One of my readers recently told me about The Gentleman’s Wardrobe and suggested it might be a good one to add to my article covering the best books with sewing patterns.
As pointed out, that list did not cover any books for menswear, and it is well known that menswear patterns are trickier to find reviews for with a high proportion of the sewing community focused on making women’s garments.
So today, I’m going to review the book in full, for any men out there looking to buy it, or women who fancy giving it as a gift for a loved one – or even to make some menswear items for their fellas!
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means that I may receive a fee at no extra cost to you if you purchase a recommended product. I only recommend items I have had experience with.
What Is The Gentleman’s Wardobe?
This is a book filled with menswear sewing projects that are vintage inspired. It contains 14 projects, patterns in the back cover to use and many easy to follow sewing instructions, along with simple illustrations.
It’s written by Vanessa Mooncie, and was published in 2017.
What’s Inside The Gentleman’s Wardrobe?
When you first open the book, you’re greeted with about 20 pages of full page and half page spreads of photos of the included projects. Alongside those there is some text, including an introduction to the writer and a contents page.
The book is then broken into different sections:
- Night attire
Let’s have a quick look at each!
The daywear section contains six projects, with each garment a basic for a man’s wardrobe:
- Shirt (long sleeved)
- Summer shirt (short sleeved)
- Boxer shorts
Top of the bunch (from my other half!) is the summer shirt and the trousers. Being able to make these essential basics would delight any man it seems – though he cannot sew, and would rather I make multiples of them for him!
We have three projects in the night attire section:
- Dressing gown
The winner in this section has to be the dressing gown. Upon seeing it, my other half immediately said ‘I want that please’!
Five projects in this section, and each would make a great gift idea for any man in your life whether they are into a vintage inspired look or not:
- Messenger bag
- Bow tie
- Flat cap
As previously mentioned, the book also goes into various techniques that will be needed throughout the projects.
While this section is over 30 pages long, it is a little ‘brief’ in the information.
As an example, the section on cloth covers just five fabric types with a paragraph for each and a facing page with samples. Not as in-depth as many would hope, but better than nothing, and you can always learn more about different fabric types with my in-depth guide.
The Sewing Projects
I won’t go into detail on the projects themselves as that wouldn’t fair to the writer (I’m a big believer in protecting copyright) but I will share a little on my thoughts of various aspects of how the sewing projects are set out etc.
The book states the following in regards to sizing:
“The patterns in this book have been designed for a comfortable fit, allowing extra for wearing ease. Patterns are in small, medium and large sizes.”The Gentleman’s Wardrobe © Vanessa Mooncie 2017
And looking at the measurements, the projects would fit the majority of men who fall into the ‘norms’ of sizing.
- Small: 15″ / 38cm neck, 36-38″ / 90-97cm chest and 30-32″ / 76-81cm waist
- Medium: 15 ½” / 39.5cm neck, 38-40″ / 97-101cm chest and 32-34″ / 81-86cm waist
- Large: 16″ / 39.5cm neck, 40-42″ / 101-106cm chest and 34-36″ / 86-90cm waist
There’s also a guide on taking measurements too.
In terms of layout, the projects have several pages dedicated to each covering the steps needed, from as many as fifty-two steps for the construction of the pants / trousers to seventeen steps for the boxers. The slippers and cravat projects have fewer pages with just three steps for each project.
When you go to a project page, you’ll see a brief intro, a list of all the pattern pieces that you’ll need to trace and the amount of fabric required.
There’s also information on suggested fabrics, the sewing notions and seam allowances used and the approximate finished measurements.
On following pages (as needed) you’ll also have fabric lay plans for different fabric widths before the construction steps start.
Overall, it’s similar to the information you would expect to see on a sewing pattern envelope and booklet. And this is important to note, because for the price of the book, you’re getting fourteen sewing patterns, with detailed written instructions, accompanying illustrations and more.
The Sewing Patterns
The sewing patterns for all the projects are located on three large format pattern sheets in a folder at the back of the book.
Projects are color co-ordinated across the different pattern pages, and due to the limited size ranges of the different sewing patterns, it’s easy enough to find and trace off the different pieces needed (unlike with womenswear when there are sometimes upwards of 20 sizes to decipher).
Seam allowances are included as well, and there are clear markings on how much seam allowance is to be used, so be sure to note that on the traced pattern pieces or adjust to your preferred amount as you trace.
Final Thoughts On ‘The Gentleman’s Wardrobe’
Overall, I think it is a brilliant book, offering a great selection of sewing patterns for men in the one book.
There are many things to love about the book:
- Great price
- Variety of basic patterns
- Patterns cover a common range of sizings
- Directions are well illustrated
- Great selection of photos
But there are some not quite doing it for me aspects too:
- Techniques needed per project are mentioned in the respective step with the relevant page number – frustrating if you like to follow step by step to have to thumb through for the mentioned technique
- Limited size range – I know there will be many men in the smaller and larger range that will feel disappointed that the book only offers three size ranges
- No knit based projects – not a deal breaker, but some men might like a more basic knit based garment
Overall I think The Gentleman’s Wardrobe is a beautiful book, well laid out with good instructions and illustrations to help anyone sew some good and basic menswear items. The price point makes it great value for the number of menswear sewing patterns included and I think it would make a great addition to any man’s sewing shelf!
If you enjoyed this, and want to learn more complex construction techniques, do check out my welt pocket tutorial or my jetted pocket (double welt) tutorial – both would make great additions to your sewing skills!
Eve Tokens (aka The Creative Curator) is a fashion designer, creative pattern cutter and sewing pattern designer.
Eve graduated with a 2:1 in Fashion Design from the University of The Creative Arts in the UK, has a BTEC diploma in Creative Pattern Cutting, a Foundation Degree in Art & Design from Wimbledon College of Art and gained extensive experience in the fashion industry by interning and freelancing for London based fashion brands – Hardy Amies, Roland Mouret, Peter Pilotto and others.
As well as running her own small sustainable fashion brand, Eve has more than 25 years experience sewing and making clothes for herself and family members.
Wednesday 3rd of August 2022
Hi Eve, its me again, the one that pointed you in the direction of this book, believe it or not I still haven't got around to sewing any of the projects in it yet but glad that you have given it a full and very fair review.
Since buying the book myself I've been on quite a personal journey and have lost enough of the lock-down weight that so many people had also gained and find myself now fitting into the sizing scope of the patterns included, so I have a bunch of fabric, a tonne of thread and pens, rulers and tracing paper at the ready, and ready to go.
Have you managed to get something made for your partner yet, I know he mentioned he would like the gown, an idea for a sew-along video maybe? I'll be making the gown myself in the next month or so in towelling fabric, so any tips on that would be welcomed. Loving the blogs, vlogs on YouTube and reviews, have you done one on shirt collars yet? They're still very much my nemesis but I am getting better, just not as good as I'd like yet.