If you’re a guy and have decided to start sewing, you may want to dip your toe in and feel the water with some beginner sewing projects for guys first. That’s not to suggest that sewing is harder for men than it is for women – this same advice holds for anyone who wants to start sewing, male, female, gender neutral, old or young – but by starting out with some beginner friendly projects – that are men inspired – you’re more likely to get that little thrill from creating something that you can use, while practicing your new found skills.
So let’s start with the most basic of all and work our way through this list of ten beginner sewing projects by difficulty level!
1. A Button
Ok, so not technically a project, but as buttons exist on most clothes made from woven fabrics, sewing on a button is a skill that everyone should practice.
You could practice by cutting off a button from an old jacket or shirt, and sewing it back on again, to build up your hand sewing skills.
2. Drawstring Bag
Moving onto something a little more complex than sewing on a button – the drawstring bag!
Primarily used as a sports bag – swim kit or soccer shoes are firm favorites! – the humble drawstring bag can be made up from old pillowcases, bed linen or even old worn out shirts, and used by yourself for many things.
They can be sewn up small and used as little gift bags for family and friends. You can sew them larger and use them for your swimmers, your gym shoes, your dirty laundry when traveling or any other hobby that needs an easily portable and foldable bag!
What you’ll need for a drawstring bag:
- Sewing machine
- 2 small squares of interfacing
- Cord, rope or a length of self fabric
- Eyelets or grommets and tool or hammer
I have a detailed tutorial on creating a large drawstring bag so do follow along with that once you’ve gathered your supplies!
And you can learn how to insert grommets into fabric too!
3. Small Wallet
A very easy to sewing beginner project which you can make for yourself or others as gifts, is a wallet. You can go the simple route using my free little wallet pattern or you can buy a road tested pattern from Thread Theory which uses elastic. To make this really stand out you;ll want to find some non-plain 2” / 5 cm wide elastic.
You can buy their elastic wallet pattern from them in the US and Canada here or from The Fold Line in the UK.
3. Tote Bag
Another bag as a beginner sewing project? Of course! A tote bag differs enough from a drawstring bag that it deserves its own place on the list. While a drawstring bag uses a tunnel / channel and rope combo to create the bag closure, a tote bag is slightly more complex, requiring handles and sometimes shaping of the base if a flat bottomed tote is your bag of choice.
Throw in an internal pocket and lining as further options and you have a beginner friendly tote bag project that will help you practice some sewing skills.
You could even make it trickier by adding in a zipper closure too!
I of course have a tote bag tutorial and free pattern to guide you through the process.
Who doesn’t need an apron? We use them when cooking to protect our clothing from stains and splashes, we use them in the garden when having a tidy up and I’m sure they’re used for other hobbies that I haven’t stopped to think about.
An apron is also a little more complex than a bag and something that you will wear and be noticed in – even if it is just the family admiring it while you’re grilling the summer sizzle. The on in the image above is slightly more complex, but you could start with something similar to the apron in the image below, and work your way up as your sewing skills develop.
You can easily repurpose existing old clothes into an apron or you can find a fabric you’re into and sew one up from that.
There are plenty of apron sewing patterns available, but in all honesty, you can also go simple and just mark out measurements on the fabric before cutting and sewing. You can use my existing apron sewing tutorial if you’re feeling more DIY.
If you would rather buy an apron pattern, do check out my little guide on apron sewing patterns!
5. Tee Shirt
One of the easiest items of clothing to sew, the humble tee (also commonly referred to as a shirt in the US) is made from jersey fabric and in its basic form is collarless with short sleeves, creating a ‘T’ shape when laid out flat.
Although many sewing beginners balk at the idea of sewing knit fabrics like jersey, the tee is worth having a go at. Jersey fabric is very forgiving so any errors won’t be as noticeable as sewing a top in woven fabrics.
You also don’t need to have a serger to sew knits as most modern sewing machines have the option of a knit stitch and if they don’t, I’ve yet to see a modern home sewing machine without a zigzag stitch option!
To sew a tee you’ll need:
- Knit fabric
- Rib fabric (optional)
- Pattern or an existing tee
- Piece of chalk or fabric marking pen
- Ball point needle
- Twin needle (optional, for the hem)
The other bonus for sewing this garment type first is that there are no fastenings! No zippers or buttons, no need for elastic either. You can use rib to finish the neck if you’re feeling brave enough to try it, but you can also create a narrow rectangle of the self fabric and use that for the neckband as well.
I love Elbe Textiles patterns when working on projects for men – this is their Sage Tee and it’s a great one.
6. Pajama Pants
I’ve popped pajama pants after tee simply because they can be sewn from either knit or woven fabrics, and require a waistband, which makes them a tad more complex than the basic tee.
Most pajama pants that you find in ready to wear stores are made from a woven cotton fabric. They’ll usually have an elasticated waistband and this may or may not include a drawstring to cinch them in a little more.
You can also get pajama pants that are made in a knit fabric, but these would have an elastic waist or a waistband made of ribbed fabric and elastic inserted into it. This is because not all knit fabrics have ‘memory’ (where they return to their original size) so elastic is needed to keep them up at the waist. My guide on knitted fabrics will teach you all there is to learn about these fabrics for now.
To make your own pajama pants, you can either find a pajama pant sewing pattern or take an existing pair that you have and recreate them.
