The boys in my life and the clothes I made for them lately

  Sewing menswear is a bit challenging. Not because the sewing patterns are more complicated, but because it is much harder to find good, contemporary and wearable sewing patterns for men. The Internet world is full of amazing women’s patterns, but what about the deprived men?

A quick search for “shirt ” in the very popular Burda site gives the following results: 471 options for the women’s section but only 16 patterns for men (some of them are nice but some are for strange costumes like here and here or for pajama tops). This means that for every 100  patterns for women they release only 3-4 patterns for men, 20% unwearable (unless it’s bedtime or halloween…). Well don’t catch my statistics, but this really demonstrates the situation.

So I’m on a search for good patterns for the men in my life. And I did found some indie companies, like Thread theory and Walden, and (if you knit) brooklyn tweed with the BTmen collections, that take men more seriously.

Meanwhile, meet the boys in my life and the clothes I made for them:IMG_9265

For my big man: Avast sweater by Jesse Loesberg, A free knitting pattern from 2006 fall Knitty magazine; and  Strathcona T-shirt by Thread theory made with some medium weight knit fabric.

For little men: a raglan sweatshirt with a pocket, refashioned from an adult size shirt that big men didn’t wear anymore. The pattern is here.IMG_9276I made the sweater for Gidon as a birthday present 3 year ago. You can see more on my Ravelry page. I loved the design and it has many little fine finishing details and that braid pattern above the hem.  This garment is very much loved by his owner. It’s practical, cozy and was worn a lot in the past few winters.

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The shirt is new. A simple fitted t-shirt made with a medium weight knit  (some sort of french terry) in grey and dark blue, very soft but with no drape and just a small amount of stretch. Perfect for menswear. The pattern has many finishing options: long or short sleeves, finished with hem or a bend, henley placket or crew neck, and since my man is a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy I believe it will be a very useful pattern. The fit is just right for him.
I bought the whole Parkland wardrobe builder from Thread theory. It also includes a pair of pants and a nice cardigan and I’m so excited to try them.
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This shirt is refashioned from an old adult size sweatshirt that Gidon didn’t wear anymore. I disassembled the sweatshirt: front, back sleeves and neck bend and use the fabric to sew this kid’s size raglan shirt. The hems and the details on the sleeve are from the original shirt, and I also used the original collar bend so it took just less then an hour to finish. The little pocket is made out of the fabric that was stitched to the inside of the sweatshirt for decoration. I looooove it. and so doe’s my boy.

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They seem very happy. Don’t you think?

Michal

Everyday skirt for the cold days

I have a  new skirt .20151129_102522_resized 20151129_103957_resized_1 IMG_6151_1

The pattern is the Everyday skirt by Oliver+s made with a lovely wool fabric.

20151206_113323_1When I thought about making a skirt for fall/winter I knew I wanted a wool skirt, knee length with pockets. Searching for the right pattern I considered several possibilities and finely found this pattern. An everyday skirt with many advantages: the design is suitable for many fabric types from wool and denim and other heavier fabrics for colder days to light cottons for summer, it has pockets with a lot of room to warm my hands, and the elastic band in the back is a promise for a very comfortable and practical garment. On the other hand it has gatherings on the front panel and usually this is not very good for me…….m….uncertain. In the end what made me decide in favor of this skirt were the many beautiful pictures of it, made by other people all around the web. I really liked it, and especially the smooth side panels that help to reduce the volume (so the skirt is not puffy at all).

I enjoyed very much sewing the skirt, the instructions are very clear and good.

But unfortunately for me, while working, I figured out too late that the waist band of the skirt is to wide for my size. I still try to understand why because I took the measurements and followed the size charts in the instruction booklet. I tried to use (my very good friend) the seam ripper  but the unpicking was very unpretty , and I didn’t have more fabric. So I tried to fix the problem by reducing most of the side panels.

Pity. this was my favorite detail of the design. But never mind, I learn and I will need some more skirts. Next time (and there will be a next time) I will go down one or even two sizes, or narrow the front and back panels by a few centimeters.

