I'll admit it: I find a men's suit to be one of the most challenging sewing projects to take on.
It's not because making one is difficult per se -- I mean, sewing is sewing. There's just a lot to learn in order to do it. And since everyone knows what a men's suit is supposed to look like, the result really has to look credible. You can't cover up your mistakes with a flounce or a flower.
As far as fit, a slim silhouette (often with pants too short to break at the shoe) is currently in vogue. Almost everything you see these days is trimly tailored. Perhaps these silhouettes are not your cup of tea. Hey, I'm just the messenger. Personally, I like them.
Speaking of vogue, for us home sewists, there are a handful of in-print Vogue men's suit patterns (and maybe something from Burda, I'm not sure).
For my body type -- narrow shouldered, slim, and short -- vintage 60's jacket patterns fit better out of the envelope (and are more on trend imo). They have less design ease. You won't find all of them in every size, but they show up frequently on Etsy and Ebay and are rarely expensive. A sampling:
I made my suit jacket using Simplicity 8368 from 1969. The only change I made was to shorten the length about 1" and widen the hips a touch. That's it.
You'll need pants, naturally -- patterns for these are easier to find. Whatever pattern you choose you're going to want to make a muslin and alter the fit according to your body and your taste.
I recommend making your first suit in casual fabrics like cotton or linen. They are easier to tailor than wool, far less expensive, and require less inner construction.
Here are some useful books that will help you through the tailoring process. These can all be found on Amazon as well as elsewhere. (The Rhinehart book can be expensive; it isn't worth paying mega bucks for.)
You will find many differing approaches to tailoring in these books, and only the ones with "men" in the title address menswear specifically but there are many similarities. You are going to have to decide how constructed you want your suit to be, how much interfacing you plan to use and what kind. But remember: you can waste a tremendous amount of time and effort applying couture techniques and end up with a suit that doesn't fit. Most people will never know whether you fused your interfacing or sewed your hair canvas in by hand, but they WILL notice if the shoulders are 5 inches too wide.
My recommendation is to go for something casual first and focus on fit. Instead of a full suit, start with a jacket. If you can make a nice looking blazer, you can always go back and make yourself a matching pair of pants.
Are there any intrepid suit makers out there? If you have resources that you have used and would like to recommend, please do!
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!