Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Aliens Abduction of an Underpants Expert

Is it a plane? ...no! It is a UFO!


Latest News : I'm no Expert!

Sorry, my super scientific pant-tastic experiment was side tracked because I was abducted by Aliens... They taught I was an underpants expert but figured out soon enough that I was just regurgitating info about underwear sewing gathered everywhere on the websphere! No worries, they came in Peace and, after some patterns and fabric swap, released me in the nearby Angrignon park...

I finally finished my simple 5 underpants, but I am far from the "underwear in 30 minutes" advertised by some... As always, the theory seemed clear in my mind, but the difference in elastic stretchiness and applications left me somehow baffled! What I found the most difficult was to determine the correct size needed.


Fantastic Elastics Scholastic

(1) FOE-picot, (2) Ruffles, (3) Holy picot, (4) Tight picot,  (5) Lace

At first, very optimistically, I bought only a strange Fold-over-picot elastic (1) and a ruffles elastic (2). After my first panties I realized they were far from adequate. I had to get some more : I chose 2 different kind of picot elastics (3, 4) and a 1 inch stretch lace (5).

I found that my fold-over elastic with a picot edge (1) was not stretchy enough. Cutting it the size of the super stretchy fabric resulted in unattractive flesh bumps (too tight). And cutting it the size of my body (a bit larger that the panties waist) resulted in wonky and droopy underwear. Its softness was equaled only by the lace. Maybe this one would be better with a less stretchy fabric, like Tshirt cotton jersey? I also guess that the size Medium might be too small for a fabric with less stretch...

The picot elastics (2 to 4) were perfect if cut to the correct size (about 2 inches smaller than the panties waist or leg hole) AND pined with at least 4 pins. I tried not measuring it and sewing/stretching as I go but, without the pins to control everything, the fabric stretched, resulting in a too loose opening. Finally, I tried to make a ring of the elastic and sew it in the round with 4 strategic pins ; this worked better.

Unraveling Picot
Moreover, elastics are not created equal ; All picot style elastic were easier to apply, but beware of the scratchy ruffles (2) elastic! Also, the picot with more space between the elastic part and the lacy picot (3) was difficult to attached in a seamless ring cleanly (picot loops unraveled at the join). Any tips are welcome!

I love the softness of the stretch lace (5), but mine had a tendency to roll if too stretched out. So it does not feel very secure (maybe my fabric is too stretchy) and can render a crotch very narrow depending how it is applied to the legs.

My messy lace application
Also, the stretch lace is very pretty on the outside, but I do not like to see the zig zag stitches and trimmed raw edge on the inside. And, last but not least, it was about twice as expensive at Fabricville :
  • 1.00$/m for the Fold-over-picot and ruffles elastic (1, 2);
  • 0.70$/m for the picot elastics (3, 4);
  • 1.90$/m for 1 inch stretch lace (5).



Finished Underpants Reviews

So Zo Undies
So, Zo... Panties

Pattern : Missing "So Zo" writen on pattern pieces. Some corner could have been trimmed.

Instructions : I didn't try sewing them flat, because I wanted one method to sew them all, but it make sense and might be easier for a first try since the elastic is easier to apply.

Fit : Personally, I find the crotch a little narrow. Hence, I chose the FOE to finish the legs holes to avoid narrowing it further by using the lace. I wasn't quite sure how to sew the lace without having to overlap it a lot and then cut the fabric underneath...



Make Bra Hipster

MakeBra's Hipster
Pattern : The PDF pattern have overlapping pattern pieces ; you then need to either trace them or print one page twice. It is not a big deal, just a minor annoyance because the pattern as only a few pages anyway.

Instructions : I tried the picot-FOE because they stretch the less and the instruction recommended not to stretch the elastic while sewing. But my application was not very good and I ended with a too loose waist by my own fault. I trimmed the top later and used picot elastic on the waist instead ; it is more confortable.

Fit : The waist hits in the middle of my little belly bump and tend to roll. After this picture, I removed about 1,5 inches from CF, CB and SS. I liked the bum coverage the most.


Indigorchid TShirt Panties
Indigirchid's T-Shirt Undies

Pattern : The panties is made from 3 pieces and a gusset lining, hence all crotch seams are enclosed.

