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May 10, 2012

Sorriest Pattern Category BY A MILE, or "Slim Pickings"




Readers, have you ever thought about sewing a man's coat in a small size?  If so, I have good news for me and bad news you.  Last Tuesday I scored this fabulous men's coat pattern -- Vogue 9308 (above) -- in a size 36 on eBay for, like, $6 USD.  Sorry!

Friends who care, this lined men's coat pattern from the Seventies is rare -- in fact in the last two years or so, I have seen it exactly twice on Etsy, and never in my size.  I'm not planning to make it any time soon (it's almost June after all) but I do intend to make it.

I receive many emails from readers inquiring about men's coat patterns, primarily Vogue Sport 8452, my OOP (Out of Print) toggle, or duffle coat pattern.  This is because the number of decent in-print men's coat patterns is P-A-T-H-E-T-I-C.  And the number of decent OOP men's coat patterns isn't much better!





Come swim with me -- in my coat!

Now for a short, somewhat-related rant: As if that unwatchable-to-anyone-who-lived-through-the-Sixties-and-apologies-to-those-who-did-and-like-it TV show, Mad Men, weren't annoying enough just by its very existence; due to its popularity in the vintage sewing community, whenever I want to do a men's pattern search on Etsy, 90% of the search results are for women's patterns from the late Fifties and early Sixties, because savvy sellers use the keywords Mad Men to draw potential buyers to them.  Has anybody else experienced this?  It drives me crazy, though it has turned me on to some pretty sheath dress patterns.

But back to men's outerwear.  The situation is abominable and I am going to pull whatever tenuous strings (think taffy) I have with the Big 4 pattern companies to improve things.  I realize there are, like, twelve men out there who want to sew their own outerwear and maybe five women, but how could it be otherwise when the selection of patterns is so limited? 

FACT: You will have an easier time finding a Victorian or Edwardian style coat pattern than you will a contemporary (as in NOT early Nineties) one and not because styles have not changed in the last 150 years.  It is due to the fact that most men's outerwear gets made by/for 1) Civil War reenactors, 2) steampunk/Goth/Matrix scary people, and 3) SCA/Rennfest types.









Imagine if you wanted to sew yourself a dress and all you could find was either something out of Gone with the Wind or Robin Hood; THAT'S what we men have to deal with.

OK, there are a few decent patterns out there, primarily from Vogue and Burda.  This in-print trench coat pattern, V8720, is very nice.



Burda 8275, below, is in my collection already; not sure if it's still in print. You can't limit yourself to in-print men's outerwear patterns; you have to dig through the last forty years or so and hope for something with potential.



Paradoxically, while Burda is responsible for some of the best mens outwear patterns, it's also responsible for some of the worst, like this Georg Von Trapp number -- ugly.  



Uglier.



Ugliest. 



Friends, thank you for letting me get this off my chest.  If you would like to look at some more awful (and not-so-awful) men's coat patterns, you can here.  (I didn't even get started on men's fleece patterns, but boy, could I.)

In closing, do you agree that there is no more sorry pattern category than men's outerwear?

The pity party starts right here, right now, and comments of consolation are most welcome.

Have a great day, everybody!

56 comments:

  1. I think the Von Trapp jacket is really for the Germans, where Burda comes from as it's traditional attire there. Burda also has patterns for Dirndle skirts. I spent a summer in German, in Munich, and people do dress like this in day-to-day life.

    You are right about the coat stuff though. I am always on the lookout for nice patterns for my little boy. It is pretty slim pickings but Burda comes out tops there I think. Have a lovely day!

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  2. Peter, would you consider buying a coat of a nice style from a thrift store and cutting it apart to copy it? I know that is more challenging, but it is another way to get what you want.

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    Replies
    1. What -- and dishonor my rant? LOL

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    2. hahahahahahahaha dishonor your rant hahahahahahaha

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  3. While I have not ever sewn for a man, there is a huge lack of patterns. Even if I did want to sew the bf something, look what I have to choose from. The new modern Vogue is nice, but it definitely the exception to the rule.

