Undies: the final frontier. I’ve knitted socks, gloves and scarves, I’ve sewn skirts, trousers, shirts, t-shirts, hoodies & hoods, but I’d never have thought that I’m actually going to be making my own underwear. I’m not actually sure why: perhaps because you can get five pairs of knickers for less than £15, perhaps because bras look so darned complicated. But since there’s a hot new trend for making panties in the Pattydoo Facebook group following the generous publication of the free sewing pattern for knickers called ‘Eve’ (with German-language video tutorial), I couldn’t resist and made a pair as well.
What can I say – this is SO much fun. The sewing is easy, and the knickers are quickly finished. It’s a fabulous way of using up scraps of fabric. But I will say that sewing knickers also takes a little bit of patience: as with all close-fitting garments (and you’ll be wanting this to be a very close fit!) it is likely that the sewing pattern requires some adjustment before it fits perfectly. Also, even though the pattern only requires knicker elastic to go round the top, I’d suggest sewing some around the leg openings as well, otherwise they just don’t fit 100%. I’ve since tried another pattern, which worked perfectly &, thanks to fully elasticated leg openings, they fit like a dream.
After this positive experience, I got a bit bolder. What about making a bra? I can’t bear those uncomfortable underwired things. I like my comforts & the best possible bra is the one that I don’t even know I’m wearing. Which is why I’ve always been a sucker for soft bustier-type bras. Essentially, they’re like sports bras, but softer. The best bra in the history of bras is Calida’s Body Time. I don’t even know whether they’re still making them & they’re about £35 a pop, which is expensive in my books. So, here’s my own, upcycled version.
Step 1: buy a really close-fitting t-shirt in a charity shop (this one set me back by £2).
Step 2: try the t-shirt on & mark just where you want the bottom of your bra to go. Then be bold & start cutting… You can trace the shape of a bra you’ve already got or just go for it (like I did).
Step 3: Add a cuff. The bottom bit of the t-shirt is long enough to provide material for the bottom cuff. Just make sure it’s really close-fitting – you may need to adjust the side seams again. I then experimented with double seams (made with a twin needle) but found that the arm and head openings were just far too large. So I ended up adding a cuff to the head opening, too, which provides shape.
So far, this design works quite well – I’m wearing it know & I hardly know it’s there. Wonderful. I have a suspicion, though, that my next one is going to have elasticated head and arm holes, and that I’m going to alter the shape slightly. Even though this bra, just like the panties, do require some willingness to experiment, I’m astounded at how easily one can make one’s own underwear. Materials for ‘proper’ bras (straps, cups and the dreaded underwires) are sold cheaply in haberdasheries and online. And how much money as well as resources can be saved if one decides to upcycle old t-shirts! Win win win.
Update July 2010
I had more leftover fabric & made another pair of panties. This time I made them a size smaller than I normally take & they fit perfectly… I did sew in elastic around all leg openings, though.
Update October 2015
Making panties is just so much fun. Here are a few more…