Archive for the ‘learning to sew’ category

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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Knit top sewalongs

September 21, 2013

(Hey, not sure I would have chosen this topic if I’d realised it was going to be my 200th post ! Amazing what starting a blog can turn into 😀 Thanks for all your interest over the years.)

Knit tops are so popular as a quick make, I thought there would be many sewalongs. There are several ‘let’s have fun together’ sewalongs, but not so many with detailed instructions for a specific pattern (at least, not ones that are easy to find !).

The skirt sewalongs in my previous posts included all sorts of pattern-sewalong combinations.
These knit sewalongs all come from the designer of the pattern.

Many of these assume you’re working with a conventional sewing machine rather than a serger/ overlocker. I’ve noted what’s used in some sewalongs, but I haven’t seen all of them so don’t know about the others !
Some are video and some written materials.

– – –

Written instructions with photos
(most of these are free)

Child’s cut-on sleeve top from KitschyCoo


download pattern

scroll to bottom of page to get first post
Uses a serger/ overlocker.
Many ideas for variants – apply them to adult’s patterns too !

Fishsticks’s Designs Charlie Tee

A sew-along for a simple tee with separate sleeves.
The instructions show a children’s version, but of course the same instructions apply to the adult sizes !


Pattern for adult sizing, tissue or download

Intro to the sew-along
For later steps click the link at the bottom of each post.
Sewing machine, includes sewing a twin-needle hem.

Renfrew top from Sewaholic patterns


Top with variants of sleeve length, neckline shape, cowl neck
The Number 1 best pattern for 2012 at Pattern Review.

tissue pattern

Sewalong intro
List of links
Final step
sewing machine

The Sewing Workshop Trio pattern Tee – raglan


tissue pattern (includes woven sleeveless jacket and pants)

Sewalong for tee only, sewing machine (not free, 62 pages)

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Video, on-line, free

Ttutorial from Hot Patterns on making a basic v-neck tee.

Video demos, on-line or on DVD
(not free)

Basic Tee from Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated patterns


Craftsy on-line video class – Sewing with knits
download pattern included
sewing machine

Fleece Hoodie from Meg McElwee of Sew Liberated patterns


Craftsy on-line video class – Sewing with Knits
download pattern included
sewing machine

(See above for basic tee in the same class. Class also has patterns and instructions for knit skirt, pants, dress)

Pamela’s Patterns 104 the Perfect T-shirt DVD


tissue pattern

sewalong in ‘The Perfect T-shirt‘ DVD

Vogue 8793 from Katherine Tilton


tissue pattern – class price includes pattern
complex collar with zipper trim

Craftsy on-line video class – The Ultimate T-shirt – from Marcy and Katherine Tilton
includes fitting, and making variations

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P.S. useful links not related to a specific pattern :

Sewaholic’s big list of tips for sewing knits is itself a collection of useful links
Noodlehead’s self-made pattern for racer-back tank with detailed sewing instructions
Crafts class by Linda Lee on Sewing Fashion Knits.

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Of course there are many other good sources of useful tips on sewing knits. Though you’re expected to pick out for yourself the information you need. My focus here is on thorough guidance from project-based instructions, which give more help than there is in specific pattern instructions. “If you follow these steps one-by-one you’ll make this. . .”

Again I haven’t read or used all these instructions, so no guarantee of quality !
But I hope you find something useful and helpful 😀

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Patterns and links available September 2013

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Sewing skills lists

September 7, 2013

Are you the sort of person who likes to tick your skills off on a list as you learn ? or have some sort of structure to guide your learning ?

I don’t like exotic vacations away from home, but I do like to spend August as a stay-cation – sew-cation.
I usually take some sort of on-line sewing class.
And that makes me think about my sewing skills.

Three groups of items here :
Some .pdf lists of skills which I’ve produced.
These are project based.

Some .pdf lists about sewing education from 4-H.
There are several other 4-H sewing booklets which aren’t free.

And, for people who like to learn by working through a suggested sequence of projects, there are the increasingly difficult projects required in a couple of recent knock-out sewing contests.

