Thursday, May 28, 2015

Experiments in Undergarments

I’ve been wanting to try making my own undies for a while now, but somehow I hadn’t gotten around to it. Then, just when I needed a kick in the pants (ha ha), along came the Stashbusting Sewalong’s Lingerie theme.

My old standby undies are the High Leg Brief by Victoria’s Secret. Back in the day, that style used to come up to my waist – or pretty close, anyway. Now that a lower rise is so popular in the RTW world, Victoria’s waistband has been migrating downwards. I find that a line of elastic across my high hip cuts right into my chub. VPL for sure.

Now that I have a few me-made knit skirts and trousers that I like to wear, I’m all about the smooth silhouette. 

In fact, my goal is to avoid elastic altogether. On top of disliking the chub-compression properties of elastic, my frugality gene came into play. I like the idea of making undies out of scraps and nothing but scraps. How sweet would it be if I could come up with a plan that didn’t involve purchasing any special elastics or findings?

One of my favorite sewing ladies (who, sadly, hasn’t been posting recently) is Loran of Loran’s World. She wrote a great post about sewing lingerie and active wear using self-fabric bands rather than elastic. She used to sew dance wear this way, and I figure if it works for a dancer, it’s going to stay put just fine for me. 

Burdastyle 01/2012, #127
I hauled out the high-waisted panty pattern from the January, 2012 issue of Burdastyle. I remember thinking the pattern was pretty cute when I first got this issue, but I was put off by the zipper called for in the instructions. Zippers in undies just seems like too much . . . something. But if I made the undies out of a stretchy knit I could probably omit that puppy, just like I’d omit the zipper from a knit dress.

And bingo!

I test-drove the undies yesterday and they felt pretty good. Meaning that I didn’t notice them at all. The knit bands that substituted for elastic did their job, though I think the cut of these undies helps minimize any creep factor.

Plus I think they look pretty cute. I’m too dignified to post a photo. Imagine me modeling these undies, but looking more like Betty Grable than I actually do.

For this trial pair I used some scraps of cotton jersey left over from making tee shirts for The Man. Fabric constraints inspired me to make my first attempt at color blocking. I kind of like it! Maybe I can flex my color-blocking muscles with underwear and then move on to outerwear.

I initially cut the size 36, as suggested by my measurements. The pattern is designed for a stretch woven, so I thought I wouldn’t downsize immediately. I ended up retracing the pattern in the smallest size. I think I’ll try to size it down a bit more next time, just because I’m used to the feeling of a snugger fit for underwear.

I like this style enough that I to make up several more pairs. I may just go a bit wild with the fabric combos. I have some black lace that would be fun for those side panels.

Have a hankering to try some lingerie sewing yourself? Obsessive Creativeness has a plethora of tutorial and free pattern links here!

My pattern review is on here.


  1. I love the idea of not using elastic! Great job on using up scraps with the color-blocking. I love these!

  2. I've been reading through your blog & really enjoying it! I came over when you were mentioned on the Two On Two Off blog. I especially enjoy all of your casual clothes. I left my job at a college a year ago to do my embroidery business full time. Our studio is on our property so I'm usually pretty casual! I was sewing then I got wrapped up in all kinds of other stuff temporarily (including learning how to crochet so I could make a granny square blanket & cutting out a bazillion denim squares for a quilt for our camper) & now I'm ready to do Craftsy's Custom Fitting: Back, Neck & Shoulders so I'm going to sew the Colette for that. Cute undies!

  3. Once again, you inspire. I like the pattern you used and the color block. I followed the link to Obsessive Creative and this is very helpful also. Good job!