Nov 17, 2011

Scrubs and Monk Robes: Is this really it for men's patterns?

Christmas is coming and as usual we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of having to choose between tipping our super (something one must do in NYC if one hopes not to have to unclog her own sink in the months to come) and exchanging gifts amongst ourselves. Since we are new to the building, and our super seems to have grown weary already of our demands for such things as a smoke detector and the child safety gates required by law, tip we must.

So I'm considering what to make for my dear husband, who should stop reading this post now. (Everyone else, follow the jump for a contemplation on (the dearth of) men's sewing patterns.)

My husband has this hang-up about his looks: though he's regularly told he looks like Matt Damon, and has in recent years greatly improved his personal style, he still considers himself the ultra-earnest, baggy-T-shirt-wearing, Pentecostal youth he left behind in Wisconsin so many years ago. Forget that he's lived in New York so long now, he walks into Duane Reade fixin' for a fight, and, again, he looks like a hipper Matt Damon, he still bristles at anything he equates with "cool people" or, don't make me say it: hipsters.

One thing I've learned in our four years of marriage is that the short-cut to getting a straight man to dress better is have a gay man compliment him on his new clothes/accessories. It's just a fact. 

When I met Ryan he wore these little wire-rim glasses that were much too small for his face. For some reason he was convinced that glasses had to effectively blend into your face. His formula was light hair + hazel eyes=invisible glasses. When I finally convinced him to buy a hip pair of dark plastic frames, he was so dubious of their merits he bought a back-up pair of ill-fitting wire-rim glasses. And then, no joke, we walked out into the streets of Winnipeg and immediately ran into our friend Kaj, a well-groomed and highly opinionated gay man who complimented Ryan on his frames and asked where he got them. When Ryan pointed to the optical store across the street, Kaj was so delighted such cool frames were available in his city. 

After we said our goodbyes and walked away, it was like that scene in the Grinch Who Stole Christmas where his heart grows three sizes, busting out of his heart box: Ryan seemed to grow an inch, and I could tell he wouldn't be wearing those wire-rims again. (Thank you, Kaj. I owe you one).

Fast forward a few years, and my husband has also stopped wearing T-shirts and sneakers everywhere. In fact, I'd say he has a signature look now — and it suits him well. He typically wears leather boots, dark denim jeans and a vintage Wrangler cowboy shirt (I find them on eBay). One piece he added to  his wardrobe a few years back was a gray hooded zip-up sweater I found at Target. It was super simple but fit well: not too baggy, and not too tight. It was also a great piece for dressing down an outfit — but not too much. I credit that sweater with expanding his coat-wearing range. When he had that hoodie in his closet, he would layer it underneath this amazing wool Banana Republic Coat or a blazer. Here's the hoodie in question, which he has since lost:

Now and then, Ryan will reminisce about that hooded sweater, and how he dressed better when he had it. So I think it would be the perfect project for his Christmas present. If, you know, I could find a pattern. 

So I start looking for a men's hooded sweatshirt pattern, but what I find is that, typically, men's sewing patterns are limited to the following categories: pajamas, boxer shorts, vests, sleepwear, scrubs, and...monk robes? What?? Scroll down to see a selection:


Butterick (I'm sorry, since when do you sew your own graduation gown??):

Vogue has a much more refined take on men's sewing patterns. But this is it: the entire collection is mostly formal wear:
Kwik Sew has a good selection, though not very fashion-forward. Much of it is sporty: there's even a full-length UV suit! (I thought only toddlers wore those).
 Wait a minute! Is that Will Shuster??

 Moving on...

Burda Style has the best styles, with some pants, coats, button-downs, and — of course — a vest:
I can't find a pattern currently in print that replicates the hoodie sweater. The closest I could find was Kwik Sew 3028 for a hooded sweatshirt, but it doesn't have the raglan sleeves. Plus it has a drawstring at the top and bottom, and a little too much ease throughout. Still I could just figure out how to make it work, right?

Anyone have any suggestions? Am I missing some great resources for men's sewing patterns? Comment and help a girl out!


  1. that grinch part is killing me.

    did you see this one? couldn't you add a zip up the front?|186|186&pageCount=1000&search=&return=yes

  2. Too funny! "he walks into Duane Reade fixin' for a fight". After reading your blog I can't get the old song "What Is Hip" by Tower of Power out of my mind.

  3. @oonaballoona That pattern is made for wovens, not stretch...maybe if I sized down it would work with a double knit?

  4. What about this one: ?

  5. Ooooh! Nice one, travelling_soo! And it's only $3.99...34-36 sounds small though...but who knows with men. (Now how to discreetly measure my husband's chest?)

  6. Thanks again, travelling_soo! I found that pattern on Etsy and bought (I measured my husband and he's a manly 42 inches through the chest. The pattern was 38-40, but I think it will be ok).

  7. i always just make a woven pattern out of a stretch and see what happens. it's fun. usually.

    glad you found your pattern!

  8. (This is a from a non-sewer, so be warned): Can you buy a nice hoodie, base the pattern on that, and then return the hoodie within a credit card cycle?

  9. That's a good idea, Danielle. I already found a pattern though, and it cost less than $5, which is definitely worth escaping the hassle of shopping!



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