My own lists

Beginner skills list.pdf

Intermediate skills – based on the book Dressmaking by Alison Smith
31 projects.A4.pdf
31 projects.USletter.pdf

Taking it further, I haven’t produced my own list of jacket sewing skills, but there are comments on them in my post on Sources of jacket sewing advice. Jackets can be made at a huge range of levels of difficulty. All the way from advanced beginner ones which use the same skills as sewing a simple blouse. Through to advanced couture and tailoring skills such as underlining, pad stitching, roll line taping, sleeve head supports, welt pockets. . .

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4-H lists

Different states use different systems.
Here are some .pdfs that are free and I’ve found worth a look.

Penn State
Sewing skills progress chart
(not sorted by level)

Washington State
Sewing skills checklist
(3 levels)

Sew much fun
(3 general levels, 12 detailed levels)

Oregon State
Sewing advancement guide
(3 general levels, 9 detailed levels – general clothing skills, refers to Sewing skills checklist for sewing details)

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Knock-out sewing contests

How about using extended sewing contests as guides to a project sequence to work through ?

Super Online Sewing Match

This on-line sewing contest used patterns going up to intermediate skills. Contestants had one or two weeks to do their sewing, in their own sewing space.
The entries show how much can be achieved from a simple starting point. The basic patterns may be intermediate, but the workmanship and richness of ideas in the entries were at a very high level.


Round One – a-line skirt
Deborah Moebes’ Design and sew an a-line skirt Craftsy class

Round 2 – child’s dress
Oliver + S Roller Skate dress

Round 3 – bag
Cinch bag download pattern from U-handbag

Round 4 – men’s shirt
Colette Patterns Negroni men’s shirt

Round 5 – final – adult dress
Sewaholic Patterns Cambie fully lined dress with bustier style bodice

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Great British Sewing Bee TV series

The Great British Sewing Bee TV series was a more advanced challenge, as it worked up to making jackets and using special occasion fabrics, plus fitting someone they hadn’t met before.

Sewing quickly in an unfamiliar environment – not something I would do well at all 😀
Though the building they sewed in looked delicious, a historic building bursting with fabrics and haberdashery, a sewer’s paradise.
Contestants could take their own tools, but had to use the sewing machines provided.

In the 2013 series there were 3 challenges each weekend, each with only a few hours allowed.
First day :
1. Make up a commercial pattern supplied.
2. Decorate a ready-made item.
Second day :
3. Choose fabric and pattern for a specific type of garment (contestants were given the brief a few days beforehand). Make up to fit a real person, who modelled it for the judging.
There was also a simple suggested home-dec project for viewers (not at all well explained !).

The episodes used to be available on YouTube, but sadly they’ve been deleted for copyright reasons. . . yet the makers haven’t issued a DVD – pooh !

Jan 2014 – the show has appeared on YouTube again – don’t know how long it will last !

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Round One

1. A-line skirt
2. alter neckline of RTW top
3. made-to-measure day dress
Project – drawstring laundry bag

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

Round Two
1. men’s trousers
2. add patch pockets to RTW skirt
3. made-to-measure silk blouse/ shirt
Project – tied closure cushion/ pillow cover

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

Round Three – semi-final
1. child’s sun-dress with shirring, french seams, rouleaux straps
2. change shape and embellish RTW shift dress
3. made-to-measure fitted jacket with lining
Project – simple curtains

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

Round Four – final
1. men’s shirt
2. embellish ready-made fabric evening purse
3. made-to-measure special occasion wear (all contestants chose to use 2 difficult fabrics !)

Comments from sewing organiser
Other information

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Do you like to develop your sewing skills ?
or do you like to use familiar sewing processes, and put your creativity into choosing what to make and how to embellish it ?
or just burble along for complete relaxation 😀

I hope you had a lovely summer vacation, whatever your vacation style 😀

– – –

Links and patterns available September 2013

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Skirt sew-alongs – videos

August 3, 2013

The second section of my list of sew-alongs for skirts.
Sewalongs for people who like to watch rather than read what to do.
Videos are on-line or on DVD.

The first post in this group was about free on-line written skirt sewalongs with photos.

