One of the books on marketing says that men hesitate to join a group of women for fear that they will be talking about underwear. Accordingly, I am warning you here: I am going to talk about underwear. Male readers can now leave for some more decorous blog.

Here is the site that started it all, way back when Dweezy first linked to it.

This site contains sentences like “If you feel difficulty, observe your panties. It’s easy!” and “Is not difficult, but I dared to make it complex.” Drawn by the fascinating syntax and the clever pictures, I read all the pages. By the time I had done so, I was seized by a desire to make panties.

Well, maybe not seized, since a year or two passed and I am only now getting around to it. But I thought about it from time to time.

Why would anyone want to make panties? This of course is half the appeal. It’s like Everest. If it is possible to make something yourself, yet no one does, then I want to make it.

But the online lingerie makers are so enthusiastic. They say that you can make panties yourself in 20 minutes from old T-shirts and scraps of cocktail dresses. They claim that their lingerie is way better than store-bought. They talk about it as though it were, well, hand-knit sweaters or something.

Now, I have nothing against store-bought panties. We will not speak of my Fruit of the Loom experience, except to say that my mama always warned me against false economy, but as a general rule I can buy my usual brand and put them on in the morning and never think about them again.

But I did once notice La Bella’s underthings in the green room, and I have to say that I could tell her gear came from somewhere a lot more elegant than my Land’s End stuff. I don’t remember anyone else’s undies, either, so I guess there is a clear cachet to really fancy pants. And I know for a fact that I will never even consider dropping $119 on a pair from La Perla. So it is possible that handsewn underthings would make you feel more distinguished in the dressing room, or impress your husband or something. And, from the other side of the question, you could save a bit if you really can construct your whole intimate wardrobe from scraps and old commemorative Ts.

So, supposing that you want to make your own knickers, how can you do it?

Here is a tutorial with photographs and interesting sentence structure. It also has pattern diagrams. So does the first link, but that pattern has an upward rather than a downward curve at the back. If you want a cheeky effect, that’s fine, but do not expect coverage. The first link does, however, show you how to place the pattern pieces on a handkerchief, so if you want to do that (and do not measure more than 35″ at the hip) check it out. Here is a PDF pattern to size up. This last pattern has directions here, but starts by telling you to use “a clean (if you care) shirt.” There is a casual charm to the instructions, though, and the author points out that your collection of T-shirts from camp or whatever will get more use in your underwear drawer, which seems reasonable to me. Here is a source for what seem to me to be specialized panty patterns, for those who want to make Magic Knickers or Granny Pants. And you can also copy your own. If you have a pair of scanties that is ready to be retired, you could cut it apart and voila, your pattern is ready.

The less adventuresome might like to do what I did, and buy a pattern. Here is mine:V7790

I read that this is old-fashioned. The source I read it in claims that slips are No Longer Worn, camisoles are strictly for outerwear, and teddies and tap pants no longer exist.

So I sort of figured I had better buy a pattern, for when I am the only woman in America who still wears a slip. Then I will be able to make my own. Men catching a glimpse of lace as I step into a car will be fascinated, and yong girls will ask one another “How does she do that?” When I tell them, they will ask whether this “slip” of which I speak has a pocket for a cell phone.

I also have the Kwik-Sew book of lingerie patterns and the Martha Pullen one. I use them for nightgowns, but they contain patterns for panties. I got mine in a bookswap at, but I bet you can get them at fabric stores or at Amazon. I also have a 1940s Singer sewing book with diagrams for drafting your own, but those really are old-fashioned. They have buttons. I may be the last slip-wearing woman, but I am not prepared to button up my panties.

7So I was musing on these things while I worked with the satin yesterday afternoon.

I made a half slip to go with the camisole. It also has a curved hem, and I put a diagonal line of the ribbon at the edge to make it match. I have not completed the hem, but it will just be a plain hand-rolled hem

This is a crepe-backed satin, using the Vogue pattern. I changed the pattern to have just one seam instead of two.

I think that this set could be worn under a suit in the summer with no need for a blouse, and it could also do service under a low-cut dress to avoid any peekaboo effect.7

It has a simple elastic waist through a casing, and it was very very easy to make.

I also finished my socks. These are plain utilitarian socks made from Knitpicks Essentials in “burgundy.”

They are just calculated. I like to keep Mary Thomas’s Book of Knitting handy when I get to the parts with shaping.

And by the time I had polished off these projects, I had determined that I would try my hand at making panties.


7 Now, if you went over and read those tutorials, you had a practical test of your visual-spatial intelligence. The first step is making enclosed seams, or the point at which you get your knickers in a twist.

If you are like me and this seemed terribly difficult and implausible and made you not attempt making panties for a couple of years, I have to give you the good news. This part is not hard.

Everyone has exactly the same instructions on this, and if you just follow them exactly, you will have no difficulty, even if you can’t imagine ahead of time how it will work.

Once you’ve done that, the rest is very simple. Two straight seams on the sides, normal elastic application, and you have a pair of underpants.7

It took me longer than twenty minutes, but not much longer.

I know it was longer than 20 minutes, because when I started, the guys were watching Man vs. Wild. That is, the boys were being impressed by the host’s exploits, and my husband was giving recipes for all the creatures he tangled with.

I think that it would be very lowering for an adventurer to go adventuring with my husband. The adventurer would be getting all dramatic and trying to scare everybody with how dangerous the things were, and my husband would reach over and snap the cobra’s neck and start building a fire.

7You see, if you are going to eat a cobra,  you want to boil it and pull the meat off and eat it with rice and hot peppers.

He said that the snake on the TV was not posionous. He said that rather dismissively, frankly, since the poisonous ones are tastier.

Anyway, by the time I finished, there was some guy trying out jobs involving manure, so it must have been at least half an hour.

I made the panty and camisole set in about two hours, total, including adjusting the camisole pattern to make something a little more casual and comfy that the recipient could sleep in, and spending some time with needle and thread fixing up little flaws in my machine stitching.

I made this from a slinky novelty print knit, with black stretch lace, from patterns in The Kwik-Sew Book of Beautiful Lingerie. The set took half a yard of the fashion fabric, as the sewing bloggers say, and I bought a plain white T-shirt for $1.99 (on sale at Hancock Fabrics) to cut the crotch lining.

I have a day off today, and I hope that I will stop fooling around and finish up my SWAP part II. The SWAP part III looms on the horizon. Khali Mama, who is good enough at sewing that she might even be included among the sewing bloggers, is going to join the SWAPalong, and perhaps you will, too. I will make us a blogring when I get back from the gym. Toodles!