    I would argue, however, that the selection of women's coat pattern, as in true winter coats, is becoming slimmer now. I have noticed that Vogue has hardly any true winter coats that are made by designers, at least compared to what they seemed to have offered in the 60s and 70s. :]

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  4. Yes, I have wanted to sew for the men in my life, and if they want sweatpants and scrubs or a western shirt, there isn't a problem.
    I also find that patterns for the more ''filled out'' gals are graded poorly and still rely heavily on the muumuu effect.
    You would think that they would plan for boobs considering the plethora if implants out there, but nope. guess that's why I sew. Well, one of the reasons anyway/ :-)

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  5. Yes! I agree. Mens' coats are seriously under-represented in the pattern world. Nice men's clothing, in general is hard to find patterns for. Preppy jackets, nice shirts...anything non-fleece or that isn't to be worn while working at a hospital or hosting at the Playboy mansion (ok, would have to shorten a robe pattern for that, and my husband probably wouldn't object to the Hugh Heffner look).
    The only pattern category that might be less represented than men is boys' clothing. I think there may be exactly 3 patterns for boys from each of the big 4 pattern companies, and they are usually unisex: vest, sweats, jammies. No dress jackets, winter coats, polo shirts, etc. I see a vintage/indie pattern search in my future.

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  6. The situation is beyond awful.....it's downright tragic!!! I wrote both Simplicity and McCall's about the total lack of style for men and of course no one replied! Even Vogue is more or less excluding men's styles! Kwik-Sew and Burda are the remaining strongholds and being that Kwik-Sew has been absorbed by McCall's, I'm fervently praying that they don't pull the men's styles there! The only real solution is either taking a pattern-making course or teaching yourself at home.

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  7. Have you tried looking at Kinokuniya? I bought a mens shirt pattern book there. Unfortunately, even the largest size is a bit snug on my well-fed husband. They might have a mens coat book as well. If not, at least you've had a nice field trip to midtown.

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  8. The selection of affordable, classic (as in NOT designs only a skinny 20 yr old can get into, or NOT a design that is out of date before you get it made) designs is pathetic for both genders but more so for men.

    I have a silly suggestion but it might work if you are any good at drafting patterns. Get a woman's coat pattern. There are a few nice designs for women that might look good on you with slight adjustments. You are slim enough to get away with it.

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  9. I work in a fabric store in the Bay Area, and we get a lot of men who sew. It's a recurring complaint that patterns for classic menswear are really difficult to find these days. It's true that the re-enactors/Rennfaire/Dickens Fair guys have better luck.
    Burda does have some wacky-looking designs, especially for young people. It bothers me that all the photos of young women's patterns make them look really slutty. What's that about?

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  10. That white Vogue trenchcoat creeps me out. The model looks like a flasher!

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  11. I haven't checked for a while, but Burda used to produce a men's edition of thier pattern magazine. That always had a good variety of men's patterns for a similar price to just one pattern.

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    Replies
    1. Yes I think I have an issue stashed away somewhere - it has pretty good men's styles. Also, Peter have you looked at Folkwear? They don't have a lot of men's styles but there are a couple in the "Frontier" and "Retro" collections

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  12. It looks like you've chosen the best option - 70's vintage!
    I've got to congratulate Burda though - at least they provide a variety of styles to choose from. They also do a lot of women's plus sizes that look glamorous - as they should!

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  13. Lekala has pages of men's coats. Some are suit coats, and some are overcoats, but they probably have more than the Big 6 (Big 4 plus Kwik Sew and Burda) put together.

    I did find that the sleeves were too long for my DH, and the instructions were basic at best (and poorly translated from Russian) but other than that, it was drafted well and went together really easily- and I had never tried to make a coat before.

    You do have to print/trace them, which is an absolute pain in the butt, but it's easier than drafting your own.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks -- I had never heard of that company!

