Olive/Gray Chinos

Self-drafted pattern
Flat front, button fly
100% cotton twill

With the exception of a few minor changes, this pattern is identical to the first pair of chinos I made earlier this year. I’ve never been too wild about olive colored pants, but this fabric has just enough gray in it to make this color one of my new favorites.

Men's olive chinos folded

Men's chinos, button fly

Men's olive chinos, fit image

While they appear to taper quite a bit, I think this is just my stance in this photo. For the most part, the pattern is cut fairly straight. Now I just need to make two or three more pairs in other colors.

Men's chinos, back pockets

Where Do Clothes Come From?

I never thought twice about where my clothing came from until I started learning how to make my own clothes. Now I can’t help thinking about how many people are involved, factory conditions (good or bad), and fair wages every time I pick up a piece of clothing. While I am buying less clothing from stores these days, I still think about where the fabric comes from that I use in my projects. I wish there was an easy way to know whether or not a particular company or fabric mill treated their workers and the environment with respect. It would also be nice to know about any hazardous chemicals used in the finishing process on certain fabrics. After reading about the formaldehyde used in non-wrinkle fabrics, I wish there was more transparency in how textiles are made. I would love to know if anyone has suggestions for places to buy fabrics made by reputable companies that have environmentally friendly manufacturing policies.

By this point I expected to have my jacket pattern completed and thought I would have at least a muslin version ready to start testing the fit. Right after I posted about starting a jacket, I quickly decided I needed another pair of pants more than I needed a jacket. I made some adjustments to my pattern and just completed another pair of chinos, this time in an olive/gray color. In the next week or so I hope to get some pictures posted. Here is the fabric:

olive twill

New Projects

I took a couple of cross country trips in June and found myself in need of a simple laptop sleeve that would protect my computer while riding around in my carry-on bag. Since I had a ton of denim scraps lying around I threw together this selvedge denim laptop sleeve. There are several companies that make and sell denim laptop sleeves, but most of them open on the side and do not offer a way to completely close the sleeve.

Instead, I opted for an “envelope” style sleeve that allows me to tuck in the flap, which closes the sleeve and offers a little more protection. The inside is lined with a double layer of black corduroy fabric that was also laying around in my stash. While it didn’t turn out exactly as planned, it is perfectly functional and served its purpose as I was on and off planes, taking face plants on the tarmac (I have scars to prove it!), and running across airport terminals.

selvedge denim laptop sleeve

selvedge denim laptop sleeve

I am giving denim related projects a little break and moving on to something new. During the next couple weeks, I will start work on a men’s jacket/blazer, which might just be my most ambitious project yet. I’d like to make a somewhat lightweight, unlined or partially lined casual jacket for fall. As of right now I’ve decided to stick with cotton for this first jacket and will most likely use a twill, duck canvas, or maybe even corduroy. My initial plan is for a single breasted, two button jacket with patch pockets.

The pattern will definitely take a while to complete, which is why I’m starting now if I want to have it ready by the fall. I’ve had some trouble finding decent resources for men’s tailoring methods. I have my pattern making book to help out with the pattern and a tailoring book pictured below, which should help some with jacket construction, but wish I could find more resources. The tailoring book is actually for women’s jackets, and while I’m sure a lot of the construction is the same, I wish I could find something more specific to fitting men’s jackets. Eventually I hope to turn this pattern into a more formal sport coat and even a jacket for a suit.

pattern making, tailoring books

TaylorTailor Supply Shop

Supply Shop website image

I am excited to announce the new TaylorTailor Supply Shop! The new shop is easier to use and navigate than the previous version with more products to choose from. I have added more top stitching thread colors, denim zippers, two new finishes for rivets and jeans buttons, and two new selvedge denim options with more on the way.

When I first started making my own jeans I found it difficult and time consuming to source high quality materials and hardware for my projects. Based on the number of questions I receive inquiring about where to find these supplies, I realized that there is a need for a one-stop-shop for high quality denim and jeans related sewing supplies. My goal for the Supply Shop is to put all of these materials and hardware in one place, making it convenient for people to purchase them in small quantities. Who needs 25,000 rivets for one pair of jeans anyway? With the exception of pocket lining, (which I may eventually add) you can find everything you need to make a pair of jeans in the shop.

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about these products or the website. All of the denim, thread, and notions I carry are things that I use myself and completely stand by. If there is something that you don’t see that you would like to request for the shop, please let me know. I would love to hear your feedback and I am open to suggestions and ideas.

