Sewing for Men

Man Up!

Do you sew for the men in your life?  I used to sew cute shirts, shorts, and pants for my son when he was little, but haven’t made him a thing in over 25 years.  I made my husband a bathrobe a good 15 years ago, but that’s it.  I sew for myself and my baby granddaughter all the time, and have made quite a few things for my daughter.  But the men in my life seem to get left out, until now.

I decided it was time to let them be the beneficiaries of my makes.  Since my husband now funds my fabric and pattern budget 🙂 and tolerates all the time I spend sewing, he deserves something nice.  My son was kind enough to help me finish setting up my website (as I am definitely not a technogeek) and deserved a reward for his help and patience.

So I decided to make my husband and son Sinclair Patterns Men’s Kai Tee Shirts out of Phee Fabrics rayon spandex.  Wow!  Normally I am not a fan of rayon spandex.  It’s not that I don’t love the softness of rayon spandex, but generally speaking it is not a fun fabric to work with.  It’s thin and flimsy.  It gets all wrinkly.  It stretches and gets bagged out of shape.  It’s slippery and a pain to sew.

Since I really like Phee Fabrics and have always been impressed with their quality, I decided to give their rayon spandex a try.  Wow!  It is so much nicer than your typical rayon spandex.  It’s way more substantial (13 oz.), has beautiful recovery, doesn’t come out of the dryer as a wrinkly mess, and even makes great bands on your tees.  I am using their rayon spandex for all kinds of makes now!

My next question was what pattern to use?  Some of my favorite “go-to” pdf pattern companies have shirt patterns, but most of them seem to be raglan sleeve styles.  Also, my son is tall, and my husband is not.  It’s not that I’m not used to having to lengthen patterns, since I am tall, but really, who wants to use their precious sewing time having to adjust their pattern?  Enter Sinclair Patterns.  Their patterns come with height options!  Regular, Tall and Short.  How amazing is that?  So I bought, downloaded and printed off the Men’s Kai in Tall and Regular.  Traced off my husband and son’s sizes and got to sewing.

J KaiD Kai

The shirts came together quickly and easily, and the neckband lengths in the pattern were perfect.  I don’t know about you, but I always wait until I have my shoulder seams sewn together to cut my neckbands.  I measure the opening and calculate the appropriate length, and frequently have to make longer bands than a pattern suggests.  It drives me crazy, but I have been burned too many times by a tight, gathered looking neckband to trust most patterns.  The Kai pattern neckband was perfect on both sizes.  It makes me confident that I will have the same success with their other patterns.

Kai biceps Kai side

 

All that was left to do was photograph my makes.  Getting my guys to agree to be photographed took a minute, but they had fun at my quick photo session.  And I snuck into a selfie, since who wouldn’t want to be photographed with these two cuties?  So give new patterns and fabrics a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!  Happy sewing!

Kai group

Sew What’s in a Name?

Name That Cardigan

I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn’t chosen to be a pattern tester for 5 out of 4’s new cardigan pattern.  But guess what?  I got to name the pattern!  How cool is that?  They had a cardigan naming contest in their Facebook group, so I entered it.  You never expect to actually win a contest, because face it, hundreds or thousands of other people have entered the contest too.

But lo and behold, the name I submitted was picked!  I suggested The Eleanor Cardigan because cardigans are comfy and cozy, and doesn’t Eleanor make you think of a sweet Grandma or Auntie giving you a big hug?  Alas, my Grandma’s are no longer around, and neither my Mom or any of my Aunties live nearby.  But I can still cuddle up in a comfortable cardigan!  (And I can always get a hug from my sweet husband!)

So be sure to check out The Eleanor Cardigan  (women and girls versions) from 5 out of 4 Patterns https://5outof4.com/ on October 2, 2018 when it releases!

Flutter Sleeve Hack

I wrote a guest blog on the Phee Fabrics Phee Blog, so I thought I would share it here.  Have you ever tried taking a photo at the beach on a windy day?  Let me tell you, it leads to laughter and crazy photos as you can see above!  I hacked the Made for Mermaids Women’s Mya Top, Tunic and Dress Pattern to have flutter sleeves.

via Flutter Sleeve Hack

Not Really Famous

Email “Fame”

Imagine my surprise when I opened the 5 out of 4 Patterns newsletter email and saw myself at the top of the page!  Being the slightly dorky person that I am, I of course had to forward it to my daughter so that she could share my excitement.  And she didn’t laugh at me, but rather commented, “That is super cool!  Do you get to test the cardigan pattern?  My black and gray cardigans both have holes :-(“.  Hah!  So either it really is cool, or, my slightly dorky genes were passed onto my children.   Let’s go with it really is cool.  As a side note, my husband thought it was cool, so again it really is cool or our children are doomed to slight dorkiness due to both parents!

