Thursday, March 21, 2013

Upcycle Project: Underwear

I thought it would be a good idea to piggy-back on yesterday's post and show off what I've done, now that I've read up on sewing undergarments. If you've never sewn a pair of underwear, I highly recommend it. This was one of the most satisfying, quick, and easy projects I've done. I can't wait to make more!

Okay, this is probably not what you were expecting. However, I can explain. Wait. I can't. This material is from a t-shirt that belonged to my husband. I can't for the life of me remember when he got it, though I know it was probably back in our carefree college days. When we grew up and got real jobs, etc. etc. the poor beer shirt was relegated to my upcycle bag. Until now!

The best thing about this pair of underwear is that they are modeled after my most favorite pair ever, some pink Victoria's Secret panties. Sadly, both of my dogs have random bouts of Mustchewitallosis, and my favorite pair ended up with a hole in them. I made the difficult decision to rip them up and make myself an underwear pattern. While I still miss that wonderful pair, every time I put on these beer panties, I can remember the old pair and be happy.

Do not be fooled by their innocent faces.

My underwear pattern is only three pieces. A front, a back, and a crotch piece (of which you cut two). 

Quick and easy to cut out, and using only a minimal amount of fabric. For reference, I had already used part of the beer shirt for another project, and I didn't even touch the sleeves. You can easily make a pair of panties out of any old shirts you have sitting around. Cotton and cotton/spandex blends will work best. My t-shirt did not have any spandex in it, so the lack of stretch meant that these ended up a tad bit on the small size. If you have a shirt without stretch, size it up a bit and you'll be fine.

To assemble, sandwich the back piece between the edge of two crotch pieces, with both crotch right-sides facing the back. Sew this seam.

Then take the outside or bottom crotch piece, and place it RST with the front piece.

Sew them together. The next part is tricky to explain, and makes more sense if you just do it. You're going to be joining the inside crotch piece to the front piece. Here is what it will look like finished. 

The seams for all the crotch pieces are enclosed. To make that happen, take the inside crotch piece and bring it up to the front piece. Fold the end over so that the RS of the crotch piece is touching the WS of the front. You will need to sew "inside" of these layers. There are two ways to do this. First, pinch out that seam and pull it away from the other pieces, essentially turning the crotch inside out. The second way is to take the crotch piece in the opposite direction, around the panties, and around the top of the front piece.

Once you sew this seam and turn it all back right side out, you'll have the photo I posted above. Here it is again.

I promise that if you're confused, you're fine. It will work out when you try it. And if it doesn't, there isn't a rule that says your seams must be enclosed. You can just lay the end of the inside crotch piece on top of the front piece and sew it down. Since you're likely using a knit fabric, it won't fray. The only down side to this method is that your stitches will show on the outside, so use a coordinating thread.

The next steps can be done a few different ways. I'm just going to show you how I did it. If you do any research on the matter, you'll see that there are no wrong ways, just personal preference.

Next, I sewed up both side seams, RST.

The final step was to sew on the elastic. At this point, I did a fitting (sorry, no pictures of that!) and decided I wanted to maintain the current size of the underwear. In other words, I didn't want to fold down the top and make an elastic casing. You can certainly do it that way, but it will make the rise (distance from crotch to waist) shorter. Instead, I dug around in my elastic and found some with a pretty picot edge.

I sewed the elastic directly to the outside edge of my waistband, using a 3-step zig-zag stitch, and placing the picot edge just over the raw edge of the fabric. I did have to shorten my stitch width slightly to make sure it fit neatly inside the elastic. Since I had done a fitting and knew that the underwear was already snug, I only stretched the elastic a tiny bit as I sewed. You can just barely see the 3-step stitch since I used a matching thread.

If there were places where I didn't sew it on neatly, I simply trimmed away the excess fabric afterward.

My template pair of VS panties did NOT have elastic in the leg holes. I was surprised, because they always fit so well. Instead, they were finished by simply having the edge folded over and sewn in place. I could have used that approach on my leg holes, but I was concerned about the lack of spandex (I didn't want them to stretch out over time), so I went ahead and sewed elastic to the leg openings as well, using the same method I described above. The funny thing is that I accidentally used two different sizes of elastic. I ended up with a smaller width on the legs (3/8"), and a larger one (1/2") on the waist. I thought they were the same widths because they were lumped together and unmarked, but they were slightly different. It worked out, and in the future I'll probably use the same approach, except on purpose!

It may seem like there were many steps here, but honestly these were so quick and easy, I couldn't help but have fun making them. And what's better than wearing something you made, which is so useful? Maybe wearing something you made that only you know you're wearing? Sounds silly, but I bet if you try it, you'll love it!

Don't have a pair of hungry doggies eating your clothes and providing you with a free template? Try these instead!

For a free underwear pattern using woven fabrics, check out Madalynne.
For a free bloomers pattern, go to Coletterie.
For a wonderful tutorial on sewing panties, visit Very Purple Person.

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