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Apr 26, 2014

French Back Boxers REVEAL or "Half-Naked Again"

Yes, that's me up top.  (I think my mother still has that Tonka steam shovel somewhere.)

Friends, if you hadn't seen me in my underwear six hundred times already, today might be more exciting than it is. 

What is exciting -- to me at least -- is that I've finally found a vintage men's boxers pattern that works for me: not too baggy, not too high-waisted (after minor alterations) and not too wacky looking.

The pattern is Simplicity 4149, which dates from 1952.

Like all French back boxer patterns, this one has a two-sided waistband.  The right side passes through a hole in the left side and then both sides button, making the boxers adjustable.

I decided to make a bound buttonhole for the waistband to pass through (my first).  It's definitely more substantial than a regular buttonhole would be.

On the inside the hole looks like this -- all the edges are cleanly finished.

There are also two buttons on the front waistband.

Yesterday, MPB reader Sharon asked what the purpose is of the rear panel (as opposed to a center back seam).  I think the idea is that the panel is less likely to creep into one's you-know-what.  It looks fuller than it is; many boxers are still cut this way.

The back panel is gathered beneath the waistband and there are two pleats on either side in front -- nice details that help make these special.

BTW, you can still find these at Brooks Brothers for just $30.  I say "just" because they're a lot of work.

And that's it!

I spent too long today working on that mint-colored pique robe for my mother, who's coming for lunch tomorrow.  I'd hoped to have it finished but I don't think I'm going to; I need to buy a long separating zipper.   I'll have something for her to try on at least.

Have a great day, everybody!

P.S.  If you're interested in making these or similar French back boxers, check out eBay and Etsy (search under "men's vintage boxers pattern") -- there are quite a few for sale as of today.


  1. Nice. And they'll come in handy if you take up a posing career. No suspect mini thongs for you! I too had wondered about the back panel. I am relieved to hear it does not unbutton.
    Waiting eagerly to see Sonja's latest outfit.

  2. Those are super neat! And how awesome is it to finically find a pattern the is perfect! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I love the waist band construction - and that bound buttonhole is beautiful!

  4. They are a great fit on you. And the fabric looks perfect - actually, just what I've been looking for ages to make PJ bottoms for my husband.


    P.S. We never tire of you posing in your undies.

  5. You know, I don't even sew, but I find this blog utterly charming. :)

  6. Great work that bound buttonhole is fantastic!

  7. They look fantastic! Yes, I think that back panel is good design for practical purposes

  8. You gutless-wonder! Please cover your diet and exercise routine. Your fellow travelers need in on your most slender of secrets.

    Squishy in the middle,


  9. Really fabulous job. The details are awesome. If I was ever tempted to make boxers this would be the pattern and I could only hope to make them as nice as yours.

  10. Love them! I have a pattern for some from the 40s that I'd love to make, but my husband won't wear boxers.

  11. I hadn't noticed the great waistband adjusting details. Wow. These are really cool. Super job on the bound button hole.

    Btw, I did some research on the back panel and learned it is for extra room for moving around (bending over, sitting, yoga, whatever) since the fabric doesn't stretch. Huh. I would have never thought about that. Interesting stuff.

    On another note, have you ever run across a pattern for an old fashion men's bathing suit? My crazy husband wants me to make him a one-piece suit in black and white stripes and I haven't found a pattern I can use. I suppose I could mash together something but I really wanted to find a pattern so I would be able to get authentic details on it.

    1. I failed to add that the extra room provided by the back panel would definitely help prevent the fabric from creeping between the buns. Which, I suspect, was the real reason it ended up being designed that way! Lol

    2. One piece men's suits might have been knitted--I seem to recall knitting patterns for male swimmers in a lot of styles. Not sure what kept the knits from sagging in the water...

  12. These are much more attractive than those other ones with all the gathers in the back. (The ones from the thread that have you in a tuque with your shirt pulled up,and Michael tittering away in the background) That waistband doesn't pinch at all when you sit down? I am thinking one could easily put a bit of elastic into it if need be. And yeah, they look like a LOT of work, especially that bound buttonhole. But they do look GREAT, so well worth it!

  13. they are too gorgeous to hide under your pants.

  14. They are really nice. Beautiful workmanship. I wonder if you could expand them to pajamas or even casual pants..

  15. I sewed pajamas for my invalid father that had seats like this. I guessed they were more comfy for a person who spent a lot of time seated or in bed, no CB seam. The seat was concealed by the pajama top (Dad was an old fashion dresser).

  16. Those are awesome! I have wanted some French back boxers in a pattern fabric for years. Brooks Brothers unfortunately only has solid colors. If you ever decide to sell these (not that particular pair), I'll be one of your customers.


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