In which I make underwear, and ramble


A plethora of (underwear and swimwear) patterns

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.

Purple-flowered swim suit fabric

Purple-flowered swim suit fabric

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…


McCall’s 4471

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!

Indifferent finishing

Indifferent finishing

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.

Very high cut and skinny over the leg

Very high cut and skinny over the leg

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. 🙂

Kandel Knits # 73

Kandel Knits # 73



Filed under Sewing

10 responses to “In which I make underwear, and ramble

  1. You are on your way to never-ending underwear sewing. It seems that every project has scraps that would be good for undies…meaning that my sewing projects rapidly multiply with every piece of fabric. Gald you found a pattern in that bundle that is a good starting point.

  2. The Rosy Lady shorts are really cute on. They have that “cheeky” look on th back. Good luck with swim suit making

  3. YAY for finally starting to get a fit you’re happy with! I can see some crazy undies in your future, once you nail down the fit and style you want. lol

    I’m drooling over your pattern pile there! My boyfriend and I are planning a winter holiday somewhere warm, and I’m starting to consider making a bathing suit for the trip (as well as altering the one I bought last summer and never wore because they need major alterations so that my boobs don’t fall out). I didn’t realize that there was a swimalong! I’ll be stalking those posts immediately!

  4. My favorite underwear are boy shorts that have no underwear at all! They are so comfy and I need to experiment with making some for myself since they are getting very hard to find. I also am looking forward to sewing up the bombshell swimsuit. Such an awesome look!

  5. On your next pair I’d try shortening your elastic an inch and then two if you want more tension. I’ve found there’s a fine line between too loose and so much tension you want to rip the elastic to give your legs some room, so make miniscule adjustments. 😉 So glad you are finally getting there, sometimes I feel like underwear is all I make…well, underwear and men’s button-ups/slacks…and pj’s for my son. How do I have time for me again? 😛

    Anyway, YAY for new undies, may there be many more in your future! 🙂 BTW, are you thinking half as hard about the bombshell swimsuit as I am?

  6. Joy

    Hehe, these photos will suffice. I have to say, my first thought when I read the title of your post was that you were rambling about in your underwear. Which would mean, of course, that your underwear attempt was successful so good for you (:
    Anyway, your new pair is very nice. I really need to make another attempt, as I’m sure I’d be more satisfied with a TNT pattern than what I can scrounge up in the stores.

  7. Sox

    Sewing underwear has been on my list of things to do for awhile but since I am easily distracted, I haven’t done so yet. I did however find this post enlightening
    Success to you (and to me when I start)!

  8. It won’t be long and you’ll never have to buy anything RTW again! Making undies is very cool.

  9. Pingback: Misrepresentation! | Tanit-Isis Sews

  10. laura

    Where did you happen to find the Kandel Knit Pattern for the bathing suit design? I love that retro pattern

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