Archive for April 2015

Sewing Patterns for Men’s Clothes

April 12, 2015

Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee 2015, I’ve been looking for men’s patterns. And I’ve been adding to this list when I find a new source.
You might think there’s nothing for men learning to sew for themselves, between making a cushion cover and tailoring a suit, but in fact there are many options.

Sections :
– Learning to sew menswear
Learn to sew patterns
– General patterns
Casual wear – including ‘made to measure’ patterns, magazines
Activewear and Outdoor gear
Shirts, suits, vests, coats – including video courses on technique
– Make your own patterns
Basic blocks
Custom fit

Learning to sew menswear

Even the simplest modern sewing machine is a complex machine tool. (Here are links to information about the mechanisms.) And it’s surprising how many different techniques are involved in making even the simplest sewing project. Some people love challenges, some people prefer to learn one new technique at a time.

The first step is to learn the basics of using a sewing machine, see side menu at Aim for Quality for many free guides.

Then learn the simplest basics of cutting fabric and constructing something from it.
Do you prefer to learn from video or written instructions ?
There are a couple of free video classes on bag making at Craftsy/Bluprint.

There are some special easy patterns for men’s clothes, see next section.
There are also some special courses :

There’s a subscription service for learning to sew mens’s clothes from complete beginner. Taught by Mimi G, Sew It Academy, about $12 a month – videos with few written instructions.

If you prefer written instructions, here’s a “learn to sew” project book for complete beginners. The Merchant & Mills Sewing Book has a sequence of unisex bags and home dec (clothes patterns in this book are small and difficult to use, M&M single patterns are good).

The Sewing Guru is a trained tailor who has videos for making shirts and suits (and pyjamas), using speed and classical tailoring techniques. Projects vary in difficulty, and there’s no formal sewing school with a suggested sequence for learning sewing skills.

Burda Academy has an online video course for learning to sew menswear, which includes patterns for jacket, pants, and Barbour. This is also not for beginners.

Many links about tie making in this post from Thread Theory.

‘Learn to Sew’ clothes patterns for men

These could be ‘early beginner’ projects, a first garment after learning basic cutting out and construction from simpler projects :
Robe : Simplicity 1946.
Elastic-waist pants, no fly opening : Simplicity 2290.
Elastic-waist cargo shorts with ‘mock fly’ (doesn’t open) : McCall’s 6933.

The next I suggest might be ‘extra help for the first time you do this’ patterns – not for a complete beginner at garment sewing, but perhaps for a beginner at sewing these styles :
This shirt pattern is labelled ‘Learn to Sew’ by McCall’s, but definitely not easy, McCall’s 6972. For some reason they chose the most difficult way of attaching a one-piece collar.
And this ‘Learn to Sew’ pattern is for pants with zip fly, McCall’s 7987.
These jumpsuit costumes have zipper closure : McCall’s 7675.

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General Patterns

When you’ve learned the basics of how to sew, where can you go ?
I haven’t linked to individual patterns here, as there are 100s of them ! These are just links to pattern sources.
Sections here for :
Casual wear
Activewear and Outdoor gear
Suits, vests, coats.
These are all paper patterns unless noted.

Plus a final section on making your own patterns.

There are about a dozen patterns for men in this list of patterns supposed to be sewable in less than 3 hours.

If you’re specifically looking for patterns for larger men, here’s a post from the Curvy Sewing Collective which lists some patterns for men which go up to larger sizes. (See also the ‘make your own patterns’ section below.)

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Casual wear
Some of these sites are not sorted for men/women.
Some are in several languages.

Burda tissue patterns / Simplicity
Burda Style download patterns
Colette Patterns – Walden for men
Elbe Textiles
Green Style Creations
Hot Patterns
I Am Patterns
Jennifer Lauren Handmade
Liesl & Co.
Mark Francis
Merchant & Mills
Patterns for Pirates
Patrons les BG
ProperFit Cothing – caps
Rebecca Page
Seamwork (download)
Sew Sew Def (download)
Silhouette patterns
Stof & Stil
The Tailoress
Thread Theory
Toby K
Wardrobe By Me
5 out of 4 patterns

’Made to Measure’ pdf download patterns

Most of these only use a few basic measures, such as height, chest, waist, hips.

Bootstrap Fashion has patterns for several shirts and jackets. (formerly Make My Pattern) has patterns for most garment types.

Lekala patterns include more than 120 patterns for men.

For more detailed personalising of design and fit, see the ‘Make your own patterns’ section below.

Pattern magazines

There is an on-line sewing magazine specifically for menswear, Bartack.
This has been set up by Jamie Kemp, former contestant on the Great British Sewing Bee. Click on the Welcome to read about the content. It’s free to look at the content, subscription for the downloads.
There’s an extensive pattern finder section.

