Brand Spankin' New -- A Copy Your Undies Tutorial

Brand Spankin' New

The road test went well, so over the weekend I made another 4 pair. Awesome!

I blame this whole underwear-making thing on Amy Karol. She just won’t stop making underwear!

But while she’s making pretty little things, I’m making plain functional white cotton panties. Basically, I am motivated by the fact that I have one particular style from Victoria’s Secret that I have been purchasing for *ages* and it looks like they have discontinued this style. AND the last thing I want to have to go shopping for is underwear. So, I thought I’d give it a whirl. And by my calculations, I can make these for about $1.50 per pair (cheaper if I want to buy more elastic at once, but I bought enough for 15 pair this time).

Basic info:

1. I bought my elastic from Lace Heaven. I used E519 for the waistband (5/8″ plush on both sides) and E455 (3/8″) for the legs. However, I don’t see the E455 on their web site right now (I hope it’s not discontinued!).
2. I used t-shirts from the Goodwill. I looked for the largest ones I could find in the men’s department that appeared to have never been worn, that I could hopefully get one cut out from the front of the shirt and one from the back, and that were included in the half price sale they were having that day! If you actually like the design on the t-shirt, you could consider cutting it out so the design is on the front or back. Note how I cut around the Budweiser logo in the photos below. You’ll never see a Bud logo on *my* bum!
3. Elastic and I are not old friends. I have used elastic very little in my lifetime. I have also never sewn with t-shirt fabric before. I eventually got the hang of it and you will too. As a bonus, this is a very forgiving project. After all, not too many people are going to see them.
4. I like the Clover chalk with the little wheel that you’ll see in the first photo below. It glides easily over the stretchy t-shirt fabric instead of pulling like pencils do. Try it!
5. This is all based on my copying a pair of cotton underwear and making more cotton underwear. If you are trying to copy something that isn’t very stretchy to some kind of fabric that is stretchy, all bets are off.

Making the Template:

(sorry, no photos of this part!)

1. Use a pair (or two) of old underwear. You will need to cut these up. I saved two pair (of the same style) that I decided needed to be thrown away, just so I could use them for this purpose.
2. In order to figure out what size and shape to cut the fabric, remove the elastic from the old pair and cut the sides where the seams will have to be added so that you can lay it out flat. Don’t stretch it or anything. Just lay it down flat. It will probably look huge (mine did)! That’s because the elastic is no longer holding it all in. Trace around this onto something that’s easy to make adjustments to, like paper, Swedish tracing paper, or whatever.
3. You will also need to make a template of the extra gusset piece where it is doubled up at the crotch. I cut this from the second old pair to make it easier (make sure you’ve removed the elastic). Same deal as above — lay it on your paper and trace around it.
4. Look at the elastic that you cut off the waist and legs. How much fabric is still attached to the elastic? You’ll need to go back to your templates and add back in that width to those edges.
5. At the sides where you’ll be adding a seam that never existed before, add an additional 5/8″ of an inch (if you want to follow my instructions below) for the seam allowance.
6. On the main fabric piece, mark the general locations of where the gusset is supposed to be attached.
6. Measure the length of the elastic you removed from the waist and the legs. If your new elastic is similarly stretchy, then the same length should work just fine. I ended up shortening my leg elastic by a couple of inches because my new stuff wasn’t as stretchy, but the waist elastic length was fine.

Tip: Once you’ve tested out your pattern — and made adjustments to it as necessary — create a version of your template pieces on some heavy duty plastic so that you can use it over and over and over again! πŸ™‚

Making Your Undies:

I want to say right here that I set my machine for woven medium and did not use any sort of stretch or knit settings or stitches. I used white cotton thread (not dual-purpose) with an 80/12 jeans/denim needle and the zig-zag foot. Just so you know. πŸ™‚

Pre-wash your t-shirts before you cut them! I can’t imagine anything more depressing than making your own underwear and then having them shrink in the washer. Even if the t-shirts say pre-washed, wash them (besides, if you’re like me and got them at the Goodwill, who knows where they’ve been?).

Because I find it kind of confusing to refer to the “right side” and “wrong side” of this project, I have used the terms “inside” and “outside”. I’m pretty sure we all know the inside of our undies from the outside!

