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Topic: Guys Need to Sew!

  1. #1
    Established Member 4051's Avatar
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    Mar 2012

    Default Guys Need to Sew!

    Okay guys! This is for you. You need to learn to sew. (or at least to learn the basics) There are going to be times when you need your clothes to fit and nobody has their heart into the project as much as you.

    Sewing isn’t for everybody. It’s a whole different animal than wood shop. Any fool can cut a piece of plywood 5 ¼” x 27 ½” because the material is hard and flat and it doesn’t change shape while you’re working with it. Cloth, on the other hand, is soft and pliable. It will wrinkle, wad-up and make you look like a real ditz. But enough of that. Let’s talk about the “WHY?”

    Example: While I was in high school I met the girl all guys dream about. She was beautiful, poised, the real socialite and her dad was president of Armco Steel Corporation. She went nice places with upper class people and I was her guy. Well, you don’t take out a girl like that wearing a suit off the rack from J.C. Penny and unless you have the dough to spend on a personal tailor you’d better learn how to sew a 5/8” seam.,0,6420320.story

    I needed a tuxedo. Ever try to buy one? Don’t. A tux is something that’s tailored for you by a professional and unless your dad owns Monsanto Chemical, you’re out of luck. Even if you aren’t dating the Kardashian sisters, there are times when you need something special – unique. Often, you don’t want to let it out what you’re up to. I don’t know who made Superman’s costumes but Spiderman had to make his own.

    You can have a barrel of fun at costume parties, making your own outfits; not the hokey stuff they sell in novelty shops, but real, made-to-fit costumes. Or maybe you’re into horse racing and need a jockey outfit or your girl needs an English riding outfit. You’re the guy that can make it happen! Did you see the Three Amigos?

    It would be best if you would first take a few classes to see if you have an aptitude to work in this new medium. Not everyone is going to be cut out to be a tailor and I have to admit that I learned a few new words while trying my hand with the slinky nylons and silks. There’s a trick to polyester. When they’d ask me if I was a tailor, I told ‘em, “NO! I’m a SEAMSTER!”

    Buy some cheap material to practice on and learn how to lay out the pieces to save as much material as you can. But be careful – cloth has a ‘grain’ much like wood and you need to be able to match the grain on intersecting pieces or it’ll look like your kid brother made it.

    I gave up on those hokey Butterick patterns. I couldn’t find what I wanted and they never are the right size or shape to fit you. That’s an artform in itself. That flimsy tissue paper has to be pinned onto the fabric you’re using. (Sometimes I cheated and used my Swingline stapler.) If you use the tissue patterns, you’ll probably give up and toss the whole project into the circle file before you know what it’s all about.

    No. I got smart. I went to the Goodwill store and found a pair of pants that fit me through the waist and butt. They were bright turquoise and they were too short but that’s okay. I took them apart with a seam ripper and guess what? The pieces already had the necessary seam allowances and they were already folded and pressed into the right direction so when I put it all back together it was a snap. The cloth pieces lay nicely on the new material and almost stick to it, unlike the exasperating tissue paper. At that time in my life, Disco was tops and Tom Jones was King. The pants I picked for my pattern was snug in the seat to accentuate my gluteus maximus. Then I extended the inseams and outer seams to create a flare to the cuff. (You’d have to have lived back then to relate.) Look at Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever” and you got it.

    Well, almost. Unless you’ve put the legs and crotch of a pair of pants together a time or two, you’ll lose your mind trying to figure out how it all ends up sewn into something that hugs your buns. Let me tell you, my tux was a smashing success and when the other guys figured out what I could do in that regard, they carried money to my door for their creations.

    I bought a Sears “Lady Kenmore” zigzag and read up on the machine from the instruction booklet and used the buttonhole attachment and the ruffler to see what they did. Yep, I had a ruffled shirt to go with my outfit and it was (as they say in the British films) “Quite Smashing”.

