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Mar 23, 2010

Too. Many. Patterns.


You know how seeing five birds sitting on a telephone pole is charming but five hundred suddenly feels like an Alfred Hitchock movie?

That's how I'm feeling this morning about mens patterns.  Yesterday my package arrived with the twenty-nine vintage mens patterns I'd won on eBay on -- was it only last Thursday?   They're all in great condition though they do smell like three decades' worth of Marlboros.

There's some good stuff in here for sure: shorts, shirts, vests, suits, gym clothes, sportcoats...


But -- and this may sound strange, or not -- nothing I haven't seen before, many, MANY times.


The sad truth is that mens patterns are -- dare I think it let alone say it? -- pretty dull.

I mean, where's the male equivalent of the Joan Collins "Dynasty" dress I just made?  There ain't one.  I doubt too many men would have collected the Dynasty John Forsythe collection.  What did he even wear?  A suit, dinner clothes, maybe a smoking jacket...  Who even cares?

I also think there's something about getting a box of twenty-nine of anything that makes it hard to absorb in one sitting.  I used to collect LPs (long-playing record albums -- music to you young'uns) and I remember coming home from the flea market with, say, twenty albums under my arm and never playing any of them; I didn't know where to begin.

BUT if I'd scored one album I was really excited about (Peggy Lee's "Sugar'n'Spice" comes to mind), I might listen to it for days.

Do you hear where I'm coming from, peeps?

I'm sure over time I'll learn to love some of these.  And I already plan to ship a few to a short German guy I met through BurdaStyle (apparently there's a real dearth of mens patterns over there).  And don't be surprised if my next giveaway is a pattern for double-knit polyester bell-bottoms.

There's a moral here, folks:  Don't let your eyes be bigger than your stomach.

I think I've just experienced my first pattern binge.  Belch.


P.S. -- THIS is the pattern I'm really excited about, which I picked up yesterday on Etsy:

I can't wait to make version B!

30 comments:

  1. Sometimes more is just more. Enough is as good as a feast. I feel your pain.

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  2. Patterns do tend to multiply, especially if you're a thrift/ebay shopper. Or if you shop the dollar sales at Jo-Ann's.

    I've just shipped off two boxes to patternrescue.com. It feels good to declutter and share. But I still have almost 100 patterns that I can't seem to part with...

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  3. Even with women's patterns a tee shirt is really just a tee shirt. After a while they all start to look the same as well. Maybe a little more variety than the men's patterns, but the real creativity is with your choice of material, embellishment, and the changes you make to the pattern to suit yourself. Imagine giving 6 sewers the same basic pattern, sending them off to sew it up, and not allowing them to speak to each other. At the end you will 6 very different dresses or shirts or what have you - don't you think?

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  4. I like the long Vogue dress you're going to make.

    View B cover art model looks like she needs to visit the chiropractor. View C model's other job is front(man?) in an 80's hair band. View A is Kathy Griffin's older sister, and they all need a cheeseburger.

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  5. I know exactly how you feel. I'm having a similar problem trying to figure out which item to sew first for my June, June, & Junie Project. Argh! Enough is as good as a feast, as they say. The trick is putting it into practice.

    I think you've done a great job, Peter, Keeping what you like and passing on the rest to others; another man's treasure.

    Love the new dress for Cousin Cathy. She totally ROCKED the Joan Collins Dynasty Frock (as she should since she's so fab-u-lous, much like her cousin!)

    Just wanted to take a moment to let you know that you really inspire me, Peter. I've been sewing for as long as I can remember, but have been far more fired up about it since I discovered your blog. :)

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  6. Interesting blog, I found you from Burda Style. Keep up the good work!

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  7. LUV the new dress pattern! I see a new festive springtime frock in Cathy's future!! I'm glad that you can find such happiness in womens patterns, as I agree that mens patterns are pretty boring . . . but I do think they could have gotten some mileage out of a John Forsythe/Dynasty line!!

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  8. If you were going to design patterns for men, what would they look like? What are you looking for? Can a T & T be morphed into one of those? Curious questions.

    - Myrna

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  9. Maybe, maybe...

    But thank goodness for Cathy. If she didn't exist I would have had to invent her.

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  10. This is such a sad truth and really makes my heart ache. I've been looking for a few patterns to make up for my husband and well, there's slim pickins. Really slim. So slim, there's almost nothing to see. Sad, sad, sad. I think you should come out with your own pattern line. Now that would be fabulous!

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  11. Quick, get Burda on the phone! ;)

    Myrna, that's a good question. I do see cute guys jackets from time to time and wish I could buy the pattern. But honestly, I think the problem -- or rather the reality -- is that mens clothes are very standard: shirts and pants. That's basically it.

    So you have to find unusual fabrics and color combinations.

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  12. Its true. I sew for my man and admittedly I have maybe 5 for all the garments I make for him. Pants/shorts, jacket, shirt, pjs and a robe. everything he needs comes from those 5 patterns. One of the joys of being a man....

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  13. Believe me, Peter, I understand. After all, I was gifted with eight kitchen bags full of patterns that are still on the floor of my bedroom at the moment. I need to go through them better and figure out what I want to keep, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

    I've bought boxes of patterns off ebay before, too. Those were easier to go through than the bags. I wasn't allergic to something in them, for one. :) And I just took out the ludicrously dated ones that there was no way I'd ever make...

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  14. Oh, the binge feeling will pass leaving a vague sense of shame and discontent, and it will happen again as you try to fill the emptiness with more patterns. Oy. At least it's only patterns and fabric; I suppose I could binge on much worse things.

