So it’s no secret that making my own underwear has been a bit of an elusive unicorn for me. The most recent attempt got worn only a couple of times before I chopped off that horrendous elastic and tossed it in a corner to think about what it had done…
if when it resurfaces I’ll give it another shot at elastication, because that was really the main problem with that pair. Really, the biggest problem in all these attempts has been me, usually because I wasn’t trying terribly hard to get the elastic binding right.
Yesterday, on a whim and in need of a quick me-project as I languish in an unending doldrum of sewing-for-others, I pulled out every swim-suit and underwear pattern I own, this being a somewhat overlapping group. It felt really nice to dive through my physical patterns, and I even made a few, very paltry, efforts in the direction of organizing them again. Although I don’t need a new swimsuit particularly, the Swimalong seems to have gotten into my brain at a subconscious level, since I’ve been doing things like buy swimsuit fabric (and elastic, and hooks) and petting my swimsuit patterns, well, since April, really.
I could, of course, always use some underwear…
So I settled, finally, on one I’ve been wanting to make up for quite a while now: McCall’s 4471. I’m not particularly into any of the tops, but view E, the low-rise bottom, looked very much like what I usually look for in underwear. (Or, at least, what I looked for before I became enamoured of boy-cut shorts, but we won’t get into that, yet.) So I pulled it out, exulted that the pattern was uncut and complete (I don’t usually actually check my thrift-store patterns for this until I’m trying to make something, which is occasionally a source of heartbreak), and traced out the size 12.
My next big advantage, over the last few pairs I’ve tried, is that I am sewing on my White. Seriously, if I can get the motor fixed so it doesn’t stall on startup, that $10 thrift-store machine would be hands-down my favourite machine at the moment. The adjustable presser-foot pressure is SO helpful with knits, especially think and slinky ones. Because, oh yeah, in my hunt through the exceedingly-disorganized fabric pile, which scrap of fabric did I select? Why, none other than the culprit of my last-summer wadders!
Considering what this fabric put me through last time I looked at it, I wasn’t going to attempt anything too fancy for the finishing. Since I didn’t have any matching lingerie elastic, I elected to go with clear elastic in the classic and ever-tacky fold-under-and-topstitch method. Cheesy, you say? Bite me. We’ll call it a (‘nother) muslin. A couple of test-runs suggested that the fabric and elastic slid smoothly together, needling almost no tension on the elastic to make a smooth, yet sturdy, edge.
So, the construction. This pattern has a single-seam crotch insert, a la storebought underwear but not as nice a finish as if you have a seam at both ends of the crotch lining. I’m not sure how they wanted you to finish the edges, but there’s no binding pieces so I presume they expect you to do some variant of fold-over-and-topstitch. It’s possible I folded over a little more than was intended, but anyway—the main thing that surprised me was the height of the cut over the leg, and the narrowness of the front right over the leg. I’m more into a lower-cut, 70s style leg these days (or even a boy-short. Yes, the Rosy Ladyshorts are on the to-make list.)
The one thing that was perfect, however, was the rise. Front and back. And this is the first, of all the patterns I’ve tried, that had that right off the bat. So if nothing else, I’m feeling like I can use this pattern as a reference for how other patterns might fit.
In the meantime, I’ll have to give them a wear or three to see how they work out. The elastic that looks so nice and almost-smooth may actually be too loose and ride all over the place. But I’m kinda insanely excited to have red underwear to go with my red T-shirt bra…
*These are some really frickin’ terrible photos. Ugh. However, I wore the undies today, so no more photos will be taken until laundry is done, and possibly not even then, because, well, because.
ETA: they go smashingly with my red T-shirt bra, but may need some little knit ruffles to match properly. They look a little plain. Also, while I think a little more tension on the elastic in the derriere region would have not been a bad thing, they are no worse for sliding around than my storebought undies of a similar cut, and didn’t grow unduly during the day. I will just say, it feels really good to get something at least semi-wearable out of this evil knit. I don’t know that it’s the best for underwear—I suspect it will wear out quite quickly—but it was adequate for testing purposes, anyway. And I’m sufficiently chuffed that I felt comfortable comparing the pieces to this vintage independent pattern from the Stylish Haul and tracing out its largest size.