Women’s Selvedge Denim

Cone Mills, Blue Line Selvedge Denim
100% Cotton, 11.5 oz

women's selvedge denim, front

women's selvedge denim, cuffs

Just in case you were wondering, the easiest way to get into a girl’s pants…is to make her a pair.

For the past few months I’ve been working on a pattern for a pair of selvedge denim jeans for my wife Lindsay. After she saw how awesome my jeans turned out, she has been coveting a pair for herself. Three test fit garments later and countless adjustments to the pattern, she finally has a pair of jeans.

women's selvedge denim

She wanted a slightly looser fit, which we are calling the “the husband” cut. This was actually helpful when trying to preserve the selvedge on the side seam. Women have curves, which is a good thing of course, but they also present a challenge for novice pattern makers like me. The jeans basically have a straight leg with a very slight taper on the inseam. They feature two topstitching thread colors, a zipper fly, and hand-felled yoke, center back, and inseams.

women's selvedge denim, back pockets

They are the definition of awesome.

cupcake pocket lining
Yep, those are cupcakes on her pocket lining, which is completely appropriate if you know Lindsay. She is a cupcake queen, and our fridge is always packed full of amazing desserts that she makes from scratch. I am a lucky guy in more ways than one. You can read all about her/our culinary adventures on her food blog Love & Olive Oil.

As she wears the jeans and the denim breaks in, I’m sure I will be making adjustments to improve the pattern for the next pair.

How to Insert Jeans Rivets

I know this is a scary subject for some, but once you get the hang of it, I actually think installing the rivets and buttons is one of the easiest aspects of making jeans. I installed a rivet in this example, but the steps and procedure for installing a button are exactly the same.

Step 1. Gather all of your tools and supplies.

Tools for installing jeans rivets

I am using a piece of scrap denim for this example, but your jeans obviously need to be ready for the rivets. Installing the rivets and buttons is one of the last things I do.

You will need:

  • Rivets
  • Marking Tool (I use a chalk pencil)
  • Scissors
  • Hammer
  • Nail (roughly the size of your rivet)
  • Hard surface to pound on (I use a smooth steel plate. This isn’t entirely necessary, but since it is so smooth and hard, it won’t scratch the rivet cap [burrs] as you pound)
  • Denim scraps to use as spacers if necessary

Step 2. Mark the spot where you want to insert your rivet.

Denim with spot marked for rivet insertion

It may be difficult to see, but I marked a blue spot in the middle of the image above.

Step 3. Determine how many layers of denim and pocketing fabric you will be inserting the rivet through. Depending on how thick your denim is, and how many layers you have in the spot where you are inserting the rivet, you may need to use some spacers. If the rivet is too long and you don’t have enough thickness, you can over pound the rivet, causing it to go in at an angle. This is bad, don’t do it. Your rivets may come out if they go in crooked. To solve this problem, you need to add two or three layers of denim on the back side of the rivet. You might be able to cut the rivet down, but I prefer to use spacers instead.

I am inserting the rivet through two layers of denim in the example, and decided that I need two additional layers for the back side of the rivet. Just use some scrap denim. Poke a hole using your nail (Step 4, below) and insert your rivet.

Jeans Rivets spacers

Then trim around the edge of the rivet head, eliminating the excess denim.

Jeans Rivet, trimming spacers

Finished rivet spacers

Now your spacers are done.

Step 4. Poke a hole through your denim with your hammer and nail. You can use this same method to poke the hole for the spacers as well.

Nail through denim

Step 5. Insert the rivet (with spacers) through the back or wrong side of your jeans in the same hole you poked in Step 4.

Rivet through denim

Step 6. Flip your rivet cap, or burr, upside down on your pounding surface.

Upside down jeans burr

Step 7. Turn the right side of the denim over, and align the rivet with the hole in the back of the rivet cap.

Aligning rivet for installation

The rivet cap is upside down under the denim above.

Step 8. Lightly hammer the back of the rivet, but don’t pound it all the way in yet. You want to make sure that the rivet is going in straight. You should be able to pick up everything and check. The little bit of pounding you have already done should hold the rivet cap in place.

Step 9. If the rivet is going in straight, then finish pounding it in until the rivet cap lays flat against the surface of the denim (on the right side). You really don’t need to pound that hard. Take it easy, rivets are your friend. With regard to jeans buttons, you want to pound until the button no longer turns in place and feels solid.

Finished jeans rivet

Tada, like magic. Finished rivet.

 

Denim Prep

I love starting new projects.

