Sewing Vloggers

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

About making our undies...............


It has recently become pretty obvious that I could use some serious batch making of undies. That got me thinking a lot about the process, which really is so simple. I also thought a lot about the pattern and design, both in sewing and in retail. I looked long and hard at what was available on line and in the store, including my own undie supply of purchased pants.  I refuse to use the "P" word, just don't like it. 

My deep thought brought forth two questions. 

"Why does the front of the crotch gusset end in the middle of the crotch directly under my lady bits and not further up where, frankly, I think it belongs?"

"Why does the front edge of the crotch gusset stay open? Is it to grab profit margin at the manufacturing level?  Does something get stuffed in there I never learned about? (Stop laughing.) Really. "

I went where all sewists seeking knowledge go --- to the Worldwide Masses of Sewists on Pattern Review. It abounds with opinions, multiple levels of experience and always a lot of interest. My visit was well rewarded.  What ensued is now up to 14 pages of incredible information regarding making our own underpants, PRICELESS INFORMATION.  I highly suggest a visit there and you can see it all here.   In the meantime, so much is helpful that I thought it would be nice to sort it all out and organize the info on this blogpost along with some  linkable recommendations. 

Links to actual recommended patterns for underpants:

The Julia Pattern from Jalie 

Zero Waste Underpants from Liz Haywood

The Smoothie Pattern from Jan Bones

Pattern with an ostomy option from Jalie

Kwik Sew 2908 - High Cut Leg

Olive Undies - Full bum,  high cut leg

Maternity undies w/ scooped out tummy

Daisy Briefs, full coverage, higher front gusset

Ohhh Lulu Grace panties for wovens and knits, bias front to back

Muna and Broad, Kapunda Undies "designed specifically to fit large bodies, high rise"

The Rad Panel Undies, lots of style options on one pattern

The Floozy Doozy Undies, paneled and low cut legs

These are in order as they appeared in the PR thread or given to me later. 

Great Teaching Videos

Three styles of undies from Tom Kat Stitchery 

Liz Sews DIY panties from measurements

Sewing Lingerie Elastics with Liz Sews,  I learned a lot on this one. 

How to Sew Elastic for Underwear from Sew Sew Live

Great Tips

-Measuring the gusset and other brilliant measuring lessons are found in this link.
-Merino Wool makes a great gusset.
-Black or red cotton knit recommended for gussets of those concerned about staining as in blood.
-It's OK to keep the leg elastic flat on flat parts of your anatomy. No need to stretch.
-It's Ok to put side seams on the outside if they bother your tender skin. I will.
-Sergers make lumpy seams and many prefer a narrow zigzag on the machine instead.
-It's OK to machine sew the gusset and then grade the seam allowance, much less bulk than serging.
-The Underpinnings Museum
is a great place for ideas and you will be there a long time. 
- The Liz Sews undies are really exquisite bits of lingerie. Make sure you visit her site listed above under teaching video links. 

Please read  Pattern Review for a great discussion on elastics, fabric advice, patterns, stitching choices and pages of so much more. It's fascinating with  wonderful contributions from so many.  I hope you've enjoyed some of these links and the conversation that preceded this post. It was a bit of work to put it together but it helps me as well as you so we all benefit.  I will add more links and tidbits as they appear. Thank you to all on PR who so kindly and generously answered my question and shared their opinions. Now, why do you think the gusset is only sewn on one end and is so short?

ETA: I have added this post to the Tutorial Page above.


  1. Bunny, brilliant, and thank you for doing our homework. A friend and I were discussing this very subject recently. RE the why of the open gusset. The only thought that made sense was that apparently there are a lot of people allergic to mini pads for incontinence. However, you would still have a moisture problem. Allergy to the panty liners, polyester or other fabric in panties, as well as slacks really is very gross. After a few hours with these items my lady parts are as bright as a beet; but the manufacturers need to know the gussets are not full enough or long enough, if they see that as the reason for the upper gusset.

    1. I really think the only reason we are getting short shrift on the length of the gussets is greed. It was a while ago but having worked in the corporate end of the garment business I know how they grab profit in any way possible, usually from starting trends, trends that add to the bottom line. You can get a lot more shorter gussets out of a yard of fabric than you can longer gussets. When you are cutting thousands of gussets a day, it all adds up. It is just so aggravating. I will hasten to add that our undies are also designed by men. I don't know that for a fact but would not hesitate to bet the farm on that one, just based on the reality of their length.

