4 April 2016

Sewing for men: underwear

What's more ridiculous? The fact that men's underwear costs $15 per pair, or spending an entire day working out the perfect pattern to make undies for your husband?

A few months ago I offered to make undies for my husband, and in return he would tolerate the fact that I was going to blog about them and show the whole world the undies that I was making for him (as long as he didn't have to model them). I briefly toyed with the idea of making my own pattern from his favourite undies, but then saw a special on the Thread Theory Comox trunks pattern, so decided to buy the pattern and go from there.

Problem number one. Finding the right size pattern. If I was to strictly follow the instructions in the pattern regarding which size to choose based on measurements, I would have sized up and traced the Size 38 of the pattern. The Husband thought that it was a bad idea to try and use a size that was larger than what he normally wears, so I went with the size just smaller, and started with the Size 36. When I made up a test pair of undies out of old T-Shirts, they were absolutely enormous, so I'm glad I didn't go for the larger size. I had to take out a huge chunk from the side leg, front, and a few darts from the side back, and change the position of the fly.

Next problem. He doesn't like wearing trunks, and prefers the style of his favourite Bonds undies. Another change I made on the first attempt to accommodate this was to cut the side leg higher.

First attempt at the Thread Theory Pattern
After these few changes, I thought I should try a pair out with some of my stash fabric, complete with elastic.

First real pair of undies
Unfortunately this fabric didn't like being paired with the fold over elastic that I used on the legs, or the wider elastic at the waist. And after being worn for a while, (like more than five minutes), the fabric started to sag.

This project was then put on the backburner while I finished up other projects.

Fast forward to the start of April, when I took up the challenge again. After looking at where I had left off on the pattern, and comparing it to the cut of the Bonds undies, I decided that it was ridiculous to have different pieces of fabric at the back. Around the legs, there was only about 1cm of fabric left in the side piece. The Bonds undies have one piece of fabric from the back all around to the side front, then the crotch is is two pieces with two cut of each piece to make the fly front. I decided that I may as well try and replicate this.

Line drawing of Bonds undies from their swing tag
The back and sides were pretty straightforward to do, as the pattern pieces didn't have that much overlap. The Thread Theory pattern has a separate piece for the gusset, but it's just a rectangle, so I added some extra length (in the front and back) to make up for it.

Comparison of the Comox Trunks and Bonds undies
The front pattern piece however, was a whole different ballgame. The pattern pieces curved in different directions, so I couldn't just line them up. What I ended up doing was drawing a centre front curve from the Bond undies, then just making something up for the inner leg curve. I measured the length of the seams from my old pattern, and made the edges of my new pattern more or less that length. I moved the seam so it was angled similar to the Bonds undies, and replicated that on the fly pieces.
My final pattern
Then came round two of testing. I made one sample after another from our son's old T-Shirts, making changes to each as I went. After sample number three I was happy enough with my changes to have a go with the fly and elastic, hoping that my sample would be wearable.

Pattern Testing - Round 2, Versions 1, 2 and 3
The verdict was a resounding YES! This pair stood up to the rigours of whole day's wear, and I only need to make one minor change to future pairs. The Husband isn't too thrilled with the colour, but I chose this fabric as I thought it would hold up better. I have enough of this fabric for one more pair, and then we might see about buying him a colour that he actually likes.

The Final Undies
Now that I have this pattern, I'm wondering why I didn't make my own pattern in the first place. My pattern bears absolutely no resemblance to the one I started with, so from here on I think I'll call it self-drafted.

And in answer to my original question, now that I have a workable pattern to make undies for my husband, I think it's more ridiculous to spend $15 per pair of undies, when I can make them myself in my spare time.


  1. You do give yourself some challenges. I agree it is ridiculous the price of any undies and seeing I haven't made myself any, hubby is not getting any yet.

    Good to hear your husband is happy with your drafted pattern.

    1. Thank you Sharon. I agree, it's a good idea to have your own pattern sorted for undies before even thinking about trying undies for anyone else. Needless to say, his were a little more complicated than mine.