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Aug 8, 2011


Readers, maybe it's the cool morning breezes that hint September is on its way -- no, we haven't had any of those yet, sadly.

Rather,  I think it's knowing that once August is here, it's nearly MPB Day, then Labor Day, and then it's back to school!  Already the stores are brimming with school supplies and fall clothes -- not that I shop in clothing stores, mind you.

Oh, speaking of clothes shopping, did you happen to catch this article in the August 5th New York Times? (You may have to click through an ad.)  Would you believe there are people who sew all their own clothes?  How crazy is that!  I must check that Brooklyn place out.

Friends, I'm dragging us into fall today, whether you like it or not.  I'm not much of a planner, as you know, but I'm trying to map out where we're headed here at Male Pattern Boldness, or as it's also known, Himlines -- get it?  (What do you think of Himlines?)

Here's some of what's in store:

1) It's time for a new sew-along.  Hold you hats, folks -- or something -- because we're going to be making men's boxer shorts!

I've been wanting to lead a more elementary-level sew-along for some time now, and since boxers were my very first sewing project, I think this would be a great garment to tackle.  I'll be discussing this in more detail in the weeks ahead.  I'm not sure whether I'll be using a commercial pattern or teaching how to draft your own -- it's so easy and that way you know your boxers are going to fit.

Remember these vintage French-style boxers I made a long time ago from a vintage Simplicity pattern from 1945?

Well, they've never been wearable, frankly -- a little too tight in the rear and MUCH too high in the waist.  So maybe I'll re-work those to make them look a little more contemporary.


2) This fall I also want to conquer the highly controversial mermaid gown for Cathy.  A lot of you love it, a lot of you hate it -- and I wouldn't have it any other way.

3) I also plan to make this, which I won yesterday on eBay (and sorry about the awful picture).

It was pretty cheap ($6 USD) and funny thing is, the seller was also offering this Vogue pattern, which went for three times as much -- and isn't it the same dress? 

I love that collar and I think this period (1951-52) is most flattering to Cathy, especially now that she owns a crinoline.

4) I have plans to make a few shirts for Michael, including one made from this psychedelic fabric I picked up at the flea market a few weeks ago.  That may happen sooner than September, actually.

5. I'm supposed to be leading a sew-along on BurdaStyle soon for a lined sundress, though I'm still waiting for the fabric to arrive.  I'm wondering if late summer is really the best time to be sewing a sundress but what do I know?

Anyway, what's exciting -- and unprecedented -- is that I'll be sewing this dress not for Cathy, but for a lovely young actress friend, Leah, who has a few things Cathy doesn't (I mean auburn hair and a husband, vulgarians!) so it should be exciting, and I know Leah will be up for a glamorous photo shoot.  She'd better be!

Friends, in closing, have you started planning your fall sewing yet?  If not, what are you waiting for?  Anything exciting on tap you wish to share?

What do you think of those amazing Brooklyn trendsetter sewers?

What was your favorite lunch box?

Jump in!


  1. Oh I love that Steve Austin lunch box, just look at him yanking a tree out by its roots! My cousin and I shared a Steve Austin dressing up set complete with arm bionics and a creepy Lee Majors mask, thanks for reminding me!
    I've been thinking of Fall sewing too, specifically my first attempt at a wool jacket. x

  2. But Peter, school starts a lot earlier than it did when we were kids. In fact, here in Georgia, the kids went back to school last week!

    Me, I'm still working on some summery projects. But since it won't get cold here until November, and even then if you throw a coat on over it or a shirt under the sunny day dresses, you're good to go.

  3. it's winter here, so i definitely don't want to be dragged back into fall/autumn! i'm heading toward spring with a vigour that is unmatched LOL

    My favourite lunchbox/thermos lunchbox set was a dark blue Holly Hobby duo circa 1975 but i've got to say I'm rather partial to that Flying Nun version you have as your intro pic :)

    I can't wait to see Cathy in her mermaid dress!

  4. Fall sewing is okay with me - my part of Europe has had fall weather for months now anyway, the summer never really came. We have had so much rain for weeks and only few days with temperatures above 20 C / 70 F.