1. Cut 1 of each of the two template pieces. Remember to mark where the gusset piece goes.
Cut the pieces

2. Attach the gusset piece to the inside of the main piece using a zig-zag stitch, backstitching at both ends.
Attach the two pieces

3. Place outsides of main piece together and sew side seams using a 5/8″ seam allowance. I use a straight stitch for this. Trim the seam allowance to about 1/4″, fold toward the back of the undies, and then use a zig-zag stitch to stitch down the seam allowance (sorry — failed to get a photo of that last part!).
Sew side seam

4. Cut waist elastic to the length you measured (mine was 22 3/4″) plus a little extra for overlapping (so, I cut at about 23 1/2″). Mark your measured length (again, for me 22 3/4″). Overlap the ends of the elastic so that one end is placed at the mark on the other end and use a zig-zag stitch to make a loop of your elastic. I found it helpful to use a wider zig-zag stitch here. Backstitch at the ends and then trim off any extra elastic tail.
Make elastic loop

*It’s helpful at this point to set up your sewing machine for the free-arm mode, if you can.*

5. Place waist elastic on the outside of the underwear fabric around the top edge (in the photo below the soon-to-be-undies are inside out). From the outside you should see only elastic, and not the raw edge of the fabric. Pin the elastic evenly around the opening (I used 8 pins). The fabric should only come about half-way up the elastic (see next step).
Pin on elastic

6. Sew on the elastic using a zig-zag stitch, pulling the elastic taught as you sew. If possible, place the stitching so that it both overlaps the edge of the fabric and lies close to the bottom of the elastic. This will (hopefully) help keep the elastic from flipping up on you later. Backstitch at the ends. If you look closely at the picture below, you’ll see that I’m not always successful at this, but I don’t consider it a deal-breaker, just something to aim for.
Sew elastic

7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the leg elastic. I used a 15″ length plus a little extra for the overlap. Also, this time instead of pinning it evenly all the way around, I did it so that most of the elastic stretch (in other words, less elastic to more fabric) would be on the bottom half of the leg and around the bottom of the bum in the back, and not around the top of the leg opening (hopefully you can see this in the image below). I saw this tip on the web in a discussion on how to make bathing suits. It helps it stay put where it has the most trouble staying put, if you know what I mean.
Pin on leg elastic

8. Attach label, if desired. Mine are printed onto printable fabric and then cut out and sewn on with a straight stitch. This is the most fun part and makes it easiest to tell the inside from the outside in the wee hours of the morning before you’ve had your caffeine, so I highly recommend not skipping this step!

Attach label

Enjoy your custom drawers!

Custom Drawers

If you have any questions about this, let me know. This is kind of long, but I tried to include all the tips I could, because it took me some time to figure out things like that I needed to cut the elastic off to trace the fabric of the old pair, how to figure out what length elastic to use (I know, seems obvious now!), and that I needed to be pulling the elastic as I sewed (told you I’m not used to sewing with elastic!).

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51 comments to Brand Spankin’ New β€” A Copy Your Undies Tutorial

  • This is the most awesome thing ever. I am bookmarking for sure. It’s hard to find my favorite undies anymore, too, and I hate spending full price on them. And just think — I could find plus size pretty printed t-shirts for more fun.

  • I love it! Thanks for the link for the elastic, not easy to find nice elastic for underwear here.

    I especially like that you found a new use for the t-shirt! I love Goodwill!

    I’ll be trying this!

  • Love this! One thing that you might find helpful – try a universal needle or a ball point needle. Jeans and sharps needles are made to go through woven fabrics so they’re very pointy. Universal needles are less pointy, and ball point needles even less so. When you’re sewing knits, you want to separate the threads when the needle goes through (this helps prevent snags and runs), so rounded needle point works better.

  • Wow — I appreciate so much that you took the time to do this tutorial — your instructions and tips are so clear. My favorite underwear looks just like this, so I am definitely going to the Goodwill this week to check out the t-shirts. Thanks!

  • Wow, these tips are fantastic! You thought of everything! Thanks so much for sharing all you’ve learned, this is just wonderful. I’ll be linking.

  • This is AWESOME! Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Thanks for posting this! I can’t wait to try making my own undies.

  • Tiffany

    AWESOME tutorial! Thanks! I found ya over here from Fireflies and Jellybeans. I don’t know that I’m ready to make my own undies just yet (I’ve only been sewing for about 3 months) but I would LOVE to try it! πŸ™‚

  • Sheila

    Thanks for all the details and great photos. This is just what I was looking for!

  • Cristina

    Wow, gracias la idea esta fantastica, .

  • Sharo

    Dios te bendiga eres simplemente una maravilla, debes agradecerle a Dios ese don definitivamente,gracias por compartir.

