Sewing: Men Embracing Their Sewing Machines
Take a little squiz at Instagram and you will see there is a growing number of snappy dressers and some of these fashionistas are part of a movement of male sewers. It is happening worldwide and the ongoing, long periods of lockdown has accelerated this trend.
Traditionally sewing has been seen as a typically feminine pursuit (ironically tailors are expected to be male), but we are currently seeing an increase of coined tags such as #sewbros, #menwhosew and #dopemensew and with good reason. Fashion is a form of self-expression – you can switch up your style according to your mood and how you want to be presented, no matter if you a man, woman or non-binary. If you can create your own wardrobe then it is not only more satisfying, but better fitting and showcases your individual style.
Our blog editor, Jacqui Taylor, has a heart-to-heart to three male sewers who have embraced their sewing machines with passion and killing it with their creations.
Hi Scorpio, thanks for chatting. Tell me a bit about yourself, where did you grow up and where do you live?
I consider my upbringing as bi-coastal. Brooklyn, NY and Austin, TX. I currently reside in Houston, TX.
When and why did you start sewing? Who inspired you to start sewing?
I started sewing in 2019. I wasn't really good at it at first, so I had to go back to the lab and really perfect the fundamentals.
Honestly, I will say that I started sewing because one day I realised that I was paying a lot of money to wear someone else's clothes, then had to go and get it altered in order for it to fit me. It didn't make sense to me at the moment. I decided to really try my hand at making my own clothes. I had always been into fashion and considered myself, at the time, to be a lowkey creative so I just went for it. I remember the whole scenario perfectly: it was a Sunday and I was scrolling through Instagram searching for "black male tailor" and I came across Norris Ford's page and I was hooked as they say. I real life learned everything about his sewing journey by day's end. By Thursday I had bought my first sewing machine and signed up for Sew It Academy and by Saturday I had completed all of their courses – twice. By the next week I knew this was something that I wanted to really pursue and make an impact in the sewing community.
It sounds funny but I really inspired myself to get into sewing. I was in a dark place in my life at the time and I was not really enjoying being myself if that makes sense (mental health is very real). I knew I needed to change or things would get worse so that time period involved a lot of soul-searching. It wasn't until I went to Costa Rica for a friend's wedding that everything clicked for me and I had a renewed sense of urgency. Now, every project I take on is made with that same sense of urgency. Life is no longer promised to us, you have to do what you love. That's why my brand name, Sins of Many means so much to me, it's an apology to my younger self; I should've been brave enough to make this transition into fashion earlier.
What has been your favourite item to sew? What has been your most challenging sewing project?
I absolutely love making bomber jackets, denim jackets, tops and anything you can layer with. I love the fall/winter seasons for that same reason; you have the ability to really reveal your personality through your looks and layering.
As far as the most challenging, denim jackets require A LOT of patience just because there are so many panels that you are working with. You have to really be in tune with yourself and what you are doing to get that done in a timely manner. But overall, not much gives me too much trouble sewing.
Scorpio, you are part of a rise of male sewers. We are seeing more and more positive tags related to male sewing such as #dopemensew, #menwhosew, #sewbros and even George Clooney has jumped on board. What does that mean to you?
This is really what motivates me to keep going. Sewing is such a woman-dominated field, it's crazy. From patterns, to types of prints and materials and especially fabrics, it is pretty much tailor-made for women. There really aren't a whole lot of resources for men out there when it comes to wanting to excel in the sewing community without really digging for it. That's what makes what Norris is doing for the community so special. I have had the opportunity to get closer to him and together we really are aiming to do all we can to shine a brighter light on all the talented male creatives we have all over the world.
Things such as #dopemensew and other tags have really put me in touch with a bunch of creatives from Philly, Baltimore all the way to the UK and even Australia. It really is a blessing. I feel like I can really be an ambassador for this growing movement to let people know that yes, I am a man who sews, because I'm dope...therefore dope men sew!
I had no idea Clooney was on board, let me hit him up real quick! Lol. But that's awesome, and there's plenty of room for others to come on board and support!
Ha ha, you totally should! OK, tell me what is the best thing about sewing?
The best feeling in the world is looking up and seeing someone wearing a custom garment that you have made for them. No other feeling like it!
Second to that, I would say that the best thing would be knowing that with every garment or custom piece that I make I am representing a much bigger entity being the #dopemensew community. As a former athlete, and what's considered a "bigger guy" in the fashion industry I know what it's like to not be able to fit clothes that others can. It can be tiring and honestly embarrassing, so to be able to say that I make my own clothes, using fabrics that allow a bigger guy like me full functionality while still staying true to my modern, tailored and slim aesthetic...that's a win! It just shows you that impossible is nothing, and that you don't have to conform to societal standards.
What would you say to other men considering learning to sew?
Just do it. If you are considering it, do it. Nervous about it? Ask questions first, then do it. Need a mentor? Here's my number, then do it. Let's go pick out a sewing machine together. Let's dissect Sew It Academy videos together. There's no time like the present, and I believe every man is capable of tapping into this creative world if they allow themselves. We have both a Facebook group and Instagram page dedicated to dope men who sew, and every day it is growing!