  5. I love the flying nun lunch boxes, never had one but I must of made a hundred paper flying nun hats which I cannot believe my mother let me wear outside of the house. Its never too early for fall sewing my fabric store is already receiveing some great fall fabrics

  6. Here in foggy San Francisco, it is almost always cool enough for fall clothing! Last night I finished a black wool waistcoat, from a self-drafted pattern. I'm happy with the fit, but see that learning how to make bound buttonholes are in my future. And that I really *do* need to start interlining the fronts.

    I also just made my first fly-front pajama pants from a piece of Stewart plaid pima cotton. The fly front is pretty crudely constructed, but as fasteners, I used black buttons sewn on with red thread. Very cute.

    I'm looking forward to your boxers sew-along. Perhaps I can master the fly!

  7. Oh, Peter!! That nice psychedelic fabric would make me naughious (can't SPELL it--get sick, I mean ;p) to sew...
    Don't remember WHAT was on my lunchbox... But remember that a bratty "older" kid told me that there is no Santa Claus... I dropped my box/thermos in total disbelief and shattered the insides... "I DO believe, I DO believe, I DO believe"
    RHOnda in Montreal

  8. i am SO READY for fall sewing! i have a nice stash of tweeds & woolens that i've been, er, hoarding all summer, and i just cut out the pattern pieces for a lightweight suit jacket. it doesn't actually get *cold* here until december or so, but that doesn't stop me from preparing!

  9. I am totally in fall sewing mode! My kids start school in a week! I am currently working on cowboy inspired shirts for my sons and many dresses for my daughter! I like to sew clothes that transition well though. Like dresses for my daughter than can be used in winter with a pair of stockings and a turtleneck and then sans those articles for spring and summer.

  10. I love your pants... i just wanna wear them out!

  11. I had a Bionic Woman lunch box!

    I liked the article, so affectionately written... no fall sewing plans yet--summer keeps going all the way to late October in Austin but that didn't stop me from looking at beautiful wool fabrics yesterday. Just so tired of the heat and can't wait to layer!

  12. I just spent the day yesterday collecting fall fabrics to start on my children's collection that I sell on Etsy. I really wanted to do a couple more summer items, but I feel that I really need to start on fall. Here in the San Francisco bay area, it has felt a lot like the start of fall. It is so breezy and cool for the month of August. Maybe that is what is motivating me towards the fall.

    Favorite lunch box would have been Winnie the Pooh :)

  13. Even though it has been insanely hot for weeks, the thought of making a new winter coat has been working on me. I have yet to find the right pattern; I found a Vintage Balmain dress pattern on ebay (WAY overpriced!) that would have made a lovely coat. I may have to settle for the tried and true "frankenpattern" route instead!

  14. Batman lunchbox, Malibu Barbie backpack. Mixed messages much? Maybe this is why I grew up so strange.

    I guess the article was a young'n from another hipster-heavy city (Montreal) I have a slight allergic reaction to discussion of Brooklyn, but beyond the "oh, handmade vegan muffins and she kisses her sewing machine every morning" vibe that seems impossible to shake in writing like this, it was nice.

  15. I had a metal Strawberry Shortcake lunch box that looked like a small (maybe 8X8 inch) wicker picnic basket. Very cute, but you couldn't get much food into it!

  16. I must admit I haven’t been thinking about Fall too much with the hazy, hot, humid weather we’ve been having. I would like to make a very simplified version of a Chanel-type jacket (after years of non-sewing, my skills are too rusty to go for the real deal just yet) with maybe a matching skirt. Lately, I’ve been in recycle mode – hemming a vintage skirt, replacing the elastic on my favorite slip, repairing a couple of sets of ruffled curtains that unfurled completely in the wash because they were made so cheaply. Your adventures with the crinoline gathers gave me the courage to tackle all those ruffles (I did it!) and MY work will not unfurl in the wash.

    I was glad to see that article about the Brooklyn sewist. It’s like a quiet revolution and we are all underground freedom fighters.

