As I write this, I am wearing my first “successful” pair of self-stitched undies.

Pillow form.

I will keep “successful” in “quotation marks” because, well, wearable they are but perfect they ain’t. In particular, my elastic tension leaves, ah, something to be desired. (Scroll down to the full wrinkly mess, I didn’t want to start off the post with it.) And as proof that home-stitched undies need not resemble elderly dried fruits, I’ll link you to Carolyn’s drool-inducing sets.

The pattern, as I may have mentioned before, is Kwik Sew 2100, which is actually in print (I can never tell with Kwik Sew patterns based on the envelope art… except for the few 70s-era ones I have, anyway.)

The upside of using an in print pattern (especially having found it at the thrift store) is that there are reviews on Pattern Review, and for once I even remembered to check them. They were universal in two recommendations: go down a size (or two) and narrow the crotch piece.

Not being one to ignore the wisdom of PR (except when I do, usually to my own detriment), I dutifully went down to a size 4 (the smallest in the envelope, about 1.5 sizes below the one indicated by my measurements). I also shaved 1 cm off each side of the crotch piece, tapering to nothing at the edges where it seams to the front and back pieces. Then I promptly lost the crotch pieces, and there things languished until the other day, at which point I rallied my courage and cut new ones.

Now, last time I made attempted undies, I really had a hard time wrapping my head around the fancy sandwiching that creates a neatly-finished crotch. Maybe it was the Kwik Sew instructions, or maybe I’m just better rested this time, but I found it pretty simple to sort out this time around. It’s the same “burrito” construction method you use with a yoked shirt, except instead of a shirt front and back you have pantie front and back, and instead of a yoke you have a crotch piece. And it is a nicer finish than anything storebought, which is probably the only really nice part on th

So that was good.


Less good was I realized that the pink lingerie elastic I had been planning on using was nowhere near long enough, so I had to hunt through the notions stash (which is even more poorly-organized than the regular stash) and all I came up with was some plain black 1/4″ elastic. Not really nice for undies, but available. Even worse was my elastic-tension, which was too loose on the first leg, perfect on the second, and then too tight on the waistband. (I should say, being worn they are comfy and feel and look fine. Unworn, they crinkle up pretty badly except at the one leg where they are stretched out.) Ok, so I probably should pay attention to the actual suggested recommendations for elastic length. Bite me.

Umm. Ruffly much?

Now, on to the fit. I made (of course) the “bikini” rise. The rise in back is pretty good, the rise in front is a tad high—it could easily be lowered an inch; as it is it ends up riding down the underside of my tummy and bagging a bit. A little more annoying is the width of the front of the crotch-gusset, where I blended back to the original width. I think I could’ve narrowed it there, as well. They are still a bit big—this fabric has good recovery, so it’s not a big problem, but if it were inclined to stretch out it would be annoying.

Stretch Sewing  400

Next time—I’m a bit up in the air over whether next time should be with the Kwik Sew pattern, tweaked, or another pattern, out of curiosity. I acquired this stretch-sewing undies pattern at the thrift store (Value Village in my hometown is expensive for patterns, a whole dollar apiece except for the ones that come in annoying baggies.)

Pattern piece comparison

I’m a little curious over how the differences in pattern shape would play out (the seam allowances are the same, if I recall correctly.) The length of the crotch gusset in the 70s pattern seems to be longer, while the rise of the front & back pieces seems similar—so the overall rise might be a bit higher, right? The shape over the leg is very different, but maybe some of that would be accomodated by the longer crotch gusset? I just don’t know. But I sure am curious.

And obviously, I need a lot of practice on the elastic insertion. 😛




Filed under Sewing

29 responses to “Unmentionables

  1. I clicked looking for gratuitous undie photos! Colour me disappointed. 🙂
    Although there is a gratuitous Timmy’s shot with the pattern cover.
    I have never attempted undies and can’t see it in the foreseeable future. Knits, tiny seams and supposed to look pretty…all that takes them out of my abilities.

    • Aww,sorry. For some reason I’m oddly shy of posting shots of me in my underwear. Odd since I’m pretty sure I’d have no qualms about showing off a bathing suit, should I make one. Brains are funny things.