Raw denim, rolled out and inspected.

selvedge denim roll

Tossed in the tub for a soak. I feel bad holding it under the water against its will.

selvedge denim soaking

Hung out to dry in the sun.

selvedge denim drying

Rolled back up, ready to cut.

selvedge denim rolled up

In case you missed it, here is a little interview I did with Peter from Male Pattern Boldness about denim and making jeans.

Men’s Khaki Chinos

Are they chinos, or khakis, or in this case both? I see the names used interchangeably, but I wonder if anybody really  knows. The purists say that “chino” is a type of pant and “khaki” is a color. I say when you know how to make ‘em yourself, you can call them whatever you want to.

Self-drafted pattern
Flat front, button fly, slim fit
100% cotton twill

Folded mens chinos

Hanging chinos

First attempt at making welt pockets.

Welt pocket close up

Lined waistband.

Chino button fly

Chino pants back

Chino pants front

 

 

MPB Jeans Sew Along and Supplies

Peter, who runs one of my favorite blogs,  Male Pattern Boldness, is organizing a jeans sew along! Starting on Monday, May 2nd, you can follow along step-by-step and learn how to make yourself a pair of jeans. I participated in his Mens Shirt Sew Along earlier this year and had a blast. There was a mix of beginners and experienced sewers, which I’m sure will be the case with the Jeans Sew Along. For the Shirt Sew Along he set up a Flickr group so people could post pictures of their project, ask questions to the group, and share information.

Peter is very entertaining and fun to read. He makes men’s as well as women’s clothing. Plus, you can find a large sewing community at his blog with people who are making really interesting projects. It is  a great place to learn new things and connect with like minded sewers. I have learned a lot from him, and highly recommend his blog to anyone interested in sewing.

So if you have ever wanted to make yourself a pair of jeans, the time is now! Get over to Peter’s blog and check it out. It is completely free other than your materials, which brings me to some big news.

I’ve decided to open a little Supply Shop specifically for those who want to make their own jeans and denim related projects. This has been in the works for a while now and I’m excited to officially make the announcement. My goal is to make this a one stop shop, with all of the supplies to make a quality pair of jeans in one place.

There are a few items in the shop now, and I will be adding more denim options, rivets, buttons, and thread in the coming weeks. Eventually the shop will move to its own website, but for now everything is available on the Supply Shop page above.

I am only stocking products that I actually use myself. The denim is raw, unwashed, Cone Mills selvedge, which is some of the best denim in the world in my opinion. I also have rivets and jeans buttons available that are easily attached with a hammer, no special tools required. The thread is available for pre-order and should be ready to ship by the end of next week.

Please let me know if you have any questions about any of these products or suggestions for the shop. I hope to run into you during the Jeans Sew Along!

Spring/Summer Men’s Shirts

small check gingham men's shirt

 

light gray Pima cotton men's shirt

The weather is warming up here in Tennessee, and comfort on those hot, humid days is what I had in mind with these shirts. I chose two lightweight warm weather fabrics. The first is a small check blue and white gingham, and the second shirt is made from a light gray Pima cotton. Both are 100% cotton and feature a single pocket on the left hand side. I may end up adding buttons to the collars to make sure they don’t flair out too much, but I want to wear the shirts a bit more to see how the collars naturally fall.

Back in January, I started re-working my shirt pattern  in anticipation of needing a couple of spring/summer shirts. There was too much ease in the back of my first few shirts, which caused them to “poof” when tucked. Overall, I ended up taking out about 2 inches of extra room from the back of my shirt pattern.

Another major change I made was to the length of the shirttails. On my first three shirts, I purposely left the tails somewhat shorter than normal so I could leave the shirts un-tucked and not look like I was wearing a dress. I’ve pretty much decided that un-tucked shirts look sloppy and a little juvenile (maybe I’m getting old?). This time around I lengthened the shirttails to make sure they didn’t pull out when tucked.

I also made a couple of small changes to the collar. I slightly widened the spread of the collar points, and I made the collar taller by about 1/4 inch. Lastly, I took out a little ease from the sleeve, raised the arm hole, and refined the shape of the side seams. While I was happy with the fit of my first shirts, the above  modifications are definitely an improvement.

men's shirt fit picture

I kind of wish I could photoshop that stupid look off my face.

men's shirt fit picture

This picture was taken right after I finished sewing on the buttons. It fits better than depicted above. I should have ironed the shirt first, and it would help if I was standing up straight instead of leaning on that railing.