@1homme_derriere_lamachine | Sewing Influencer
Michel Howard-Maurice, known on Instagram as @1homme_derriere_lamachine, lives in the suburbs of Paris. He’s an IT manager by day and a photographer and sewist in his spare time. Fortunately for his followers, this man occasionally comes out from behind the machine and steps in front of the camera to share the garments he makes for himself. His aesthetic is “classic silhouette, fabulous fabrics and fit.” He also sews for his wife and children: Check out his grid for splendid shirts and a couple of reversible, African wax print bomber jackets that are to die for.
How did you learn to sew?
This is an interesting question. To answer it, I must refer to my childhood, where I regularly saw women and some men in my family sew their own clothes. The Singer pedal-operated sewing machine was always a part of my childhood landscape. As a teenager, I also made pants and a jacket with my mother’s Zenith sewing machine; nothing fancy but I managed to wear them. In short, this period did not last long because when you are a teenager, you like store clothes.
It wasn’t until much later, at the age of 46, that I decided to get back into it. At first, it was to make cushion covers. Then while browsing the internet (YouTube and blogs), I came across Norris Dánta Ford‘s account. I loved it! His videos were clear, it felt like it was accessible to everyone. I was also inspired by the international community of male sewers, but not only. Confident, I embarked on the reproduction of one of my shorts, an ambitious project but I arrived at a satisfactory result. I ended up buying a small Brother sewing machine, patterns, books to learn techniques. I made several shorts (with African wax prints), then I made little tops and skirts for my daughter. Afterward, I moved on to more ambitious projects such as shirts, pants, and jackets.
To improve the quality of my sewing, I took a few internships and online training, which enabled me to improve the finishes and the final result.
Which sewing word or term is your favorite?
Perfect pattern matching! After completing an internship with Olivier Till (co-creator of a French brand of patterns for men, Patrons les BG), I learned to ensure that the patterns are aligned between the two sides of a shirt. Since then, I have applied this technique everywhere: jacket pockets, pants, etc. On Instagram, I am often congratulated for the quality of my pattern matching; I thank Olivier for his teaching.
What fabric do you enjoy sewing the most?
I would say my favorite fabrics to work with are nonstretch fabrics, such as woven cottons. I’m not a big fan of jersey that I can’t sew properly. Is it related to my technique or my sewing machine? I cannot say. Although I’m not a huge fan of viscose tailoring, I love wearing viscose shirts.
Otherwise, I wear plain fabrics as well as prints. I regret, however, that there are not enough masculine prints in fabric stores.
What are you currently sewing?
I have so many projects in mind, it’s hard to channel myself. But generally I have several projects going on. Today and even though summer is almost over, I am finishing some seersucker shorts and a Tunisian shirt. Since this is self-tailored clothes, I spend more time, it’s more like an iterative process.
Please share what you love best about sewing.
What I like a lot about sewing is understanding the mechanics of garment construction, understanding what makes adding a little fabric here and there completely changing the balance of a garment. I find that quite fascinating. To me, it’s almost precision mechanics. lol.
Moreover, I often regret the approach of books that are too theoretical on the notion of exclusivity, and in particular for male exclusivity: as if the secret had to be preserved in the hands of tailors alone. I would like to find more notions of transformations: how from a base of pants we manage to make completely different pants (cargo, low waist, high waist, low crotch, etc.)
The other pleasure, too, is wearing clothes that fit me. Menswear in Europe is far too skinny-oriented (I tend to have an athletic body with muscular thighs). So often, I am cramped at the thighs in my pants and too loose at the waist. And then it also allows you to wear things that others are not wearing.
Photos: courtesy of Michel Howard-Maurice, @1homme_derriere_lamachine.