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**Update October 15, 2016** Given the popularity of this tutorial, I digitized this pattern and made a few simple changes to the post.
I’ve seen a lot of blogs and websites write recently about making underwear out of old t-shirts. I thought it was a great idea and downloaded a few patterns, but I changed them so much that I’m sharing my own directions. Click here to download my PDF pattern for a 2T girl size. This size is great for newly potty-trained girls. I created this pattern for my own little girl, who is quite thin, so you might need to make it bigger for kids who are not as thin.
My husband gave me this t-shirt not long after we first got together, before he knew that a size small t-shirt is not going to fit me! It is a free-trade shirt from the Italian distributors CTM and very dear to me, which is why I never gave it away. But I figured a good reincarnation would be for my newly-potty-trained daughter’s undies. I managed to make two pairs from this shirt.
Would you like to sew girl underwear for your little lady? Here’s how!
1. First download the PDF pattern from my free downloads page. Print it out without scaling, join the three pages together at the triangles, and cut out the three pieces (back, front and crotch). If you don’t know how to print and assemble PDF patterns, read this post.
When you cut the pieces out of the t-shirt, make sure you cut them so the stretch of the t-shirt (going across) will stretch around the waist of the undies. Don’t place the pieces sideways on the t-shirt because the finished product won’t stretch right (which is why we like making undies out of t-shirts and not regular non-stretch cotton). Mark the dotted lines with chalk.
2. Place the front piece right side up on the table, then put on top of that the back piece wrong side up and finally the crotch piece wrong side up. Position them like in the photo above so that the dotted lines match up and pin. Sew a straight stitch along the dotted line.
3. Put the sides of the front and back pieces together, right sides facing each other on the inside, so that the dotted lines match up. Pin and sew a straight stitch. You might want to reinforce with a second line of stitching.
4. Try the undies on your child. They should be slightly loose. If they are ok, trim the edges on the sides.
5. With the underwear inside-out, pull the crotch piece up so the right side is showing. Iron the seam flat and pin so that the wrong sides of the crotch and front are facing each other. The edges don’t have to match up absolutely perfectly, but you might want to trim the edges at the seam so it makes a nice curve.
6. Take some 5/8 inch FOE (fold-over elastic). I suppose you could also use 1 inch (which is what is generally used for making cloth diapers), but the 5/8 inch is not as bulky and is softer. If you’ve never used FOE, I highly suggest doing some practice pieces before trying it out on your precious undies. Amy from Angry Chicken has a good (and amusing) tutorial on sewing with FOE. The only difference is that while you normally want to stretch the FOE as much as possible while sewing it, you don’t want to with underwear or you’re going to cut off your little darling’s circulation. And I know you don’t want that!
I suggest doing the leg holes first, being careful to line up the crotch and front pieces nicely, stretching the FOE just a tiny bit so it’s just VERY slightly gathered. When you do the waist you’re going to stretch it even less, so it’ll feel as if you’re not even stretching it at all. Just a tiny, tiny bit so you won’t even see any real gathering. I sewed in a size label, too, so I won’t get all confused in the future when there are different sizes of undies floating around.
7. Put those lovely undies on your lovely child. If they’re a bit loose, it’s not a big deal. But if they’re even a little bit tight, just do everyone a favor and break out your seam ripper and do the FOE over again. I had to do just that when I was making the pair pictured above. It’s a pain, but you really don’t want tight undies.
With this t-shirt I didn’t need to add any embellishments, but I did with other pairs I made. You can add appliques, patches or use fabric paint. Go wild! It’s so much fun having one of a kind undies!