Instructions : They were none in the PDF but she offer variations of elastic applications on her blog. I liked not having to finish the thin gusset front edge.

Fit : I love the fit! And I like that all seams are enclose in the crotch area.



Vera Venus Grannie-Pannie

VeraVenus Grannie-Pannie
Pattern : I like that it has fewer seams, only CB and crotch. When wearing it, so seams show through. But you need a little more room on your remnant fabric to cut the big pattern piece. And note that only 1 size is available.

Instructions : The instructions were minimal.

Fit : I love the fit! Waist exactly at my natural waist, nice bum coverage too.It is my go to panties to wear with panty hose, under skirts and dresses with a waist seam.



Ohhh Lulu Betty Panties
Ohhh Lulu's Betty Undies

Pattern : This is the only pattern I bought (9$). I was a little disapointed by the pattern itself ; varying line width from page to page and it did not aligned exactly on some pages. Some corner could have been trimmed.

Instructions : The instructions and sew-along were very complete. I still need to try one version with the front panel in a woven!

Fit : They are High waist so hit about 2,5 inches OVER my waist. I didn't liked it on my body, but the seams lines are very pretty because they curve at the waist. For my first pair, I just cut it on top at my waist, but I should try to get them at my waist and keep that sexy curve somehow...

For all my panties

I would have love for the patterns to indicate either the length of elastic needed for the leg holes and waist for each sizes ; I know this measure might vary depending on the fabric and stretchiness of the elastic, but it could be a good starting point!

Finally, I think I will lengthen the gusset piece on every pattern by about 1/2 in in the front.




If you are new to sewing underpants, I recommend to buy soft and stretchy picot elastic (or maybe some normal and stretchy FOE!) and an inexpensive stretchy knit fabric (or reuse old Tshirt). Starting with a free pattern seems easier to me than copying your favorite pair...

The experiment conclusion : I wanted to select one low rise and one high waist panties pattern. For the low rise, my favorite is the Indigorchid's T-shirt panties. They fit without alterations and have a neat finish inside will all crotch seams enclosed. I might cover the bum a little more by using the back leg opening from the MakeBra's hipster pattern...

For the high waist panties, I will keep both patterns! The Vera Venus Grannie-Pannie for an easy and fast panty to sew, kind of everyday skirt and dresses panties! The lack of side seam is a good choice under tight pencil skirts. I might use the Vera Venus for my first bikini bottom too because it is easy and it fit perfectly without further alterations. (awesome Bikini Inspirations)

I will also keep the Ohhh Lulu Betty pattern to experiment more! The Betty with it's numerous seams could have several very interesting and sexy variations with the use of different fabrics, sheer, woven, etc... I love the back seams of the Betty too and color blocking might offer a slimming optical illusion too. My favorite inspiration from this pattern is the Fuschia and floral set by Ohhh lulu! On her mannequin, the waist looks at the waist ; I am probably a Petite (1,59m/5'2") and should alter her pattern accordingly!

Vintage Jalie 2927
On a  personal note, I learned a lot about sewing stretch fabric and elastic during the experiment. For the less scientific experimentation that will ensue, I will use old Tshirt and try some normal FOE with my fabric too... I have a lot to experiment still!

Moreover, some Jalie patterns are calling my name ; the family undies pattern #3242 and the tight boxer short #2572 not for the tummy control, but to prevent chafing. My mother-in-law also gave me a vintage Jalie panty pattern from 1986 that I will try!

In closing, let me just state that I am very happy that all my trial panties ended up being more flattering and comfortable than my now too big maternity underpants that polluted my drawers for far too long...  Hint Hint to the kleptomaniacs Aliens - Please steal those away from me! ;)


 Did you miss anything on my Pant-tastic Mission?


  1. I just this week delved into the mysteries of panty sewing for me. :) I cut out four different free patterns, so I could find the one I liked best! I must have missed the Indigorchid pattern. I will have to give that one a try, too! I printed them all out on Sunday and yesterday sewed up my first pair- the So Zo Pattern. They fir great in the front, but were really lacking in coverage in the back! I like total coverage. ;) I am wondering if I picked the wrong size or if this is the way they are supposed to fit? They would be awesome with about another inch and a half in the rear. Thanks for the comparisons- they were really helpful! I was thinking of doing some, but my blog is mostly followed by people from church, that won't happen! Ha!