To make pajama pants you will need:
- Your chosen fabric
- A pattern or existing pair
- Piece of chalk or fabric marking pan
- Interfacing (optional for the waistband)
- The correct needle type (based on whether you choose woven vs knit fabric)
I’m happy to create a quick tutorial on sewing pajama pants if people want it, just let me know in the comments below!
7. Robe (aka Bathrobe or Dressing Gown)
While the robe is an easy sewing project for beginners, it can also be quite tricky depending on your fabric choice.
The bathrobe version is usually made from terry toweling, which is easy enough to sew on a home sewing machine. If you were planning to make a robe out of a silky and slippery satin fabric, you’re in for a trickier time. And if you were considering making a quilted dressing gown (or ‘housecoat’ as my other half refers to them as) then good luck, and let me know how you get on!
All teasing aside, the robe has no fastenings, and is loose fitting, which makes it a great project for men who are new to sewing.
What you’ll need to sew a robe:
- Plenty of your chosen fabric – this project does use quite a bit of it
- Sewing pattern
- Notions as per you pattern choice
A great way to further personalize your gown is to apply a patch of some sort. I actually bought a large embroidered dragon patch for the back of my other half’s red satin dressing gown, but have yet to sew it on. You could also have initials embroidered as a patch and then applique that into place.
The Lahja Robe from Named Patterns is one of my favourites – it’s unisex, so you can make for yourself, or anyone special in your life.
Sweaters are made from knit fabrics and are sewn together for a relaxed fit. They consist of two types of knit fabric:
- Sweatshirt fabric for the main pieces (front, back, arms and kangaroo pocket)
- Ribbing fabric for the hem edges (sleeve cuffs, neck band, hem)
You can create an alternative version of a sweater using woven fabric for the main pieces and ribbing for the hem edges, but that is a more complex project.
To make a sweater you’ll need:
- Pattern or existing sweater
- A piece of chalk or fabric marking pen
- Suitable machine needle – ballpoint if you’re using knit type fabrics
If you’re looking for a specific pattern, this one from Elbe is a great pattern for men. Another option is to take an existing sweater or jumper, and refashion it into a zipper front garment. I did this recently with an old merino sweater and it was a fun little project.
9. Waistcoat / Vest
I love a waistcoat, and so does David, the other half. In fact, I’m almost finished making him a waistcoat I started earlier this year. No, they don’t take THAT long, I just forgot about it and the pile of projects built up on top of his waistcoat until I found it again a week back. Oops.
You can use an existing waistcoat or vest to trace around to get a more loose fit style or if you want something more exact, there are many patterns available now. I’m even thinking of digitizing the one I created for David and making that available. Let me know if that’s of interest to you, it wouldn’t take too long.
To sew a waistcoat you’ll need:
- Main fabric
- Lining fabric
- Back waist buckle (optional)
With the variety of vest and waistcoat patterns available, it’s tricky to say exactly what you’ll need, but for the one I’m making for David I used all of the above.
If you go for a quilted vest rather than a traditional style waistcoat, you’ll want wadding or batting for the inside and perhaps long fabric strips as ties at the front rather than buttons. Many options, so have a look at what you like and then go from there.
In the summer months my other half lives in shorts, and the best shorts pattern I have found for making them quick and easy are the Trigg Shorts from Elbe textiles. However, you could also use the pattern you used for pajamas if they’re elasticated at the waist, you’ll just want to shorten the legs to your preferred hem length and add in pockets if needed.
For the other half I add in front slash pockets and back patch pockets, but you could get away with just the back pockets if the front ones sound a little tricky to you. After you’ve sewn a few pairs, you might feel ready to dive in and add in some front pockets as well!
If you’re feeling ready, you could also make your shorts with a button or zipper fly front! This is a tad more complex – and would give you some experience of installing a zipper with its accompanying fly guard!
What you’ll need for sewing some basic shorts:
- Fabric (woven works best in my experience, but you could also use a heavy knit fabric like sweatshirting)
- Elastic for the waistband
- Drawstring is optional for the waistband
- Matching thread
- Suitable needle
Easy peasy. Honestly, the Trigg drawstring shorts pattern is the easiest one I’ve sewn so far for men, and if you like the style, it is worth the price.
There are so many different types of pants that I’ve pulled the four common types worn by men and listed them below:
- Joggers – sweatshirt fabric is most commonly used
- Jeans – made from denim, with or without a little spandex
- Chinos – a more informal type of pant made from 100% cotton twill
- Slacks – less formal than dress pants but more formal than chinos, slacks can be made from wool or synthetic fibers
There are so many pants patterns for men that it is impossible to add them here. Instead I’ve created a separate article, listing the best mens pants patterns and broken them down by skill level, so do pop over and check that out.
You could of course trace off an existing pair of pants that you love. Use my cloning guide to be really specific or wing it and develop a pants pattern from your pajama pants above. Just be aware that the pajama pants usually have a fair bit of wearing ease (this allows you to move more easily when wearing them) so you’ll want to take some of that away for closer fitting pants and trousers.
There are many mens sewing patterns available, but one of the best places to start is a dedicated book. The best book for mens sewing I have is The Gentleman’s Wardrobe, and I wrote up a review for those interested in learning more about it. Enjoy!
And if there are any men specific tutorials you’d like to see from me, let me know in the comments below!
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.