You can imagine my surprise when during what I thought was just another (fruitless) online search for mens sewing books, I came across this…

The Gentleman’s Wardrobe is a new menswear sewing book by Vanessa Mooncie. I immediately pre-ordered it and could hardly contain my excitement for two weeks while I waited for it to arrive… Bought and paid for myself, this isn’t an advertisement! …Pretty quickly I got an email saying it was going to be 6 or 7 weeks, then after 5 weeks it arrived. I’ve never pre-ordered a book before. I’m assuming It’s always like this…? A thrilling rollercoaster.

Anyway, here it is, a book full of menswear sewing patterns, written in my native tongue (grateful as I am to Google-Translate, I am more grateful to not have to use it this time!) … this is what I’ve been waiting for. I haven’t forgotten about my ‘Mens Clothing For All Seasons’ tour (if you haven’t already, check out the posts here: Tshirt & top Shorts 1Shorts 2TrousersShirt) but I’m taking a definite detour through the Gentlemans Wardrobe.

The book it’s self looks great. The promise on the cover: Vintage style projects for the modern man, appeals directly to me. I should imagine it appeals ‘directly’ to many makers of menswear. A good start. A look over the contents shows that there are plenty of valid, do able projects included; some for every skill level. Stretch fabric garments like tshirts are not covered, but a version of almost every woven type garment is there along with some pretty cool accessories (that you’d actually want to make… I bet you!)

For garments you’ve got; short and long sleeve shirt options, waistcoat, trousers, jacket, boxers, PJ’s and robe. Accessories are; messenger bag, wallet, bow tie, cravat, flat cap, and, would you believe it… slippers. Yes…SLIPPERS. Then before you get to the sew alongs, there’s a few editorial pages showing off the makes from the book. They’re all presented really well, nice fabric choices and a model who looks comfortable (and good) in each of the options. If menswear pattern envelopes looked like this, shopping for them would be a whole lot easier!

I decided to start small, with the wallet…

I rummaged through my leftovers and found enough tweed and some cotton drill to make two wallets.

I always forget how many pieces and steps there are when making accessories like bags and wallets. Although not difficult, one  would be a fool to consider this a simple-sew. I’m definitely paying attention to the instructions for this!

First up, make the two insides…

The card holder, coin purse and flap all came together well. Keeping a keen eye on the instructions. They were clear and correct, although I always feel like I’m doing something wrong. I took to reading each section out loud, even though I sounded crazy, it helped me pay attention.

Once the components are made the inside is stitched together, turned over and topstitched. This is where I realised that the drill I’d decided to use for the inside was going to get pretty bulky pretty quickly now it was folded over a few times… I put in a jeans needle (90) and took it slowly.

Now, here’s an exciting bit that isn’t in the book… I put in a magnetic clasp! It’s really easy, if you haven’t tried it, give it a go. A nice bit of hardware really lifts an accessory project (I learnt that when I made MrA his Birthday Backpack)

Four easy steps:

  1. Mark the position using the washer.
  2. Open the slits with a seam ripper.
  3. Poke the legs of the clasp through from the right side (I used the magnet, ‘female’ part on the body and the ‘male’ part on the flap)
  4. Fit the washer and bend the legs over tightly.

Then do it again for the other side.

Back to the book and I’ve decided to come off the instructions right at the end… the final finish is to lay everything together and bind the edges. I decided I was going to sew and turn mine for a few reasons:

  1. It looked like it was going to be really big if I just bound it.
  2. I didn’t have enough fabric to make binding.
  3. My fabric was far too thick to make binding anyway.
  4. My binding could start to look like a total mess very quickly if anything slipped (& there are some incredibly thick areas to get over).

So I sewed it right sides together leaving a turning hole at the bottom edge… I wished I’d left a bigger hole, but was glad I hadn’t when it came to sewing it up; I didn’t want to risk topstitching all the way around it, so I rather crudely just stitched over the hole.

Still, it turned out pretty well I think…

I liked them so much, I made another pair out of navy corduroy and used a regular cotton for the insides. This came together much easier as is was nowhere near as thick as the wool & drill ones. The wool is fine, it’s the drill that’s too thick. If you try this, stick to a light weight fabric for the lining.

I used another type of closure on one of them, it’s a bit bulky, but I wanted to give it a go. You cut the little hole out and fix the metal each side on the flap, then put the other bit on the body with a washer the same as the last type.

MrA loves it, so this one’s for him…

And here they all are…

They’re not perfect, but that’s me, not the pattern. The pattern’s great. Clear and easy to trace, all the markings in the right places, with clear instructions for what is quite a fiddly sew. It bodes well for trying out some of the other patterns from the book.

One’s for my dad and I can’t wait to give it to him. MrA already has his, hot off the machine… I think I’m going to have the other blue one myself, and the other tweed one is earmarked for a friends birthday.

I’m looking forward to making more sometime.

Happy sewing!

Notes to self:

  • Don’t choose thick fabric for the lining. 
  • Maybe try the binding in the future, but trim the seams down. 
  • Check the magnet doesn’t interfere with making automatic card payments before rolling out the gifts! (Dad’s will be safe!)
  • Make lots of these for presents, they look great and will only get easier each go.