Understanding Undies Part 1: Free Patterns
I want to show you one of my favourite bra's. It's my grey polkadot bra with a full foam cup. Amongst the reasons that I love this, is the fabric. Fabulously soft, pliable bamboo with the cutest little black polka dots on it. Another reason is that I managed to get 3 pleats on each cup, in exactly the same place, no mean feat with such stretchy fabric.
So why am I drawing attention to this particular bra? Well, a number of people have asked if I make matching undies to go with the bras on this site. The answer is a definite 'Yes! Absolutely!', except I have neglected to focus on these until very recently, when I showed you the panties to go with Plum Pretty and with My Thermal Valentine.
I am currently on a journey where panties are concerned, in search of the perfect pant for me. This partly depends on season, mood and amount of left-over fabric, but it's also about ease to throw together. So I scoured the net in search of free patterns in the hope that the perfect pant is out there.
Whether it's a high waist, thong, lacey briefs or cheeky undies, there's lots of options to choose from.
So I decided to test a number of them and share the results with you. I also purchased one to see if it's worth spending some money on a pattern or not.
As this polka dot bra is a favourite, I wanted several pairs pants to match and fortunately I had bought quite a bit of extra for just this eventuality; and by using the same fabric I would also ensure that the results of my testing weren't influenced by the material I was working with.
So here's the shortlist:
So Sew Easy - Lace Undies - Free
Lola from Ohhh Lulu - CAD $10.45
The Lacey Thong from fehrtrade.com
Clear pattern with diagrams that are very helpful
Good description of the 'burrito' method for a seamless crotch
Sizing chart clearly identifying continental European sizes and UK sizes - be aware all North American knicker makers!
The pattern asked for a 3 stitch zigzag on the leg elastic. I'm not a fan of that - perhaps it was the very stretchy bamboo fabric I was using, or I just didn't get my tensions quite right, but the finish was a little wavy. I'd substitute for the regular zigzag next time. To be fair, I found the same in other patterns too.
Pretty good if a thong is your thing. They are certainly very pretty with a low risk of visible panty line (VPL).
Pants Pattern from So, Zo...what do you know.
Style: Hipster panty
I like that Zoe covers making these hipster style pants with a sewing machine, and in separate instructions, using a serger. Techniques such as fold over elastic, lace and regular elastic are all covered and clearly explained.
Sizing is super clear. Continental European, UK, US, Australian, Italian and Japanese are all detailed.
The pattern only calls for jersey or T-Shirt fabric and doesn't detail precisely how much stretch is allowed for in the pattern. This could lead to sizing issues.
This was the favourite with the eldest daughter. Gives good bum coverage without being too high in the waist. Some VPL, so a better fit under jeans.
So Sew Easy - Lace Undies
Style: All lace hipster/higher waisted briefs depending on width of lace used.
Clear pattern, good instructions.
Very quick to make - less than 15 minutes in my case and no fiddly elastic to deal with.
Sizing is very generous. I made the XS and still needed to reduce by a further inch. Perhaps my lace was stretchier at 30% than that of the pattern writer. Make sure you test the pattern as recommended.
It's not clear if the hip measurements are at the widest part of the hip by your hip bone or at the break in the leg, clarification of this would be helpful for the sizing.
Verdict: Easy, pretty and no VPL - just make sure you get your sizing right and you'll love these briefs.
Lola by Ohhh Lulu - the only paid for pattern in the test batch.
Style: Brazilian cheeky undies
Very clear and succinct instructions and pattern.
Great tutorials on the website for changing things up with lace edging at the legs, or a full lace back.
Lovely fit with a little more of your cheeks exposed, making even the flattest of bottoms appear full.
Cons: Hard to find any cons here, but if I were to be picky, it would help with the sizing if the location of the hip measurement was defined, as with the lace undies above.
Verdict: Ohhh Lulu, these are Ohhh So lovely! A real winner and worth the investment in my humble opinion, despite my photo showing something a little misshapen... oh, well there's a better pic further down.
An honourable mention should go to Clothhabit.com's lady shorts. The tutorial is really very clear with excellent notes on stretch and fabric choices. The only reason they are not included in this short list is that my finished pair met an untimely demise at the hands of a bored dog.
To summarise, all the free patterns were certainly very good, however make a draft pair using fabric with a similar stretch before cutting into your very expensive designer fabric only to find it's way too big or small. It's like knitting a swatch, it's a pain, you'd really rather not - but it makes all the difference in the end.
The paid for pattern from Ohhh Lulu is a good investment with excellent online resources to customise your undies.
If you do want to make your own undies, any of these patterns will set you up for success, but if you'd rather not do-it-yourself, come and get measured by a bra maker and have your undies custom made just for you.
In Part 2 of Understanding Undies, what do you when your all-time favourite undies are literally falling apart at the seams...