How I Learnt To Sew My Own Underwear

Who would have thought something so small could be so terrifying? I’ve happily sewn all sorts of garments and even knitted rather complex patterns, but the idea of sewing a small pair of underpants in knit fabric had me searching for excuses not to do it.

Even though I really wanted to.

In fact, even though I really needed to, given the rate at which my underwear was falling apart on me. (Not literally on me, although it was only a matter of time.)

The situation worsened early last year when I bought myself a handful of new undies and found them to be almost unwearable. Too small there. Too big here. Too everything wrong everywhere. There seemed to be only one solution: I had to start making my own undies using a pattern that would fit me and satisfy my own requirements.

Read on to find out what happened next!

I did the only logical thing in the circumstances, which was to record a video about the situation and upload it to YouTube. Because showing your underwear to strangers on the internet is the classy thing to do.

Can I Show You My Underwear?

The best thing about this is that several of my friends from my concert band watch my videos, which meant that the first question they asked me upon seeing me at rehearsal each week was, “Have you made undies yet?”

Unfortunately, for quite a few months, the answer was a sheepish “no.” Why? Because I was engaged in the sort-of-relevant busy work of the first step to sewing underwear.

Step 1: Source Some Patterns; Buy Some Fabric; Panic

As a dedicated op shop fanatic, this was my obvious source of patterns. Any time I saw anything that looked even remotely like an underwear pattern, I snaffled it up with glee.

Bikini bottoms? Great!

Ruffled bloomers to match a tennis dress? Why not!

An actual pattern for actual underwear? Score!

(The pattern in question was Bevknits 7007. I’d never heard of Bevknits before finding this particular gem, which meant I needed to engage in some research about the history of the company, so I am now full of facts that are mostly irrelevant to everyday life but probably quite interesting to anyone who sews.)

Then I bought some fabric online from Spotlight. This was fifty percent successful. On the up side, I learned a vital lesson about jersey and its relative lack of stretch.

Now, armed with both a pattern and one suitable piece of fabric, I did the obvious thing: I panicked and sewed everything else instead.

Step 2: Run Out Of Underwear

By this stage, I was down to three usable pairs of undies, provided you ignored the almost stretchless elastic and the fact that the fabric had become see-through. It was time. I had to step up and ask myself the question: What’s the worst thing that could happen?

Answer: I could ruin a small amount of fabric.

On the other hand, I could end up with a pair of undies that actually fitted me. It was definitely worth the risk.

Sewing Your Own Underwear - Cutting Out

(This photo demonstrates one of the best things about sewing underwear: When your amazing, fabric-saving technique for cutting out results in one pair of underwear having upside dinosaurs, no-one needs to know.)

Step 3: Trial Your Patterns (While Recording Yourself, Of Course…)

I tried two patterns: the Bevknits pattern and a pattern from Kwik Sew’s Beautiful Lingerie by Kerstin Martensson. There was nothing alarming about it at all! It turns out that sewing with knits is much like sewing with wovens, except there’s a lot more zig-zagging involved.

You can follow this particular stage of the journey in the video below.

The Bevknits pattern turned out to the winner, although it didn’t sit quite high enough on the hip for me (this has always been my problem with ready-to-wear underwear and I now know it’s all because I have a relatively long torso). The Kwik Sew pattern, however, sat a little too high. I needed to reach a happy compromise between the two.

Armed with my new knowledge, I heightened the Bevknits pattern and ended up with a pair of undies that fitted me perfectly. Fabulous! I even unpicked the elastic on the Kwik Sew pair and re-cut them using the modified Bevknits pattern. Tthat’s two lots of zig-zagging, in case you didn’t know. It was a lot of effort, but worth it because I now had two pairs of undies I could wear in comfort! And one pair that wasn’t quite perfect, but was equally wearable.

Step 4: Try Them On

It was time to see how my undies fit…

Sewing Your Own Underwear - Trying It On

…on my head.

I really couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my underwear success than by popping a pair on my head and sharing it on instagram.

Step 5: Sew All Of The Underwear

Now that I’d started, it was impossible to stop! I’d gone from wary to excited in the course of one afternoon. The question was no longer Am I actually capable of sewing underwear? It was now Where am I going to store all of this underwear I’m making?

I may have gone out and bought a selection of printed knits especially for underwear. The great thing about sewing such small items is that you can buy a half metre of a fabric and reasonably expect to get three pairs of undies out of it.

Tim insisted that one of these fabrics be minions. Well, who am I to say no to such a reasonable request?

Sewing Your Own Underwear - Minions

Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about coordinating my underwear with my outerwear, so I can make them in all the crazy prints I want.

Sewing Underwear Is Easier Than You Think

It’s also much quicker. You could easily make yourself a new pair of undies in half an hour. It takes no time at all to go from cutting out the pieces to taking a photo of your new undies in their origami animal print.

Sewing Your Own Underwear - Finished Product

Or, if you prefer, you could just wear them instead.

What about you – are you tempted to give underwear a go? Do you already make your own? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you.

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