pattern piece. They give lots of opportunities for adding extra fabric in this area !

”stomach

This is supposed to be a horizontal cross section of either your lower front or back, such as the view looking down at your tum.

Shaping seams or main darts are usually best placed about where your body stops being sort-of straight across and starts to bend back to your sides.

Quite easy to add these seams.
– Feel your body to find where the biggest ‘bend’ comes in your shape around.
– Measure how far sideways this is from Centre Front.
– Draw a line down your front pattern piece, this distance from CF and parallel to the grain line.
– Separate the two pattern parts and add seam allowances.

Make up your test pants with wide seam allowances here, so you can try out how much to add. 1 in./2.5 cm on each new seam edge adds 4 in./10 cm to the total width. Like people with large midriff all round, you may need to compromise about how much extra fabric you have to allow over your hips and thighs to deal with the transition from large mid-section to thin legs.

(P.S. here’s a post from Colette Patterns with another method for abdomen adjustments.)

If you have a large rear, you could try adding princess seams to your back pattern. There may be some combination of shaped princess seams and longer crotch extensions which gives you the best result.

– – –

Which pattern for which fit issue ? – summary

If you have difficulties with a long or short rise, you could try the Sure-Fit Designs approach.

While if you have a flat or large butt, deep torso or large thighs, the Eureka pants may help.

Both ? I would start from the Eureka pants, as adding or removing rise is just a matter of lengthening or shortening the pattern between waist and hip. Much easier than changing the crotch extensions and crotch curve shape and angle.

Heavily indented waist : Eureka pants could be best at dealing with this. As the dart positions, numbers and sizes are fitted directly on the body, rather than being supplied by the pattern.

Though it is a bit of a fiddle to do this on yourself. I used a mixed approach, made some guesstimates about dart position by feeling my shape, and about numbers and sizes by comparing my waist and hip measures. Drafted a trial pattern, then improved the details using a test fit.

Midriff larger than hips : Sure-Fit Designs patterns include an explicit measure of the midriff area.

If you have a protruding stomach, try adding front princess seams.

Whichever pattern may be best for dealing with your fit issues, SFD is the company to go to for instructions on altering your basic pant pattern to make everything from palazzo pants to jeans, yoga pants, leggings, shorts, capris. . . These instructions apply to any basic pant pattern, not just to patterns produced by their system.

Might either of these patterns help you towards the perfect pant fit which is at the end of the rainbow :D

– – –

Patterns and links available August 2013

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