I suspect that sewing underwear is a trend which comes in and out for home sewists, especially when they’re on the lookout for quick, but attractive projects to tackle. I’ve long had a favourite ‘brand’ of underpants, but they’ve recently changed the elastics they were using and I just didn’t like them as much. That seemed like a pretty good motivation to sew some of my own.
The first pair I tried were Ohhh Lulu’s Grace pants. These pants are a mixture of bias cut woven and knit fabrics, but to be totally honest the pattern just didn’t work for me. Partly that was my own fault – I really wasn’t sure how to attach the underwear elastic (it’s a previous skill the pattern requires) and I didn’t go looking for a tutorial and played it by ear. My other issue, though, was the cut – they’re simply longer in the front than I’m comfortable with and I knew they would cut in badly with a full days wear. If you’re more comfortable with low cut fronts, though, and know your way around underwear elastic (or will take the time to find tutorials) it’s a nice pattern.
I then moved on to Measure Twice/Cut Once’s Georgiana pattern. These were, from the diagrams and descriptions, closest in cut to the underwear I buy at the shops. They pattern uses bias cut woven fabric and elastic (it doesn’t need to be underwear elastic) to create a relatively basic bikini brief. You can then use the Designer Manual for inspiration to add ruffles, lace, bows . . . the options are endless.
I had a couple of issues with the instructions when I was attaching the front, back and gusset together – I had to rely on the diagram and my previous experience with the Grace pants to figure out what I was supposed to do (the instructions told me to flip the gusset forward, but it took me a bit to understand if it was meant to be before or after stitching the pieces together – after is the answer.) The elastic went on well for me, but if you’re making one of the bigger sizes, I’d suggest more pins around the waist (maybe dividing the elastic and pants into 1/8ths rather than 1/4s) to make it a little easier to handle when sewing.
The pants fit well, but – being totally honest – I have a rather rounded backside and was wondering if a bit more coverage would be nicer. I tweeted Measure Twice/Cut Once about the Charlotte pattern and they quickly got back to me and assured me that it had more coverage in the back – so I grabbed it as well. Since that also came with more coverage in the front (which I didn’t want) I trimmed some of the front away when cutting out the pattern. The Charlotte pattern goes together pretty much the same way as the Georgiana, so it was really easy – even though I was playing with fabric scraps and ended up colour blocking the 2 main pieces (using french seams).
There are a lot of things to like about the Measure Twice/Cut Once patterns – they’re attractive, quick to make, gorgeous in pretty fabrics, and the whole presentation of the pattern is just lovely. The Charlotte sat really nicely, and adapted well to my little bit of chopping at the front (waist and legs are finished in elastic which helps any little things like this). I wore the Charlottes all day and they were extremely comfortable.
My only quibble with the Measure Twice/Cut Once patterns is using normal elastic and folding over the fabric doesn’t give quite as nice look as I would like. I’ve just bought some foldover elastic, which I think will give a nicer finish. (If you’re not as fussy as me, or have better finishing techniques, the regular elastic would be fine.) I’d also love to see this pattern come in larger sizes – everyone really does deserve pretty underwear, including those who wear bigger sizes.
Will I be making these again? Definitely – I have ordered the elastic and I bought some gorgeous fabric today. I love how you don’t need a huge amount of fabric and that it will work with a lot of woven fabrics (though, no heavy denim knickers. They will not work 🙂 ) Personally, I think the patterns would also be pretty adaptable to knit fabrics too, though you might need to play with them a little. I’m looking forward to having lots of lovely knickers in my future 🙂