Thursday, August 22, 2013

Underpants, so Stretchy and Elastic, it's Fantastic!

I must be an alien...

Sounds crazy but it's true!
Why? Well, because aliens love underwear, isn't it? My son's favorite books are "Aliens Love Underpants" and "Alien in Underpants Save The World" : very funny books about aliens stealing underwear on earth and saving our planet in the meantime! I love those books too, not just because they are well illustrated and funny, but because they helps tremendously in convincing my 2 year old to sit on the potty!

Anyway, all that to say that I decided to sew my own underpants... I announced it casually to a friend of mine yesterday and she answered in disbelief : "But, why?" Well, it might be partly because I love to learn new sewing techniques or that I aspire to an entirely handmade wardrobe or because my under things drawers is looking very sad... But lets not go there!


Order in my Madness

So... How does my engineer mind, surely mixed with an healthy dose of OCD, approach this new challenge? By researching the subject extensively for a few sleepless nights ; I made a Pinterest board of the most promising patterns and tutorials. Then I settled on 3 low rise panties and 2 high waist panties patterns. Eventually, I bought 3m of very soft pink nylon/spandex and 16m of fantastic plastic elastic to sew and scientifically compare them all in the next few posts. I intend to use the picot edge FOE (on top) for the waist band and the ruffled flat elastic for the legs.

Fabric, threads and elastic


CF = Center Front
CB = Center Back
SS = Side Seam
SA = Seam Allowance
FOE = Fold Over Elastic
UFO = Unknown Flying Object or UnFinished Object!



I'm a Low Rider ♪

I don't know if you are like me, but at the slight hint of a sentence being similar to some lyrics, the song starts to play in my mind! Lets not digress, here are the 3 low rise panties patterns I chose for my experiment :


So Zo's Famous Pants

So, Zo... Panties
Link to Pattern
Price : free, but link to buy her a coffee through Paypal!
Format : PDF download, 4 pages,  test square included.
Pattern : 3/8 inch SA at SS and gusset. Recommend FOE for waist and legs, so no SA there. Grain line included.
Sizing : This pattern includes UK sizes 8 -16. A chart of the equivalence between international sizes is provided, but no measurements to help choose your size. I just compared the pattern pieces to my favorite panty and select the closest size.
Suggested Fabric : 60cm/1y of jersey or recycle 1 large T-shirt, 2.5m/3y of FOE.
Instructions : No instruction in the PDF, but at least 2 posts about how to sew them on her website : no serger and flat elastic and another post to build them using a serger and FOE.


Hipster from MakeBra

MakeBra's Hipster
Link to Pattern
Price : free
Format : PDF download, 3 pages with overlaps, no test square.
Pattern : No SA included. I added 3/8 inch to SS and gusset. The pattern pieces overlaps, so tracing or printing one page twice is in order. There is minimal text on the pattern pieces.
Sizing : S to XL, a measurements chart is provided on her website (in cm).
Suggested Fabric : 2 way stretch cotton jersey and lycra.
Instructions : No instruction in the PDF, but a short list of steps is provided on her website.


T-shirt Undies from Indigorchid

Link to Pattern
Indigirchid's T-Shirt Undies
Price : free
Format : PDF download, 4 pages,  no test square.
Pattern : 1/4 in Seam allowances, but do not state where. No grain line. The crotch piece is different from the other pattern : larger shorter rounder and not to be cut on the fold.
Sizing : XS to L. No measurements to help choose your size. I just compared the pattern pieces to my favorite panty and select the closest size.
Suggested Fabric : Recycle 1 T-shirt. Stretch lace or FOE or elastic piping (picot?).
Instructions : No instruction in the PDF, But at least 2 posts about how to sew them on her website : Sewing underwear the basics and the extras.


Low Rider Patterns Comparison 

I took pictures of all the 3 pattern pieces for each of the 3 low rise panties patterns (click to see a bigger image). Note that Indigorchid T-shirt panties will have 2 seams around the crotch on the outside. So Zo version will be a bikini style with narrower crotch. And finally, the MakeBra pattern, being a Hipster style panties, offers more coverage for the behind and a lower cut for the legs.

Crotch : So Zo, MakeBra, Indigorchid.

Back : So Zo, MakeBra, Indigorchid.

Front : So Zo, MakeBra, Indigorchid.


