Revisiting my “Maine Uniform”

I haven’t posted anything in ages. To make up for that, this post features two recent makes that begged to be in a single post. You may have seen snippets of each on my Instagram. Together they make what I call the “Maine Uniform”.

Yup, you guessed it………….A flannel shirt and jeans.

The “Maine Uniform”

I live just a few miles up Route 1 from that “famous Maine outdoor retailer”. You know the one. The boots, the barn jackets and the cute puppies!

Their tartan flannel shirts and jeans were my uniform for years, I’d say from my late twenties into my fifties. It was a no-brainer kind of dressing for me. It actually became sort of a joke. I had a dear friend in Vermont who would laugh and shout “Plaaaaid” every time he saw me. My wardrobe was THAT predictable. Of course learning to sew changed all of that.

But let’s face it, there’s still something pretty terrific about flannel shirts and Winter. So I set out to put my own spin on the old standbys.

The flannel for this shirt was purchased last year from Stylemaker Fabrics. I fell hard for the color combination of teal, ivory and caramel. It’s the beefiest flannel shirt I’ve ever owned, and I’m looking forward to wearing it when the real cold weather finally arrives. (It’s been oddly mild for December).

I’m always looking for ways to take my clothes in a slightly different direction. As sewists, it’s our superpower. I had purchased a piece of lightweight leather from Metro Textiles during one of Kashi’s big sales. I never really had a plan for it. It was just one of those deals that was too good to pass up. The color ended up coordinating quite well with the flannel, and the idea of a leather collar popped up as a possibility. Of course, would it be practical / washable?

I hand washed the leather in the kitchen sink with some laundry detergent and let it air dry as a test. I was anticipating that it would be stiff, or that the color would be blotchy. To my surprise there was absolutely no change to it after washing. So it was full steam ahead.

Plaid Matching

I used my TNT vintage Butterick shirt pattern. I love that this pattern has a sewn-on front button band. It gives the shirt a real “professional” touch. It can, however, be a bit of a mind bender when it comes to stripe or plaid matching. So I decided to redraft my pattern pieces onto fresh Swedish Tracing Paper and make a little YouTube video. You can watch it here if you have a few minutes to spare. But if plaid matching isn’t your cup of tea, I understand.

A few construction notes…

Because the flannel is particularly heavy I serged the seam allowances, pressed them to one side and then stitched them down. This makes sort of a “faux flat felled seam”. I used this technique pretty much throughout. Sides, Sleeves, Armscye and Hem. The sleeves can be a bear, kind of like sewing down inside the kitchen drain. Don’t give up. It can be done!

The yoke and sleeve plackets are cut on the bias. (There are some things I’ll never be able to match!)

I added a flat leather piping to the pocket. (It took a couple of tries until it turned out right!)

In hindsight I wish I’d increased the width of the collar a bit. The combined bulk of all the materials made it come out slightly smaller than I’d prefer. It’s that whole “turn of the cloth” thing. Live and learn.

With the shirt finished I moved on to the jeans. My very first pair! EVER!

I’ve had the PDF version of Thread Theory’s Quadra Jeans in a file folder for over a year. If you don’t already know, Thread Theory has two jeans patterns. The Quadra Jeans, which have a slimmer contemporary fit; and the Fulford Jeans, which have a higher rise and straight legs (think Carhartt).

If you’re going to make either style, please do yourself a favor and make a muslin. Including the zipper! It’s really the only way to get the fit you want.

I had to shorten the legs a great deal. I also found the rise to be uncomfortably low, both in the front, and even more so in the back. Both were relatively easy fixes. Another benefit of making a muslin is that you get to see how the zipper fly is constructed. That’s always a mind-bender for me!

And while I’m on the topic of muslins, Kashi at Metro Textiles occasionally sells a heavy weight muslin that works perfectly for any garment that will be made out of a more substantial fabric. I highly recommended it.

I’m fortunate to have two vintage machines at my disposal. I used my Singer 301 for all the basic construction, and my powerhouse 201 for the topstitching. It was so nice not to be switching threads all the time, and fussing with tension and stitch lengths.

My fabric is a mid-weight, non-stretch, darker wash denim from Gorgeous Fabrics. Starting out with a lighter weight denim turned out to be a perfect introduction to jeans making for me. I can honestly say that I never struggled with any of it. Now that I know the basic construction sequence, I feel confident that I could tackle a more rugged pair. If you’re new to jeans making, like me, starting with a workable weight fabric is a good way to go.