  • Katie Lynne

    Oh, jeez! This is so groovy. Thank you so much for publishing this tutorial. I can’t wait to dig out the super soft cotton knits I bought ages ago–this is just perfect…^..^

  • this tutorial looks great. thanks for putting your drawers out there for us! πŸ˜‰

  • I just came across this tutorial on your site and you really make this look so easy. I might have to give it a try…

  • Christian

    Thank you very much for this article. A few days ago I had a dream of me making sexy underwear for women. πŸ™‚
    Being a man and having no sewing machine will make it a bit difficult for me to follow your steps, but at least now I know where to go for advice.

  • Bearpawquilter

    I am surprised you didn’t use a stretch needle. If I don’t use one in my Husq +1 when sewing on knits I get skipped stitches and thread breakage. Thanks for the tute – I might try this.

  • Thank you so much for taking the time — awesome important subject.
    Member of ASGSJ Chapter. Heard about Bobbins N. through Penwag — another Guild.

  • Candace Cox

    I have always wanted to make my own undies–it’s hard for me to find the style I like too.
    I have found brand new t-shirts at the “99c only” store. They are brand new and I found some mens 2XL; each may make several several pairs!

    Tnanks so much for your tutorial!

  • betty

    this is something i have wanted to make made it so simple to follow the pattern.thank you ever so much.i’m gonna try these real soon.i’ll let u know how they turn out
    thanks again

  • Suzanne

    Very cool. I have made undies for years and they are very inexpensive to make. One thing though, the most amount of stretch should go around the body so it would be better to turn your pattern half a turn. That way they won’t “grow” in length while wearing. Also, by having the stretch go around they stay in place better when sitting.

  • gert

    I also want to make my own briefs, it’s a cool idea, I’m am a man, can you also publish a pattern of a men’s briefs please?

    • Jen

      Amy has made a great tutorial & you could use the same process to make mens undies using one of your own. I have always used a ballpoint needle when sewing knit fabric, the needle will glide thru your material without pulling. Also, the stretch of the fabric always goes around the body.
      Hope this helps.

  • Kathy

    I’ve made undies and swimsuits for years. I like to use the “clear” elastic and wrap the fabric around it. That way there is less chafing and binding, especially in the inner leg area. You would probably have to add about a half inch of “seam allowance” on the edges.

    • Jeannine


      Where do you get ‘clear’ elastic? Do you purchase it from a particular website and could you publish that? I am very interested. Thank you! Have a good day!

  • Katherine

    Greetings from Australia.

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have been looking for an easy to follow directions all over the internet.

    Now I can stop looking. At the shops, even the full price undies are badly made and finished and don’t last long.

  • Katherine

    Reading now the post before mine (from Kathy), maybe you can do a similar tutorial for a one piece swimsuit or two pieces (not bikini though), as I like modest swimwear in my twilight years πŸ™‚

  • Jay

    Thank you for this tutorial! I should think we all know that sinking feeling of finding well fitting undies and the finding they have been discontinued. I hate clothes shopping, particularly underwear and have just started making my own. Your tutorial covers all the bits you need to know; thanks again.

  • Sue

    I really enjoyed your tutorial. It was very clear. One more tip, when sewing the elastic, sew it to the wrong side upside down, stich near the bottom, then flip it to the right side and stitch it on the bottom (which will be the other side) again, that way you encase the raw edge and your panties last longer, and it’s a more finished look.

  • Lynn

    Wow! I have been surfing patterns for a few hours so I’m not even sure how I got to this site now. But, I’m glad I did. I am going to check out the lace link and go to Goodwill, Volunteers, & other second hand stores I frequent ASAP. I like my undies to have a design so I think besides t-shirts, I will check out the ladies & kids knit tops, skirts, dresses, etc, to see what kind of designs I can find such as florals, etc., Thanks so much for posting this pattern.

  • Sheila

    Thank You! I am glad to see this, VS panties are dropping in quality lately. This will be a nice alternative. Plus my 2 daughters lately been complaining of the way panties are fitting lately. They haven’t changed sizes either.

  • Jenny

    I can’t believe you read my mind. I’ve been daring to make my own panties but afraid they’d come out worse than the ill fitting ones you buy and cost alot. Thank you sooo much for the tute. I know what I’m doing tonight.

  • Kathy

    Thank you for this pattern, I am ordering the elastic and getting started. Panties are so expensive now I am delighted to find this practical and pretty way to make my own.