The reason the collage of me appeared on the 5oo4 newsletter is because I was one of the testers for the new Lola pattern that was just released.  If you haven’t tried independent pdf pattern companies, you are really missing out!  There are wonderfully talented pattern designers in the world and some of them have discovered that they can sell pdf patterns online.  They have Facebook groups and sewists around the world join and ask and answer questions about the patterns, post photos of their completed projects and hacks, and discuss all things sewing.

Facebook pattern and fabric sewing groups are the best!  I constantly see comments like, “I just joined this group and this post thread was the first thing I saw.  I think I have found my people!” or “I have to share this here because you guys will understand how excited I am about…”.  The groups are filled with supportive, funny, and generally down-to-earth people.  If you are scoffing at this and wondering how many people would actually join a Facebook sewing or fabric group, you might be surprised to learn that Patterns for Pirates has over 100,000 members!  Yes, over one hundred thousand.

So, back to the pattern testing.  Designers will sometimes post a tester call in their Facebook pattern group and you can apply to be a pattern tester.  You apply online, supplying your current measurements and answer the questionnaire about your sewing skills or style, etc.  The patterns have been drawn up and tested by the designer  themselves, but they want to test and see how the pattern works on multiple sizes, different body types, etc.  You are expected to make a muslin (a practice garment) to check for size and fit, and provide comments, photos and constructive criticism about the pattern and directions as written.  The designer reviews your photos and comments, makes any changes to the pattern and tutorial directions and then the testers make at least one “final” garment and submit styled photos to the designer.  When the pattern is released you share the approved photos and promote the new pattern.

It’s kind of fun to do, but because there is a time frame, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort as scheduled.  I am not a fast sewist and tend to be a perfectionist, so I put a lot of pressure on myself when I test.  You provide your own fabric, and do not get paid, so pattern testing isn’t for everyone.  But I like to stretch my skills and try new patterns so I think it’s fun and interesting to do.  And you do receive the pattern for free once you’ve met all the requirements.

To answer my daughters question above, no, I was not chosen to test the cardigan pattern. 😦  But I did pick up on your hint that you’d like me to make you new gray and black cardigans! 😉  If you haven’t tried independent pattern companies and Facebook sewing and fabric groups, check them out!  Maybe they’re your people too!

Sew it Began

One of my first sewing memories

I like to sew and create pretty things.  My grandmothers and Mom all sewed, so I grew up sewing.  I’ve sewn since I was tweenager.  I remember taking a sewing class for kids with my sister when I was maybe ten or twelve years old.  We picked out a pattern and fabric, went to class on a weekly basis for a month or so, and had a little “fashion show” on the final week where all the kids modeled their creations.

I made a linen background cotton sundress with a strawberry print on it.  My sister (being a tomboy) made overalls out of a denim “patchwork” knit.  Keep in mind that this was the 70’s so that you can get a visual of these gems in your head!  Well, since I basically already knew how to sew, I got to work and had no problem completing my project during sewing class.  Dianne however, had little interest in sewing, and was probably forced to attend the class with me so Mom could have a few hours of peace and quiet!  Needless to say, despite my attempts to help, along with the probably overwrought instructor, Dianne did not complete her project during class.

Hours before the fashion show, my grandmothers and Mom worked to complete the overalls for her to model.  Why the instructor let a beginning sewist pick a pattern with overall buckles and buttons in the first place, I’ll never know!  But I will tell you that I wore that strawberry sundress and Dianne wore those overalls until they were worn out!

When you are looking at patterns and think that something may be a little too hard to try, keep in mind that you’re more likely to wear a design that you love!  Even if you don’t have a sewing Grandma or Mom nearby to help, there is a large community of sewists on dozens of independent pattern sites on Facebook that will gladly talk you through the pattern.  Happy sewing!