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    2. Melissa of Fehr Trade has an archived post which explains how to access and pay for Lekala patterns.

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  14. Peter: I have the same Vogue pattern you found, bought (and made!) back in the day. Since your envelope looks damaged, you might be lacking some interesting info: It's a Valentino design.

    Fair warning - it's going to cost a fortune to make in wool, and the sleeve heads are beyond trying. I wore my final result until it wore out, and never screwed up my courage to go through all that again.

    Bonne chance!

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  15. Ummm... Two of those were not pattern envelopes. They were boxes for home perms.

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  16. Peter: Perhaps I should explain that the difficulty I had with the pattern was probably not the pattern, now that I look back on it. I was doing this in 1977, when guys pretty much needed to sew in absolute secrecy. There was no Internet, and no one to ask: I had a new Lady Kenmore 1914 and the Vogue Sewing Book and some RTW coats to get finishing ideas from - and that was IT. Somehow, I bulled my way through it. Somehow. :)

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  17. EEk, I didn't realise just how dire it had got. Peter I have the Vogue overcoat pattern in a size range including 36, I think, from an unfinished make for an ex (he didn't deserve it to be finished!) if you want it. It is quite "Feeding pigeons in park while passing secrets to KGB agent" but I like that! :)
    And there is a HIDJUS collarless suit in Vogue that I have somewhere - I bought men's patterns because I've sewn for a lot of men in my time, and tend to reuse. I feel your pain, it is a vicious coicle!
    DIY DRAFT IT YOURSELF. Once rant is out of system. Then sell pattern. Become the fifth in the newly formed Big5. Take over world. Cathy as First Lady. It's a future waiting to unfold!

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    Replies
    1. MrsC, I suspect you are the best. And possibly brilliant. :D

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  18. Peter, you would totally rock that Matrix coat from Simplicity. Go for it! ;-)

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  19. I have never looked at men's outerwear patterns. But-if you ever want to sew something for a boy over the age of 2, expect the same disappointment.

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  20. Peter have a look at the Japanese pattern books -eg. pomadour24 on Etsy or Ebay - they are smaller (multi) sizes and in my experience, well drafted. Usually not in English, but they have enough clear diagrams that it's not a problem. You can search for translations - a few bloggers have charts of the common terms. I have a coat book on its way to me at the moment and hope to have better success with it than Burda 8275, which I found too big across the back for my narrow, tall son. I find the japanese patterns I've used for him are a good fit except for the length - he's 6'3"!
    And to Alice M - have a look at the Ottobre magazines - some nice older boys patterns.

    chris m

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  21. Don't even get me started. I bought burda 8275 from sewingpatterns.com as a printsew pattern as its the only format available and I can't even open the file. I've gone through the steps, downloaded the plugin etc. Just can't open the actual pattern files. I don't even know how I'm going to print it as I'd have to bring the file on a usb to a print place....

    At this point the boy is just going to have to freeze and its winter now uv Australia.....

    Melissa

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  22. Peter,
    I understand your pain. There really aren't that many women's outerwear patterns, either. Someone else suggested you use a women's pattern and adjust slightly. That is what I would do. My brother is very small and when I was young ( in the 70s) I used to do a lot of sewing for him because the small men's selection was not so great and very expensive for a guy in high school or college. He bought women's shoes and some women's clothes because they fit better. (And not because he really wanted them for his identical twin cousin.)

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    Replies
    1. Victoria, Marfy has stunning outerwear patterns and a BMV membership now includes a Marfy discount

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  23. Ugh, it's like this post was just for me. I've been sewing for a year now and have just started looking for a men's coat pattern. I joined your boxer-short sewalong to make my beau a pair of boxes (he was very dubious at the time but wear's the output regularly). A few weeks ago we were shopping for him and came across a jacket he really liked - it looked simple enough so I casually made the comment that I could make something like that. He responded enthusiastically so I jumped to and got searching for men's coat patterns. I was absolutely dismayed at the search results!!! I've given up trying to find something appropriate, instead going for something I can use as a basic shell to get the right shape, and I'm STILL struggling. Fingers crossed I'll eventually come across something right, but I would LOVE to have an up-to date, simple winter jacket pattern for men that isn't kitch, reminiscent of the 70's or comical. It seems too much to ask.

