Gentlemen’s sewing

Saying that sewing’s for girls will get you laughed out of the building these days, since increasing numbers of men are now switching on their Singers with glee, ready to stitch, hem and buttonhole with the best of them. The number of courses for would-be tailors is growing by the day and the stigma attached to picking up a needle and thread is dwindling – good news for any chaps concerned that they’ll lose severe amounts of man points if they do try to realise their own sewing ambitions.

Men like Mr X Stitch, Andrew Salomone and Ben Venom are helping to pave the way for other crafty guys, proving that while it may have been considered a feminine pursuit in the past, putting a masculine twist on sewing is easily done – and men certainly seem to embracing the zeitgeist in a big way. One business that has witnessed this new-found interest in sewing from men first-hand is Manchester-based sustainable fashion house Junk, which launched its gentlemen’s sewing course last year after lots of chaps coming into the store expressed an interest in learning the skill and has since seen it grow to become one of its most popular workshops.

The £120 shirt-making course covers sewing machine basics, tailor-measuring, taking accurate measurements, cutting out, how to lie patterns on fabric and taking clothes in and letting them out, so that students go away with a shirt that fits them perfectly and a more sustainable approach to fashion – the latter of which is Junk’s main reason for running the class, the aim being to encourage people to be more ethical with their spending habits.

Shop assistant Janine Obermaier – whose tree-surgeon boyfriend makes his own clothes – says it’s really not a “wow thing” to come across boys who sew any more and the taboos surrounding the pastime have very much been broken down, with men of all ages signing up for the 12-hour class. She puts this new trend down, in part, to the recession, which has been encouraging people to alter their own clothes to save a bit of cash, as well as men being increasingly keen to satiate their creative urges. “We get men who want to make their own [fashion] collections, their own ranges,” she explains. “There are lots of guys with that idea. One came with plans of making clothes and shirts for biking.”

So do chaps differ at all from chapesses when they pick up a needle and thread? Obermaier has seen a few subtle differences between the sexes emerge, explaining that when she ran a knitting circle the men would come in, sit down and really get going with a project, whereas the women would do a few stitches and then chat away merrily. “We had one shirt-making course where the men went really wild. They’d all gone and got a pattern in between classes and had a go at home themselves. They were making things at home and doing homework, which personally I see less of in the dress-making course,” she adds.

Well, guys, it looks like the results are in – sewing really isn’t just for girls these days, so if you’re a man believing that getting behind a Janome will see your street cred suffer, think again. You really are in excellent company.

Are you a crafty bastard? Do you get judged for having sewing skills?


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