Thread Theory

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The Perfect Menswear Sewing Pattern for Beginners

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I sewed my dad a t-shirt made from woven fabric!  He was a bit skeptical of the idea at first but once he tried it on and got used to the feeling of cool, light hemp and no stretch, he realised it was very comfortable.

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The pattern is designed by Merchant & Mills and is called The Tee.  It is available in our shop!

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The fabric is a hemp and organic cotton blend from the summer collection (also in our shop).  It is the only colorway remaining from the three colors that I used to have in stock.  I must say, I was surprised that this one didn’t sell out first (the pale blue was the most popular) since this charcoal grey is such a versatile color!

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I find the idea of a woven tee to be very appealing because I receive many emails from beginner sewers who are looking for an easy menswear project.  A woven tee combines two elements that make it the perfect candidate for a beginner sewer: 1. It contains only four pattern pieces and 2. You can sew it up in a very stable fabric that does not stretch as you work with it.

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Of course, because this pattern is designed for woven fabrics, it features a fairly roomy, loose fit.  The actual shape of the t-shirt is somewhat boxy (especially compared to our Strathcona Tee which includes curved side seams).  I like that The Tee fits as closely as possible though – for instance, the shoulder seams end at the shoulder bone as you can see in the photo below.  They are not ‘dropped’ shoulders as is often the case in loose, baggy t-shirts – these can easily look sloppy.  I think this nicely fitted sleeve cap gives the shirt a vintage vibe and an overall polished appearance.  The close fitting crew neck also adds to the vintage feel of this garment.  It is the only part of the t-shirt made in a knit (a ribbing in fact).  The instructions for applying the ribbing are excellent (the best I’ve come across in a t-shirt pattern) so, even though this could be a tricky step for a beginner sewer, you will be guided through it thoroughly.

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As you can see in the next photo, the width across the shoulder blades is the perfect amount to allow for a full range of (mostly) unrestricted movement.  My dad commented that the sleeves felt a bit snug when he extended his arms in front of him but we both agreed that my Mom’s work blazers (for instance) are far more restricting.  He is just very used to a t-shirt stretching to suit any movement.

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If I were to sew this t-shirt for my dad again I would likely lengthen the hem by 1″ to 2″ since it is currently a touch too short to tuck in without it pulling out of his waistband when he moves.  I would also play around with the fit at the waist and hips since my dad has a broad shoulder width and a narrow waist and hip circumference.  I would likely taper the side seams from the armpit to the hem by 1″ on each seam.  While this would be a proportionate adjustment for my Dad, I think many men would suit the straight side seams very well.  In fact, my Dad mentioned that he thought the combo of woven fabric and straight side seams would be very comfortable and flattering if he had a beer belly to hide.

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My Dad just got home from an almost 3 month long sailing journey to Hawaii and back!  He lost quite a bit of weight in this time period (since the crew mostly survived on lentil soup and a horrifying lack of cookies).  I sewed the shirt using measurements I took before he left and thus did not account for his slim waist.  I might still take the side seams in if I can borrow the shirt from him in the future!

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My dad’s new dashboard decor for his Ford F-100 ’53 (his only souvenir from Hawaii!).

Thanks, as always, for being such a cooperative model Dad!


Let’s finish off this post with a quick update on how the wedding dress turned out!  I blogged some progress photos a few weeks ago and wrote about how enjoyable the sewing process had been (and how nervous I was for the final fitting!).  Needless to say, the final fitting went so smoothly.  I hardly had to make any changes!

Mika looked absolutely stunning and the wedding was very romantic.  It was in the couple’s home and was wonderfully casual (as you can tell by the groom’s attire).  I felt very proud to see Mika excitedly try on the dress and comfortably wear it the entire evening.  Thanks for such a wonderful opportunity, Mika!  (The photos above were taken by Bayoush Mengesha.)  Congratulations Mika and Mitch!

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4 thoughts on “The Perfect Menswear Sewing Pattern for Beginners

  1. Great to read a review of this pattern, I’ve been rather curious as to how a woven tee for men would work out. I wonder if I could convice my husband… it would be a good satisfying one to quickly whip up!

    • Yes, it is extremely quick! If your husband liked the tee it would be an excellent project to sew in large quantities (three at once in different colors and prints) to create a quick wardrobe update!

  2. Wedding dress is gorgeous! I’m sure Mila was grateful for all your hard work that went into making her look so lovely (complimenting her natural beauty of course!). Congratulations to both of you! I love your Dad’s Tee – looking at it I wondered if my husband would like a woven Tee and I think he would! Breathable in a nice cotton/hemp and not too clingy. Some men aren’t too keen to have all their bumps outlined for the world to see either! It would make a nice first sewing project for him 🙂 He’s been watching me sew with increasingly interest 🙂

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