sewing in 2013

i’ve just finished a button down shirt for the hubbs (mr. housewife?). yeah, it’s about time i begun re-working his closet. most of what he owns is either ill-fitting or worn down and threadbare. i resisted for a long time because i feel like men’s clothing demands a higher level of technical skill than women’s clothing. even though my sewing isn’t perfect, i think it’s good enough to dive in and give it a shot.


i started tracing off mccalls 6044, and as i went along i began my usual laundry list of gripes about the pattern:

faux back yoke!
no sleeve placket!
two piece sleeve?
no pleats on the back piece!
why are they skimping on these details? why? WHY!

i paid $1 for this pattern.

are the lack of “real” details in the big 4 our own fault? we’re so accustomed, at least here in the US, to buying cheap patterns that perhaps it’s just a vicious cycle. initially i thought the dumbed-down patterns were the pattern companies’ response to the fact that most people don’t know how to sew (therefore requiring simplified patterns), and most (i think) sew as a hobby, not out of necessity. yet, i can’t help but think our reluctance to pay full price for patterns is also a factor. it does take extra work to make those extra pieces. i know, because i do it regularly.

so all this brings me back to my plans and goals for 2013.

first, buy more expensive patterns. we don’t have a lot of money to throw around, and these days sewing is more of a necessity than just a diversion. i’m growing far more averse to buying cheap clothes that wear out and were potentially made under unethical conditions. did you hear about this fire a while back? i only came across the story by chance one day, it certainly didn’t make many headlines here. at this point, we simply can’t afford clothes that i can trust are ethically made, even with a “buy less/buy better” mentality. but, i can make it a point to spent a few extra bucks on nice patterns, especially those that will get multiple uses. this doesn’t mean i won’t buy big 4, i just need to complain less when i have to draft pieces to get the look i want. you get what you pay for and it’s high time i accept it.

secondly, make men’s clothing. as i stated before, his closet could really use a re-vamp. the button down shirt is a great place to start, but t-shirts, pants, and outerwear are also on the list. (i stated non-specific menswear over on dymt’s re-sew-lution jar post. doesn’t she have the greatest ideas?)

thirdly, i’ll continue to beef up my staples. my every day life is pretty casual and involves running kids here and there, the occasional playdate, volunteering at their school, sitting on the floor doing puzzles, snuggling with them for story time, and the like. i have a dreadful lack of appropriate clothing for these sorts of activities, so pants are on the list as well as tops, and probably a jacket or two. minoru! cordova! i’m looking at yooouuu!!!

lastly, i need to buckle down and sew more kidswear. it’s hard for me to spend $8 or $10 on a pair of leggings or a t-shirt when i know i can make two or three out of a $5/yd piece of knit fabric.

okay, there it is: my plan for the year and what you can expect to see on the blog. i’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s goals, and i see many people are on the “beef up the staples” bandwagon. i know that doesn’t satisfy the sewing itch for everyone, but i really do find this sort of thing fun. it is completely satisfying to reach in my closet and pull out a knit top that i’ve made or grab my hand made winter coat as i run out the door. 

i’ll be back with a real post on the afore-mentioned button down shirt once i can sneak in some pics. in the meantime, i have a portrait blouse from gertie’s book awaiting my finishing touches… here’s to an amazing 2013!

β€”lisa g.

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15 thoughts on “sewing in 2013

  1. Meredith says:

    I don't know why, but I never really stopped to think about the production of cheap children's clothing before. I've thought about it when it comes to the clothes I buy, but I think when I shop for my daughter, I have the same mentality you mentioned about cheap patterns. I don't want to spend a lot because she won't wear them for long. But where are they coming from? Who's making them? And could I make them better for less? Thanks for giving me something good to think about! I might add easy children's clothes to my 2013 list!

  2. Gail says:

    First of all, thank you so much for the link to the article. I think it's good for us all to be reminded of these things as much as possible.Secondly, this is the same pattern I used last year to make 2 shirts for my hubby, and I won't be using it again. It was a disappointment to me for the same reasons you listed. Honestly, I wouldn't have used it the second time, but I hadn't bought enough fabric to switch to my preferred pattern (out of print for at least 10 years). I've recently purchased a Burda envelope pattern (7767) which I'm hoping will be better, but I'll still have to add in the back pleats: the man does like to move occasionally.

  3. lisa g. says:

    the nice thing about sewing kid stuff is that it's great practice, it doesn't require much fabric (or you can use scraps), and it doesn't take very long to whip up! i figure if my kids have a small but interchangeable wardrobe, the clothes will get worn regularly to make it worth my time.

  4. lisa g. says:

    glad you went to read the article, i think it's really important to not brush this stuff under the rug!for the mccalls pattern, the fit is really good for my husband, so i'll just add the details. but i'm wishing i had paid the extra money for a better pattern! the back pleat is super easy to add, i just cut the back piece 1/2"-1" off the fold since i drafted a yoke piece. anywho… i'll have all the details up soon hopefully!

  5. lisa g. says:

    i think the fit is great (one size straight out of the envelope… ugh men have it so easy!), i was mostly disappointed with the long-sleeve version. i was needing the pattern to make some business shirts and it has you do the sleeve in two pieces so you just turn in the SA instead of doing a regulation button placket. i'll stick with the pattern though, once i puzzled out how to draft the placket piece i was fine. i've seen your versions and they look really nice!

  6. Carolyn says:

    Hmmm that McCalls pattern does sound a bit lacking in the details! I have used Burda 7767 a tonne of times.. actually just went to check and I have made 27 men's shirts for my husband and two adult sons using this pattern, so obviously I recommend it!i believe there is a terrific Vogue pattern out there too.

  7. lisa g. says:

    wow, that's an impressive number of shirts! i'll check out the burda pattern. it didn't even occur to me that the mccalls wouldn't have the regular details when i bought it. lesson learned!

  8. poppykettle says:

    I love that your plans sound so similar to mine – practical and unselfish. Seems like this burda mens shirt pattern has been the recipient of many a blogerette's love, so might be worth investigating!I hope your gorgeous coat is getting plenty of wear this winter! πŸ™‚

  9. Gail says:

    Not ALL men! I forgot to mention that the biggest reason this pattern didn't work for my guy is that he doesn't have the slender frame of this model (and possibly your hubby). A Negroni would never work for my guy without extensive redrafting 😦 He's got a very muscular neck and shoulders compared to his chest and waist, and short arms! (I swear he doesn't look like a misshapen freak!) One of the reasons I want to start making his shirts is so that he can finally have one that fits him well – even with all the neck/sleeve sizing variations of business shirts, he still never gets a good fit in RTW.Throwing it out there to give a little more input to the subject!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Oh, I like your decision to spend _more_ on patterns — even though I had to do a double-take when I first read that! I'm one of those people who try to refrain from cheap/unethically produced clothing but who, at the same time, are "reluctant to pay full price for patterns" and even fabric.I know this wasn't totally the point of your post, but thanks for making me consider the way reduced prices usually mean low quality or, far worse, exploitation of workers, whether we're talking about RTW _or_ the raw materials of patterns and fabric. πŸ™‚

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