Maker Men-Duane MacLeod

This week we have Duane MacLeod from This man's attention to detail is superb! 

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Tell us a little bit about yourself
I'm a single dad living in a small town on the coast of Maine. I have always been making things, and it's a big part of who I am. My philosophy has always been that if one has the right tools, can read and follow directions, almost anything is possible. I've designed and built a post and beam house and I'm currently working on a small wooden sailboat. So to be making my own clothes is very much a natural progression. 

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What led you to learn to sew and are you trained or self taught?
I got started in sewing by learning how to upholster and make slip covers and drapes. The Sunset books have been my teacher. I love rescuing a piece of furniture and giving it new life with fabric. I joke that most of my furniture is from the town dump, and it's pretty much true. 


What are your biggest inspirations?

I stumbled upon Ryuichiro Shimazaki's book of men's coats quite by accident. I was looking on eBay for a gift for my daughter who is a textile design graduate of the California College of the Arts. My search lead to a seller of Japanese pattern books, and I had never seen them before. I was completely captivated by the designs and the gorgeous photography. One look at the cover of the men's coat book and BOOM, the seed was planted. That cover with the Burberry-esque trench is hard to resist. 

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You have worked your way through the patterns in Ryuichiro Shimazaki's book of men's coats. What inspired you to do that and did you manage to make them all?
I'm a total sucker for movies with great overcoats. Movies like The Illusionist and True Grit come to mind, as well as TV shows like Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfredge. Unfortunately, men's outerwear tends to be quite expensive and, sadly, pretty dull. So, why not make my own!

I studied the the book's step by step pictures and the pattern pieces extensively before deciding that the duffle coat would be the easiest place to start. I also started looking at sewing sites and blogs to help me solve the problems I was encountering, especially fitting issues. Somewhere along the line I decided to start my own blog, The Japanese Pattern Challenge, as a way of recording my progress, and hopefully helping some future sewer in their exploration of menswear. I've come a long way since that first coat. What propels me are the technical challenges and the pleasure of having the clothes that I really want to wear. 


Where do you find your supplies?
I get to NYC a few times a year to prowl the garment district with mixed results. It can be overwhelming and I'll admit that I've made some bad fabric decisions there. Most notably some camel colored "wool" which turned out to be 99% polyester. Sourcing materials is a must if you live in a remote area like me, so here are some of my favorite online sources when getting to the city isn't possible. for tailoring supplies. for interfacings. for shirting. 

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What is your favourite creation?
As much as I like all the garments I make, my favorite is my brown wool frock coat. Unfortunately the season for wearing it is very short. 


 What's next on your list?
What's next? I recently bought a remnant of purple velvet at Britex while visiting San Francisco. Ideally I'd like to make it into a jacket. So to that end I'm working on a muslin of Folkwear's Belgian Chef's Jacket, which may or may not work. I'll be blogging about it soon at