Sewing for Men
Posted on Tuesday the 3rd May 2016 by Sewing Angela
I sew for men a lot, and although in theory it is not much different to sewing for women there are a few points you need to bear in mind. Firstly a man will not wear a garment, no matter how much he loves you, if it looks “Home-made”. That essentially means finishing every seam neatly, removing loose threads and getting the fit right. The other thing I have found out is that men love pockets, when it comes to pockets they are like small boys – they keep their hands in them and store “things” in them, so whenever you are in doubt, add a pocket or two!
So, we are going to make a dressing gown out of Towelling Fabric, an essential in any wardrobe, and also a pair of matching house pants. These are your requirements;
Simplicity pattern 5314 - 2 hour Sleepwear. I think that two hours is stretching it a little, but after cutting out it did only take a day to sew both garments and a bit of time the next day to press and finish them.
You need quite a lot of fabric for a man’s dressing gown. I needed 3 metres of Cotton Loop double sided towelling in Navy Blue. This was for size 42” chest and I only just managed to fit all the pattern pieces on. 3 ½ metres would be needed for the next sizes. This fabric is 60” wide.
For the pants I used 2 metres of Truella Plain brushed cotton fabric in Navy This is a very luxurious fabric, it has a lovely soft feel and is perfect for nightwear.
You will also need matching thread – lots of it because you will need to over lock everything or finish your seams in another way.
A foot long length of soft ½” wide elastic and a piece of ribbon or tape of just less than a metre. These are for the pants waist. I also used a piece of the ribbon to make a hanging loop.
Now to work.
Towelling sheds bits everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. Even after washing the fabric first it was shedding navy bits everywhere, in the end, becoming a little fed up of constantly hovering my entire home – (doesn’t mess travel?) I put the fabric in the tumble dryer for a bit which did help somewhat.
Make sure that you grab your man and whilst he is in a good mood take the following measurements, his chest, waist, underarm sleeve length and inside leg. Yes, you can take the inside leg measurement from a pair of pants he has already if you prefer. Do this now, because from experience I find that you only get the one chance to do this! They don’t seem to be too keen on fitting.
Now that you have the measurements choose your pattern size, if in any doubt whatsoever go for the larger size. Loungewear is meant to be comfortable.
The pants are simple enough to make with only two pattern pieces to worry about. Do align them to the straight grain of your fabric when cutting out so that they hang nicely, and mark the fronts and backs on the inside so that you can easily tell what is what.
I stitched the fronts together first and then made two long buttonholes either side of the waist seam, this is to make a casing for the waist tie. A French seam would be very nice to use on the pants. Otherwise over lock the seams neatly as you go. To make a French seam pin WRONG SIDES TOGETHER, stitch a narrow seam, trim, press and fold right sides together. Stitch another narrow seam enclosing the raw edges. This will win you brownie points it will look so neat and professional. It is strong too.
Fold and stitch the waist as instructed on the pattern, I added another row of stitches right at the top just so that it looked nice. Take your length of elastic and join a piece of ribbon to both ends. Stitch a few times here to give added strength. Give the pants a good press, before inserting the ribbon tie. I stitched the elastic in place on the centre back seam so that overzealous tugging does not pull the whole thing out.
That’s the pants done. 2 hours tops I promise you.
The dressing gown has its own problems. Never mind the bits everywhere, this fabric is HEAVY! You will therefore need to position your machine at the end of your table so that you have somewhere to support all the weight. I used a longer stitch than normal, a needle for heavy weight fabrics – a 14 or a 16 and my walking foot. For the side seams I over locked them first because I wanted to insert belt carriers into the seams and there was no way I was risking damaging my overlocker sewing over multiple layers of heavy fabric.
You need to stay stitch the fronts and the back neckline too in order to stop it from stretching. If by any chance you cannot complete this garment all in one go then please do the stay stitching if nothing else. It prevents the fabric from stretching out of shape.
Sewing it is easy, fronts to back at the shoulders, over lock or zigzag the seam then put the sleeves in, neatening the seams as you go makes the whole thing much easier. The pockets come next, so stitch them in place again neatening any raw edges. At this point I cut two lengths of fabric, about 8” long, folded the edges to the middle, folded again in half, (just like you will make the belt) and stitched it doubled over just above the pocket tops. Here you will appreciate overlocking the side seams first!
The rest is very straightforward. The sleeves need overlocking and then turning up as required and top stitching.
The pattern instructions recommend turning under the seam allowance on the front band, but you can overlock it instead if you prefer. Follow the pattern instructions and stitch the bands and hem.
As a nice touch I used a piece of the ribbon used to fasten the waist of the pants to make a hanging loop in the back of the dressing gown.
Well, there you have it. I did press the hems and seams using a pressing cloth and then inspected it for loose threads again. Did Michael like the pants and dressing gown? Well, he immediately went for a shower and put them on so I guess he does!
Don’t be frightened of sewing for men, fitting is easy for a start. Next time I will make a shirt, don’t worry it won’t have a collar; it will be “granddad” style.
Until then happy (men’s) sewing!