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Reflections on a Home-Sewn Wardrobe

I certainly couldn’t have imagined in 2009, when I began sewing, that I would eventually wind up sewing my entire wardrobe, from outerwear to underwear and everything in between, but that’s what happened. I started with the simplest garments and gradually took on projects of increasing complexity until I no longer needed to shop for ready-to-wear clothing. With the exception of a few specialty garments (noted below) that is still the case: My wardrobe is home-sewn.

Peter Lappin wearing a blue shawl collar sweater from his home-sewn wardrobe
Peter Lappin wearing a blue shawl collar sweater from his home-sewn wardrobe
Peter Lappin wearing a shawl-collar sweater, madras shirt, and pink pants, all from his home-sewn wardrobe
I made the exact same blue cotton shawl collar cardigan, shown above this pic, in a beige colorway, too. The patchwork madras shirt and pale pink pants are my creations as well.

Garment sewing holds some challenges unique to men: primarily, the lack of a large sewing community (though the community is growing) and the lack of easily available patterns (this, too, is changing thanks to independent pattern companies). Sewing one’s clothes, regardless of one’s gender, requires resourcefulness. The payoffs, however, can be enormous.

Sewing yielded multiple benefits

1. Self-confidence

Even though when I started sewing I had some basic technical skills—I could install a light switch, hang a picture, and paint a room—I didn’t know how to make anything. When I bought a sewing machine and started experimenting with it, I discovered I could use it to clothe myself, something I had never imagined possible.

Sewing clothing has given me the confidence to explore additional practical skills, including sewing machine maintenance (most sewing machines can be serviced at home, particularly vintage mechanicals), furniture refinishing (like the beat-up vintage Singer sewing table I found in the trash and refinished), and currently, restoring vintage watches.

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  1. user-7309692 | | #1

    Great article, Peter. I do love everything you make.

    1. User avater
      Peter_Lappin | | #4

      Thank you!

  2. User avater
    barakasews | | #2

    Your spring bedsheet suit? I had those sheets, but in harvest gold instead of green. Seeing that photo was like an acid flashback!

    1. User avater
      Peter_Lappin | | #5

      That is hilarious! I also remember sheets just like this from my youth. I miss them!

  3. User avater
    tucsonles | | #3

    Thanks, Peter. This is truly inspirational and may jump-start me on wardrobe construction. I have been following your lead on vintage sewing machine collecting and just got some vintage clothing patterns as a birthday present from a friend. All male sewists owe you a big debt of gratitude.

    1. User avater
      Peter_Lappin | | #6

      That's very kind of you, thank you!

  4. User avater
    beckyf | | #7

    One of my 'careers' was making men's period costumes at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Seeing your suits and coats (love the duffle coat!) takes me back to my tailoring days. Most of my wardrobe is self created, but my retired lifestyle doesn't require much tailoring these days. I am enjoying some vicarious tailoring reading about your projects. Thanks!

  5. user-6807470 | | #8

    I love your velveteen jacket. It's super lux! Thank you for sharing a peek into your sewing hobby. I sewed when I was younger but it was edged out of my life by career and family demands. I'm just returning to it and am inspired by seeing what others are making.

  6. user-1123536767 | | #9

    I think it's kinda gutsy for men to wear skirts, but why not? Skirts are great. They are so comfortable, and in many cultures men wear variations of 'dresses' or 'skirts'. They are just garments after all. The jacket you made for your client is so nice. I love the proportions of it, the fabric, the fit. I make basically all my clothes except for underwear and workout clothes. These items are too boring for me to bother with. I love to sew.

  7. User avater
    Goodknitgracie | | #10

    What a great article! I am a huge fan. Thanks, Threads, for featuring Peter Lappin!

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