Quite early in my sewing journey I came across makemypattern.com, a website created by a talented chap called Joost De Cock. I would be surprised if you hadn’t seen the site, not to embarrass Joost (or myself) he has shown some pretty cool sewing (in particular in Portia Laurie‘s #The Refashioners2016) and is popping up all over the sewing mags, blogs & podcasts. I feel like I’m late to the party. But if you are arriving behind me, let me tell you that with makemypattern you can generate a made to measure sewing pattern, based on your measurements, ready to print in moments as if by magic… and for free*!

* Mr De Cock very sweetly does not push for donations, but I believe deserves them to keep the site going and for the generous annual charity donations he makes with the proceeds.

For many foolish and mainly subconcious reasons I held off using the site for probably two years. I suppose, at first I was too new and the whole thing seemed too daunting. Then I guess I got side tracked, learning to sew. And now I certainly have enough paper patterns to keep me going. Along the way I’ve made a few garments for MrA…

  • Some nice shirts (which he wears often and with pride which pleases me no end).
  • Of course, our Wedding Waistcoats
  • Two pairs of shorts (one of which he claims are his most comfortable shorts; he wore them in constant rotation last summer).
  • Tshirts and underwear (that get worn often)
  • Waistcoat & Trousers (this outfit went down very well at the time & served its purpose (twice!) but there are still some pen marks on the waistcoat that I need to get out if it’s ever to be worn again).

His verdict on the trousers was that although comfortable, not particularly flattering… He liked wearing them to the weddings, but I don’t think they’ll be worn again. It’s a shame because I did some wicked pattern matching over the back pocket welts! … Excuse me for bragging, but it was one of my proudest moments (… also, a bit of a fluke)

I’ve got plenty of fabric lined up for all sorts of trousers for MrA but I don’t have a pattern I’m confident will fit correctly. I am also not confident that I have the skills and/or patience to make the necessary fitting adjustments. Recently I posted my #makenine2017 pledge on Instagram. It included a loose pledge to make ‘something from make my pattern‘ and a vague pledge to make MrA a decent pair of trousers… Then it hit me, the answer was staring me in the face all along – MakeMyPattern Trousers for MrA! I’m

I had signed up to the site ages ago, so had forgotten my password (naturally) but was quickly sent a reset link which got me back in. The first thing I wanted to do was check the list of measurements required and how to do them. I found this easily in the help centre where you can click on a link to the individual measurements to see them explained in further detail. I decided that while MrA & I had the time, we should take every measurement for both of us, rather than just the ones needed for the trousers. That way we were both set up for future patterns as well.

Years ago (almost 23 years ago…) when I was a professional dancer and MrA & I first met, I had to send in a very lengthy and detailed measurement sheet to the wardrobe department for a new show I was about to be in. Neither of us had done anything like this before and it was fascinating, fun and funny. So here we are, over two decades later, doing it again. (I probably have a copy of the original one buried deep somewhere… if it ever turned up it would be interesting/ devastating to compare them!)

The Make My Pattern measurement list is pretty lengthy, but not a patch on the old wardrobe department one. I did MrA first to show him how, then he did me, then we moved on to the next one. I jotted them all down on paper so that I could enter them online all in one go. There was one hairy moment during the measuring when I noticed the numbers didn’t seem right, and MrA was measuring from the wrong end of the tape measure. Let’s hope that didn’t happen too often. Once we were done, I crunched in the numbers. It’s easy to enter different models, a name, even a picture if you like. All saved for when you need them and editable should things fluctuate.

He decided on the Slimline Slacks, I entered his preferences and hey presto, five different types of download options for MrA’s made to measure trousers. I told you… Magic.

Of course, my printer has been playing up and ignored for the last 6 months, so I decided to treat myself to a trip to the copy shop. I’ve only used a couple of PDF patterns before, just for small things (and over 6 months ago) so this was a new experience for me (I’ve also never been in a betting shop, milliners or Aldi, but that’s another story…)

I live in the centre of town so there are plenty of print shops around, it was Sunday night however and I didn’t fancy my chances. A quick google search near me showed that there was one just a 20min walk up the road, open every day until 11pm. So off we went. A couple of beers on the way, a burger on the way back, it was a fun day out.

It barely took a moment to print the pattern in A3 format. I also got my Men’s Clothes For All Seasons book spiral bound so that I can lay it flat while translating/ following the instructions. It cost less than £7, and could be seen as somewhat of an unnecessary extravagance, but I’m so glad I did it. It’s amazing how much extra stress can be added to your project by using a book that won’t stay open on the page you want. Seriously, amazing.

So while MrA dozed along to Antiques Roadshow, I got on my hands and knees with the sellotape and my big paper scissors (they were an absolutely knackered, blunt and rusty pair of old tailoring shears found by a friend 15 years ago in a split bin bag outside the door of a flat in her building where a Japanese fashion design student had ‘done a runner‘ after not paying the rent for months… Allegedly.) They were gifted to me and over the years they have been everything from craft-scissors to kitchen-scissors.

When I started sewing I asked the man who sharpens our hairdressing scissors at work to have a go at them. Neither of us held out much hope, but they came out not too bad. They’ll cut a crisp cotton okay, but struggle with denim and really lightweight fabrics. I have a decent pair of 8″ fabric shears already so I was more than happy to use the ‘new’ ones as my paper-pattern-cutting-scissors. They perform excellently in the role.

On the website it suggests to use a big window to tape everything together on. Sadly, not even my floor space is big enough for the whole pattern (unless I move all the furniture out into the hall) and my windows are even smaller. After about an hour of shuffling about on the floor I managed to get all the pieces taped and cut out. The pieces are clearly marked and seam allowances shaded.

Only one negative, which I am almost ashamed to mention as it really wasn’t a bother at all, a couple of the pieces overlapped slightly. I traced the pocket interfacing piece on a scrap of leftover paper and I snipped a tiny nick into the corner of piece 8, so no biggie..

So that’s where I am so far with that. I have a lovely mid brown cotton twill from Goldhawk Road; washed, pressed & ready to go whenever I am. However, we’ve got some busy weekends and trips out of town coming up so I’m not sure how much sewing time I’m going to get through February. January was pretty full-on, so much so that I posted a round-up photo of most of the months makes on Instagram…

(Left to right, top to bottom…)

  1. 6 Zipper pouches out of an Oxfam skirt. 
  2. Work trousers from MCFAS*. 
  3. Work shirt from MCFAS. 
  4. Linen shorts (MCFAS)
  5. Fantastic new labels from DutchLabelShop. 
  6. Beige shorts (MCFAS)
  7. Raglan T (added long sleeve) MCFAS
  8. Self drafted Ukulele bag. 
  9. Striped T from, you guessed it: MCFAS

(*MCFAS = Men’s Clothes For All Seasons – Japanese sewing book.)

So let’s see what February has in store! What are your sewing plans?

Happy sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Try baste fitting MrA’s trousers before topstitching everything down! 
  • Which Joost’s YouTube sewalong
  • Try to focus sewing plans, I keep veering off in random directions… more of that to come!