sewing - making underwear

yep, underwear. i have a number of issues with modern women's underwear trends, namely:

1. that elastic gets weird after a while
2. that elastic won't be available forever (particularly in a post-collapse world)
3. that normal underwear seems to develop holes too easily
4. that whoever makes it seems to think all grown women want to look like six year olds

i mean, really - the patterns you see on underwear for grown women is ludicrous. i do not want drawings of little kindergarten flowers on my drawers! nor do they always have to be in pinks, oranges, or pastels. i want bright colors, elegant and/or understated designs, and some respect, please. a woman needs options! so i decided, hell, i'll try to make my own.

another pattern search
a quick search online led me to two good sites for ideas. one was belle and burger, who turns a stewey (from family guy) tshirt into undies, and another that's less stewey-rific. both, however, assume familiarity with sewing machines (and the luxury of owning one) and with sewing elastic. i have neither of these. i figured i could still use their general pattern ideas and work out a similar pair.

fabric finds
a friend of mine suggested a shop called 'rockstar and rogers' for thrifting locally, and i went by to check them out one day when i had extra time before work. luckily for me, they had a $1.99 tshirt bin out front with a number of soft and cozy tshirts with cute designs on them - i picked out a few for their potential to become snazzy drawers and went home happy. (for those of you thinking that $2/pair of underwear sounds pretty standard - i can actually make two pair from each t-shirt, except probably the tank top, which will make 1 1/2. so $1/pair. and, i am at least not buying new and condoning sweatshops, cause they suck!)

drawin it up
it was kind of weird to draw out a pattern while choosing not to cut up a pair of underwear that i already owned. it worked okay, though, i suppose - i just traced around edges and figured out overlaps for that weird multi-layer crotch part that goes on in women's drawers. i drew this pattern onto some random wrapping-type paper i had around from getting stuff in the mail, and then pinned my fabric to it and cut everything out.

needle and thread
i found that making underwear is quick work once you're ready to sew. it only took about a full afternoon to get all the edges ready and connect everything. once again (like with the pants), they were too tight. i cut a seam, added some width, tried again. better. one leg was still tighter. the underwear sat around for a month, then i took out the thread from that tight leg hole and re-stitched it, more loosely this time. it worked!

the prototype
so now i have this pair of underwear, and the same day that i finished it i created an entirely new pair designed from a different type of underwear that i have. both function just fine as underwear, although without elastic, they do get more loose by the end of the day, which feels weird. also, in order to make the waist fit properly you have to sew them a bit tighter, so i've kind of had to 'shimmy' these two pairs on carefully - a little mindfulness in dressing doesn't bother me, but it definitely effects the overall versatility of this part of my wardrobe.

the future
i'm not sure exactly what's in store for me and the future of my underclothes. i've done some research on less modern underclothing, to see how it's been done in the past, and have found that underwear as we know it didn't come around until a ways into the 1900s. for some time before that ladies just wore bloomer type deals, often with open crotches, specifically because doctors said their vaginas needed to breathe. awesome! it's true, too. wearing synthetic and non-breathing fabrics up against your crotch can easily cause yeast infections. so maybe there was something to all their bloomer fashions. you'll just have to wait and see what i make and evolve toward next.

p.s. drawers made from super soft t-shirts are really, incredibly, wonderfully snuggly and comfortable.

the 'stuff to post about' list:

-herb harvesting/infusions/use of fresh herbs/tinctures
-making pants/making clothing
-growing herbs in the garden
-growing veggies, garden details
-my work vs. hogwarts
-burn salve
-the view from laundry day
-awesome natural builder blogs
-the search for land/money/building credit
-dental health/sustainable toothcare
-sustainable clothes washing
-sustainable home/dishes/cleaning
-embroidering project (jeans)
-recent crafts - stamps, giraffe puppet, clothespin bag


McFeisty said…
I wondered if you're still making your own undergarments, and if you'd had any further ideas on the lack of elastic.

I was trying to develop some patterns, with drawstrings or woven fabric waistbands (with buttons or hook closures, or maybe ties), requiring a much higher waistline than bikini or hiphuggers offer, but they'd be more secure (in the 'not falling off' sense.

Have you got a sewing machine yet? I see you're hand sewing canvas lately, but not sure if that's by choice or necessity.
hennalion said…
hey McFeisty,

i have not made any more undergarments - though i still wear those pairs that i made. my more recent solution has been to only wear them during my bleeding time.

i Have thought a lot about how to secure them conveniently, and have considered nice thin buttons (maybe on the sides? wherever your hips wouldn't push against things and make them irritating), or ribbon/string ties (same issue with placement for least annoyance).

my ultimate goal is to avoid underwear altogether. but i'm not there yet :)

and yes, i've got a sewing machine - back in 2010 i lucked into a '24 singer treadle machine. sewing that canvas had to be done by hand because of the nature of the seam i chose and the size of the fabric - i don't think i could have managed it on the machine.

have you tried making underwear? how's it gone for you?
Cynths said…
Thanks for this . I'm trying to make some now. No luck. They don't fit. I'll try to make a better pattern.