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Nov 19, 2012

Mondays in my Undays—er—Undies!

Readers, I'm finished!  I now have a lovely new pair of men's cotton boxers.

I attached the elastic early this morning and it went in (on?) without a hitch.  I like the sport elastic I used a lot.  I'd purchased a 25 yd. roll on Amazon — the brand is Stretchrite — and it's very lightweight and soft to the touch.

The elastic used on the Jockey boxers is something entirely different.  It looks like a band of thin rubber encased in a soft knit.

Anyway, I measured my elastic (the degree of snugness is a matter of personal taste) and stitched the ends together at roughly 1/2", then finger pressed the seam open.  I folded the top of the boxers down roughly 1/2" and ironed the edge flat.  Rather than pin my elastic into my boxers (first dividing it into quarters), I stitched it vertically — that way I didn't have to worry about pins coming loose.

Then I just stitched the elastic down along the edges and in the channels — five rows total.  After experimenting with straight stitches and narrow zigzags, I decided to use the zigzag — the elastic remains nearly as stretchy as it was on the roll, which is great.  As far as the way the zigzag looks on a waistband (I'm usually not crazy about it — Becky Home-ecky), my zigzag is so narrow that you can barely tell it's a zigzag at all.

Since the elastic was already stitched down at those four points, I didn't have to worry about pins coming out when I pulled the elastic taut as I stitched it to the fabric.

So, having finished this pair — my first in a year -- here are some things I would do differently next time:

1) The pattern is designed to have 3/8" seam allowances for some reason.  I'd widen these to 5/8" where the two sides come together under the fly, and where front and back are joined.  A wider seam makes nicer looking flat-felled seams, imo.

2) I mistakenly made the flat-felled seam under the fly so it falls on the right front side instead of the left.  It's a minor point, but it should end up on the left, so the topstitching on the seam runs right up into the left fly topstitching.

It also really should be made with the flat-felled seam on the wrong side of the fabric (like on a shirt) rather than on the outside (like on jeans) — again, a minor point, but if the seam is on the inside, the top of the seam (admittedly nearly invisible) won't be exposed.

3) I ended up needing to cut 1" off the top of the boxers so the rise wouldn't be quite so deep; I should have made the change to my pattern a long time ago.

4) Since the bias tape must also encase the side seams, you cannot attach the bias tape on the wrong side first and fold it over to the front.  It must be attached from the front (right) side and folded over onto the wrong side (otherwise known as the inside).  So if you're making your own bias tape, you might want to make the folded over edge a little wider, so it's easily caught when you "stitch in the ditch" from the outside. Does that make sense?

Alternatively, you can just edgestitch on the bias tape, which should easily catch the underside.

5) Finally, I left about 1/4" fabric visible above the elastic on the inside of the waistband.  Next time I'd leave just 1/8" for a more RTW look.

I guess I really should make another pair of these while this is all fresh in my mind.  I hope this has been helpful for some of you — and thanks for your many suggestions, too.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. These are so cute! Great job!!

  2. Thanks for all the info. These turned out great!! I really appreciate the tip of stitching the elastic vertically first instead of pinning - brilliant. It kills me when my pin comes loose in the midst of sewing.

  3. Cute! So worth it to have the shorts you want!

  4. Very nice Peter. Great job.

  5. Great job, great elastic choice, and I love, love your tip on stitching the elastic in place rather than pinning equilaterally! I will so be doing that in the future.

    Suggestion for fixing the rise fit. I think you'll find that you'll get a much better fit if you shorten the rise on the pattern at the horizontal line through the crotch, your boxer pattern probably isn't marked with it, but if you have a trouser pattern it will have it.

    To determine this measurement, sit on a firm chair and have a helper measure up from the chair to desired waist line point, add 1/2" to 3/4" ease depending on how loose or fitted the pattern is. You're slim and the boxers are full so less will be better.

    Love your posts and Boldlyness!

    1. You'd take this out of the front and the back, right?

  6. Those turned out great. I really love the fabric you used too.

  7. Gorgeous! Here's a related treat from kiwi TV - starring a seriously hot guy, always a bonus!

  8. Shapely and stylish; you may make a boxer man out of this briefs guy, yet.

  9. One of the things I love about your blog is the way you are so willing to experiment, ask for and take advice, and all the practical information I garner - from you and all the comments :). Great boxers...I am in the midst of playing with the female equivalent - Tap Pants, which I've variously heard referred to as scanties or step-ins.

  10. Great undies! Thanks for the vertical stitching tip - all these years and I never even thought of doing that! Super nice work.

  11. Ok, the vertical stitching to mark quarters is brilliant. I'm totally using that!

  12. Yes, GREAT tip! Now if I could only find some of that ELASTIC! I can NOT believe how hard it is to find decent elastic for men's underwear around here! There is a WALL of elastic on offer at the local fabric store but NONE of it is suitable for the task!>shakes head<

    Oh, and you did a FAB job on those undies, Peter! Frankly, I HATE boxers (I'm from the generation that saw them as grampy-pants) but those actually look GOOD! I guess it's all in the FIT!

  13. great undies and super idea on sewing instead of pinning the elastic. I will try to remember that one. Ps. i always make things in duplicate. That way I can remember the details that work or figure out something better.


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