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  24. Peter....get thee to ABEbooks.com and enter Harry Simons "Designing Men's and Young Men's Overcoats" My copy dates from 1931 but it's now available in print on demand for under $20. It is a fabulous book, having well over a dozen different styles of overcoats for men with instructions on how to draft the patterns! With your abilities and verve, the possibilities are endless.

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    Replies
    1. Richard, what a great find. And it can be viewed for free here (just click on "read"):

      http://openlibrary.org/works/OL7565712W/Designing_overcoat_patterns_for_men_and_young_men

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    2. It seems strange that nowhere in the book is there an illustration of any of the coats as they would look completed. Or am I missing something?

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    3. Chapter two has illustrations of some of the designs. I don't think they're truly representational of the actual patterns but they do give you some idea.

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  25. I hope you are able to have some suction with pattern companies. It seems to me, there's better pickings out there with some of the indie companies. I have ALWAYS sewn for my men (and now I have a guy I really like) so I would love to make some great things for him. And he's a serious clothes horse to boot! (Has me beat by miles!)

    I will cheer you on in your quest!

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  26. Peter, it seems to me that it's time for you to design-your-own and learn to draft patterns. Just don't go with the mob that teaches fashion design to the local school girls (I helped out with the teaching a couple of years ago). They're translated badly from Greek and the first thing they do is teach you to make a tshirt. Badly.

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  27. ~ * ♥ * ~

    Agreed with the Mad Men rant! I hate the fact that ANYthing remotely 50s-60s is christened Mad Men now... *eyeroll* It's supremely irritating.

    xox,
    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

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    1. Agree. Enough with the Mad Men already.

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    2. I love the show, but branding every pattern with the name is throwing off the searches. Try adding a "-Mad" with your menswear search. Most search engines allow you to 'subtract' words from the search to keep them from being thrown off. As long as you aren't looking for Mad Hatter costume, you should be better off ;)

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  28. The availability of any decent mens sewing patterns has always irritated me. I hope you can encourage pattern companies to come up with something better but maybe you should just start your own line! I'd buy your patterns.

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  29. Excellent post and thank for the new word "abominable" which I didn't know up to now - I keep learning.

    Don't rely on the pattern companies. I also suggest you start to draft your own patterns. It is real fun and much easier than you might think. A good starting point may be Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear from Winifred Aldrich.

    A comment on Carole's first comment: the Janker is indeed a very traditional Bavarian garment. But in real life it is a nice perfectly fitted garment without hanging shoulders and and a dreadful far too wide neckline. The Janker on the photo doesn't even fit the model. Not very promising.

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  30. Men's outerwear and jackets are the WORST to find patterns for. Along with men's bodysuits and skating costumes (there is, I think ONE Kwik Sew wetsuit/bodysuit and ONE Jalie skating pattern). I am now sewing for guys (at skating) so, though I don't necessarily need outerwear, I do need jacket patterns and bodysuit/skating shirt patterns. I ended up heavily modifying a Burda jacket pattern to get the fit to be tight enough to use with stretch velvet. I am not done yet - we shall see how successful it ends up, but just finding a pattern to get started has been much more difficult than actually sewing any of it. So, yes, I feel your pain.

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  31. As a deeply appreciative but previously silent reader of your site, I have nothing useful to say about men's outerwear patterns--but leaped to my feet to applaud your trenchant characterization of that televised wax museum, "Mad Men." In a mere 8 words, you got it exactly right!

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  32. I don't sew for boys (not since he was a toddler anyway) or men, but as I read your post and the comments, I totally agree on the situation. Of the new big 4, few true men's outer wear patterns come to mind. Few GOOD ones anyway. Perhaps I need to pick up the few just in case the need arises?