I’m quite satisfied with my new skirt, although my attempt to fix the sides is not perfect at all. The bright sides: the fabric is lovely, warm and cozy and it doesn’t itch. The skirt is as comfortable as I’d expected and the pockets are deep and wonderful. It might become a staple for the colder days upcoming.

 

The dress that remind me of my grandmother

  A few months ago I found this fabric in the fabric store. I’m not a spontaneous buyer and I usually plan my purchases. But something happened and this fabric, from all hundreds of fabric rolls in the store,this fabric touched my heart. It reminded me of my grandmother, Elizabeth, and the dresses she used to wear.

I don’t know what it was that set the emotion. Something in the brown, orange, yellow print or maybe the feel of the fabric’s texture that reminded me what I felt when I walked hand in hand with her to the grocery store to buy bread and olives, or  helped her when she made the cake for sabbath, or when she hugged me.

My grandma was a seamstress and I was very attached to her. she was the first woman I saw working on a sewing machine and it seemed like a magic to me.

 I knew immediately that I want this fabric and I also knew what I want to do with it. I wanted a dress with some 70s vibe, not exactly like grandma’s. Something to remind her dress but in my own way.

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So the pattern I chose was the Megan dress from Love at first stitch by Tilly Walnes. And I wanted to make it sleeveless.

Here it is:

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When I came to my mom a few weeks ago I was wearing this dress, but I did not tell her about my inspiration.

And when she saw me she was so exited and told me: “I don’t think you remember this but the dress you’re wearing remind me of my mother”. And she opened the closet and showed me the dress. It was the same one I was thinking about.

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1977 Me and my grandmother, wearing clothes sewn by her

And a few words about Love at first stitch. If you visited me here before you probably noticed that I love Tilly’s patterns and attitude. So when she published her first sewing book I had to get myself a copy.  And it is lovely. In the book, designated for people who want to learn to sew clothes, you can find patterns and instructions for making some classic and basic clothes that can become staples in any wardrobe. From a very simple scarf  to pj pants, two skirts, a top and two dresses, the book guide you in a step by step manner with many helpful photos. Each pattern is accompanied by ideas on how to make the garment “your own”. In Tilly’s “Love at first stitch” pinterest board (here) you can see what other people have made from the patterns and draw some more inspiration.

 

Sewing with stripes

Fall is officially here and last weekends rain made me very happy. And what a better way to celebrate it but a free Friday morning?

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This pattern is the Agnes by Tilly and the buttons, my favorite everyday top pattern lately.

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One of the annoying things about store bought striped garments is that sometimes the stripes don’t match. Isn’t it so?  Therefore sewing with a stripy fabric is a bit more challenging. Of course it’s optional, if you are not bothered by unmatched stripes.  But I prefer to take the time and match because it’s more pleasing to my eyes.

Matching is not that complicated, just need to pay attention and be a little more patient. Here are links to some good tutorials here and here.

Rain, a good cup of coffee and a few stripes that fit together. The small thing that can make me so happy.

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Five easy and beautiful sewing patterns for beginners

Today I made a list of 5 sewing patterns that I think are very good to begin with if you are new to sewing.  Choosing the right pattern is very important in order to enjoy the sewing and learning experience and to lessen the frustration. Wish I knew that a few years ago :). So, what am I looking for in a pattern for a beginner?

  1. Not too complicated: just a limited number of pattern pieces to cut and sew and a few basic technics
  2. Easy to understand: the pattern should have clear instructions that are easy to follow.
  3. Good fabric choice: pattern should be suitable for fabrics that are simple to work with (not the kind of trouble-making slippery fabrics)
  4. Despite the simplicity I want my finished garment to be nice, interesting and wearable.

At first I tried some Burda patterns. That might be OK but I had my share of frustrating moments.  Although you can find a big variety of patterns for many tastes and a large amount of patterns for novice sewers I didn’t finish any project I started. So after a lot of searching and experiments (and many hours exploring the web) I finally found what I was looking for.

