Last week I went to an evening workshop in how to make your own underwear (big thank you to DH who bought it for me for xmas!). It was this one from The Make Lounge: Knockout Knickers Workshop. The evening was great; the teacher was fantastically friendly, knowledgable and encouraging and let us all try out our own design ideas. We got to choose from 3 patterns using a wide range of fabric and trimmings. And we got to play with overlockers, elastic and loads of ribbon! Hours of fun!
Anyway…. so having gone a bit all out, especially with the decorating, I left the class with these (which the teacher called ‘super hero pants’ ):
And then the next day I actually tried them on (I got home far too late to want to look at them again on the actual evening!) and realised that I wouldn’t be able to wear them under any reasonable clothes, so the ribbons are now off and they’re just bright, fun happy pants:
So the only thing I wish I’d done differently is the zig-zag purple thread on the elastic edging – in real life it shows up too much and looks messy. I should have used white (which I realised 1/2 way through but I didn’t want to have to mess around unpicking and changing thread. Now I wish I had bothered, but they’re still very happy pants and I really like them… I guess I could always redo it at some point when I get round to it ).
How to make your own
We were given patterns for the briefs to take home, together with descriptions for how to make our own. I was asked on a craft forum to explain how to do these and so I wrote a basic tutorial, which I’m posting below.
Before I continue, I’d like to clarify that I’ve written this tute from memory and not read or copied any of the written material that I was given. I’m using the knowledge and skills I remember from the class to briefly explain how I made the pants, and illustrated it all with my own (very basic) hand drawings. I’m not going to copy any of the patterns I was given as they are not mine to distribute, but have described how I’d go about making my own pattern using just body measurements. I would definitely recommend going to the workshop at The Make Lounge as seeing a technique done in person is so much more helpful than any amount of pictures online. My notes are all a bit bodged so please feel free to ask me to clarify if needed.
So here goes……
To start, you’ll need:
Fabric (can use woven or jersey fabric – my next ones I’m going to make out of an old t-shirt that’s too small); for amounts I’d just use a pair of pants I already have to compare!
Elastic approx 5-7mm wide (the stuff I used on these has a plush side to feel nicer against your skin and also has a little scallop on one edge). I guess you’ll need (very approximately) about 80% of your waist/hip measurement + your 2 thigh measurements.
Whatever ribbons etc. you’d like for decorations.
Paper pattern pieces (description of how to make your own now follows…)
You’ll be cutting out 3 pieces: front, back and gusset. Here’s the basic shapes of the pieces (the front and back to be cut on the fold so only half of those 2 pieces shown):
For sizes, first put on a similar shaped pair of briefs that fit. Measure around your waist (or hips, or wherever you wear your pants) in inches. Add 1 inch and then divide by 4. This is the waist length of your front and back pattern pieces.
For the heights of the pattern pieces, measure from the middle of the waistband of your pants down and around to the crotch seam which will be towards the back. Do this from the front and add 1/4 inch for the height of the front pattern piece; and measure from the back and add 1/4 inch for the height of the back piece.
For the gusset piece, use the pattern for the front piece, but draw a line across the pattern about 6-7 inches from the bottom (shown by a dashed line in the pic). Trace this bottom section to make a pattern for the gusset piece (in the pic the gusset piece is shown opened out, not folded in half, but the dashed line down the middle shows where the fold would be).
For other measurements, the waist seam should be about 2 1/2 to 3 inches, and the narrowest part of the crotch about 4 inches wide (or 2 inches for the pattern piece to be cut on the fold – shown on both pattern pieces by a dashed line).
To Make Your Pants (sketches to illustrate at bottom):
1. Cut out your 3 pieces of fabric. My pants are slightly patchworky (what a surprise!) – to do this I cut out the front and back pieces in both pink and blue star fabric, cut a patch off one front piece and one back piece and sewed the patches onto the full-size pieces. I then followed all instructions as normal. You could obviously do much more patches, different coloured fabrics for each panle etc. For my next pants I’d like to use the front of an old T-shirt for the pack piece so that the pants end up with a fun design on the back!
2. Sew both side seams, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. If you have an overlocker, use this for all seams and then you can miss out going over the seam edges again in step 6.
3. With the whole thing inside out and the wrong side of the front piece facing you, pin the gusset piece face up to the bottom of the front piece (gusset piece in red in pic).
4. Carefully pin all three layers of the curved crotch seam together, starting with a pin in the middle and then doing each side. This might take a lot of pins!
5. Sew crotch seam leaving 1/4 inch allowance.
6. Using a 5mm zig zag stitch or overlock stitch, sew along all raw edges: first do all 3 seams, then waist, then the unsewn end of the gusset piece, and lastly both leg holes. As you sew around the leg holes, make sure you are securing the sides of the gusset piece flat to the front piece.
7. Turn your pants the right way out and lay then flat. Measure the waist, multiply this by 2 and take 80% of this figure. This is the length to cut your waist elastic (and it’s apparently better to cut a bit too little than too much).
8. Fold the elastic in half and use a narrow zig zag to sew it into a loop, about 1″ from the ends.
9. Stick a pin in the opposite side of the elastic loop to the seam, and 2 more at the mid-points between these two points.
10. Stick pins in the sides and middle points of the waistband.
11. Match up the pins and pin the elastic to the inside of the waistband at the 4 points only. As you do this, fold about 5mm-1/4″ of the fabric inside (use the width of your zigzag stitch as a guide). The fabric edge should end up hidden under the elastic. Where the elastic is sewn together, fold open the seam and just zigzag it down.
12. Use a 5mm, 3-step zigzag stitch to sew elastic all around the waistband, gently stretching the elastic so that it fits the fabric (but don’t stretch the fabric too or the waistband will end up saggy). 3-step zigzag is more stretchy than normal zigzag stitch, but if (like me on my ancient home machine) you’ve only got a regular zigzag, that will do fine.
13. Repeat above for the leg holes.
14. Add ribbons, buttons, fun bits etc. by hand-sewing them on.