This month’s Sewcialists theme – menswear for everyone – has been a constant of my sewing career. As a menswear pattern designer (I run Thread Theory Designs, a menswear-focused sewing pattern company), I spend a lot of time researching and sewing garments for men. I also sew for myself and have found that my professional interest in menswear styles has helped to shape my own style over the years. Our menswear designs are most often casual, comfortable pieces that are rugged but also stylish…which perfectly describes the attributes I want in my wardrobe! In this post I have given a bit of information on the adjustments I made to some of the patterns when making them for me – obviously they will vary depending on your body shape!
The very first pattern that we released way back in 2012 was the Newcastle Cardigan, a shawl collar knit sweater that could be sewn like a woven garment for those unfamiliar with knits. It was my first foray into sewing menswear for myself. I decreased the width of the chest by offsetting the buttons to create an asymmetric front.
I played around with the design by adding fun details to suit me – colorful binding instead of facings, funky pockets, and a smaller, more delicate shoulder detail.
I wanted to keep the fit somewhat loose and cozy (as though I were borrowing my husband’s Newcastle) so I left the sleeves extra long.
I really enjoyed that project! It certainly left me inspired to brainstorm a garment for myself each time we launched a new menswear pattern!
When I created our Finlayson Sweater pattern (a pull-over sweater with a shawl collar or hood option), I knew it would be even easier to adjust to suit me than the Newcastle was.
I simply trimmed off a little width at the shoulders and made sure to adjust the sleeves to suit my arm length…and that was it!
Once again, I had fun with my binding choices – I chose a velvet ribbon this time and applied it to the neckline and kangaroo pocket (as detailed in the instruction booklet).
I wore this sweater a LOT and should probably make another now that this one is worn out! I actually have some olive colored hemp sweatshirt fleece set aside for this project.
Another garment that I sewed from our patterns ended up being ultra feminine but could easily have been styled as comfy work pants if I had chosen a solid twill…but I didn’t…
I had fun sewing our Jedediah Pants (chino style trousers with a jeans inspired yoke) exactly as per the menswear pattern but with an awesome floral stretch sateen!
They were quite a statement piece! I don’t think anyone would guess that I used a menswear pattern as my base.
The only alterations that I made to the Jedediah pattern to suit my figure was to create pleats at the front and cut a smaller waistband (which I did on the fly while sewing and trying on constantly). I also trimmed off the bottom of the legs (when I got to the point of hemming) to create ankle length trousers. No paper pattern adjustments were necessary!
Do you have a menswear pattern in your stash that you might be able to reuse for yourself? It’s a fun way to employ some creative thinking, to create comfortable clothing for yourself, and to find another use for a design that you already sew for the rest of your family!
Note: Sewcialists is a hyper-inclusive editorial site. We recognize that “Menswear” as we use it in our theme month is a very loaded term, and we use any gendered reference in these discussions to denote the most broadly accepted “traditional” categories only, without wishing to prescribe or proscribe what any person can wear. We recognize all gender identities and the choice to dress how one pleases.
Morgan Meredith is the founder and driving force behind Canadian Menswear pattern company Thread Theory Designs, which she runs with her husband, Matt. Their mission at Thread Theory is to bring Menswear sewing to the forefront of the DIY movement. Morgan can be found blogging at https://blog.threadtheory.ca/ and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/threadtheorydesigns/. Morgan and Matt have recently become parents to baby Noah, so she may not reply to comments or reply very quickly. We support her in making family time a priority.