I prefer independent sewing pattern designers. I found that the personal approach and clear and friendly instructions work better for me. The patterns are easier to use, and usually the seam allowance is already a part of the draft. Many times you can find a sewalong on the websites blog and it is very encouraging and helpful. Also, I feel better to spend my money and support a smaller independent business.

All this patterns are available as a digital PDF form ready to print at home or a paper pattern. All the illustrations are from the original websites and if you click on the picture or the patterns name it will link you to the site, where you can see the actual garments.

AKITA from seamwork online magazine by Colette

akitta2This beautiful top is made up of only two pattern pieces with a bust dart and rounded hem, and that’s it. Because the design is so simple it’s perfect for showing off a nice fabric.  You can choose to sew with some nice light woven cotton fabric that is easy to work with, and when you gain confidence and practice you can choose some fabric with more drape.

Do you know Seamwork? It’s an online magazine with articles and sewing patterns published once a month. The akita pattern cost 7$ but subscribers pay 6$/month and can choose 2 patterns every months. Interesting. I’ll be back this mag later.

Another simple top pattern us the sorbetto, a free pattern. I wrote about it here.

WHY THIS PATTERNS? Only 2 pattern pieces, suitable for woven cotton fabric, a basic and wearable garment that can be a staple in any wardrobe.

WHAT DO WE LEARN? Basic seaming, hem punishing, bust darts

 BASEBALL SKIRT by Sew DIY

BASEBALL2A comfortable everyday skirt with elastic waist and pockets, everybody needs one. Suitable for chambray, woven cotton or light weight denim fabrics. This skirt was designed with novice sewers in mind. In general I feel that sewing an easy skirt as a first project might be a good practice. You can also read about my experience sewing my first miete skirt here.

WHY THIS PATTERN? Basic sewing technics, elastic waist that is easier to fit

WHAT MORE DO WE LEARN? To insert an elastic band, pockets

 COCO TOP AND DRESS by Tilly and the buttons

COCO2An everyday dress in a classic 60s style, made with medium weight knit fabric that is not very stretchy (and that is one of this pattern advantages). It has many design options: top or dress version, boat or funnel neck, long or ¾ sleeve, with or without pockets etc.  Just need to decide what is your preferred style. And it’s even more fun because you don’t need to insert any zipper.  I made myself a few of this, mostly tops and dresses with short sleeves that I wear all the time. I prefer them in solid colors or stripes. So comfortable and easy to wear. Tilly and the buttons pinterest page has an entire bord for the COCO (here) where you can see what other sewers (in all body shapes and sizes) did with the pattern. It’s so interesting and inspiring.

WHY THIS PATTERN? A perfect pattern if you want to try sewing with knit fabrics with your regular sewing machine, simple finishing technics, very useful detailed sewalong posts on Tilly’s blog

WHAT MORE DO WE LEARN? To work with knits with a regular machine (zig zag stitch), to insert a sleeve

OSAKA from seamwork online magazine by Colette

OSAKA2 Here is another pattern from seamwork magazine. And a very cool one indeed because it’s actually two skirts in one. This is a form fitting reversible wrap skirt with many design options, just choose: solid color, solid with two different textures, color block? Hop along to the link to see the photos.

WHY THIS PATTERN? The shape and finishing are simple. The sophistication is in the fabric choices

WHAT MORE DO WE LEARN? To play with design

 SELJA KNOT TEE by Named patterns

NAMED2This is a relaxed tee shirt with a knot on the waist made from an elastic fabric. It’s worthwhile to wonder around and check some other patterns on the Named shop. This two sisters from Finland design simple yet modern and beautiful sewing patterns.

WHY THIS PATTERN? Because if you’ve already sewn with woven and non-stretchy knits it’s time to try some more stretchy fabrics.

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So, what do you think?

Do you have any patterns you can call a success/ frustration free/ nice to begin with? please share.