There’s the annual special family issues of Ottobre magazine, 7/2017, 07/2018, which have several traceable patterns for men.

Many of the download patterns at Burda Style previously appeared in Burda Style pattern magazine.

La Maison Victor is a Belgian pattern magazine said to have a pattern for men in each issue.

Occasionally there are stylish patterns for men in Italian pattern magazine La Mia Boutique

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Many of these sites aren’t pre-sorted for men/ women.

Burda Style download patterns

There are several specialist pattern companies for historic styles.
Such as :
Laughing Moon
Patterns of Time
Reconstructing History
The Recollections of J.P.Ryan

Choose the era you are interested in at
The Great Pattern Review
That doesn’t link you direct to the pattern.
Here’s their list of links to sources.

The Great Pattern Review site also has a ‘futuristic-fantasy’ section.
For cosplay costumes for specific characters, you can usually find ideas on specialist sites for the character.
There are some ‘online only’ cosplay costume patterns from McCall’s : Cosplay by McCall’s.

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Active wear

Burda Style download patterns
Controlled Exposure
Daisy Kingdom
Fehr Trade
Green Pepper
Round Earth Publishing – martial arts
Shelby Kaava
Storm Mountain Designs
Suitability – patterns for riders and horses

Outdoor gear

Here’s a guide to tips on sewing outdoor gear which aren’t in most conventional sewing books.
Many heavy duty sewing projects here, from Sail-rite sewing machines.

Some patterns :
Pennine Outdoor (mainly tents and sleeping bags)
Quest Outfitters (tents, bivy bags, backpacks)
Rainshed (mainly special purpose bags)

Many free patterns for bike bags available on-line.

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Moving on to shirts and suits (if you want to)

Video courses on technique

David Page Coffin, noted for his books and DVDs on shirts and pants, has video classes at Craftsy/Bluprint, David Page Coffin.

Burda Academy have an on-line video course on making menswear, which includes download patterns for notched collar and barbour jackets, pants, no shirt.

The Sewing Guru is a tailor who has many video courses on making shirts and suits.

Kenneth King has video tailoring class at Taunton Workshops, Smart Tailoring.

There are many video courses on making women’s shirts, which use the same techniques. Such as this class from Sew Over It, which includes both men’s and women’s shirts with pdf patterns.

Patterns for Shirts

More than one shirt pattern at each of these sites :
Burda paper, Simplicity
Burda Style download
Islander Sewing Systems – classic shirts
Islander Sewing Systems – modern fit shirts
(a single shirt pattern also in some of the Casual wear listings)

Patterns for Suits, Vests, Coats

Burda paper, Simplicity
Burda Style download

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Make your own clothes patterns

The University of Fashion has on-line video lessons on drafting patterns for men. These are standard industry slopers.

There are ready-made full size basic pattern blocks for men (average body shape) from :
Design Cut and Wear (some up to 46″ chest)
Shoben Media (up to about 110cm / 43” chest).
See below for larger sizes.

Custom fit patterns

Don’t expect a perfect fit from these tools unless you’re lucky. They only cover about a quarter of all fitting issues. But they may give a better fit than patterns for ‘average’ body shape.

‘Connect the dots’ tracing from a master pattern, by Sure-Fit Designs :
Shirts and casual jackets (easy to make any height-collar-chest combination up to about 157cm/62” chest).
Pants for men instructions used with pants pattern (up to 62″ hips).

Pattern making software :
Wild Ginger PatternMaster Tailor Made (claims no upper size limits)

Formal Pattern Drafting books :
Patternmaking for Menswear : classic to contemporary by Kim & Kim
Metric pattern cutting for menswear by Winifred Aldrich
(There are several other general pattern making books for men, but these get the best reviews.)

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Other options :

Vintage patterns
There are many vintage pattern sites. Good places to start are searches on ebay and Etsy.

The Japanese produce marvellous pattern books, with full size traceable pattern sheets. So long as you don’t mind they’re in Japanese ! with many good line drawings of construction. A fun challenge, but not for beginners. Sizes are small. Body sizes are given with the book information, in cm. Multi-size patterns, so they may be quite easy to grade up.
These are the books for men’s clothes at my favourite source, which shows many sample pages.
Simply Pretty

Free patterns – with very variable quality of pattern drafting and instructions.
Sadly there’s no obvious good source focussed on men’s patterns.

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It’s worth checking a pattern at Pattern Review, to see if anyone has helpful advice. (I find it quickest to search by pattern number.)
Pattern Review

Men’s clothing may not show the almost infinite variations in style elements that there are in women’s clothes. The differences are more in subtle details.
You do have to search thoroughly if you want something stylish, but there is a lifetime of possibilities to explore !

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First written April 2015, links checked March 2019.
I add a link whenever I come across a new source, but I don’t keep checking whether the links are all still valid.

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