Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Handmade Dude Undies
I've been really excited about writing today's post. There is pretty much nothing that excites me more than figuring out how to make a new type of garment, then doing so successfully. The idea being that, once I know how to make each type of garment, there is no need for me to buy one again, basically becoming self-sufficient in whatever that item is. This excitement is particularly heightened when it is a type of garment that the wearer relies on lots and lots during their everyday lives. To figure out how to make a pair of undies, a vest (camisole, which I wear every day except for the vey warmest days) or pyjamas is way more exciting to me than making a pretty dress that will probably be worn a few times a year at most. it's probably how some people feel when they successfully grow carrots or make jam for the first time.
Back in early 2010 I worked out how to make successful undies for myself prior to my first me-made challenge: Me-Made-March which I undertook solo. Since then I have altered and perfected my pants (knickers/undies) pattern and haven't bought a pair of undies in a shop since. Speaking of which, I plan to share my undies pattern for free before long so if you are one of the lovely readers who have expressed interest in that, then keep your eyes peeled. But that is a topic for another day...
For a few months now I've been wanting to work out how to make undies for Patty (Mr So Zo) too. So I asked him which of his existing pants are his most comfortable (the tatty greying black pair pictured above). Initially I planned to do as I'd promised him: use my tracing wheel to draft pattern pieces from his undies, then return them unharmed. But when they came into closer scrutiny than doing the laundry usually requires, I realised they were pretty shoddy and on their last legs anyway (why do dudes find it so hard to cast off dead undies?!) so I cut them up and traced round the pieces instead. I think Pat was a little upset at what he considered their untimely demise, but I explained that they were sacrificed to spawn an infinite number of new pairs!
So with the pattern pieces created and seam allowanced added where necessary, it was time to select appropriate fabric. For the fist pair I chose some Liberty jersey, really nice and thick, and an unwanted blue T-shirt for some solid contrast. I harvested the bottom hem of the T-shirt to create bands to finish the legs of the undies and set to work with my trusted overlocker. I top-stitched the pants seam allowance down so they wouldn't stick out too much on the inside, but in hindsight I don't think that was necessary. All of the dudes pants I've come across (oh and there have been many! I JEST Mum, I jest!) that are this style and made of jersey are constructed using a cover stitch machine or something, but I don't have access to any of that fancy machinery but I think I was able to create a really good effect with my overlocker and normal flat lock machine.
I picked up the elastic for the waist band when I went to the Walthamstow meet up in April. It was super cheap but decent quality and naturally a bit stiffer than the old stuff on the dead undies. It turned out to be a bit too tight, so I unpicked it and reattached it having extended the overall length from the generous overlap I initially added. After that adjustment, Patty was able to wear these comfortably ALL DAY on Sunday 13th. YAY!!!!! Success.
Time for second pair. This time I added 2cms around the top to make them sit slightly higher on his waist. This pair also used some awesome Liberty jersey sourced from the stash at work, and some super soft contrast khaki jersey for the centre panels. There are so many different print/plain combinations I want to create, now that I know the general fit is fine. These were also deemed a major success by Patty. Possibly the fanciest of pants he's ever had!
You may have noticed that, aside from the vastly more exciting fabric choices and slightly different stitching, my versions are not the same as the original pair. Mine do not have the hole/access/slit/whatever-the-hell-you-call-it that the original pair had. I wanted to make sure I got a decent overall shape and comfortable fit before I started to monkey around with trying to add that element into the mix, which I'll probably try to make at some point in the future. However, I have been told they function fine without that hole, so maybe I won't rush to figure that out when I could be playing with fun fabric combos instead!
But that none of this technical chat is really the point of this post though. The point is that I can make dude-pants. As long as I have access to jersey, thread, elastic and electricity to run my sewing machines, theoretically Pat needn't buy undies ever again! It can be argued, and I would probably be one of those doing the arguing, that this is a political act. Undies, for most peops, are something that is worn every single day of your life. To be able to extract yourself from the accepted role of consumer of this essential item is quite a powerful thing. It is often argued in Feminist studies that 'the personal is political'. What is more personal than the most intimate of garments?!