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  33. I'm not sure what's going on in the men's category of patterns, but it's always been slim pickin's as if men didn't need clothes....excuse me....what planet are these people from? Anyway, its always been a weak category in the pattern book - love your new coat.

    I find it just slightly humorous and ironic that Man Men has such a following, considering at the time, women felt horribly trapped by the "glass ceiling" (which was more like a cement ceiling back then) and even more trapped in their clothes; girdles, bras and undergarments that would rival the best Medieval armor. And finally the attitude that men and people in general had to be manipulated to get what you honestly worked for, rather than just coming out and saying that one person or another was better at a task, regardless of sex, race, or whatever.

    I remember looking back at the simplistic times in the 40's and looking at my folks thinking how lucky they had it, when they felt the same way I do today....part of living through the times! So I'm sort of enjoying this nastalgic, if selective trip down memory lane!!!

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  34. That Burda men's Chanel jacket is...puzzling. Yeah, the selection of men's patterns is appalling. Those giant coats from the 80s are dreadful!

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  35. I have a handsome Lutterloh menswear coat I hope to make soon, when I can find the right inspiring material for my handsome husband. Lutterloh systems require careful preparation of the pattern but anyone with intermediate sewing skills can handle them. The big 4 seem to be fixated on young sewers who can't imagine classic investments, and have the time to sew seasonally only.

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  36. I've seen a few pretty decent patterns for men's outerwear in recent-ish (say, <5 years old) Burda magazines. Maybe that's a good place to look?

    http://www.ms77.ru/articles/biblioteka/15303/

    This site has every page scanned so you can quickly look through many years of burda for the holy grail.

    That said, the small size doesn't seem that small to me--I think it's chest 40. Believe me when I say I feel the pain of falling off the end of the size chart and having to grade every. stinkin. pattern.

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  37. I like your new 70s coat pattern the best. It has a trim fit and nice details. I particularly like the angled, welted chest pockets. I also like the pea coat version. It is not that difficult to trim down the width of the lapels, if you want a more current look. I like it either way.

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  38. I do have the Vogue Pattern 9308 in a size 40 and need a size 50! The largest size is a 46. What size did you need? ... and anyone have a size larger then 40?

    It is frustrating to not finding patterns for men. So count me in on your number of women sewing for men! that makes 6?

    I have found this site to also be very helpful for information on overcoats as well as suits and shirts: http://www.cutterandtailor.com/forum/

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  39. I am the above poster and never use my blogspot account so am posting to put in my wordpress info.

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  40. I find it frustrating too that there are so few menswear patterns. My son is nearly 19 years old. He is 5' 1 1/2" tall and barely makes a 34" chest. It's really hard to get RTW clothes that fit his petit frame. I've made a shirt or two for him, but most patterns are 36/38 and up. Anything that comes in a multisize starts too big.

    As the other poster said, boys clothes are even harder to come by. But they don't fit now that he's getting more of a man shape to his shoulders.

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  41. It's worse than I recalled!! I stopped at a place that carries Kwik Sew and looked at the latest book. A grand total of TWO mens patterns. So it looks like if there are KS patterns you've been wanting, best start hunting them down soon!

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  42. Biker jackets? Do you like those, or are you rolling your eyes?

    The big diagonal zipper on these jackets is what attracts me, but I'm not into black leather.

    The utilitarian design of biker style jackets would be fun to tweak. Simplicity 2504 has something kinda biker looking. I'd try it, but my skills are weak.

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  43. Dude, I hear you.

    My wife sews like crazy, and I wish I could. I enjoy the blog, and look forward to reading more.

    The only thing I can add is not only are some of the coats offered ugly, but not very practical. I'm a trucker, and need decent, hardworking clothing that's going to hold up to handling everything from chaining up in winter, to securing loads under some of the most ungodly conditions.

    Truly, Sir, you are a man among men. Please keep it up!

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