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Oct 3, 2011

MPB Men's Boxers Sew-Along 1 -- Prep Time!

Good morning, all, and welcome to the MPB Men's Boxers Sew-Along!  I can't wait to get started making myself some new boxer shorts and I hope you feel the same.

NOTE: I'll be working a pace that suits me -- please work at a pace that suits you; there's no rush!

And off we go...

Our goals for today are:

1.  Inspect a pair of RTW boxers, both inside and out, and note seam finishes, elastic insertion, stitch length and type of stitches.

2. Measure the waistband and the rise of our commercially sewn boxers.

3. Prep our fabric: wash, dry, and iron flat. 

1.  The more time we invest in our preparation, the easier it will be to sew our garment.  Today, I want you to inspect closely a pair of ready-to-wear boxers, if you have access to any.  Ideally, this is a pair whose fit we like.

Let's examine how boxers are constructed.  We might not make be making the exact same style of boxers as these, but they can provide a road map.

Here is a pair I've worn for many years, plaid cotton/poly Jockeys.  There's nothing special about these boxers, but they are very well constructed and professionally finished.

Here are a few things I notice that can help me down the road -- and help you too.

a) The fly is lapped left over right, just like a pair of men's jeans.  

b) With the exception of the fly area, the major construction seams are all flat-felled, meaning there are no inside seams that need to be finished.  If you are not flat-felling your seams, you'll want to overcast, serge, or pink your seam allowances.  Raggedy, fraying inside seams are a no-no in men's underwear!

c) The hems are finished with bias seam binding cut from our fashion fabric.   This may or may not be part of your pattern.  I love the way it looks, and you can use contrasting cotton fabric if you want to get creative.

d) The stress points -- the bottom of the fly, and the point where the side seams meet, are finished with a short satin stitch. 

e) The elastic waistband is attached using a straight stitch, though you might want to use a narrow zigzag.

Interesting, right?

2. The measurements that interest me most are the waist and the rise.  Measure the waist with the waistband elastic pulled taut until the fabric lies flat.  Mine measures 36" even though I'm wearing Size 32 boxers.  This extra fabric is what's called ease.  Your pattern may have more or less ease than my Jockeys.  Don't worry if at first your boxers seem too large at the waist before you insert your elastic waistband.  This is part of the ease.

NOTE: Some men will always find boxers too baggy to wear under tight-fitting jeans because of the ease in the boxers.  Without the ease, however, the boxers would likely feel too snug.  It's a trade off.

Next I measure the rise.  This is from the point beneath the groin where the inseam and front seams cross, up to the top of the waistband.  I measure this both front and back.  Both measure  approximately 13.5".

This gives me a good idea of how I'll want my boxers to fit, and I may need to tweak my pattern to accomplish this.

3. Before we start cutting our fabric, we need to prep it.  Cotton fabric needs to be washed, dried, and ironed flat, before we can start cutting and sewing.  If you haven't done this already, please do so.

Sew-alongers, that's all for today! 

As you know, I have created a Flickr group for participants the Men's Boxers Sew-Along.  You can join here (if you're already a member of Flickr) or by emailing me at peterlappinnyc at gmail dot com.  The Flickr group is the best place to ask questions regarding your projects, or to leave comments for others.

Have a great day, everybody!

P.S - Two big Daily Ditches this weekend: this and this!


  1. Fine pair of boxers ,his pair quite hard to replicate on the domestic machine.I see the bias runs all the way from the leg up to the top,need extra fabric for these.Forget zig-zag for the elastic sew top and bottom with straight stitich ,normal size stitch,straight stitch foot, keeping the stretch even.Boxers are great so a more decent way of going comando

  2. Yay! I've been looking forward to this sew-a-long, especially on how to sew the flat-felled seams (now I know that's what they're called!), And The Boy, who is usually VERY dubious when I direct my sewing attentions his way, seems genuinely interested in the outcome. :)

  3. Not having a bloke handy, let alone one who will let me look at his boxers ;) I'm going to use a pattern I picked up for $2 and follow along. I'm keen to try my hand at some advanced (for me) techniques like flat-felled seams. I hope to end up with some well-sewn and comfy summer PJ bottoms for myself.

  4. Uh-oh, now I have to actually get in there and start drafting the boxer pattern for the ones with the yoke and pleats! Yikes.
    By the way, that short satin stitch at the stress points is called a bar tack.
    Love the bias binding but I guess mine will have straight hems like in the photo above.
    Hope I can get this pattern done soon! Want to do better time than I did in the jeans sew along!

  5. it looks like a chain stitch rather than a straight stitch on the boxer waist band. check again.


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