One of the best projects for beginning sewists is underwear.
Underwear generally requires very little fabric, so the financial investment is minimal. A yard or so of either a stretch knit or a cotton woven, depending on the width of the bolt and the underwear you're sewing, can often yield you at least a few pair.
It should be said that underwear isn't necessarily easy-peasy to make. Attaching knit fabric to elastic can be challenging, and some of the more complicated underwear styles, like French-back boxers (which have yokes), require buttonholes and somewhat complicated techniques. Still, I've always found sewing underwear to be fun, if not always worth the effort, which is why these days I buy most of my underwear ready-made and save my sewing time for larger projects.
Over the years, I've sewn a lot of underwear, and even led a men's boxers sew-along, which is still available to all.
Most of my favorite underwear patterns are -- no surprise -- vintage, but a variety of them show up for sale on Etsy and eBay frequently and you rarely need to spend much money on them; many can be had for less than $10 USD. With the exception of a few 1920's rarities, I would never consider spending more for an underwear pattern than I would for a pair of actual underwear!
Below a sampling of what can be found on eBay and Etsy right now:
NOTE: many of the older vintage ones are one-size only, so you will need to know your correct waist size. Also, the older boxer styles are meant to be worn at your natural waist (as opposed to where most of us wear our pants, these days, inches below our navel). So keep that in mind when measuring your size and when choosing a style. Do you want your underwear to be sitting 3-4 inches above your pants?
A favorite in-print underwear pattern is Jalie 3242, below. It includes both male and female and children and adult sizes, so it's very practical. I've made a few of the styles (not the thong yet) and have been happy with the results.
My favorite vintage pattern is McCall's 3438 (below), from the Seventies. It includes simple briefs, jockey style "tighty-whitey underwear, two styles of boxers, as well as undershirt and tank top. I'd love to see it reissued as it can be hard to find.
You can read about all my adventures sewing many different styles of men's underwear by simply searching under mens underwear in the archives -- everything from boxtop to French-back boxers.
In closing, have you ever sewn men's boxers and/or briefs? How was the experience?
Naturally, you don't have to be a man to sew this stuff -- underwear makes a fantastic, if somewhat personal, gift.
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!