  • Angela

    To make these even cheaper you could use the t-shirt material sheets from the thrift store. I’ll be making myself some camo undies.

  • Angela

    You could also use knit fabric from the fabric store. You can sometimes get funky colors or pattern on super clearance. You could also use the jersy knit bed sheets. I got a full set for 2 bucks (50% off day). I guess I’ll be making myself some camo undies. I need new one so this is perfect, all I need is elastic.

  • Susan Ramsay

    Make a circle from your elastic the size of your waist or hips, wherever your panites will fall, and a tiny bit smaller. IE; 30 inch waist, make it about 29 or 29.5. Mark front and back. refold and mark sides. 4 marks. Then do the same with the panties. Pin at the marks and sew, stretching from both the front and the back. Sometimes I get a fold leftover in one section, but just sew over it. It won’t affect the fit or the look.

  • So glad I bumbled upon your tutorial! I must make maternity undies for myself and cannot bring myself to purchase anymore.
    Thanks so much!

  • Sue

    About 30 years ago Kwik Sew had a panty pattern for little girls, I had just learned about sewing with knits and making t-shirts; I made her matching panties out of the scraps from making her shirts. It was so much fun but I see now that I didn’t need that pattern at all!

  • I read this tutorial and loved it. I Bought elastic and used a lot of old used T-shirts I had by my house. You canΒ΄t imagine the quantity of undies I have now. They look fantastic. Thanks very much for giving your time and knowledge to people you donΒ΄t know

  • Hilary Ellert

    How about using FOE (fold over elastic) Anybody try that yet? I just bought a bunch, some with cute colors (primarily with baby items in mind…the kind that is used on cloth diapers). I’ll try it and get back with you πŸ˜‰

  • Jan

    For years I exclusively bought Victoria Secret french cut cotton undies. Many years ago they changed the pattern and quality of materials. What a shame! Recently, it dawned on me to make my own. So I searched the internet and there was your tutorial! Thank you so much for sharing!!
    By the way, I can’t find either of the elastics you mentioned, on Lace Heaven! I read that in 2011, two elastic manufacturers went out of business… Do you know where I can find them?

  • christina

    Bloody Brilliant! Great tutorial.

  • This is the best (and easiest) way to make panties I’ve found. Others made it seem so complicated. I’ll definatly give it a try now.

  • Kim

    this is a wonderful tutorial! I’ve used it to make a couple pairs now and it works great and I’m actually very thrifty or my husband would say I’m very cheap Lol but I’ve used the elastic from my old pairs of underwear & it’s worked perfectly fine. I admit it’s very fiddly taking a seam ripper and getting all of the old fabric off but for now since I don’t have the money to get elastic I just use what I have. And I’m definitely going to be trying the fold over elastic when I can afford it!

  • Mary

    I’m so excited to find this! I couldn’t find the elastic that was suggested. Any suggestions on current sources of elastic?


  • Gloria Fells

    I made panties from my spouses old t-shirts and its been about 4 years, They are starting to get ratty and I need to make more. Loved your tutorial. I guess I should add that at that time I made about a dozen and some are tricot. The cotton ones get more wear. If you can get a serger. It really whips them out. Keep up the recycling. Really good job.

  • JD

    This is a great tutorial. I will definitely be trying this out. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Michelle Ford-Copley

    SO excited to try this.

  • This is great. Since I retired, I have gained a little…well, ok, a lot, of weight. lol My undies are getting a bit tight. I can never find what I want in the stores. Now I can make them just the way I want. Thanks!!

  • Kathi

    I just saw this tutorial today.I have been making my own undies for years,so easy.You all are correct in saying that store bought ones aren’t what they used to be.For me personally,store bought ones never fit correctly,always too narrow in the crotch,and if i wanted “G” strings that’s what i would have bought.But i like plain old granny panties(briefs) so i make my own.

    Now for those of you that want to try this,you can also go to the .99cent store,dollartree etc,because from time to time they have bins of good quality,and some not so good,quality t-shirt for .99 to 1.00 that are brand new,and logo free.

    I buy these all the time and use them not only for panties,but for leggins for my ggd.I cut the pieces so that i incorporate the hems for the leggins so that when i sew them the hems are already in them.

    Remember you are limited only by your imagination!!
    Happy sewing to all.

  • Tammy

    Thanks so much cause I have wanted todothis for age and didn’t knowit is so easy! I have to use white cotton is what my doctor said cause I get bladder infection so often. Anyway so glad I found you!

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