I don't know about you, but I LOVE comfy things. I especially love cute, ethically-made, comfy things. But what I don't love, is spending lots of $$$ on shipping, duties, and exchange rates to be able to wear these cute, comfy, ethically-made things.
So, I decided to make them myself! ✨
As a disclaimer, if you are able and willing to pay for lovely ethically-made undies, please do support these small businesses!! I would be 100% on board with doing that too, if my credit card statements didn't tell me otherwise...😒
The Inspo: High-Waisted Panties and Wide-Strap Bra from @shoparq. These beauties are all over Instagram, and are what I would call the ideal comfy bra and panty set. No pesky elastics or underwires, high waisted to fit just right, and matching to make you feel like you've put a lot of effort into your underthings.
The Patterns: I worked from two different patterns to create my set. First, the free #maxinepanties pattern from Evie La Luve. This panty pattern is wonderful! The instructions are great as well. My only complaint is that the sizes only go up to an XXL, which is not very inclusive. For a wider range of sizes, I would recommend the (also free!) #noelleunderwear pattern by @mmadalynne. For the bra, I used the top from the #mncottesloe bathing suit! I modified the straps at the back to join closer to the middle of the back, and attempted to narrow the straps as well. If you don't want to buy the pattern for your bra, just trace from one of your existing sports bras! This kind of jersey is very forgiving!
The Fabric: I used a cotton knit jersey from @blackbirdfabrics in the Sienna colourway - I looooove this fabric for undies. It's thick, opaque, and has a GREAT stretch to it. (PS - I attemped the undies in a 100% organic cotton knit, and they did not have the same forgiveness that this jersey has. I'd highly recommend some spandex content!)
1. Regular old sewing machine (you could use a serger, if you really wanted to, but I opted to use a plain zig-zag stitch on my regular machine and I liked the result very much!)
2. 1 meter fabric (for a bra and undies set) and matching thread
3. General sewing supplies (scissors, pins, measuring tape, etc)
4. Jersey/Stretch needle
5. Elastic for the bra band (I used a 1cm wide elastic) Measure under your bust, around your ribcage to determine the length!
Start by cutting out your pattern pieces. Then, for the jersey binding, cut 1.5" wide strips of your fabric (lengthwise on the direction of greatest stretch) that are about 2" shorter than the distance you need them to cover. For example, if your leg opening is 17", cut those strips 15" long.
You will need the following 1.5" wide jersey strips:
- 2 leg openings
- 1 waist opening
- 2 arm openings
- 1 neck opening
Next, we will start on the construction! The steps of constructing these undies vary a bit from regular construction, because we are attaching the bands in a certain order.
First things first - the crotch gusset. This is *the most confusing* part of the undies, I promise. If you can figure this out, you can do anything!!!
Start with your undies back piece, right side out. Place one gusset piece on the top, right sides together. Place the other gusset piece underneath the undie back, with right side up.
Sew using a *straight stitch* and a 1/3" seam allowance (the only time we will use a straight stitch for this project!) Grade the seams (this does not mean "give your seam a B+", it means trim off any excess on your seam allowance. I learned this the hard way.)
Next, we will sew the gusset onto the front piece of your undies. Place your top undie piece right sides together with the bottom piece. Next, fiddle with the gusset pieces to make a sandwich like you did on the other side, with the two gussets around the top undie piece. This will require you to twist the gusset to be able to sew it. Sew again with a straight stitch at 1/3", and then grade your seam. Untwist, and give yourself a pat on the back! The trickiest part is over!
Now we are going to attach the bands to the leg openings. Take one strip of jersey, and place it at the top of your leg opening, right sides together. Jersey loves to curl itself up into a roll, so part of the process will be flattening it out as you sew. As well, you will be stretching the band as you sew! Using a zigzag stitch, gently pull on the jersey band as you sew it on to the undies. (Be careful not to stretch the bottom piece, as it will not have the elastic effect if you do.) Stitch as close to the edge as you're comfortable with. I'm guessing I used about a 1/4" seam allowance.
