I want to show you my knickers

Let’s face it, sooner or later it becomes necessary to buy new underwear. After all, there are only so many years that a pair of knickers will last. And thus, it came the time for me to seek out new undies. My initial thought was that I would shop with Pants to Poverty . Sadly, when I tried to go to their website I found it was no more, and a quick internet search revealed that they have gone to the wall – very sad news, both for ethical shoppers and for the people they were supporting. So what to do? I know of several other companies that sell ‘ethical underwear’, but I had also read quite a lot about making your own… in particular I have read good things about the Scrundlewear pattern from Stitch Upon A Time. Yo may recall that many years ago I wrote a post about the political symbolism of making your own knickers, entitled Civil disobedience is homemade pants! and finally I felt it might be time to take action.


One very elderly t-shirt

I thought about it some more and then decided to buy the Scrundlewear pattern and have a go. One of the clinchers was that there’s a version that requires no elastic and that can be made (at least in part) from old t-shirts. Since I have a big pile of such t-shirts that I plan to use only the fronts of (to make a memory quilt), it seemed like a good opportunity to use up some of the ‘waste’ fabric. As well as cotton jersey, some more stretchy fabric is required, and so I used a black viscose/lycra jersey top that I have expanded out of. I really didn’t want to invest in any new fabric or notions at this stage, this being very much a test run.


the pattern is downloaded as a pdf

So, I set-to with my scissors – I cut out the pattern and the fabric pieces and tried to get my head round the sewing. I’m not a very enthusiastic sewer, but I will do it if I need to. I had a few trial tuns with the fabric and my sewing machine and decided to start by using the stretchy stitch that my machine does… It’s a bit easier to control than a zig-zag stitch and it’s easier to see what you are doing. Although the pattern says you can make a pair of knickers in an hour, I took me considerably longer than this… I suspect that next time will be much quicker.

The Verdict: I chose to start with a pair of what are described as ‘boy shorts’ because these are what I had enough of the stretchy fabric for. I can confirm that they were relatively easy to make. The sewing machine stitch I chose was a mistake – it’s a bit too firm for this use and in future I will use a zig-zag stitch even though that’s not quite so easy to control and I’ll probably need more practice. In addition, I need some ballpoint needles for my sewing machine, as I broke four sharp needles in the process of making one pair of pants. I’ve tried them on and the seem quite comfy, apart from the lack of give in the stitching, but I haven’t worn them for any length of time, so I can’t comment more than superficially. Perhaps the fact that I’ve just ordered some stretchy fabric for the bands is a good indication that I happy with this pattern.

So, probably for the only time ever on this blog, let me show you my knickers…


these are my pants!

They may not be the colours I would have chosen in a shop, but I’m quite pleased with them, especially since the only new component was the sewing thread.

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  1. You are amazing! and you make me smile – a lot!!!! xx

  2. Please imagine a wolf whistle at this point. Will you add some frills next time? This really is most enterprising! Love the whole concept of homemade drawers! Daffy is right, but my smile is reaching chuckle proportions. Dr Snail you are amazing!

  3. Please show us the next pair as well! And any more tips from your experimenting. I like the idea of making my own undies and may now have a use cor some of the stash of tshirt material in my recycling boxes! I had used some for rag rugs but there is still loads left.

  4. These look great! Could you try doing the stitching in a slight zig-zag to give it some stretch?

  5. Ignore last suggestion – just re-read your post!

  6. Brilliant! I’m always impressed when people make knickers, but that has to be the best blog post title I’ve seen in a long time 🙂

  7. And I thought that was a trick heading – 😀 You’ll get all kinds of nefarious lurkers round your blog now Snail, looking for more knickers………. But what a splendid looking outcome for a first try. I would never think of making my own underwear – but given the state of the world, why not! Please do report back on comfortability etc. You’ll have us all making posts with ‘knicker’ headings soon 🙂

  8. Ann

     /  August 16, 2016

    They look fab, well done you! I’m sad about Pants to Poverty, I was planning to use them. I must get on and make some for myself. 🙂

  9. You are so funny! But I love your knickers!

  10. nettyg

     /  August 16, 2016

    Fair trade knickers, who woulda thought? I’ll check them out. Way back in my stay at home mum days I sewed everything…..knickers, bras, kids undies etc I must dig ‘that person’ out and start making my own again. Nice job with yours, look forward to the next installment with patterned knickers.

  11. They look perfectly fine and quite acceptable as undies, and once you’ve got the materials and techniques down pat, they’ll definitely be a ‘quicker knicker’. I like the idea of using recycled materials, but I think this may reduce the useful life of the undies, which is after all the point… So, I’ll just finish with a rhyme straight from the school playground:
    I see Paris, I see France
    I see SoH’s underpants

    • The fabric that I have ordered is organic cotton with 5% lycra and may be a better option for the whole garment, but it’s great to have the old t-shirts to play around with as it’s many years since I last sewed jersey.

      • Save the T shirt ones for days when you need comfort and softness rather than elegance and fit! I do feel a Snail monogram on each pair is almost de rigueur. How about making some ‘Made by Snail’ labels to sew in the back?

  12. Where is the “love” button. You are amazing. And funny, too.

    They look comfy. I made a pair in high school, but haven’ done so since. I hope they work out well for you.

  13. This was a fun post. I’ve been thinking of making my own for years. I have a pattern from stretch and sew. Just scared to try it. We could at one time find good soft elastic and the soft stretch cotton. Not so much anymore. I like the idea of making my own. Just a bit lazy.

  14. I can’t possibly comment on ladies knickers but well done for the execution of them anyway.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

  15. claire

     /  August 17, 2016

    i love the color! well done! (bookmarking the pattern for future needy times)

  16. I love watching Tiny House videos on youtube and, in a recent visit, watched a couple who live off-grid, deciding to do the same thing as you 🙂
    The hubby was the better sewer, and he makes all of his wife’s knickers out of the T-shirts that their children have grown out of, with an old singer sewing machine with a footplate peddle – it’s just one step, like yours, that takes us towards a better way of clothing ourselves – and I love that make-do-and-mend mentality 🙂
    Thanks for the links – I quite like the colour of your new knickers – do post and tell, when you make more with the new material? 🙂

    • Hopefully new fabric will be arriving soon (Aberaeron is not known for purveyors of organic cotton jersey!!) and then I can try out my (limited) skills further.

      • I can’t wait to see the results 🙂
        This idea is great as, if anyone has any kind of sewing skills, they could have their own made-to-measure lingerie 🙂

  1. The Knicker Report | The Snail of Happiness
  2. Knickers to 2016! | The Snail of Happiness

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