Men can be notoriously hard to shop for, and when it comes to handmade gifts, you might find yourself drawing a bit of a blank. Never fear! There are plenty of handmade gifts you can sew for all the gentlemen in your life, from the hammer-wielding handyman to the king of the kitchen. Check out these thirteen ideas to get you started!
1. Bow Ties & Pocket Squares
A classic gift for any dapper gentleman! A bow tie with a matching pocket square is surprisingly simple. The trick is getting the size right. If the gift is meant to be a surprise, the easiest way to match the fit perfectly is to borrow a tie you know already fits just right and trace it to make your pattern. Make sure to lay out your pattern pieces to be cut on the bias, so that the finished tie will have a bit of stretch and give to it, and be more comfortable to wear. Traditionally, ties are made of silk, but just about any lightweight, flexible fabric will do. Hem a matching pocket square, and you've got a perfect gift set!
2. Chef's Apron
For the man who loves to cook or barbecue, a classic chef's apron is a must. Opt for sturdy, densely woven material like lightweight canvas or duck cloth, and make sure to use a heavier thread and needle when you're working with it. Canvas is typically made from cotton, or, in some cases, linen, and is relatively water resistant while still being breathable. It's comfortable to wear, but does have tendency to stain, so opting for bright white, which can be bleached clean, might not be a bad idea. To make the apron adjustable, run a casing from the neckline to the waist along the top edge. Thread one end of a length of cord or nylon web through the casing on one side and up to the top. Pull a loop free—this will be the strap that runs behind the neck and holds the apron against the chest—and then run the cord back down the other side of the apron. This allows the wearer to adjust both the neck and the waist simultaneously.
3. Duffle Bag
Perfect for the man on the go, even if he's only going to the gym. A spacious duffle can hold all the essentials for a weekend getaway, or his kit for a pickup football game after work. Sturdy fabric is a must. Consider adding a layer of vinyl or other water-proof material as a lining if the bag is intended for outdoor use. For a classic touch, use patches of leather to reinforce the bottom of the bag and the points where the handles attach. Remember to switch up your sewing machine settings to handle the tough material!
4. Toiletries Kit
For his shaving kit, comb, and any other bits he'll need for travel, keep everything neat and tidy with a simple zip pouch. Canvas is an excellent option, since it can take quite a beating over years of being tossed into suitcases. Just be sure to clip corners and grade seam allowances, especially if you decide to line the bag, to keep seams from becoming stiff and bulky. Opt for a sturdy zipper to keep everything in place.
5. Monogrammed Luggage Tags
If you've got a programmable embroidery machine, this project practically makes itself! Just input the initials you need, and, once the embroidery is complete, cut out your luggage tag and assemble. To protect the luggage information from the elements, cover it with clear plastic, like vinyl. Here's a complete tutorial on how to get started making your own!
6. Handmade Wallet
Much like the luggage tags, a handmade wallet can be personalized with a monogram, built in money-clip, secret pockets, and more! A great gift that's perfect for tailoring to someone you know well.
7. Dapper Waistcoat
There's no way this gift can be a surprise, since it requires taking some measurements, but for a man who loves a bit of vintage style with modern flair, a waistcoat says it all. They also provide a great opportunity to practise making welt pockets for a particularly fine finish.
8. Flannel Scarf
This gift barely requires any sewing at all! Using a length of woollen flannel, cut it to the desired length and width. Hem both long edges using a narrow hemmer foot on your sewing machine, or a hand-stitched rolled hem. Run a line of stitching along the narrow ends of the scarf about a centimetre and a half from the edge. Use tweezers and scissors to loosen the horizontal fibres and encourage fraying. The line of stitching will keep the fraying from travelling too far into the scarf while still providing a subtle, natural-looking fringed finish.
9. Handyman's Magnetic Cuff
An unusual but very practical gift! Stitch a small fabric pocket and insert several strong, coin-sized magnets. Stitch them in place so they don't shift, and then turn the pocket into a loop by adding buckles or a band of elastic sized to fit your favorite handyman's wrist. Now it's a great place to keep a few extra nails or washers while he's working on his latest fix-it project around the house!
10. Quilted Tablet Case
For the tech guru in your life, whip up a quick quilted tablet or laptop case. This is perfect for keeping those expensive screens from getting scratched, and is also a great way to use up some of those scraps in your fabric stash!
11. Messenger Bag
A dapper accessory, and lots of fun to personalise! Start with a basic bag pattern, and go from there, choosing a fun or funky lining fabric to match his personality, decorating with patches or leaving it plain and understated. Make sure to add a tag for his name and contact information in case it ever gets left behind!
12. Reversible Throw Blanket
Whether cuddling up with a good book or spreading it out for a picnic at the beach, a throw blanket is always good to have on hand. For even more practicality, make it reversible! That way, one side can be water-resistant canvas, and the other soft flannel, or one side plush, furry minky, and the other a bold pattern to match his personality.
13. Lined Slippers
Sometimes, he just wants to put up his feet and relax! These are the perfect accompaniment. Simple fleece or flannel outers paired with inners made with plush chenille or minky make for toasty warm slippers that are surprisingly easy to make. To make them non-slip, add soles made from leather or faux suede. For those already comfortable working with leather, try making these from shearling for a truly special gift!