Once you're done sewing the band on, it should look like this! The band should be puckering the fabric slightly.
Sew the other leg band on as well.
Next, sew one side seam together (still using a zigzag stitch, at about 1/4"). Be careful to catch the seam allowance going upwards towards the band. If it helps, you can press the seam allowance up before sewing. We are just sewing one because we want to attach the waistband jersey before sewing it closed.
Using the same stretch-as-you-sew technique as the leg holes, sew the waistband on. Be cautious to not over-stretch the waistband, as it will make your undies uncomfortably tight! And these are alllll about comfort.
Once the waistband is attached, sew the other side seam closed.
Now, we are going to finish the bands!
Working from the right side of your garment, starting where the bands attach to each other, fold the band over to the wrong side. The fabric should wrap the seam allowance and partially cover the stitches on the wrong side. Using the same zigzag stitch, topstitch the band all the way around. Be careful to bring your seam allowance underneath where you are stitching so it gets wrapped up. DO NOT stretch as you sew this step!
(If you have a twin stretch needle, feel free to use this for the bands instead of a zigzag!)
If there is excess fabric on the wrong side, feel free to trim it up. Since it's knit fabric, we can leave this edge raw and it will be just fine! (Alternatively, you can cut narrower strips so the edge ends up being bound in the zigzag on the wrong side. Up to you!)
Wow! You just sewed a pair of undies!!! Way to go! Quick, go try them on before getting started on the bra. You deserve it!
Now that you're (probably) wearing and loving your new undies, it's time to get started on the bra! Yay!
First, place your front and back bra pieces right sides together. Line up the shoulder seams, and sew one of them up (doesn't matter which side you start with - but leave one shoulder open).
Next, using the same stretch-as-you-sew technique from the undies, attach the jersey band to your neckline. Remember, we are stretching *only* the band, not the bra itself! This will create an elastic effect so the bra stays put!
Start at the open shoulder, going all the way around the front and back neckline, ending up at that same shoulder. Trim off any excess band fabric.
Next, sew that other shoulder seam closed, making sure to press your seam allowances out towards the jersey band. (In this photo, you can see how they are pointing out towards the left)
Now you can attach the jersey bands to your arm holes.
Remember, you are sewing right sides together, lining the band up on the right side of the garment. We will fold the band over and finish them once we've sewed the bra together.
After you have attached the jersey bands in the arm holes, go ahead and place your bra front and back right sides together, and sew the side seams closed.
This is what the bra looks like, right side out, from the front.
Next, we're going to finish the neckhole and armholes.
Using the same fold-over technique as you did with the undies, fold the band over to the wrong side of the garment, leaving about 1/3 " on the right side. Topstitch with a zigzag stitch from the right side of the garment, making sure to catch the seam allowance underneath in your stitch. Sew around the whole neckhole and both armholes.
This is what your bra will look like! Now we're ready for the elastic band.
There are a couple of ways you can attach an elastic.
Firstly, the "proper" way - measure your elastic, cut it to the desired length, then sew it closed. Quarter your elastic, and quarter your bra band, pinning them together (on the wrong side of the garment). Stretch the elastic to fit each section as you sew.
Secondly, the "willy-nilly" way (my personal favourite). Take a piece of elastic that is slightly longer than you need. Line up the elastic with the garment, and stretch the elastic as you sew it on, cutting it to length once you're done!
I don't like to listen to rules, in case you haven't noticed...
Once your elastic is attached, fold the elastic towards the wrong side of your garment again, and sew once more around the elastic (tucking the elastic in between two layers of fabric, hiding it from view!)
And there you have it, folks! Your very own set of bra and undies, made by YOU!!!
Now, go try on your set, and do a little happy dance for me!!!
I'd love to see your makes - tag me in them if you try this technique! And leave a comment if you have a question, or are wondering about anything at all! I know it's a lot of steps, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be making ALL your own undies and will never look back!