    2. I heard that the reason for open gussets is to prevent a seam rubbing on tender parts. And if it is sewn and turned, then having it lower down may rub less than if it were more forward?

  2. Muna & Broad has a great underpants pattern for plus sizes but will grade any size for you. They offer a wider, longer gusset as well as addressing other fitting problems. If you are over a size 12 please check out all their patterns, so well designed! I have no affiliation with them, just a fan.

    1. I will look them up and add them to the list. Thank you for letting me know about them.

  3. Thank you so much for asking these questions and collating information! This is very helpful!

  4. Replies
    1. I will add more info as I come across it.

  5. Lol, I made myself a batch of undies a while ago and asked myself these very questions! I love sewing the panel undies from Rad patterns as they have smaller pattern pieces and are great for stash busting.

    1. I just added them to the list. I like this pattern as I think the panels give great design play options. You also get the choice of rise on this pattern as opposed to buying a whole different pattern from the same designer just to get a different rise. Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. Thank you, for all the research and sharing your findings with us. I've been dissatisfied with store bought undies for a long time... but haven't made any for myself. I will give them a try this month.

    1. They are so easy. Read that PR thread to get a good handle on things. I suggest the Acacia free pattern to get your feet wet and a watch of the video from Tom Kat Stitchery to get you off on the right foot with knowledge of the various choices. She's a great teacher.

  7. can I also recommend adding under Learning Videos the Liz Sews video (on You Tube) about how to sew lingerie elastic. It's super good, and I don't think it's linked in the PR thread. It's directed towards sewing bras, but she clearly explains using different kinds of elastics that are suitable for the P garment. Liz Sews also has a very useful video about how to change up a basic undie pattern to make other styles. Thanks for compilation of patterns and info, highly useful!

    1. I just watched your recommended video. I learned a lot. Great information on elastics that applies to undie making or any lingerie making. I am going to put it on the list. Thank you for the recommendation.

  8. So true about the gusset length, I thought I was built differently than others. Thanks for the valuable resources.

  9. The answer to the short gusset that you will ALWAYS get in industry is that nobody wants the gusset to show from the outside. Why isn't the gusset stitched in front? "Because nobody wants it to show from the outside." Why is the gusset so short? "Because nobody wants it to show from the outside."

    I was a buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue in the lingerie department in NYC. Customers asked for "more cotton up front" in panties but I couldn't get our manufacturers to adjust their patterns.

    I was a Product Manager at Victoria's Secret. Same story. I wouldn't even wear my own product. Even though I got unlimited amounts of free samples, I made my own panties.....with "more cotton up front".

    I'm hopeful things will change now that industry/advertising is so much more open about leakage/staining/period-undies etc. Because on the daily, all that most women want is just a bit "more cotton up front". Think of all the wastage of panty-liners used due to panties with stupidly short gussets!

    1. That is so enlightening, Janet. Thank you so much for your knowledge. I think of all the money I've wasted on panty liners and the millions that are in landfills everywhere. I make my own now and no going back. Yes, all we want is a little more cotton up front.

  10. I think the gusset is so short because that leaves a clean front look, without a prominent seam line higher up. Important when you have a print or lace that will be disrupted. Of course it's also saving them fabric. I do the burrito method to enclose the gusset, but that would be adding several minutes to construction to add that to factory made knickers, which is what we call them here in Aus. I can't stand "panties" either. Seems to have sexual connotations to me.

  11. Thanks for this! I gave up bought undies last year and I’ll never go back. My favorite right now is the Kiki brief from Sinclair Patterns. You can mix and match pattern pieces for the right fit. They’re terrific.

  12. Wonderful post. Thank you very much. I will pour over every resource. Having significant sensory pain in the nether regions and being allergic to elastic for the last 15 years has forced me to sew my own undies. I’ve never understood why the designs are made to be tiny torture chambers. Short, open gussets, seems against sensitive skin? Seriously who wants that? Look forward to all your posts and your wealth of knowledge. Thanks again. Pamela

    1. Late, but glad to help, Pamela. I get you on the sensory issues. As one ages, one's skin gets thinner and far more sensitive. It very easily scratches and hurts. I am definitely going to sew my side seams on the outside as that is where my sensity seems worse, perhaps those serger seam lumps just are too lumpy for my comfort. Thanks for your comment.


Engaging commentary:

A Vintage Top

  It was a windy day! Hair fail! If you are a fan of Threads Magazine , and any passionate sewist should be, you will recognize this top. It...