  2. He, that tricky stretchy stuff! Honestly, though, they look much better than my first tries, and if they wear alright, I think that counts as a win, no?
    I still use a free pattern, which I have tweaked over time, and after having had some practice (I probably made roughly a dozen or so over time), my later models are my favorites, so totally keep at it – a quick pair of knickers has become my instant gratification sewing project by now 😀

  3. Oh cool! Good work doing it anyway, and as long as they fit ok and stay on, well then it’s better than nothing?

  4. I really like to use fold over elastic on my undies and it seems easier to get on well. That could just be me though.

  5. Joy

    Looks like a good first effort! Especially if they’re actually wearable. With undies (as with any other garment) you kind have to make a first pair to determine where you’d want to adjust in the future. I’ve made one pair – an Ottobre pattern – and they were somewhat of a granny style, ha ha!

    I like that the Stretch pattern says it’s made exclusively for knits! Woven undies, anyone?

    • I had the same thought — who makes woven undies??

      And yeah, I’m also with you on needing to make a first, sacrificial pair to figure out what works and what doesn’t!

      • Good question about the woven undies. I guess that’s what tap pants/French knickers are… but yeah, definitely not common by the 70s as far as I can think. Not that I was actually there to check.

  6. Yeah, that tension thing is kind of a PITA, but it gets better with practice. 🙂 I think they look pretty much like mine do–I get those wrinkles too, but the fact that they actually cover everything I want covered, don’t creep, and aren’t too tight in the legs makes it worth it anyway. 🙂

    Personally, I’d probably stick to the ones you’ve already made once, because the shape looks more like what would work for me. But, your body may be different and the other shape may work better for you and be easier to sew up. And you won’t know that unless you try….which is probably the least helpful non-answer ever. (You’re welcome, it’s one of my many talents. 😆 )

    • Yeah, that’s pretty much how I’m feeling—comfort of the known vs. heedless curiosity. We’ll see. It’s not like I’ll only ever make one more pair of underwear ever again…

  7. kristina

    Was interested to see the Bouclair Studios pattern. I remember buying them in Ottawa in the early 80s when I was a teenager. I still have them but have never seen them anywhere else.

    • That’s interesting to hear! I actually thought it was a “Strech & Sew” Pattern when I found it, but then I got it home and actually started reading. This was purchased in central Saskatchewan, for what it’s worth. 🙂

  8. Ahhh, that takes me back to making undies too, that whole elastic stretching thing is somehow far more critical round your legs than it is on the top of a camisole for instance. And it seems as if it should be easier than it actually is! I am sure, like cgc says, that its a practice thing….you’re likely to get there before me! But you might have rekindled my interest in trying it again. Like the pillow model 😉

  9. Did you follow Dixie’s swimwear sewalong? I had not considered this until she posted about it but she talks about needing the tension on elastic to be different depending on how your body fills the space.
    A lot of my panties roll up like that. There is a purple pair that is particularly comical when not on my body. Keep at it if you’re enjoying it.

  10. Lol!! “elderly dried fruit” made my morning lol. I think who cares if they fit, and are comfy! ^_^ Pretty great to have achieved that first go! Attractive can always come later 😛

  11. I have had problems with tension when sewing undies, too. Sadly I don’t have any suggestions there.

    But for my first pattern, I just hacked up a dying pair of storebought undies that fit well. I used that as my pattern and it worked well!

  12. Elastic and I are NOT friends – we fight quite often, which is why I have not pursued underwear making with more enthusiasm. Bravo to you for making some wearable undergoodies with elastic!! They look marvelous to me 🙂

  13. I’ve never thought of pillows as having butt cheeks before. LOL

    Wish I had some advice, but the one pair of panties I made wedged so bad I had to give up and go commando for half a day. Oh, actually here’s my advice: don’t wear new self-sewn panties out of the house until you know how they fit… or bring a spare pair…

  14. Pingback: Sewing underwear

  15. Pingback: In which I make underwear, and ramble | Tanit-Isis Sews

Leave a Reply to Tanit-Isis Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s