    I’m glad you’ll make the mermaid dress for Cathy. She has the long, lean body and the self-confidence required to pull it off. Personally, I like the Balenciaga with the pink ruffles. The ruffles don’t have to be in a contrasting color. The dress could be monochromatic, but the style is flattering and Cathy could still walk, sit, climb stairs or whatever. Cathy is too athletic to be confined by a dress. I think the Marilyn Monroe dress doesn’t work because the look is supposed to be long and flowing, but the line of her dress is cut off in too many places. The top is sheer with a rocket-cup bra coming through. The skirt is a light contrasting color that makes her hips appear even bigger and there is a belt at the waist with a bow. The ruffles cut straight across her legs. It’s all too much.

    I would make the boxers just for the educational value. They would make great shorts, though I would have to close up the front for me. 

    Regarding lunchboxes, I lived near the school, so the kids on my block went home for lunch and missed out on the whole lunchbox culture.

  17. people who sew their own clothes! who would have thunk it??

  18. I would love to compare the directions/construction process between the two look-alike patterns! Vogue instructions used to be so much more detailed in better quality construction that they were worth the extra cost just for the lessons learned.

    I never had a lunch box. And don't recall ever wanting one. The school lunches were really not bad when I went to school. But that was when they actually cooked meals instead of reheating frozen fast food. Loved, loved, loved the peanut butter cookies!

  19. love the idea of a sew-along for boxer shorts!! Please make them self-drafted! I am too cheap and lazy to buy a pattern.
    Robin (alittlesewing)

    What sundress pattern will you use? Fun to sew for someone else!!

    blogger isn't letting me post with my account

  20. The Flying Nun Lunchbox make me laugh! I had Disney characters... at least until 5th grade. Then it was boring brown paper sacks...

    I had great intentions for summer sewing... but I got distracted by doing sewing for other people and going out and doing stuff, rather than sewing clothes to do it in. Ah, well.

    I still have more sewing for others to take care of, but hopefully some fall/winter sewing before we actually get to winter! I really need a nice mid-weight fall jacket, but I have been stocking up on wools, so I guess in reality am looking forward to making a winter coat.

  21. This is actually the warmer part of the year for us, from now until around late October to early November. We don't get a lot of extremes in our weather, so I tend to sew the same clothing year round. I do always like the back to school stuff -- it feels like a new start, much more so than New Year's. I end up craving things quite different from my usual taste -- grandpa sweaters, button-downs, and oxfords.

    I'd love to do some boxers. I'd like them to sleep in. My favorite lunch box was Annie (from the movie).

  22. the only lunchbox we've ever owned (shared with my sister) was a SNOOPY one that came with a thermos.

    i too had great plans for summer sewing that didn't quite pan out.. looking towards fall, i'm think woolens and circle skirts! i guess i should start on the wool jackets at some point before it gets cold :P

  23. Oooh! I'm kind of excited about the boxer sew-along! I've unfortunately missed your previous two (darn schedule... :p), so maybe I can actually, finally *gasp* participate?! Fingers crossed!

    Don't tempt me with fall... You are really killing me, Peter! It's hot as you-know-where in FL right now (and humid), and all I can think about is wool cardigans and tweed skirts (while I melt in my sheer dresses). lol. I am planning my fall sewing a bit right now, though who knows when I'll be able to wear any of it?! Top on my wishlist (of things that I don't need, but want) is a green corduroy 40s swing coat. I saw a pattern on Etsy a few weeks ago (that I still need to buy... *ahem*) that planted the idea in my head and I haven't been able to stop imagining how pretty a green corduroy coat would be (with the requisite fall leaves fluttering about artistically in the background...).

  24. Hey, if those high-waisted undershorts were good enough for Clark Gable, they ought to be good enough for you!

    I had a Peanuts lunchbox that was made of red vinyl. Isn't that strange?

    It's supposed to be 107 here in Austin tomorrow. I'm not sure we're going to get a fall, much less a winter. I have at least three pieces of coat fabric that are laying in my stash, laughing at me every time I go in there.

  25. OMG! The Flying Nun lunch box! I had the same one! Wow that takes me back (WAY back!).

    I will not let you drag me into fall. Although I'm melting in these temps., I am NOT looking forward to fall. Actually, I love fall, but it leads to winter - UGH!

