Tag Archives: undergarments

The (not so) pretty


If you garden, you’ll know that there are lots of perfectly edible foods grown that end up just, well, not being terribly attractive. The carrot with two points. The lopsided apple. We eat them from the garden because, well, food is food and the taste matters more, but we’d probably never buy such an oddity in the grocery store (which wouldn’t sell it to us anyway.)

Well, this is kinda how I felt about my first “successful” set of undies made last fall. Sure, they were comfy. The fit was fine, or at least no more annoying than most of the storebought ones. But DAMN they were ugly, especially in the drawer. And who wants to reach for ugly panties, I ask you? My butt has standards!

So eventually I caved and hacked off the old elastic and bought some black fold over elastic and then the whole kit ‘n kaboodle kicked around, never in the same place at the same time, for ages.


It was the perfect size of project for my wedding-sewing-recovery phase, though, so sometime last week I settled in with a zig-zag stitch and a determination to stretch the elastic as little as necessary without getting weird, wavy, stretched out panties.

They still won’t win any beauty prizes, (especially with my crappy overexposed photos) but they’re at least pleasantly functional. They are comfy, though I won’t claim I’ve reached any particular pinnacle of high fitting. More importantly, I’m feeling happy to reach for them in the underwear drawer. And that is important, right?

In other news, we’re visiting Cowtown this week, so enjoy a photo from the (not quite) Rockies.




Filed under Sewing

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


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. 😛



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Fantasy sewing: Underwear

I still don’t have a sewing room (although there have been some signs of progress). It’s been an all-day-every-day job getting things even as close to “settled” as they are (it took me two weeks to find my eyeliner). The fact that half of our stuff is remaining in storage at least for the short term is not helping, either. But when I DO get it set up, what will I make? The season for the adorable sundresses I had been banging out has emphatically passed, and while there’s several fall-ish dresses I’ve had in mind, the lack of a closet I’m currently dealing with is making any clothing that needs to be hung distinctly less appealing than it was before. I could, of course, make a sweater or bunnyhug, but that would be like practical and stuff. I’ve bought a fair few thrift store patterns recently, in a ridiculous and counterproductive attempt to soothe the creative itch, but I’m not sure that any of them are absolutely screaming to be made. And I’m not quite willing to dive into the list of coats for winter without a bit of a warmup.

One thing that has been on my mind is the perennial, elusive, underwear. Underwear is kind of my unicorn—attempted several times, but always elusive, usually due to sloppiness on my part. There’s the failed, self-drafted pair I blogged here. Before that, there was a pair from this pattern:

Lekala Panties:

Lekala panties—tried but failed.

Which didn’t work out either technically—wonky construction—or fit-wise (the rise was way too high). I’ve tried and failed at least one more time in the past, I think with this Burdastyle pattern:

Bikini style underwear

Bikini-style underwear

 Which was similarly disastrous, although I don’t remember exactly why. The odds are it was me, though, rather than the pattern.
Beyond these free patterns (I downloaded the Lekala one back when they had a free demo size that just happened to be more-or-less mine), I have a few possibilities in stash—I’m pretty sure that the differences between panties and bikini bottoms are in fabric and finishing rather than cut, so I’m including them here.

In the retro category  is this one:

Simplicity 9933

However, only the one-piece is designated “designed for knit fabrics only” which makes me rather scared of the two-piece bottoms.

Kwik Sew 2100

Most recently, I found this Kwik Sew pattern. It has the advantage of several reviews on Pattern Review, although they’re not overly positive in terms of fit and sizing. (I’m a bit confused how you can rate a pattern “highly recommended” and then write that you had to go down two sizes and reduce the width of the crotch panel by an inch.)

McCall’s 4471

Possibly the best candidate would be this McCall’s pattern. There are several helpful reviews, and it’s the general bikini shape that is kind of my fall-back.

Of course, there’s no shortage of other underwear patterns, too. Aside from the old staple of tracing your favourite pair (I’m still not convinced my problem was the self-made pattern), there are several free options available:

Cheeky panties? (click for source)

This cheeky panties one is cute, though I think the finishing leaves a bit to be desired. I go back and forth on the whole cheeky panties thing. Same with the lace tanga panties. Sew You Said is in the midst of a series on drafting your own, as well.

If you want to pay for a pattern, a couple I’ve seen recommended are:

Jalie 2568

Jalie’s underwear pattern (does anyone ever say not-good things about Jalie?)

And several of the Kwik Sew lingerie patterns.

And I’ll throw in a link to the Ohhh, Lulu patterns for thoroughness, though I think I’ll be wearing high-waisted panties about three days after hell freezes over. No offense to everyone who loves them… just not my thing. And I’m so over thongs.

Oh, and there’s probably something that would work in the Merkwaerdigh line, which I also generally hear good things about, although more about the bras.

Which is not to say that I’m totally convinced that underwear is my next-up in things to make (and if I do it would probably be from one of the patterns I already have). But feel free to throw in your favourite pattern, and any technique tutorials you find super-helpful. Because apparently in this department I need all the help I can get. 🙂


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Quantum Bralettes

Mini bra (and pattern)

Quantum: noun, the smallest possible amount which retains the properties of the substance in question.

Tyo has reached that age.

Despite the fact that she still has very little worth mentioning to put in them (thankfully!), she’s decided she wants to wear bras. She has one fully-formed, underwired, lightly padded AA monstrosity, and a few more sports-bra-like things, only one of which is satisfactory.

So several times over the last few months, she’s let me know that more, of the mommy-made variety, would be extremely welcome.

Back view

And, considering that they use teeny little scraps, I could hardly refuse. Although I should finalize the measurements for the straps so that I don’t have to call her down to fit them every time.

The pattern is a single piece with a seam at centre back, although I can cut the back portion separately if the pieces are extra small (as they were for this pair.) I made it up, loosely based (mostly for size) on a RTW one that she likes. The edges are finished with fold-over elastic, zig-zagged down in this case although other stretchy stitches also work well. The elastic is a little more stiff than I might like, but she seems to find them comfy.

And now Syo (who I’ll remind you is eight) wants some.



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