Sexy Pinup High Waist Panties

Not as glamorously also known as the granny panties! In spite of few sewing bloggers stating that those panties where not enthusiastically admired by their partners (evidences here and here), I love their vintage vibe. Moreover, they are just perfect under a skirt/dress with a waist seams and I dream of a bikini with an high waist bottom and a top made from a real bra pattern...


Ohhh lulu's Betty High Waist Undies
Ohhh Lulu's Betty Undies

Link to Pattern
Price : 9$ (from Craftsy, soldout on Etsy) I bought this one because I love the lines drawing so much...
Format : PDF download, 12 pages,  no test square.
Pattern : 4 pattern pieces. 3/8 inch SA. I had more trouble assembling this one as the line are not the same width and sometimes forms an indent...
Sizing : XS to L by hips measurements interval. Go up a size if using woven in CF/CB panels.
Suggested Fabric : Jersey knits, stretch lace, interlock, tricot, stretch satin, powernet, 4 way stretch fabrics. 1/2y in Stretch knits for sides and 1/2y of stretch knits or bias woven for the CF/CB panels. 1/4y jersey knit for crotch lining. 2y of elastic.
Instructions : Provided in the PDF - font is too small for me in print form. She also offer a Sew Along:
1- Supplies needed
2- Sewing your muslin
3- Sewing seams and crotch lining
4- Finishing edges with elastic


Vera Venus Grannie-Pannie

VeraVenus Grannie-Pannie
Link to Pattern

Price : free
Format : PDF download, 8 pages, no test square.
Pattern : Only 2 pattern pieces, solo seam at the CB. SA included, not indicated how wide. Direction of the most stretch indicated.Lots of useful annotations.
Sizing : One size, UK 10-12 (hips 37-39 inches) I have 40 inches hips and 33 inches waist, I figured I could make them work... She offers a link to a Threads "Pattern Grading" article.
Suggested Fabric : 50cm/20in of 112cm/45in wide fabric in 1 or 2 way stretch fabrics. Approximately 160-170cm of lingerie elastic. Silk,
Stretch lace/mesh, cotton, nylon or rayon jersey. Woven on the bias will NOT work.
Instructions : She included a short steps list in the PDF.


High Waist Panties Patterns Comparison

I cannot make a comparison of the high waist panties for each pattern pieces since they do not have the same lines drawing (Betty 4 pieces and Grannie only 2). But I will show each of them separately and once partly on top of one another. The gusset piece is similar to the T-shirt undies from Indigorchid. The Grannie-Pannie by VeraVenus is interestedly drafted with one CB seam ; but I am not sure how I would grade them... Next step, cutting and sewing!

VeraVenus's Grannie-Pannie (with Indigorchid gusset)

Ohhh Lulu's Betty Panties

Betty (top) vs Grannie-Pannie (under)



  1. Ah ah! Je pensais à toi Carmen : c'est ma tentative pour rendre mon texte moins drabe! ;) Ma mère s'amuse avec mes enfants demain, je devrais pouvoir avancer...

  2. Hi everyone, I had a good questions via email and I am posting the answer here in case it could help others :

    QUESTION : "Hi, I've been looking for panties with high waist and boy leg. Your pattern at Underpants, so Stretchy and Elastic, it's Fantastic! seems to be what I'm looking for. Thank you so much! However, I have a 45" waistline. How would I alter the largest pattern you have provided? Again, many thanks!!!!"


    Hi Esther,

    You have several options to get panties in your own size :

    1) COPY RTW : If you already have a pair that fits you well, you could copy them with help from pattern review :

    2) USE A PATTERN THAT INCLUDE YOUR SIZE : You should take a look at the Curvy Sewing Collective, they have a terrific post about panties going up the size range :

    3) DRAFT YOUR OWN PATTERN : For something free, you could draft your own pattern with the help of this tutorial with a different "C" & "B" measurements for the high waist and the boy short :

    4) GRADE A PATTERN TO YOUR SIZE : Or try your hand at grading one of the pattern linked in my own post with this tutorial :

    I found that cutting your elastics at 90% of the length of the seam line is a good starting point for me... But you might want to test depending on the stretchyness of your fabric and elastic!

    I hope that answer your question? Good luck! Let me know how it went 😃

    Thanks, Caroline