If you prefer to learn by watching video demos, they’re not free. Sad, but producing these videos and DVDs does take a considerable investment in time and effort, so it’s understandable.
And the videos often include much more complete guidance than the written ones.

Most of these guides aren’t pattern specific, so I’ve just given example pictures.

And as before – I haven’t seen most of these, so no guarantee of quality. . .

(Also at the end, some links to lists of free download skirt patterns.)

Elastic waist skirts for beginners

e-SewingWorkshop on-line


sewalong for dirndl skirt.
Free videos on their site about using a sewing machine.

Beginner Basics on-line class by Deepika at Pattern Review


tissue pattern Simplicity 2258.

You Can Make It DVD
pattern : any basic skirt with elastic waist
sewalong Level 1
YouTube sample excerpts
You need to be able to able to use a sewing machine, but otherwise for complete beginners.

Pencil skirts
usually darts, zip, waistband, may be hem vent, lining.

Most of these make a basic pencil skirt using any pattern, such as McCall’s 3830 classic tissue pattern.


Craftsy Sewing Studio class by Diana Rupp on-line,
includes making a fitting muslin, and adding a lining.
Use any pattern,
or the tissue pattern in her book Sew Everything Workshop.
sew along (includes beginner’s cushion cover)

eSewingWorkshop on-line
Use any pattern,
or follow their instructions for drafting your own pencil skirt with simple style variations. (These instructions draft a skirt to your standing hip measurement without added ease, skin tight. Do draft to at least your sitting hip measurement, so you’re able to move !)

Sewing Guru on-line
Pencil skirt with waistband, CB zip, hemline slit
such as tissue pattern Butterick 5391.
first 4 videos of Collection 2 on skirt pattern, and Collection 6 on sewing the skirt

You Can Make It DVD
Use any pattern for skirt with waistband, darts, zip, hem slit, also pleats.
sewalong Level 2 (scroll down)
YouTube sample excerpts.
YCMI DVDs are cumulative not stand-alone. Level 2 assumes you know the skills taught at Level 1 (elastic waist skirt).


Craftsy class Design and make an a-line skirt, on-line class by Deborah Moebes.

Pamela’s favorite bias skirt DVD
no central seam


tissue pattern

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P. S. Here’s a free video for sewing an a-line skirt with box pleat, zip, waistband. it’s the free Wear Everywhere skirt from So Sew Easy.

– – –

The written sewalongs for skirts (see my previous post) include a much wider range of style elements. Such as gathers, shirring, pockets, various waist treatments including shaped waistbands, faced waists, contour waists, and yokes.

Goodness, there are so many skirt sew-along choices it’s a bit overwhelming.
It would be easy to settle down to several years of guided skirt sewing 😀

There are also huge numbers of free skirt patterns on the web.
Many of them have primitive instructions, but once you have a few sewing skills there’s an enormous choice.
Here are some lists of links :
Burda Style
Modern Sewing Patterns (the styles don’t all have patterns)
So Sew Easy

So, first learn from the sewalongs, then you’ll be able to tackle those patterns. How to choose where to start ?

What is your favourite support for guidance – reading or watching ?
I confess I like both – video for being sure what is involved, written so I haven’t got to remember everything and can take it at my own pace.

What is the right level of difficulty for you ? How many unfamiliar processes does each pattern include ? How many new processes are you happy to take on in one project ?
I’m a slowly-but-surely learner, not one for jumping in to a challenge.

Which style elements are most flattering to your waist-hip area ?
Sadly, with my high hip pads and protruding stomach, only the smoothest pocket-free fit over the hips is a good idea on me. And I need to take care with where the waist sits – only a little below the waist is best.

Can you alter the skirt length, for the most flattery to your length proportions ? your legs ?
I’m short waisted, and high waists just look ridiculous.
Knobbly knees are a family feature. And my ankles are not what they were. So it’s longer skirts for me.

Imagine yourself wearing a style, or try on something similar in a store.
Would you love to wear something like this ?
I continue with my choice of a near-maxi 6-gore skirt. With darts, zip, narrow waistband, lining. Pencil skirt instructions include the sewing processes I need.

Best Wishes for celebrating a beautiful finished skirt 😀

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Patterns and links available August 2013

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