Finally, what would be your dream project to sew?
Three answers to this question.
- I want to collab to make something for either Michael B. Jordan, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, ASAP Rocky or Jarvis Landry. Those guys right there, stylistically, are some of my favourite dressers (kudos to their stylists) in the game currently.
- I would love to test my ability amongst others! I think I'm at that stage where I just want to be pushed creatively and under pressure. Shows like Next In Fashion, Project Runway and The Great Sewing Bee have always intrigued me.
- I think LeBron and the Cavs did this few years ago when they were all styled and dressed in Tom Ford suits I think for the playoffs...I would love the opportunity to dress a whole team or be in a scenario like that to bless others with my creations. That would be really dope!
Firstly, Michael, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I am a proud father, self-taught sewist, life-long crafter and DIY enthusiast. Also known as Ava's dad. I can usually be found exercising my creative abilities. Born, raised and currently resides in ‘The City of Brotherly Love” Philadelphia, Pa.
When and why did you start sewing? Did a family member teach you to sew?
I began my sewing journey in 2014. I wanted a way to bond with my daughter while looking for a new creative challenge. My sister taught me the basics, assisted me with notions and the rest I learned through YouTube and Pinterest.
Looking at your Instagram, it appears your daughter is your inspiration to sew. Tell me about that.
My mission is to help Ava build her self-esteem and establish confidence in herself and her abilities. Ava is my muse and I love creating for her. I utilise my creativity to nurture our daddy-daughter bond.
What has been the most challenging sewing project you’ve created for her?
My most challenging project was a coat I created for Ava about four years ago. It was my first time using a pattern, it was a pdf pattern and it required a lot of patience, time and dedication. I made a few mistakes but I was proud of the final outcome.
Michael, you are part of a rise of male sewers. What does that mean to you?
I am extremely proud to be amongst the many talented male sewers who are contributing their talents to the sewing community. I think it’s important for men to have a creative outlet, I hope more men begin to share their makes and experiences. Sewing is for everyone, so it’s amazing to see the shift in the community.
What would you say to other men considering learning to sew?
Go for it! It’s so cool to be able to make your own clothes. Taking ideas and making them something tangible is awesome. Sewing is a great skill to learn.
Finally, do you have a dream project you’d like to sew?
My dream project is to make a princess dress for Ava. A poofy, pretty and sparkling gown that makes her feel like royalty.
Firstly, Terrance, tell me a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
I'm Terrance Williams! I am a self-taught sewer, designer and small business owner of my brand Terrance Williams Designs. I was born and raised in Pennsylvania and now live in Dallas, Texas!
When and why did you start sewing? Did a family member teach you or inspire you to sew?
I mainly taught myself to sew but had some help from a very close family friend named Dawn. I learned with the help of YouTube videos and tutorials as well. I started around 2010 and have spent all this time developing my skills. I feel like I learn something new every day! I have always had an interest in fashion and that developed into fashion design and sewing.
What was your first sewing project? Was it a win or a fail?
One of my first sewing projects was a couture dress I made for my college fashion show. It was a pretty huge undertaking for me because I had very little sewing experience but I was really determined to have my vision come to life. I actually ended up getting third place so I'd say that was a win!
Terrance, you are part of a rise of male sewers. What does that mean to you?
It means a lot to me because inclusivity is very important to me. Diversity is very important to me. For so long we have seen, through marketing and perception, the face of sewing belongs to women when really sewing belongs to everyone and everyone should feel inspired to join the community. It feels good to be part of the creators shaking the table and creating change. I hope me being visible in the space inspires others to join the community as well!
Tell me about your journey as a sewer. Has the sewing community been supportive?
I'm a little different than others in the sewing community because I do sew for myself and for leisure, but I mostly sew for my business. I'm not necessarily testing patterns because I'm drafting or adapting my own. I'm buying fabric in bulk. The whole experience is different, but I think that's great because I can bring the entrepreneurial side of sewing into the sewing space. I like to show people not only sewing tutorials but a behind the scenes look at running a business. It's a unique experience that I love sharing. I have found support within the sewing community from the most unlikely of places and have also experienced people and groups that I thought would support me actually not supporting me. I truly just make the content that I want to and make my platform as happy and positive as I can and if people want to support, I'm always appreciative!
What would you say to other men out there wanting to learn to sew?
Do it! It's such a valuable skill to have and it's really great to be able to create your own clothing. You'll face some questions and maybe some backlash from people's perception that sewing is a woman's craft, but don't let that deter you from learning and doing it! Sewing isn't just for women, it's for everyone!
Finally, do you have a dream project you’d like to sew either for yourself or someone else?
I have a whole Pinterest board filled with sewing projects that I want to complete! Sequin jumpsuits, embroidered dresses, tulle skirts. So many things I'm going to complete one day!
There you have it! A little taste of what a few men are loving about sewing, now here’s cheers to more diversity joining this bubbling community.
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