Clothing + Fashion shutterstock_78615661

Published on January 17th, 2012 | by Julie Finn

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What are You Making Under There? Upcycled Underwear Tutorials from Around the Web

patterned boxers image via Shutterstock

My family hasn’t bought new underwear in years.

Yes, I know that sounds really grim (and gross!), but the reality is quite different. Instead of wearing cheap, mass-produced, uniform, low-quality undergarments that have to be replaced regularly, I’ve found that sewing panties and boxer shorts, for people both big and small, really isn’t that hard. You can sew underwear from your own stash fabric–even scraps, for kids’ underwear!–or from awesome thrifted clothing, and the results are unique, way cheaper than store-bought, and often sturdier, since they can be made from higher-quality fabrics and sewn with care.

To make your own upcycled undergarments, check out these patterns and tutorials from around the web.

bra and panties sewn from upcycled scarf

T-shirt Panties: There are a lot of upcycled T-shirt tutorials floating around the web, but this upcycled T-shirt panties tutorial from The Zen of Making is one of the best. The panties are on the simple side, which is great for whipping out a ton at a time, and with the cardboard pattern that the tutorial walks you through drafting, you’ll be able to make yourself a new pair whenever a fabulous thrifted shirt comes your way.

T-shirt Boxer Briefs: My guy is going to be horrified when he find out how I’ve shared with the world his preference for boxer briefs. Sewing boxer briefs from an upcycled T-shirt is much the same as sewing T-shirt panties, as this upcycled boxer briefs tutorial from This Busy Mommy shows. The construction of boxer briefs is more complicated than panties, but still do-able, even without a serger. In fact, I have a whole list of sewing machine stitches to use with jersey knit.

Boxer Shorts: Boxer shorts can be even easier to sew than panties and boxer briefs, because you likely won’t use jersey knit or other stretchy, fussy fabrics for them. This unisex boxer shorts pattern and tutorial from Craft Passion calls for a yard of cotton fabric, which can be acquired from piecing together a couple of complementary men’s dress shirts, or from a thrifted long skirt or dress.

Bra and Panties from a Scarf: For a matching set of bra and panties that are silky-soft, check out our own tutorial here at CAGW for sewing a bra and panties from an upcycled scarf. You know how big scarves can be, so even the bustiest of us with our nice, wide hips can sew ourselves a set from a single scarf.

Children’s Underwear: Sometimes you may want to sew a pair of underpants, but you don’t want to work from an existing pair. Kids, for instance, are always growing, and if you use underwear that already fits them to draft your pattern for a new set, then they’ll have grown out of them before you finish that last seam. For kid clothes, I like to use the hand-crafted clothing patterns that are available to purchase on etsy. This particular children’s undies sewing pattern from thatdarnkat that I’ve been using for almost a year, for instance, lets me sew panties one size up from my daughters’ current sizes, almost entirely from scraps of T-shirts, sheets, and jersey knit left over from other projects.

[patterned boxers image via Shutterstock; scarf bra and panties image by Leslie Richard, used with attribution]



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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • http://this-busy-mommy.blogspot.com Mirja

    Thanks so much for featuring my tutorial and all the other wonderful tutorials!

  • Courtney

    How funny! Here’s an anecdote on the flip side: When my children were young, there was a flannel sheet set with snowmen that I coveted so but never bought. The next year we traveled to Pakistan to visit family. A street vendor (very common there) was selling undies, and in the stacks were little girls undies make with that same fabric! For mere pennies! Imagine how silly I looked giggling and bouncing in the middle of the sidewalk in a foreign country over some so silly as underwear. (The sheets were obviously manufactured there,)

  • http://www.thezenofmaking.com thezenofmaking

    Thanks so much for the feature! Your kind words were much appreciated, and definitely made me blush a little. ;)

  • Laura Conklin

    Thanks so much for the info on sewing undies. I have just been invessigating this possibility for myself and have acquired a couple used books on the topic. It is a good project for plus size people, also. I have found the store bought panties do not last very long any more.

  • Catherine Kilgour

    Interesting I don’t like buying underwater as the styles change too often and they have what I want. Basic cotton undies in something other than white or black that actually fits me. Thanks for posting the links.

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