I’m not sure why I was so afraid to make jeans. For some reason I thought they would be difficult. Now that I’ve broken through that block, I’m looking forward to making more.

I have a flat buttock and straight hips, so this Quadra Jeans pattern is pretty much perfect for me. I will make just a few little adjustments on my next pair. But for now, I just want to wear the heck out of them. It’s my old “uniform”, just a lot better!

In closing, I made three YouTube videos to chronicle my jeans making adventure. The Quadra Jeans are a popular pattern and admittedly there are lots of other videos out there. My videos are not intended to be a “sew-along”. They’re just my observations about the pattern, some things I would change, maybe a few ways to make the construction easier. Just keep in mind it’s not a sew-along!

As always, my thanks to the amazing sewing community. I receive so much inspiration, encouragement and support. An embarrassment of riches!

I wish you all happy, and WARM, winter sewing. Please stay safe! May your sewing space be a place of joy and refuge.

Credits:

Leather and Muslin … Metro Textiles, NYC

Flannel Shirting … Stylemaker Fabrics

Denim … Gorgeous Fabrics

16 thoughts on “Revisiting my “Maine Uniform”

  1. Hey Duane I was thinking just this week that we hadn’t heard from you in a while. Really love the ‘uniform’ my grandson spotted it and put his hand up for a plaid shirt and jeans for his birthday (June our winter) so I have a few months to plan. Will certainly use your videos as a guide.
    Stay safe
    Regards Lynda from Brisbane Australia

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  2. My goodness you do beautiful work! It just shines through every photo. Will you be making another set like this to wear when one set is in the wash?

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  3. I love your blog posts and look forward to each and every one! Your “uniform” turned out amazing and is certainly a cut above anything you’d find in ready to wear. I gobbled up all three videos and especially enjoyed your waistband treatment. Your method makes so much sense. I usually do struggle with catching that inside seam with the top stitching. And wow!….that leather collar is the frosting on the cake!👏👏👏

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  4. I thoroughly enjoy your posts and your makes. This outfit is great. You even have the perfect scarf. I wonder if anyone suggested making the leather collar detachable.
    As a gal from South Texas, I think 60 degrees is freezing, so I assume Pendleton wool is next. Don’t tell me. Let it be a surprise.

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  5. A great pattern combination and love the shirt. As I mentioned the rise to you when I made this pattern and just put my pair into the charity box, didn.t think to alter the pattern, I can see you added a lot to the yoke, my lacking experience. I have also the Fulford jeans and this time better make up a fuller muslin not just to do quick size fit test. Your finished jeans look great on you so as usual your meticulous sewing really does make it worth while. I Enjoy your you tube information as well and those pointer all help, thanks and all the best.

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  6. What beautiful makes – such a professional finish and great fit! I always enjoy your blogs and videos, looking forward to venturing into mens’ wear next year as I make my husband a long awaited shirt. I’ll be back on your channel for tips and inspiration.

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  7. Great post! I’ve made jeans before in the past – you got a great fit! And love the leather accents on the shirt! 1st class all the way!

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  8. I am so glad you took the plunge and made a pair of jeans. Once you get a pair that fit, they seem to find their way onto you faster than any other pant in the wardrobe. It’s such a great work style, so comfortable and sturdy, no wonder it’s a classic wardrobe staple. I’m still working out the tweaks several years and maybe twenty pairs later? My only hint for the heavier weight fabric is keep a hammer at hand to debulk multiple layer seam joins (like belt loops on the waistband – there is something very satisfying about hammering denim thinner). I have gone back and handstitched some topstitching when it stepped out of line, and no one has been the wiser… until now.

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  9. Beautiful work, as always! I particularly love the leather pocket trim, and your plaid matching is inspirational. Kudos on attempting jeans: it is frighteningly easy to make them look especially home ecky-Becky. That topstitching has to be right. Having a dedicated machine that can handle the denim does make the whole effort more manageable. Excellent job!

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  10. I do so love to look at the details of your makes. Thank you for doing the You Tube videos. If I am doing something tricky, you are one of the people I rely on. I love this shirt. I keep showing my husband your wardrobe and aspire to make some beautiful clothes for him that fit as well.

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