    I spent a lot of nights with Lady Kenmore before I learned what I needed to know to just get by.. There were a couple of books out back then by Simplicity on basic sewing that were invaluable to get started. The book that saved my sanity was “Sewing for Men and Boys.” I don’t know if it’s still in print but you need one. Look to see if Amazon has one. I learned the hard way. It’s not easy to learn from reading a book and if you can find a teacher it’ll save you a lot of frustration.

    What I suggest that you do is give Margaret a call and set up some lessons with her and it’ll be well worth whatever she decides to require as payment. Money well spent. If you decide it’s not for you, you won’t have your money tied up in a machine you’re not going to use and (here’s the best part) you’ll have some experience that you couldn’t acquire much any other way. Who knows? You just might have a lot of fun getting into it.

    If you go into the military (yeah khakis that don’t fit look like you’ve slept in them) you can tailor your own shirts and pants to fit and you’ll be one sharp trooper! If you take to your new hobby you can make it your vocation. I knew a guy in California that made a lot of clothes and costumes for the top rated actors and he was paid handsomely. At least give it a good chance and check it out.

  2. #2
    Established Member 4051's Avatar
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    Mar 2012

    Default Re: Guys Need to Sew!

    Maybe we need to get your artistic and creative juices flowing? The first step in creating something unique that's just "YOU" is to think about it. Imagine it. See it in your mind's eye.

    Then, when you've got a good idea in mind, pull out the sketchbook and a soft 2B pencil or a charcoal pencil and catch the idea on paper. Do several of these and you'll see that one or two of the drawings reveals a better expression of what's in your head. Lean in that direction and make some more drawings.

    Incidentally, a good primer for these drawings is a book by Alexander Loomis called "Figure Drawing for All It's Worth". You'll see that your fashion model figure is more than just a stick man or a line drawing' - it's a human form with depth, presence and form. Work on your drawings and continue developing more ideas as they spring from your concious.

    Color Rendering your Drawing:

    (Yeah, I know... this is a girl's skirt... but we're looking at her technique here... not the particular garment.)

    When you have a pretty good idea what you want, it's time to start looking at fabrics. Get familiar with various types and textures of fabrics to see how they'll play into your creation.

    Here are some random Youtube videos that will get you started in the basics. There are many more listed. Pick the ones that interest you and see how much you can learn there.

    Proper fit of a shirt:

    Tailoring a suit:

    Master tailoring:


    Granted, the cutting of a suit jacket can be intimidating if you haven't done it before and you don't have a shop where you can hang out to learn from the old craftsmen.

    Like I mentioned before, go to the Goodwill store and pick out a jacket that fits you fairly well. You can ignore things like sleeve length, color, fabric, etc. as you make your selection.

    After you take it home you can mark it up with a dressmaker's pencil to alter places you need to deviate. Then get out your seam ripper and take it apart. Mark joining pieces.

    You'll find that it's a lot easier to make a garment if you already have one to use as a guide to see how much extra to cut for the seam allowances and how those seams fold back together.

    You can lay out the pieces on your new material and they'll often 'cling' to the fabric like velcro while you do the cutting. Be sure to extend the pieces for added sleeve length, room across the back, etc.

    Next time you go to church or to a meeting, take a look at the guys and notice how their suits fit (or not) to identify troublesome areas that you need to be aware of. One is mentioned in the video with Emil Fusaro about the amount of material to place in the back of the jacket.

    Frequently, as you look at men wearing their fine clothes, you'll see a guy with a large wrinkle across his back, below the collar and between his shoulder blades. This is what Emil was referring to. The suit jacket was made for someone who stands, leaning forward a bit. But this guy has good posture and stands erect so it makes the jacket pucker up where added material was allowed for the slouched fellow.

    Also, notice the fabric. Some guys suits have wrinkles in the inside of the elbows and behind the knees, even when they're standing. These fabrics take on a 'slept-in' appearance in a short time, especially in a hot business meeting or sitting for a few hours at a desk.

    Learn to look around and to actually 'see' what you're looking at so you'll not spend hours developing your creation, only to have it look pitiful because of a poor selection of the fabric. Now, start thinking and get out that sketchbook!

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