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Oct 4, 2011

MPB Men's Boxers Sew-Along 2 -- Pattern Prep and Fabric Cutting!

Welcome, Sew-Alongers and lurkers!  As you can see above, boxers patterns generally aren't complicated -- often just two pieces -- but there's definitely more to them than meets the eye.  Today we're ready to prepare our pattern and start cutting our fabric!

Our goals for today are:

1.  Cut out our pattern (if it needs cutting out), iron it flat, and inspect pattern and instructions carefully.

2.  Prepare our fabric for cutting.

3.  Cut our fabric!

1. Now, I know some of you are using multi-sized patterns for this sew-along, so you may have an additional step that I don't have.  My mid-Seventies pattern is just one size -- conveniently enough, mine -- so while I have to cut my pattern out, I don't have to make any sizing decisions.

If you're using a multi-sized pattern and you're not entirely sure what pattern size you need (say, Small or Medium), I recommend tracing the pattern size you think you need and leaving the original pattern as-is.  That way, should you need to trace a different size in the future, you'll be able to.  (The pattern envelope should state clearly the measurements for each of the sizes included in the pattern, but you won't know until you make the pattern if there's too much ease for your taste, for example.)

I use yellow tracing paper sold by the roll at my local art supply store.   You can use wax paper, other kinds of craft paper: anything that allows you to trace should work.  Be sure to transfer all the markings on the original pattern to your traced copy, including the size traced.

For my first pair of boxers, I'm making View "D" on my pattern envelope -- the red boxers with bias trim (though mine won't be red, alas).

The first thing I do -- and please don't skip this step, friends -- is to read the instructions carefully and inspect the pattern closely.  Does it all make sense?  Do you understand what the lines, dots, and language on the pattern mean?  If you don't, ask!

My pattern is just two pieces.  One piece (the back, # 22, above) will be cut just once, on the fold of the fabric (fabric is folded parallel to the selvage), while the other (#21, below) is cut twice, but not the fold.

Review the instructions.  Are you familiar with the sewing techniques involved?  If you're not, read about them in a sewing book, and take a sample piece of fabric and try them out (a flat-felled seam would be a good example of this).   My pattern calls for the use of bias tape, which I make myself from my fashion fabric.   Yours may not, but rather require a basic hem.

The fly area is going to be the most complicated part of any men's boxers project.  Do you understand how it will be created?  Even though the left and right fronts of my boxers use the same pattern piece, the fold lines for the fly facing are different for each side.  Is this true of your pattern?  If so, pay attention when you're copying markings to your cut fabric.

Make sure you don't get your right and left fronts confused.  My fabric is the same back and front, so it's easy to get the left and right fabric pieces, and right and wrong sides of my fabric, confused.

Before I lay my pattern down on my fabric, it must be flat.  I generally iron my paper pattern on a low setting, always with the steam turned off.  Please don't steam your pattern!

2.  Here's the selvage of my fabric, and you can see from it that this is very tightly woven cotton shirting.  Do you know where your selvage is?

My fabric is ironed flat.

I lay my fabric down on my self-healing cutting mat.  I cut using an Olfa 60 mm rotary cutter and a green self-healing mat.  I use my fabric shears for cutting any threads that the rotary cutter doesn't get.  NOTE: Never switch body positions with the rotary blade out.  After cutting, immediately retract the blade.

3.  The beauty of striped fabric is that it's easy to find the lengthwise straight edge.

I don't pay much attention to the cutting diagram on my pattern instructions since I have much more fabric than I'll need.  If you have just enough, I recommend checking the diagram so you can see the most economical way to cut your fabric.

I mark my Center Fronts with a tiny snip of the fabric.  You can use pencil or washable crayon, or whatever works for you.

Now, with my pattern cut (except for bias trim), I'm ready to start sewing.

We'll start that tomorrow!

You can leave questions or comments below, or in our Flickr group.  (You can join the group here (if you're already a member of Flickr) or by emailing me at peterlappinnyc at gmail dot com.)  I see some of you are using some pretty wild fabric.  Love it!

How's it going so far?

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. I really need to be in on this. I just promised my husband I'd make his some shorts. Wouldn't you know I'm stuck at home today with no car. I guess I'll just have to fire up the Harley and zip over to Wal-mart for pattern and fabric. Of course I doubt that he'd let me post pictures of him in his undies on the net!

  2. Yippee! I've drafted the pattern from the pattern envelope you showed yesterday. The one with the yoke and pleated front. I'm making pants instead of boxers, got no use for boxers. So now, of course, my stash has nothing I can use so I must shop quickly at the local discount fabric store. I'll catch up soon.


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