    Speaking of binging--the plan for Friday is to meet at Crisp, 110 W. 40th, at 12:30 for lunch, and then hit up the garment district. I hope you can make it!

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  15. maybe you could leave some fabric softner sheets to alleviate some of the smell. I just bought a 50s western shirt for my uncle...the pattern art is pretty cool and i agree it's about the fabric and changes you make

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  16. Don't give up! There are great men's patterns to be had. I am away from my pattern stash while the house is up for sale - God forbid any prospective buyer should see that collection! But I made some amazing men's clothes from wild patterns in the late 60's and early 70's. One orange corduroy suit was so fabulous that when my friend's apartment was burgled, it was taken. I can't remember the designer - might be Daniel Hechter - but it was Butterick. If I have kept any of those patterns, (and they have survived the Seattle climate), I promise I will rush them to you the minute I find them. When I met my husband, he was a chemist who recreationally modeled for the local (Seattle) Courrage's shop. He had numerous badly made and hideously unfashionable items made for him by enthusiastic girlfriends and (not knowing my level of sewing) made me promise never to sew for him. Not a problem - more time for me - but these fabulous patterns have needed a new home since that day, over 30 years ago.

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  17. I think the variations in men's patterns are often more subtle--variations in collar size/spread, pant rise, pleats or no pleats in pants, etc... and you're right, it often comes down to just fabric choice. I have a few reference books on men's fashion (Dressing the Man, Make Over Your Man) I bought for help in sewing for Masheka, and unlike women's fashion books which tend to focus on eras or decades of style, the emphasis is on how men's fashion is "timeless."

    Unless you're making jumpsuits or bell bottoms or zoot suits--or clown suits!

    As for pattern binging, I got the same feeling a few years back when I acquired most of my vintage patterns. I eventually weeded them out to the best 10 and sold/gave away the rest.

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  18. I found you through burdastyle, and I love your blog, and your fresh perspective!!!

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  19. It's your mention of them smelling like Marlboros that makes me cringe. I despise smelly patterns (but I'm freakishly allergic and sensitive to stuff).

    I'm so glad you have Cathy to sew for! Her Joan Collins dress was wonderful. And the pattern you've picked out now is very similar to a couple of mine I've always loved. Can't wait to see it!

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  20. Thanks for swinging by my blog! You know... I'd HEARD about you!!!! I was having a conversation with a non-blogging crafty type who said she was hooked on your blog - only I couldn't remember the name of it when I went to look you up.

    Anyhoo - men's patterns.... hmmm... I know what you mean. I'll be watching to see what you do with the Joan Collins number.

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  21. I think you should do what Mikhaela did. Take out the top five patterns that you will use and put the rest away to deal with at another time. Out of sight, out of mind.

    Too bad about the cigarette smoke. Can you air them out? Or Fabreeze the crap out of them? ;)

    And, I love the new dress pattern!

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  22. I am the POSTER child for pattern excess. But it's so hard to stop!

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  23. That's how I feel when I have too many projects in my brain. One at a time is the only way to do it.

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  24. OMG that dress pattern is the greatest. Absolute greatest. I hope Cathy has an upcoming event she could wear it to? Sadie Hawkins? Spring Fling? Or, perhaps just the grocery store?! She needs to find a reason to wear it!

    I dunno, I didn't find your jumpsuit pattern dull?!

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  25. Too many patterns?? My initial response was that this could never happen (Like, Imelda Marcos probably never felt she had too many shoes...).
    But I understand the point about the relatively limited opportunities for different garments.

    I liked your post on finishing seams. My mother was a great source of frustration to me when I was young - any RTW item that came into the house was immediately turned inside-out, followed by much tsk-tsk-ing about minimal seam allowances, shoddy facings, and poorly-finished seams. Many years later, I have (of course) turned into my mother, and when my daughter brings home RTW items, I turn them inside out and.....

    Personally, I am a big fan of the Hong Kong finish. It provides a delicious opportunity to introduce a whimsical contrast that can peep out from the inside of an unlined jacket, or provide a quiet bit of subversion on hidden seams of an otherwise conservative dress or skirt. Its a bit like wearing really exotic underwear......oops, I think I'd better stop right there!

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  26. I made that dress in a gorgeous deep purple to wear as the matron of honor at my sister's second wedding. It was absolutely stunnng. I wore it several other times to formal events before it would no longer fit.

    Lois K

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  27. Once upon a time, as a young teenager I used to go out and buy a pattern, fabric and notions then go home and make a dress. Buying for two projects at a time was unheard of, three patterns at a time would have been shockingly greedy. This was before buy one get one free sales that we have here in Australia. Lets just say reading what other sewists get up to on the internet changed my point of view. Now I have hundreds of patterns and an embarrasingly large fabric stash. Now I'm trying to get back to my former ways.
    Giving away or selling the excess is the cure for bingeing...if you want a cure that is.
    BTW I love the illustration for the Vogue dress. Some people collect old patterns for the art work. I've even heard of laminated patterns being turned into clutch bags.
    Love your blog Peter.

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  28. I also spotted a good use of old tissue patterns recently - a fabric shop in Flinders Lane, Melbourne, has old tissue patterns decoupaged onto their counters. It looked so good, it distracted me from rummaging through their remnants for, gosh, all of 30 seconds!

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  29. Dear Peter,

    I fully agree with you about the paucity of men's sewing patterns.
    Why don't you learn how to knit? There are loads of amazing men's knitting patterns out there.

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  30. KNIT?!!!

    I actually tried knitting a few years ago -- I found it very meditative. But good yarn is SO expensive and I couldn't think of anything to knit other than scarves and hats and I have plenty of those already.

    Maybe someday.

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