Hello! Emilia of @shopkintsuki here. This theme month, Menswear for Everyone, has me really inspired. As a lover of the shirt-and-tailored-pants combo, I simply had to share two recent makes with you.
I mostly prefer menswear or at least menswear-inspired garments for several reasons. Generally, menswear is much better made and more functionally designed, as there is the idea that men do not like to shop so they buy things to last (thank you society for telling us women we have to shop to feel fulfilled!). I refuse to abide to such patriarchal rules, and over the years have modified many garments intended for men to fit me.
I really want to stress the idea that in my opinion fashion, and sewing in particular, gives us the opportunity to take control of our choices in order to express our true selves. With minor modifications, anyone can wear anything, and there is no reason for clothing to be gendered.
Keeping this in mind in mind, my make for the month started as a pants pattern I found in one of my Japanese sewing books, but inspired by a Vogue Designer pattern from 1992 by Calvin Klein. Of the Vogue pattern I loved the high waist and single pleat, though what sold me was the double welt pocket with enormous pockets underneath. I bought this pattern on eBay, but since it was taking forever to arrive, I took the matter in my own hands and modded the Japanese pattern, specifically by raising the waist, adding a pleat, and changing pocket type. It was quite hilarious to look for all the different supplies in Japanese, but I am grateful I decided to consult this book, as it features a very complete and photographically documented step-by-step tutorial on how to make pants.
I used 100% wool pique which I scored at the very bottom of a scrap bin in Nippori. I wanted to taper the leg slightly, to diminish the ’90s vibe, but I still tried to maintain the straight line typical of mens pants. In addition, after long consideration regarding the break, I opted for what my father calls “didn’t-you-have-enough-fabric?” break. Let me explain: normally, I would choose a no-break length, barely grazing the shoe, but since I wear (silver) ankle boots a lot in winter, I shortened it to be a couple a centimeters below the edge of the boot.
Inspired by bespoke suits, I decided to underline the front of the pants. This is primarily to avoid bagginess in the knee area, and to make the garment more comfortable and less scratchy. I used cupro for the lining, arranging the pattern do the edge lied on the selvage. This avoids an additional seam and consequent fullness in the knee area.
Probably the most menswear related technique I used is in the waistband. I elongated it to have the combination of snap button and hook and eye, and I stiffened the waistband with waistband interfacing (in Japan it is called マーベルト, ma-beruto, which really sounds like man-belt!). I then made the inside of the waistband with a different fabric, a soft twill from my scrap bin, and closed it by hand for a cleaner finish. I also did several bar tacks to secure the pockets to the waistband, also because I decided against pocket stays.
The Japanese pattern had no pleat, but I added a single pleat as in the Calvin Klein design. I think this is in general a good idea for me when I modify men’s patterns, as I like to have more room in the hip area. The pleats and darts in the back also help shaping the pants, since my waist is small comparatively to my hips. The fabric I used is very well behaved and easy to sew, but is very pliable and does not hold the press well, unfortunately, so I have to press the crease after a couple of wears, and starch it well for a crisper look.
As for the pockets, I originally wanted to make the double welt black, in self fabric, but did not really like it. I then tried in satin, which reminded me of pajamas, so in the end I opted for the same fabric as the pockets, a scrap of Liberty Tana Lawn. This was quite a controversial choice, since the most extravagant color I generally wear is grey, but it is such a small detail I barely notice. To my pleasure, the pockets are enormous.
As for the shirt it is the Olya Shirt by Paper Theory. I love shirts, especially when they are baggy but still professional, so I purchased this pattern within minutes of its release.
The final product is at the same time polished, comfortable, but also practical. It is indeed from a men’s pattern, informed by a menswear-inspired design, and can be made more or less feminine depending on mood. The week after I made the pants I styled them with a vintage jacket and a silk blouse and the effect was dramatically different (at least, to me).
My only regret is having forgotten to reverse the direction of the fly (the force of the habit, after having done womenswear for the last couple of months). Honestly, I enjoyed slowing down and adopting techniques we do not often use as home sewists a lot, so much so that I have a series of challenging projects for myself and men n my life. Handmade bowties, here I come!
I sincerely hope you enjoyed my post and this make. Hopefully, I inspired you take a menswear pattern and modify it to fit your body, because we should all be able to wear what we want!
Note: The 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.
Emilia is the mind and tiny creative hands behind shopkintsugi.net. She has been quite a tomboy all her life, so it was only natural for her to take part in this theme month, Menswear for Everyone. When she is not sewing, she is a scientist working in Neuroscience.