    We are planning our vacation, so I am still doing summer sewing, and in my mind I shall stay in summer for as long as possible - but I still love you, Peter!

  26. I am sure I had quite a few character lunchboxes, but the only one I can remember (and I did love it) was "Land of the Lost." It had a fancy plastic thermos, quite the new thing in the late 70s.

    Of course what I would really kill for is a "Remains of the Day" lunch box. But I think there might only be one of those. . .

    I have that Simplicity boxers pattern and have been frustrated by the fit also. I'd love it if you reworked it and explained as you went, I'm sure I'd benefit!

  27. Bring on the boxer shorts! I've made a few pair recently - I've discovered that old pillowslips have just enough fabric for 2 pair, so my underwear drawer is now replete with shorts in thriftshop tartan, polka dot and animal print cottons. I haven't attempted a fly yet, so a sew-along would be great.

    My kids are horrified at the notion of underwear made from something someone else has slept on. Meh ... better that than the opposite - pillowslips made from old boxer shorts.

    You might be knocking on the door of autumn (fall) in the northern hemisphere, but for we antipodeans, it's the end of winter. Goodbye to cold dark nights and frosty morning, hello to the first buds of spring!

  28. Oh yes, I've wanted to do a sew-along but the others were beyond my skill level. Boxer shorts would be great!

  29. Why are patterns for men so few and far between?! It's so weird. I started the Negroni shirt but the muslin seemed so different to the shape of my bf that I have temporarily given up in despair. I am thinking that drafting is the only way forward. The luxury of handmade undies is very appealing so your shorts idea is brilliant. I went on a material-buying spree yesterday and I can feel another Jalie hoodie coming on, that's autumnal isn't it.

    I have no idea what the flying nun is all about, maybe she never reached the uk. It looks completely bonkers and not uninfluenced by drugs, surely.

  30. I'm totally ready for a fall project. Today I'm breaking out the Swedish tracing paper and getting started on the Japanese trench coat. I have 3 yards of dark olive twill that I picked up almost a year ago in the Peron's 50% off back room. Note to self.... When you find a great deal buy MORE!

  31. Fall sewing?? I'm not done with my *summer* sewing yet!! Also, i really like the fabric you picked. (#4)

  32. I'm still sewing summer clothes too. I know autumn is nearly here, but I really don't want to think about it. I had a nightmare about snow the other night.

  33. I loved my Superman lunchbox.

    I'm just finishing my last summer project and then it is on to fall - making a cocktail dress to wear to a friend's wedding and then some more every day dresses and skirts.

    The Times always seems to get to the story about 5 years after the cutting edge.

  34. Yes to another sew-a-long!!!
    Just about to hem my jeans from the last sew-a-long (bet I'm the slowest sewist in the bunch). They are the second garment I have attempted to make...the first being a Simplicity shirt. I am absolutely elated with how well they came together. This would not have been possible without this blog. Thank you Peter, and everyone else who posted pictures and comments. Hope to post pictures to the flickr group this week.

  35. I was a brown-bagger or school luncher all through until high school graduation! Never had a lunch box. Wah!
    I have some wonderful lightweight menswear suiting to make into a six-gore twirly bottom skirt with the seams all raw edges out. Very "Anthropologie." I also have a piece of black and white nubbley tweed wool to make into a straight skirt on the cross grain with the fringy selvedge as the hem. My summer sewing is sitting in various stages of completion, gathering dust and cat hair, while I finish up this last summer month of summer kids' sewing camps. Here in the SF Bay Area we are possibly looking at summer finally beginning mid-August and it could last until October. So I feel like I still have time to finish one or two of these dusty summer frocks.

  36. I forgot to say that I love the Vogue pattern for the dress with the chic neckline.
    Also Kwik Sew has a pattern for boxers that is very straightforward to sew and has a well finished fly front with buttons. Very cute.

  37. I had two favorites. I carried my Snoopy lunchbox, which was shaped like his house and painted so it looked like he was snoozing on top, for two years and a "Queen of the Prom" lunchbox with art very much like a 50's sewing pattern envelope on one side and a gameboard on the other, for three years. It came with magnetic game pieces for the gameboard. All the other girls wanted to sit next to me so we could play the game :)


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