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The Monthly Stitch Knitspiration: underwear

(I’ve already posted about this pattern here, but have written a post for the start of next month’s The Monthly Stitch’s challenge – to sew with knit fabric)

 

Underwear is something a few years ago I NEVER would have thought about making. I mean, come on – make your own underwear? That’s ridiculous. Skip forward to today, and I haven’t bought myself underwear in about a year. I’ve made myself underwear from a few different patterns – Jalie 3242, and Ohhh Lulu’s Ginger and Betty patterns. I haven’t posted any pictures because they were mainly all made before I started my blog. So far they’re just plain cotton knit ones, but I would like to branch out into a bit of lace to make them pretty Because it uses such a small amount of fabric, you can make underwear out of scrap fabrics, or you can get several (3-4) pairs out of 1m.

And if you think it would save money to make your own underwear, think about mens underwear! In New Zealand, a nice quality pair of brief’s costs at least $20, and a nice pair of knit shorts costs >$25-30. When you consider how much fabric would cost US to buy, and then realise that these are being made off shore, and I’m 100% certain the fabric will cost a fraction of what we pay for yardage. It’s even cheaper if, like me, you were able to get sent a whole box of knit fabric scraps for FREE – thanks Levana!!!

ImageThe only issue is PATTERNS. For ladies patterns you have several options. There’s ones to buy, like those from the Big 4 pattern companies, Ohhh Lulu, and Merckwaerdigh there are vintage versions, free patterns like those from So Zo and Cloth Habit, and many others. For men, there haven’t been many options. Several months ago I had a go at making mens underwear, starting by pulling apart a pair of Mr. Guy’s briefs (I buy him briefs/gruts partly because they’re cheaper than shorts! Ha) and making  pattern. Lets just say that didn’t work well – turns out that particular pair didn’t fit him well in the first place, and the pair I made were terrible.

I then tried the Jalie 3242 mens brief pattern (you can see Male Pattern Boldness’s boxers and briefs here). I ended up making several different pairs, but they just didn’t fit well (even though I re-drafted the crotch piece 3 times) and I found the leg binding really difficult to look good. After that I kind of gave up, with the general idea in my mind that I would revisit the idea later.

 

Then, two weeks ago, Thread Theory launched their new pattern, the Comox Trunks. Dang it but Morgan and Matt know what we want, and the PDF pattern in particular is really cheap (only $7.50 CAD). I snapped up a copy and the next night I had a version made up:

ImageThis was the only knit I had in my stash, hehe. Original blog post here

This pattern is EXCELLENT, as can be expected with all of Thread Theory’s patterns. After my big box of knits arrived from Levana, and I got some more waistband elastic from Made on Marion, I quickly made up three more pairs (one pair has… disappeared).

ImageThe shorts only take me about 60 minutes to make up, including cutting, so they’re a great project if you want a quick fix or only have a short time to sew. I think I’ll end up cutting these out in bulk and having them pre-cut ready to sew up so they take even less time.

ImageUnderwear can be really difficult to get pretty; they’re quite a different beast from full-size garments. Mens underwear (and this pattern in particular) is designed to be easy to look professional, once you get used to stitching the smaller pieces (I find womens underwear much harder because of all the picot elastic etc). For these two pairs, there’s a couple of dodgy areas, especially when I stitched my twin needle over the waistband elastic… which then broke. The blue pair doesn’t have that seam top-stitched.

Mr. Guy tells me these shorts are really comfortable, and he reaches for them before his other RTW pairs. I wish I had some photos of him modelling them, but I’m not willing to share :) You can see some lovely modelled pairs on Thread Theory’s blog

 


Thread theory is running a sew-a-long for the shorts starting Friday April 4th (today for us kiwis/Australians and tomorrow for those from almost everywhere else). To celebrate, until Friday night there is 30% off the pattern! Just enter SEW-ALONG at the checkout.


Close ups:

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Pattern: Comox Trunks by Thread Theory

Fabric: Cotton-spandex knit from Levana, free

Notions: Thread from stash, waistband elastic

Total: about $2 each

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New: Comox Trunks

So I’m obviously quite hot off the gun with these ones (Mr. Guy tells me that’s not a real saying). Thread Theory released their new pattern for the Comox Trunks on Monday evening, I had the pattern printed and in my hands at work on Tuesday morning, and Mr Guy was trying on the finished pair that night.

Please see the bottom of my post for information regarding a minor error in the pattern.

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Unfortunately there is no one modelling these photos – unlike Morgan and Matt I don’t have willing varsity students to strip to their gruts! Mr. Guy almost said I could take photos of him wearing them, but decided against it like I had expected.

I was so keen to make these that I grabbed the only suitable knit fabric I had in my stash – this red polka dot cotton knit. All the other fabrics are merinos and waiting for other projects. I was able to use the matching blue polka dot fabric for the binding on the front of the shorts. You’ll also note that the overlocking thread doesn’t match, because blue is the ONLY COLOUR I brought with me.

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These shorts went together VERY quickly. It took me 2 hours in total which included multiple try-ons and a 20 minute period where my dad (who is visiting along with my mum) stole my computer with the instructions on it.

Please don’t look too closely at the waistband; I didn’t have any wide elastic in the limited stash I brought up with me (Made on Marion is sending some up to me today) so I unpicked some from a pair of RTW that had seen better days – it works but it’s not so pretty.

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Even after making several pairs of underpants for myself (not blogged), I still struggle a little with keeping everything neat – underwear and lingerie has a whole different skill set to garment sewing, and it takes a while to get it looking nice. These have ended up being quite good except the only twin needle I have is 1.5mm wide (whyyy) and the fabric attaching to the waistband is a bit scruffy. Usually I would overlock the edge to the elastic, then fold and top-stitch down; on this pair I didn’t want the waistband to be permanently attached, in case it got too scruffy and I wanted to replace it.

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Although I can’t say that Mr. Guy has ever complained about the idea of a center back seam, the bum piece is quite nice. I do know that back seams can be annoying on ladies undies and we don’t have anything, erm, pulling the fabric forward.

In terms of fit, I made a straight size 36 (based on his waist measurement) and it fit well except for being too large in the legs. I’ll have to think about how exactly to fix that, whether I hack and the piece I have or just cut a smaller leg piece. They’re still comfortable, apparently, but aren’t as snug as they should be.

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The front opening makes them look professional, but the opening is a bit small. Does anyone actually use that? I imagine it would always be easier to just drop your trousers to go to the bathroom but IDK I’m a girl.

All in all I looove this pattern. I’ve tried making mens underwear before (using Jalie 3242) and even after several tries, I couldn’t get the fit right, and the crotch facing is always confusing. The Comox Trunks are easy peasy if you have any experience with sewing knits (even those who don’t would be able to as the instructions are very clear, but underwear involves smaller pieces of fabric which can be tricky).

 

Now, please note that there is a small error with the pattern as is: pattern pieces 3 and 4 should be cut on folded fabric so you have two mirrored versions. Follow the instructions as written, however step 3 should instead read “Lay the trunk front pieces on top of each other with one WRONG side facing one RIGHT side.”  From that point onwards, instructions are the same as before. This will mean that you’ll get self-fabric peeking out of the gap (unlike mine which has the white peeking through), but will have self-fabric on the bound piece facing the inside. This should make sense when you’ve got all the pieces in front of you.

It’s no real biggie and Morgan will be fixing the PDF version and sending it out to those of you who bought that version, and will be adding an errata to all the paper versions.